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Shelter: Choosing a Bug-Out Location

Once Big Al starts to notice heightened tension between the united states and Russia, he plans to make the 1,800-mile bug out to his underground shelter.

Once Big Al starts to notice heightened tension between the united states and Russia, he plans to make the 1,800-mile bug out to his underground shelter. (View larger version)

Photograph by National Geographic Channel

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In prepper parlance, the term “bug out” refers to fleeing the dangers that ensue after a natural disaster or some man-made cataclysm causes a collapse of the social order. Indeed, at the first sign of trouble, a lot of preppers anticipate rushing off to a house and land in some isolated rural area, where they’ll be able to grow their own food, generate their own power, and stay out of the way of the chaos and mayhem that the rest of society is succumbing to. 

But as the situation escalates, it may not be so easy to keep from avoid the danger. As grisly as it may be to think about the worst-case scenario, you have to be prepared for the possibility you’ll find yourself confronted by an onslaught of intruders who overwhelm your defenses—or that a sudden disaster such as a fire or flood will render your main retreat uninhabitable. If any of those bad things happen, you’ll be forced to flee a second time. That’s why it’s a smart move to have a back-up dwelling at another location where you can seek refuge. Such a spot also can serve as a rally point for survivors of an attack who need to regroup, tend to injuries, and re-arm themselves to retake their main homestead.

Here are some tips on setting up a second bug-out location.

  • Safe Distance: You want your fallback location to be far enough away that you’re out of the line of fire. It could be unoccupied land, or else property owned by another friendly prepper who’s willing to provide refuge. Practical Preppers consultant David Kobler suggests having it at least several miles away from your main dwelling. To get there quickly, you’ll also need to have some sort of bug-out transportation. A utility vehicle with ample space is great, but a motorcycle, ATV, folding bicycle, or an adult tricycle with a basket for cargo may make it easier to slip away. Bugoutvehicles.net is a website devoted to various types of escape transportation.
  • Providing Shelter:  A conventional trailer or camper van could serve as an emergency redoubt. Another option is a “tiny house” with just enough space for a bed. Some of these minimalistic dwellings are mounted on wheels, so they can be moved to another location if need be. It’s also possible to construct a temporary structure on the site, as this YouTube video illustrates.
  • Giving the Signal to Flee:  Having a bug-out location or rally point prepared won’t do your community any good, unless people get word that it’s time to flee, and know where they should go to. Kobler advises equipping community members with handheld radios that they can use to communicate. But since there’s a chance that attackers may intercept your radio transmissions, it’s crucial to have everyone memorize a pre-arranged code word that indicates that it’s time to flee to the other site. Modernsurvivalonline.com offers this guide to survival communications gear.

If You Only Do Three Things:

  • Have a means to escape.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a beat-up old mountain bike, as long as it gets you to safety
  • Have a place to go that’s far enough away to be safe. You need to get at least several miles from whatever trouble has erupted, so you safely can regroup and figure out what to do next.
  • Hide some supplies someplace.  Even if it’s just a metal canister or duffle bag with some preserved food, water, a flashlight, poncho and a survival knife, you’ll be glad to have it in an emergency.


The Doomsday Preppers articles, videos, links, images, and instructions (“Content”) are for entertainment purposes only. The National Geographic Channel makes no express or implied representations regarding whether the Content is up-to-date, complete, or accurate, and shall not be liable for any consequential damages, claims, losses, or demands of any kind based upon reliance of the Content. Do not rely on this Content for disaster, medical, health or safety advice.

1 comments
John Rourke
John Rourke

If possible - can you fix the title of the website "Modernsurvivoronline.com" in the 5th paragraph? It should read "ModernSurvivalOnline.com" - thanks!


Rourke