Editor’s Note: At its core, a Bug Out Location – or BOL – is a safe place where you can thrive. The “suitability” suggestions Rob presents are excellent guidelines, whether your BOL is for use during an emergency situation, or if you are looking to live a full-time, self-sufficient lifestyle.
A major priority after a SHTF event is shelter. If the situation is a temporary one, then a tent or natural shelters like a debris hut can be adequate.
However for a long term SHTF event – particularly an “end of the world as we know it” situation, survivors will need to find a more permanent location to settle. We need a significant bug out location.
If you find yourself bugging out with no pre-planned location in mind, here are some considerations and some potential places than can be adapted to help you survive.
What Makes A Suitable BOL?
- Close to a water source – we all are very aware of the importance of water when it comes to survival. If you can find a location that has a river, stream or other water source nearby, this will greatly enhance your chances of survival. You will need water for drinking, washing, cleaning, etc., so the larger the water source, the better. Remember that you will need to filter and/or boil the water for drinking and cooking, but having your own source of fresh water will be a huge boost for you and your group. You could also use your water source to provide food (fishing) power (to power a generator or turbine) and added security (as a barrier to cross to get to your BOL). If there is no water source near to your chosen location – you may need to keep moving!
- Space – you will need enough space for each member of your group to be able to have some kind of personal space to help relax, meditate or just to have some alone time. You will also need to make sure that there is enough land available for food production. Planting seeds, keeping chickens, etc., all require a fair amount of space, so if you are looking for a long term BOL, make sure adequate indoor and outdoor space is available.
- Distance from populated areas – this can be a tricky one to get right. You want your camp to be as isolated as possible to keep the probability of running into bad guys as low as possible. However you also need to be able to survive long enough to get there. If you and your group have to travel for weeks to reach your camp, you are unlikely to have all members of your group still with you when you get there. If you leave your home in a hurry with your bug out bag – you have 72 hours at the most to find your camp location.
- Security – there is no point working hard for days, weeks and months getting your BOL established and running efficiently only to have another group come in and kick you out and keep it for themselves. You need to be able to defend your camp when necessary. Ideally you want as few access points to your camp as possible. It is also very helpful if your camp is on higher ground so you have a clear view of all sides. This will allow you to be able to see any potential threat very early on and get prepared for it. High fences and walls will provide protection, as will cutting down some trees to partially block access routes to your camp.
- Access to food – you will need to make sure there is plenty of wildlife and edible plants local to your camp location. Growing your own food is great but it will take a fair amount of time before you have your crops established and producing enough food for everyone. Until then you will need to hunt, forage and scavenge for your food.
- Waste disposal – you need to have the ability to dispose of both human waste and trash from your group’s living. You need to ensure you have an area where you can dig trenches and a large area where you can burn any waste that needs to be destroyed. Ideally this area needs to be relatively covered so your fire is not visible to other groups. A great situation to be in would have suitable land available where you could look to set up some kind of sewage system that takes excrement away from your camp.
Potential Locations That Could Be Adapted As A BOL
If things have gone horribly wrong with society, and there is a near-total melt-down in play, you need to adapt to the situation – the proverbial “thinking outside of the box” mindset. For this kind of situation, there are a number of locations that – with a bit of work – can be adapted to sustain a survival group in the long term.
Here are some places to consider that may meet most or all of the above criteria:
- A zoo – these are designed to keep very large and very dangerous animals enclosed. This means that they could keep bad guys away from your group. The bigger zoos will have a large water source in the form of a lake or aquarium area. It may not be a nice thought but you also have access to a huge food source. The animals will already be in an enclosure that zoo staff would have had access to. This means you will be able to get fairly close to the animals, which reduces time spent on hunting. The zoo will be split into a number of areas so it will be easy to allocate food areas, sleeping areas, toilet areas, etc. One major disadvantage of using a zoo as a base camp is that they are usually in well-populated areas and have easy access from a few routes – customer entrance and exits, delivery areas, staff entrances, etc., so all of these will need to be protected and secured.
- A prison – Similar to a zoo, these are designed to keep bad people in and to stop anyone else from being able to enter. As a BOL, this is exactly what you need. Your group can secure the prison easily with what is already in place, and all of the entrances and exits will be secure and defensible. Different cell blocks can be used for different purposes – you could isolate any sick group members in their own block to help prevent infection of other people. Water and food sources could be a challenge once the prisons canteen supplies have been used up, so the area surrounding the prison will need to be utilized providing it is suitable.
- A garden center – in terms of food sources – a garden center should have enough seeds and edible plants to keep your group going for a few months. They usually have a good amount of stored water which they use to care for plants, so this can be filtered and used for drinking and cooking. Although it won’t be as secure or defensible as the other two options – lots of garden centers have a high fenced outside area and a more secure delivery area with a lockable gate that which is usually at least the height of a delivery truck.
What are some characteristics or potential locations we’ve forgotten? Let us hear what you think in the comments section.