Home Security and Defense

How to Make Your Bug Out Location Safe

barb wire fence

Experts will likely agree that the safest plan in an emergency situation is to shelter in place, in your home, until danger passes or help arrives. But we all know that there are some situations where staying put means certain death. In the event of a flood, wildfire, or volcano eruption for example, you may have no choice but to bug out.

We know bugging out is risky in itself and if you’ve been prepping for even a short time, you’ve read about ways to increase your odds of an incident free bug out trip. But, how do you make your bug out location safe for you and your family once you are able to get there?

Location, Location

No matter which location you choose for your BOL, you want to make sure that it is accessible by foot in a necessity (not blocked off by mountains, water, etc).

Your BOL will do you no good if you and your family cannot get to it if roads are blocked and the only way in on foot is to cross a raging river or mountain range. Your BOL should also be located far enough away from home to be out of danger but close enough that you can get to it on foot within a day or two.

Natural Resources

When choosing a safe bug out location, consider the natural resources that will be available to you in a crisis. Renewable fresh water sources such as a spring, a well, year-round stream, creek, lake or pond are important to make sure you and your family have access to adequate water for drinking, garden irrigation, and watering livestock.

Prevalent wildlife for hunting and fishing will help ensure that you can feed your family for an extended period of time if you are cut off from grocery stores. Natural barriers to deter entry to your property such as rocky terrain, a steep hill or slope, thick or thorny undergrowth can help make sure intruders move on to another site or at least can’t sneak up on you.

The climate of the region where your BOL is located can also be very important to your ability to keep it safe. Unless you are extremely prepared for extreme weather, you’ll want to choose a bug out location that is in an agricultural region with little to no extreme weather conditions.

Choosing a moderate climate with a long growing season will help ensure that you can grow enough food to sustain your family during an extended crisis. Although there are some who choose climates with extreme weather deliberately to avoid hordes of people during a bug out, this should only be a strategy for the most experienced preppers and survivalists.

Easily Defendable

The best bug out locations are ones that are easily defendable in the event intruders do arrive. Look for a location that is on high ground or has a portion of the property on high ground. This gives you an advantage point for defensive purposes as it’s easier to see intruders approaching.

Avoid low spots or valleys which could be flooded or snowed under in bad weather and which allow intruders to have the high ground when attacking.

When possible, choose a bug out location in an area that can be blocked off from outside traffic. This could be a property on a dead-end road, a cult de sac neighborhood with only one or two entrance roads, or hilltop or mountain top property.

Minimal Threats

When planning your bug out location, you need to analyze potential threats in the surrounding area. Choose the location that is furthest away from potential threats to make it less likely your BOL will be compromised or attacked.

  • Isolated area, 50 to 150 miles away from heavily populated areas
  • Not too close to prisons, chemical plants, military bases, or power plants
  • Avoid areas near stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and other popular places for looting activity.
  • At least 10-15 miles from major highways to reduce likelihood stranded motorists will be able to walk to your location.
  • Away from “relocation bottleneck points” such as bridges, railroad crossings, mountain passes or tunnels as this is where the majority of traffic will be jammed up and people may be forced to set out on foot.
  • Hidden from easy view from the road.

Pre-Emergency Safety

One important method for making your bug out location safe is pre-emergency safety techniques. This means your daily routine is such that you are always safeguarding your bug out location.

Intruders or looters can’t attack what they don’t know exists. Below are some ways you can keep your bug out location safe even before something happens:

  • Don’t talk about your location or supplies to anyone outside your mutual aid group (MAG).
  • Load/unload supplies and other preps discreetly even when you think no one is watching
  • Use cash for prepping purchases (no trail for government confiscators to follow)
  • Make smaller online purchases over time rather than one large purchase (less likely to be flagged if the “powers that be” are searching databases for potential stockpiles)
  • Use pre-paid debit or gift cards for purchases if you must buy online
  • Make sure antenna, solar panel, and other physical preps to your location are done as discreetly as possible.
  • Designate a safe room with reinforced walls and door where your family can retreat during a home invasion.
  • Consider building an underground bunker, properly ventilated and stocked with supplies, where your family can take refuge if the main house is under siege or in the event of a tornado, hurricane, or severe storm.
  • Design your bug out location or home to include several carefully concealed foxholes where members of your guard can position themselves to defend your home or property.

Early Warning Systems

If you don’t see or hear intruders until they reach your bunker or shelter, you’ve missed multiple opportunities to stop them. Most people use security cameras, game trail cameras or drones to keep an eye on the perimeter of their home in normal times.

But you will want to have a plan for perimeter patrols where family members or members of your group take rotating shifts patrolling the perimeter in person in times of crisis or potential attacks.

Make sure those who patrol know what to do if they hear or see something and that they have a way to not only defend against intruders but to quickly communicate trouble to others in the group.

Early warning systems are designed to alert you to the presence of intruders as they advance on your perimeter or even before they approach your property. These techniques provide you with more time to either escape, to mount your defense and to eliminate an intruder or threat before it gets to your home and family.

  • Perimeter Alarms
  • Security Cameras and Motion Detectors
  • Observation points
  • Guard dogs

Perimeter Defenses

One of the best ways to avoid a conflict is to simply prevent intruders from getting onto your property. There are a variety of other defense strategies you can implement around the perimeter of your property to deter intruders from coming onto your property.

  • Fencing
  • Concrete Bollards
  • Rock landscaping to create vehicular chokepoints
  • Defensive Landscaping
  • Pit Traps
  • Deceptive Defense Strategies

Firearms and Other Weapons

Experts recommend a minimum of four types of firearm for property defense including at least one pistol or sidearm per person, a shotgun either semi-automatic or pump action for those defending in close quarters, a semi-automatic rifle such as the AK-47, AR-15 or Ruger Mini and long range rifles to eliminate intruders before they reach your bunker or perimeter.

Keep at least 1,000 rounds of ammo for each firearm, five extra mags per pistol, and ten spare mags for each semi-auto rifle.

Escape Plan

In the event your defensive measures fail to deter intruders or if they attempt to burn, smoke, or simply wait you out, you need to have an escape plan in place as your last “defense” to protect your family.

Plan for how you will escape your bug out shelter location and what you must have in order to start over in a new location. Some preppers have even purposefully setup survival outposts in the areas surrounding their home or bug out location.

Outposts are small, discreet shelters or areas where you can stockpile supplies and gear so if you needed to you could stay there while on an extended hunting trip or use it as a temporary base if your main location is under siege.

Outposts can also be created along your bug out route, think of them as pit stops where you can resupply as needed, rendezvous with other group members, etc.

The ideal exit plan would involve a discreet underground tunnel from inside the house to a covered location away from the house or even near an outpost outside your perimeter.

The key is to plan an escape that will go unnoticed by your attackers until you and your family are safely outside the perimeter.

If you cannot build an underground tunnel, use a combination of trenches, and natural cover to protect you and your family during your exit. Keep in mind you may have to leave your BOL with very little in order to go unnoticed or to escape fire or smoke.

Once you’ve successfully managed to escape your bug out shelter, make sure you have placed multiple hidden caches along your escape route or make use of outposts to store gear and supplies that you can use to start over in a new location.

How to Make Your Bug Out Campsite Safe

What if you do have to leave your home and it will take more than a day to reach your bug out location? How do you make your bug out campsite safe so that you can get some needed rest?

If you look at the ideas presented above for keeping a bug out location safe, you can use similar ideas or modified ones to keep your campsite safe.

  • Look for a location on high ground that will be easily defendable if you are attacked. Avoid low areas or valleys which can become flooded and give opponents the high ground.
  • Use early warning systems such as a perimeter alarm made of tin cans or something else that will alert you to someone approaching your campsite.
  • Choose an area that is accessible to natural resources such as fresh water, edible plants, or plentiful wildlife. If you are forced to extend your stay, you will have a chance to secure what you need to survive.
  • Use natural barriers such as thick trees, rocky terrain, or thorny brush to keep your campsite hidden from view and to deter intruders from an easy approach.

Do you have a bug out location in the works? Which resources or features we described above does your BOL have? Are there any of these bug out location safety techniques you can put into place? Share your experiences and ideas below.

Since making your BOL safe takes planing, patience and time, why not pin this article to one of your Pinterest boards for later, so you can come back to it for new ideas to implement?

bug out location safety pinterest image

Megan Stewart

About Megan Stewart

A mother of four and grandmother of six, Megan is living the lifestyle any prepper would want. Gardening, homesteading and constantly planning for emergencies big and small, she's a beacon of knowledge in the prepping community.
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3 thoughts on “How to Make Your Bug Out Location Safe

  1. Megan, This is an interesting article; but, I think leans too much toward the mad max style of collapse. While we see similar things in places like Venezuela, I don’t see that happening on a wide scale in the US, keeping in mind that Venezuela did not happen overnight, and most of the world saw the death spiral where the country and its dictatorship were headed long ago.
    Even in widespread localized EOTW events, such as Katrina, most people behaved well and pitched in to help their neighbors. They did have some criminal activity; but, I suspect that activity was not out of line with what occurs all around us every day.
    Right now I’m just trying to stay cool while we get some chores done, and will comment in detail a bit later.
    Hope you and the pack are staying as cool as you can, since this heat wave seems to have hot the entire country. That typo should have read “hit the entire country”; but, the typo as it turns out was appropriate. LOL

  2. All good info again! It is so sad that 50 years ago many of us where fighting the spread of Marxist cancer in SE Asia and now have to prepare to defend our homes here.

  3. Experts will likely agree that the safest plan in an emergency situation is to shelter in place, in your home, until danger passes or help arrives. But we all know that there are some situations where staying put means certain death. In the event of a flood, wildfire, or volcano eruption for example, you may have no choice but to bug out.

    We don’t argue with the experts and have and will shelter in place. Bugging out for us is only planned as a temporary measure, should the environment around us become toxic from a transportation accident, and then only for the duration of the dangerous period. In 20 years working with our county EMA we have so far only had to support Hazmat in drills and in 35 years at this location, no such hazardous incidents have occurred, since materials of that nature being transported are relegated to strict routs, that do not include our local area.
    Of the natural phenomenon, only tornados present a potential problem, since our area is not subject to earthquakes or volcanoes, and our location was chosen and is maintained for it’s lack of susceptibility to flooding or wildfires.
    In short, we planned our bug in strategy before even considering purchase of this property.

    No matter which location you choose for your BOL, you want to make sure that it is accessible by foot in a necessity (not blocked off by mountains, water, etc).

    BOL = BIL = Checked.
    Natural Resources

    When choosing a safe bug out location, consider the natural resources that will be available to you in a crisis. Renewable fresh water sources such as a spring, a well, year-round stream, creek, lake or pond are important to make sure you and your family have access to adequate water for drinking, garden irrigation, and watering livestock.

    We have a great well and s small year round stream that flows through the edge of the property, plus ponds in the area and water catchment with numerous ways of filtration.

    Prevalent wildlife for hunting and fishing will help ensure that you can feed your family for an extended period of time if you are cut off from grocery stores. Natural barriers to deter entry to your property such as rocky terrain, a steep hill or slope, thick or thorny undergrowth can help make sure intruders move on to another site or at least can’t sneak up on you.

    Yes & yes on the wild game, and enough distance, obstacles and thickets with vegetation like MultiFlora rose to make passage problematic and slow.

    The climate of the region where your BOL is located can also be very important to your ability to keep it safe. Unless you are extremely prepared for extreme weather, you’ll want to choose a bug out location that is in an agricultural region with little to no extreme weather conditions.

    We live in a primary agricultural neighborhood & extreme climate conditions are a subject of interpretation. While it can get bitter cold here at times in the winter, cold defense is as simple as layered clothing or quite literally throwing another log on the fire. For me, defense against heat is the hardest, since one may have to stay in a shaded area, or take cold showers, limiting outside exposure and the amount of work that can be done. You could also just run the A/C assuming you have money to pay the bill, or have generation capability if the grid is down.

    Choosing a moderate climate with a long growing season will help ensure that you can grow enough food to sustain your family during an extended crisis. Although there are some who choose climates with extreme weather deliberately to avoid hordes of people during a bug out, this should only be a strategy for the most experienced preppers and survivalists.

    See my climate explanation in the paragraph above, and your definition of a moderate climate might be helpful.

    Easily Defendable

    The best bug out locations are ones that are easily defendable in the event intruders do arrive. Look for a location that is on high ground or has a portion of the property on high ground. This gives you an advantage point for defensive purposes as it’s easier to see intruders approaching.

    We are mostly there, and the high ground also protects against flooding.

    Avoid low spots or valleys which could be flooded or snowed under in bad weather and which allow intruders to have the high ground when attacking.

    True, and since the cold air can sink into the valleys and the wind blowing on top can be problematic, it’s best to choose somewhere in the middle, & perhaps have a small defendable LP/OP on high ground with communications means to warn the main party.

    When possible, choose a bug out location in an area that can be blocked off from outside traffic. This could be a property on a dead-end road, a cult de sac neighborhood with only one or two entrance roads, or hilltop or mountain top property.

    Even along a major highway, it only takes abandoning a few old vehicles (with flat tires and no battery) at bridges and other pinch points to stop all but the most determined foot traffic. We live along a relatively major truck route, which means that in good times the road is kept well maintained and free of snow & ice in winter; but, it would not take much to shut down this rural 2-lane highway.
    One only needs to be creative.

    Minimal Threats

    Isolated area, 50 to 150 miles away from heavily populated areas
    Not too close to prisons, chemical plants, military bases, or power plants
    Avoid areas near stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and other popular places for looting activity.

    Once again you’ve described our location and property.
    Being force to critically look at your situation is a good thing and articles like this allows one to evaluate their situation with another perspective and make corrections if needed.

    At least 10-15 miles from major highways to reduce likelihood stranded motorists will be able to walk to your location.

    Once again, define major highway. We live on a major north south truck route; but, we rarely see anything but north & southbound trucks and local traffic.

    Away from “relocation bottleneck points” such as bridges, railroad crossings, mountain passes or tunnels as this is where the majority of traffic will be jammed up and people may be forced to set out on foot.

    Keeping a distance from these is a good idea; but, also consider these pinch points as helping your situation, should you have the ability to force them to be pinched.

    Hidden from easy view from the road.
    Distance and vegetation helps here. The main house sits 200 feet from the road and the yard between has enough trees to make things unobvious.

    Pre-Emergency Safety

    One important method for making your bug out location safe is pre-emergency safety techniques. This means your daily routine is such that you are always safeguarding your bug out location.

    This means daily rounds (we call chores) and situational awareness at all times. It also means keeping the wireless perimeter alarms tested and batteries replaced when required.

    Don’t talk about your location or supplies to anyone outside your mutual aid group (MAG).

    All but our grown children and a single family in our Mutual Assistance Group live within 10 miles or less and can be here if the balloon goes up. For many of them, this is their BOL, since we have some resources many cannot yet afford and they bring things like youth, strength, and force multiplication for security.

    Load/unload supplies and other preps discreetly even when you think no one is watching

    Living rural with our load point 200 feet from the road makes that rather easy, as does the propensity for most of my neighbors also to shop in bulk so this is normal around here.

    Use cash for prepping purchases (no trail for government confiscators to follow)

    The government is not going to confiscate anything except contraband like illegal drugs or un licensed / unregistered dangerous chemicals, and quite frankly does not have the time or resources to do so. Our local county EMA works as an adjunct to State & Federal (FEMA) and are much more likely to hand out things than take them. The only time this might happen would be if you own a warehouse of required or needed goods like Sam’s Club or Costco, in which case the goods will be paid for or you will be given a voucher for later payment.

    Make smaller online purchases over time rather than one large purchase (less likely to be flagged if the “powers that be” are searching databases for potential stockpiles)

    Once again, I don’t think this is a problem; but, most budgets work better when you do this, gathering resources as you can afford them while incurring no debt.

    Use pre-paid debit or gift cards for purchases if you must buy online

    I have always used a credit card; but, usually through a 3rd party like PayPal, for the added bank security, and in 40 years have had no one knocking at my door.

    Designate a safe room with reinforced walls and door where your family can retreat during a home invasion.

    We have that designated; but, have plans for a real safe room. One of our neighbors purchased a precast version, paid for with funds from the Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program run by Ohio EMA. We plan to apply next year, since we have already missed the 2019 deadline.

    Consider building an underground bunker, properly ventilated and stocked with supplies, where your family can take refuge if the main house is under siege or in the event of a tornado, hurricane, or severe storm.

    This would be the precast “bunker” I mentioned above; but, we do have a sturdy basement we would use mostly for tornadoes. Also keep in mind that once in the bunker, you could have your air supply cut off or contaminated, your egress barricaded, and be under siege, so this advice and subsequent planning should not be taken lightly.

    Design your bug out location or home to include several carefully concealed foxholes where members of your guard can position themselves to defend your home or property.

    No fox holes that can fill with water; but, plenty of both cover & concealment. There is BTW a difference between the two, and you should know that difference. Do you?

    Early Warning Systems

    If you don’t see or hear intruders until they reach your bunker or shelter, you’ve missed multiple opportunities to stop them. Most people use security cameras, game trail cameras or drones to keep an eye on the perimeter of their home in normal times.

    Wireless battery powered intrusion alarms and solar powered motion detector lighting are inexpensive, easy to deploy, and reliable.
    Cameras need to be well hidden; but, can easily be blocked if of the wireless variety and drones may be too obvious. Occult Covert means gives you the best edge.

    But you will want to have a plan for perimeter patrols where family members or members of your group take rotating shifts patrolling the perimeter in person in times of crisis or potential attacks.

    This can be done; but, the technical means as a force multiplier has worked for us, as described above.

    Make sure those who patrol know what to do if they hear or see something and that they have a way to not only defend against intruders but to quickly communicate trouble to others in the group.

    Done & done. We have communications from anywhere on the property to the home, county, state and even nationally or internationally if required. Ham radio has its benefits.

    The only thing we may be missing are the guard dogs

    Perimeter Defenses

    One of the best ways to avoid a conflict is to simply prevent intruders from getting onto your property. There are a variety of other defense strategies you can implement around the perimeter of your property to deter intruders from coming onto your property.

    The distance of our location and obstacles are our main resources here, along with a large MAG that would come if things really turned sideways.
    As for the following:
    Concrete Bollards
    Defensive Landscaping
    Pit Traps
    Deceptive Defense Strategies

    Firearms and Other Weapons

    Experts recommend a minimum of four types of firearm for property defense including at least one pistol or sidearm per person, a shotgun either semi-automatic or pump action for those defending in close quarters, a semi-automatic rifle such as the AK-47, AR-15 or Ruger Mini and long range rifles to eliminate intruders before they reach your bunker or perimeter.

    Keep at least 1,000 rounds of ammo for each firearm, five extra mags per pistol, and ten spare mags for each semi-auto rifle.

    Escape Plan

    In the event your defensive measures fail to deter intruders or if they attempt to burn, smoke, or simply wait you out, you need to have an escape plan in place as your last “defense” to protect your family.

    Plan for how you will escape your bug out shelter location and what you must have in order to start over in a new location. Some preppers have even purposefully setup survival outposts in the areas surrounding their home or bug out location.

    Outposts can also be created along your bug out route, think of them as pit stops where you can resupply as needed, rendezvous with other group members, etc.

    The ideal exit plan would involve a discreet underground tunnel from inside the house to a covered location away from the house or even near an outpost outside your perimeter.
    If you cannot build an underground tunnel, use a combination of trenches, and natural cover to protect you and your family during your exit. Keep in mind you may have to leave your BOL with very little in order to go unnoticed or to escape fire or smoke.

    How to Make Your Bug Out Campsite Safe

    What if you do have to leave your home and it will take more than a day to reach your bug out location? How do you make your bug out campsite safe so that you can get some needed rest?

    You did not mention doing it naturally with field expedient shelters, no tent, or hibachis.

    Do you have a bug out location in the works? Which resources or features we described above does your BOL have? Are there any of these bug out location safety techniques you can put into place? Share your experiences and ideas below.

    Since making your BOL safe takes planing, patience and time, why not pin this article to one of your Pinterest boards for later, so you can come back to it for new ideas to implement?

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