Most of us here know the importance of bugging out, but what about home survival? If you’ve been reading up on prepping much, you have likely already heard about how crucial it is to have a plan to evacuate your area safely, whether it’s the suburbs or a major city.
This involves knowing which routes are best for getting to your bug-out location. It will also include making sure you pack smartly and have backup plans for your escape. But how do you know whether you should stay put or leave? And what if you end up needing to bug in instead of bug out?
What is “Bugging In”?
Bugging in, also called hunkering down or home survival, is basically staying put at your home instead of heading out to another location. Regardless of how well you plan your bug-out approach and how prepared you feel for it, staying home may end up being the best option.
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Bug In Basics
If there are no threats at the present time, the absolute best course of action is staying put. Here are some of the benefits of doing home survival instead of leaving:
Bugging in at home means being where you already have prepared, organized, and intact supplies ready to use. When you run out of something, odds are you’ll already have more in the basement or somewhere else.
Bugging in means you’re already familiar with where you are and don’t have to spend time getting to know new surroundings.
Your own house offers more security than you’ll have in the wilderness or on the road due to your supplies and familiarity. Though perhaps not quite as exciting as hitting the trail, it’s undoubtedly the safer bet.
If you end up choosing to bug in instead of leave, there is a right way to go about it. Keep in mind that you should always be preparing and thinking three moves ahead. That’s how you will survive. Let’s check out some of the fundamentals to home survival now.
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1. Secure Your Area
When you’re opting for home survival, security must be priority number one. Always make sure the windows and doors stay locked, no matter what. You can barricade windows and doors if they are easy to enter from the outside. In an emergency situation, your neighborhood could turn into a free-for-all where neighbors will do anything to get supplies.
Be ready to turn people away if necessary and defend your home at all costs. As soon as it gets dark, try not to have too many lights on inside (if your electricity is still on). Lights signal to the outside world that there’s someone home, and someone home means supplies. Get some candles and dark curtains. But keep in mind that even a tiny candle flame may be visible from far away.
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2. Have a Solid Routine
It’s a good idea to have a solid, reliable routine when disaster strikes, just as it’s important to have one now. Wake up at the same time each day, try to designate meal times, and go to bed at the same time. Even activities like cleaning and tending the garden (if you have one) will help establish a sense of familiarity.
Although it may seem insignificant or trivial, these small actions can help life feel more normal, boosting morale. Ensure that everyone in your group or family has tasks that they are responsible for, so they feel like part of the group. This will also improve team work dynamics and keep everyone feeling useful.
3. Have a Plan Ready
Although it’s great to have an idea of what you’ll do in the immediate event of a disaster, long term goals are important too. Once the initial shock of needing to engage in home survival has worn off, it’s time to think about the future. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help with that:
-What are we up against in this situation?
-Are we safe if we stay here?
-How long is this safety likely to last?
-Do we have enough supplies to stay longer?
These questions will help you get a clearer picture of what you should do in the future. You might find that it involves leaving to hunt for more supplies, bugging out, or staying pretty much indefinitely.
Home Survival- What to Think About
If you’ve been part of the prepping community for a while, you may already have your bases covered in terms of food and water. But let’s cover those, along with a couple other foundational survival considerations, next.
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If you don’t already have water stored at your place, you should get on that as soon as possible. But that’s not all you need to do to bug in. You’re also going to need a reliable plan for how to collect water. Let’s just assume that when disaster strikes, the city water will shut off soon after. And even if it didn’t, it’s likely that it wouldn’t be very safe to drink.
Families or groups that have access to a well are going to be in the best situation in terms of drinking water. For the rest of us, collecting rainwater is going to be an essential skill. Have multiple methods for purifying water. Map out streams near your place, and get a gravity-fed system for filtering water.
As a prepper, you may already have food stocked up in your basement. But even if you have a lot, it’s still a finite supply. If your situation allows it, you can grow a garden, trap, hunt, and forage for food. If it isn’t safe, though, it’s worth thinking about how to ration your food so it lasts as long as possible. Did you know that fasting can be perfectly safe, if done right? This is a skill worth learning now before your life depends on it, so you can make your food last longer.
Medical and Hygiene Needs
Self-sufficiency will be your key to a healthy life in a home survival scenario. The thorough prepper will not only have a great, well-stocked first aid kit handy for their home survival plan. They will also have some knowledge of natural remedies. In order to be able to make it through medical emergencies in an emergency living situation, you need to be prepared with certain supplies. Here are some to keep on hand:
-Antibacterial or antibiotic ointments
-Plenty of gauze
-Band-aids of all sizes
-Ace bandages in various sizes
Of course, you should have far more than this on hand for your medical supplies. One of the greatest benefits of home survival is having the space to store everything you might need. The more you have, the likelier it is that you can address whatever health issue pops up.
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Then there are natural healing methods. Let’s start with some common herbs you can stock up on or begin growing in your garden. These are full of health benefits and healing properties:
-Oregano: This herb is not only tasty, but anti-fungal and anti-viral. This means you can use it to treat external or internal fungal infections. And if someone in your group gets stung by a bee or bit by a snake, it can soothe the wound.
-Rosemary: Rosemary can be used to relieve headaches, digestive problems, and upset stomachs. It may also help with brain function and improving memory, as well as soothing inflammation.
-Basil: Basil contains antioxidants and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Holy basil is especially good for boosting immunity as it can fight off influenza and infections.
And these herbs listed are just the beginning. There are many more you can use to treat minor ailments and stock up on minerals. To be even more prepared for disaster, arm yourself with knowledge and learn more about the health benefits of common herbs.
You are more likely than not to experience a situation that requires more advanced medical treatment. Even after disaster has struck an area, after a while there may be clinics set up with working medical professionals. In the event of a prolonged disaster or societal collapse, people will need to barter their skills, including nurses and doctors. Try to find these, if needed. Better yet, find out who in your neighborhood has medical training ahead of time.
When a major emergency strikes that makes home survival necessary, the trash truck probably won’t continue to run. Do you have a plan for how to handle trash? Allowing it to sit for too long isn’t a viable option as this will attract rats and bugs. And it should go without saying that you won’t need any extra health hazards in a bug-in situation.
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Have a plan ready for how to handle your trash. This could involve burning it (but be careful not to draw attention to yourself). Burying it could be another option. Whatever you decide on, the most important thing is that you have a plan in place before you need one. And make sure that, if applicable, what you’re doing is completely legal.
If the thought of garbage piling up is hard to fathom, just think about dealing with an absence of plumbing. If disaster strikes, this is probably the situation you’ll be faced with, so it’s important to think about it. You could install an outhouse on your property now, or learn how to create a latrine. Composting human waste is another option, but it must be done safely, so make sure you research it plenty, first.
Organic Waste and Composting
We’ve talked about some ideas for handling trash and human waste, but what about organic waste? Compost is a mix of decaying or decayed organic matter (like fruit and vegetable peels, grass clippings, and old leaves). This mixture is collected and allowed to decompose, then used to fertilize plants.
Before jumping right into composting, it’s important to know that there are two different kinds; hot and cold. Here are the differences between them:
-Cold Composting: This is the simpler method and involves collecting organic materials or yard waste and adding them to a bin or pile. This material will decompose eventually, but takes quite a while.
-Hot Composting: This option is faster and likely more suitable for your home survival situation as it can yield compost in a few months or less if the weather is warm. To get a fast-cooking compost, you’ll need water, air, carbon, and nitrogen. The decay process is sped up with these items as they feed the microorganisms in the compost.
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Which Materials to Compost
What are the benefits of composting when you’re choosing home survival over bugging out? It’s a great, convenient way to recycle materials and use items that have gone bad. You can keep your composting bucket or bin in the kitchen and throw orange peels and coffee grounds into it each day. Here are the items you can add:
-Scraps from fruit (peels and cores)
-Scraps from vegetables
-Yard waste (leaves and grass)
-Sawdust (must be untreated)
-Straw or hay
What Materials NOT to Compost
It’s crucial to know which items you can safely add to your compost pile without compromising the decay process. It’s equally important to know which items to avoid adding to it. Some materials just won’t work well in the garden and can even attract pests and animals. Here are the items to avoid:
-Grease, fat, oil, or meat items
-Wood chips or sawdust from treated wood
-Feces from dogs or cats
-Seeding plants, such as weeds
-Onions or garlic (these repel worms)
If you make sure to add the items in the “what to add” list and avoid materials listed in the “what not to add” list above, your compost will turn out great. Now, we’re going to cover the steps for making a quick-yielding compost pile, which you can add to your garden.
1. Balance Brown and Green Materials
In order to make your own hot compost at home, collect enough materials to create a three-foot deep pile. Your pile will need to have the right ratio of brown (carbon-rich) materials and green (nitrogen-rich) materials. Brown materials will be items such as wood chips, straw, and dried leaves. Green items will be kitchen scraps and grass clippings.
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Begin by combining the green, wet items with the brown, drier items. Begin building up the organic pile of compost and alternate green items and brown items. If the pile begins looking too wet and smelling, that’s your cue to add drier brown items to the pile. If it’s looking too dry and brown, add a bit of water and green items to increase the moisture.
2. Water the Compost
Your compost pile should have a consistency similar to a damp sponge. Sprinkling water over it regularly will help keep it that way. But be careful not to add a lot of water as this can drown the microorganisms in the pile. This could lead to a rotting pile instead of compost. You can keep an eye on the pile temperature with a thermometer or test it with your hand. Just stick your hand into the middle of the pile and if it feels warm to the touch, it’s doing well.
3. Turn the Pile
In the growing season, make sure your pile gets enough oxygen by turning it with a garden fork at least once a week. If you’re using a thermometer, turn the pile when it’s between 130 degrees and 150 degrees. Or you can use your hand to test the temperature. When you stir the compost pile, it cools quicker and prevents an odor from forming. When you’re at this stage, the green and brown layers have already served their function of balance, so stir it well.
4. Using Your Compost
And now for the most exciting part; using the compost! As soon as your compost doesn’t give heat off anymore and turns crumbly, brown, and relatively dry, it’s ready to use. You may add up to 6 inches of the material to your plants and flowers. The beginning of the growing season is the best time to do this. Learning how to recycle and use everything efficiently is a huge part of home survival and composting is a great place to start.
Dealing with the Cold
So we’ve already covered the importance of water and food, but what about another essential survival component; warmth? Do you know what you will do to cook food or stay warm if you lose electricity? If your home isn’t ready for the cold season, there’s no better time than now to take care of that.
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Doing this will make your home easier to survive in during the Winter time. Plus, by thinking ahead and doing this now, you can even save some money on your heating bills. The best part about this stage is that it won’t take a lot of time. With the proper supplies and know-how, you should be able to do this within just a few days.
Do Basic Maintenance
You can start by doing some maintenance on your current heating system and checking that it functions properly. Clean out your furnace and put a new filter in and clean the dust out of your vents. Make sure there are new batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
Stock Up on Alternate Light Sources
Before the unfortunate event of losing power after disaster strikes, you better be prepared. Stock up on candles, oil lamps, and any other forms of non-electric light and heat sources you can get your hands on. You’ll be glad you did!
Get Heavy Curtains
The next step is to get heavy curtains to cover your windows. This will help keep the heat inside and block out light so your house is less visible from outside. In addition, you could get some window insulation to tape over your windows to trap warm air. Storm windows are another option if you can afford to get them.
Reverse Your Fans
Most modern ceiling fans come with reverse switches. In the warmer months, the fan turns counterclockwise to help keep the room cool. In the colder months, however, you’ll want to reverse this to better disperse warm air throughout the room. Of course, this is only helpful when you still have power, but could still be a lifesaver.
Next, you should seal up any air leaks you have around your home. Look around the edges of doors and windows and add some caulk or weather stripping. In addition, check for gaps around vents, electrical outlets, and pipes in the home and seal them up. Air sealing your home will help you keep the heat trapped inside where it belongs.
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Prepare Your Fireplace
If you still have power, fireplaces are far less efficient than other heat sources. However, if you lose electricity, they will be the best way to cook your meals and keep the house warm. Make sure your fireplace is in good shape as far as mortar and bricks go, fix any cracks you see, and of course have a huge stockpile of firewood.
Clean Out Your Gutters
This may seem like a triviality, but neglecting this simple chore can mean damage and leaks later on. Clear all of the dirt, twigs, and leaves from the gutters and check to make sure the downpipes are clear.
The Importance of Organization
Organization might seem like something unrelated to home survival and bugging in, but it’s actually a crucial element. If your home is organized, you know exactly where everything is already. Imagine losing power unexpectedly. Would you know where the candles are? What about the flashlights and batteries?
In a messy house, you’re going to waste precious time fumbling around in the dark and clutter. Let’s look at some key factors involved in being organized during home survival:
Resist the Hoarding Impulse
Being a pack rat won’t serve you well if you end up needing to bug in at your place. Make it a habit now to throw or give items away if you haven’t used them in a while. Christmas ornaments or a box of old birthday cards could be worth keeping, but what about those extra clothes you never wear? What about the expired boxes of food in the back of your cupboard?
Look into tips for minimalism that you can begin applying to your habits today. Start being honest with yourself about whether or not you need the items you have in your home. This way, you can make room for the important survival items you’ll need when disaster strikes.
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Keep Survival Items Together
Next, start keeping survival items that you’ll need immediately together in one space. For instance, you could keep all of your water and food in the basement, with candles and matches on the shelf by the basement door. That way, if the power goes out, you’ll already know where the candles are and where to find your food and water. By grouping together related items this way, you’ll be much more organized and less stressed.
But the challenge doesn’t end there. As soon as you group together related items and get rid of needless junk, your next job is to maintain this new organized status quo. If you let this new habit go, you’re basically undoing all of your hard work and dooming yourself to stress later on. Start by putting things where they belong immediately instead of putting it off.
Get your children and spouse on board with the new, organized way of doing things, as well. You can make it more interesting by instituting a reward system, or take it a step further by keeping lists and labeling items. This might sound difficult, but you’ll soon get into the habit and find yourself enjoying your new orderly life. And if you need more motivation, just read about all of the psychological benefits to staying organized.
Other Home Survival Tips
Bugging in (home survival) is going to be the most logical solution for most people when disaster strikes. Even though bugging out may appear like the more adventurous option on the surface, you’re better off staying somewhere familiar. After all, everyone feels more comfortable at home.
You have all the supplies you need at home (or almost all of them), which makes your odds of survival much higher. You don’t have to risk braving the elements without reliable shelter. And if you’ve really looked ahead and prepared, you may even have a garden at your home to potentially supply food indefinitely.
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Of course, you should never abandon the possibility of needing to bug out. Make sure you rehearse that many times, just in case. Here are some more tips for practical and successful home survival.
Maintain the Right Appearance
Ensuring that your home has the right look is necessary for the safety of your group. You’ll want to strike a balance where your house doesn’t attract too much attention. You’ll have to consider where your home is located and how many neighbors you have (near or far) when deciding how to approach this factor. We mentioned earlier the importance of keeping the lights low or hidden when it gets dark, but what else can you do? Here are a couple reliable options:
-Look Ransacked: If your house looks like it’s already been hit by scavengers a few times, passerby might be less likely to take notice of it or bother going in. But you might not like that idea and want to…
-Build a Fortress: The next option is essentially the opposite of the first one. You can install a fence that hides your house from view and put some barbed wire in. Maybe you’ll even decide to fully board up the windows.
How you decide to protect your group’s location and defend your goods is up to you. The best plan will keep you somewhat hidden while also providing security against intruders. Start planning ahead so you don’t have to make this decision in a split second if an emergency strikes in your area.
Alternate Guard Duty
Depending on the specifics of the disaster situation and how dangerous it seems in your area, consider having a guard to stay up at night. This is something that you’ll only be able to do if you have enough people in your group. Nighttime is the likeliest time that someone will attempt to break into your house or yard. If there aren’t enough people in your group, consider having a guard dog for this purpose, instead.
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Think about extra affordable methods for securing the doors and windows of your place to prevent break-ins. Sliding doors are especially high-risk in the event of disaster as they can easily be pried open. Look into a door jammer or barricade. And what about reinforcing your door so that someone can’t kick it in? This is a skill worth learning, as well. Make sure all of your bases are covered before your livelihood is under threat.
Trim Your Trees
How can you maintain the integrity of your home in the event of a disaster that calls for home survival? We already talked about sealing up the cracks in your home and reinforcing windows and doors. Trimming any potentially hazardous tree limbs in your front or back yard is another good security measure.
All it takes is one big storm to knock off a branch and cause an incredible amount of damage. And if you’re in a post-disaster zone, you can’t simply call someone to come fix your house. Plan ahead and get rid of any potential dangers while you can.
It’s time to stop putting off getting into an exercise routine. Home survival might involve a lot of sitting around inside for safety purposes. Come up with a fitness plan now. Contrary to what some believe, you don’t have to go to the gym to get in shape. Look into bodyweight fitness and start a basic cardio routine, like using a jump rope. You might even consider getting some weights. Being fit will make it likelier that you can defend yourself against intruders.
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Not to mention that you won’t be able to visit the doctor any time you want if you fall ill or have a mysterious ailment. By prioritizing your fitness now, you will be minimizing the risk of health issues later. You will also give yourself the gift of good health and feeling great, and what could be better than that?
Have a Fire Plan
Imagine that you’re hunkered down doing the home survival thing. Do you know what you’ll do in the event of a fire? If your house catches ablaze in this situation, you can’t just call the fire department to come put it out. And you may not be able to fix it with your insurance policy within just a couple weeks. What can you do to fireproof your home and prevent this from happening?
Fireproof carpet is an option, as is fireproofing your furniture. You may also want to stock up on fire extinguishers, just in case. You would also be wise to come up with an evacuation plan to perform in case your home catches on fire. Again, once you make new rules and take precautions, make sure your entire family or group is aware of the plan.
Learning to Identify Edible Plants
After disaster, it’s safe to assume that you won’t be able to just pop into the Walmart down the street for food any time you need it. You will have to learn the skill of self-sufficiency. You can begin by getting a book on edible plants.
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With this new knowledge, you could potentially feed your family in an emergency situation. Here are a few common plants that you may not have realized were edible, just to get you started:
Most people don’t realize that cattail plants are edible. These are usually found around freshwater wetlands and most of the plant can be eaten. The roots can be eaten raw or boiled, and the stem is also edible. The most edible portion of the stem is the white part near the bottom. The stem can either be eaten raw or boiled. The leaves can be boiled and eaten like other greens. The heads aren’t edible, but you can use the fuzzy part inside as fire tinder.
Did you know that clovers can also be eaten? These are very common and easy to find in just about any open grass. While they are edible raw, they are tastier cooked or boiled. The blossoms are also edible, but go for the white or pink ones as they have a better taste. You can roast the blossoms and use the blossoms and leaves to make tea, as well.
Wild onions can be found in forests or fields and can be identified by their strong onion-like odor. Some have flowers while others don’t. Be careful with this category of edible plants because you might find a plant that looks similar to wild onion but is actually toxic. All of the wild onion plant is edible. Use it in stews, soups, or have it raw in a salad.
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You should always identify and use wild plants with extreme caution and never eat something unless you know for sure it’s safe. This will take some practice, so start learning to identify plants now as a hobby before you begin your home survival journey. And always double check the plant in a book and make sure you know your plants well before you go foraging.
Wild plants must be harvested at your own risk. Also keep in mind that you shouldn’t forage in an area where toxic chemicals or waste may have been present. This includes areas near the highway.
Home survival, or bugging in, does come with its own unique challenges, just as bugging out does. Most of these challenges will be unique to the disaster situation that makes this action necessary. This guide was meant to be a general overview to help prepare you for a variety of scenarios. As always, if you find yourself in such as situation, try to be prepared for anything.