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By the author of Street Survivalism: A Practical Training Guide To Life In The City and The Ultimate Survival Gear Handbook
We occasionally receive a reminder that bugging out might not be such a crazy idea. One recent example is the train accident in Ohio, where tons of toxic vapors were released into the environment due to the explosion and burning of dangerous chemicals. What is the best course of action if you reside anywhere near East Palestine?
As Erin Brockovich advised, “Trust your eyes and get out of there.” Smart girl. The first law of survival is to not be there.
The incident is still shrouded in mystery, however, the reports of animals falling sick and dying in the area are a big, bright red flag. Even if the authorities have declared it is okay to return home, I would remain away for a while because of that and the truncated, conflicting information coming out.
While the government is trying to psyop the country with downed UFO stories a domestic Chernobyl is happening in #EastPalestine Ohio since February 3rd.
Dead animals, people getting sick, arrested journalists and MSM blackout.
A thread.🧵👇 pic.twitter.com/X6EdmE1wE6
— Woke Societies (@wokesocieties) February 13, 2023
The line to get into the East Palestine town hall tonight stretches for a half mile. THOUSANDS of people are PISSED and none of them trust what the government is telling them.
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) February 16, 2023
Some would counter that it was just a train accident and that such incidents happen but are rare. That’s true, but it’s also obvious that things aren’t normal and that things are unstable and tumultuous everywhere. When a situation is this fragile, things take on a different dimension, and hazards are multiplied. As a result, our perspectives and vulnerability-reduction tactics need to be updated.
Even if you don’t plan to bug out, you still might have to do it.
Rethinking bugging out and relocation with perspective on the new reality: unrest and danger can erupt anywhere, at any time.
We frequently discuss actual bug-outs brought about by human and natural factors. I’ve related tales of people fleeing their homes to set up camp in front of police stations out of fear of a runaway serial killer, families leaving their homes to escape violent riots in South Africa, and residents moving to other parts of the city to avoid a crackhead group invasion brought on by a police raid.
Jose also shares some wild bugging-out tales here on TOP. During the worst of the pandemic, we saw the gridlocks and chaos as thousands attempted to flee Paris and London ahead of announced lockdowns. And exactly a year ago, we witnessed the dramatic episode when, at the beginning of the Russian invasion, Ukrainians fled their cities on foot amidst the crossfire and missile strikes.
Bugging out, or even moving ahead of a crisis, is and will always be an extreme and uncommon scenario (hopefully). The wisest course of action in 99% of the situations is to shelter in place. In light of the rising volatility, though, it is imperative to reevaluate these strategies and consider all available possibilities and probabilities. It’s important not to stubbornly say, “I’m never bugging out.” The situation might require it, like it or not.
Whether in urban or rural settings, there are a variety of risk variables to take into account.
To continue on the subject of instability and systemic risks, I’ll concentrate on the ones that are tied to human activity. However, keep in mind that nature will always be a component that may affect human-related ones.
Risk factors for bugging out in cities and areas with high population density
People, in general, tend to believe that rural places are safe havens and cities are death traps, but history proves that’s far from true. Resources will certainly disappear quickly from the shelves anytime anything extraordinary happens because of the high density, the distance from production, and the just-in-time supply chain. Panic can swiftly start and spread.
But cities don’t grow and thrive for being fragile and inhospitable, but precisely because living conditions are favorable. Higher density also means quicker access to more robust services, such as law enforcement, firefighting, civil defense, media presence, and political, economic, and social influence. Those are needed to uphold or restore order in the event of an emergency. They may go unnoticed, yet they exist and have an effect on how any situation turns out.
Nevertheless, cities can pose distinct risks, some of which are directly related to the concentration of people, resources, and importance. Examples include diplomatic and political representatives, residences of high-ranking figures, police stations, hospitals, and government buildings. These dangers, along with others, can occasionally arise.
I go into deeper detail about that subject in my book Street Survivalism and devote an entire chapter to the significance and practices of city mapping because I know from experience they may be determining and have personally faced some problems on a few occasions because of that.
People will panic and rush to the food stores and gas stations due to the large population and scarce resources. Above all else, though, is the potential for the situation to quickly deteriorate and elicit a response from the authorities that might result in even greater hazards and dangers. In the current climate, these things can be triggered by actual, made-up, or fictitious causes (or no cause at all).
Protests, riots, revolutions, curfews, lockdowns, martial law, and strikes are just a few of the potentially dangerous civic events that could result in enough unrest, bloodshed, and disruptions in urban areas to warrant a temporary or even permanent evacuation. This risk has significantly increased as a result of CV-19 and all that has occurred since 2020.
High crime may not be enough to convince individuals to bug out or even temporarily relocate because there are methods to cope with it. However, some places will experience an increase in violence to the extent that many will believe that leaving their current town, state, or even country is the only option to improve their quality of life or even their chances of survival. In many locations, it’s already occurring covertly (or overtly).
(Want more information on escaping in a hurry? Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to emergency evacuations to learn more.)
Risk factors for bugging out in rural and low population density.
The infrastructure and facilities used for some activities are typically constructed in less populated locations due to the nature of those operations, among other things. Anyone living close to these should have a bug-out plan and preparations in place.
Find civic or governmental agencies or platforms that are in place to issue emergency alerts or communicate with the community if you haven’t already. Keep in mind, though, that authorities may do the opposite in order to prevent panic, even if that puts the population in jeopardy.
It is nevertheless advisable to avoid relying on “official” sources of information and much less on assistance in the event of an emergency. That is yet another tenet of preparedness and you still need to practice it when bugging out. The systems are frequently not updated or kept in good condition. Start networking and creating your own system if the neighborhood does not already have a decent one.
These stand out as the most obvious. Living close to a nuclear power plant makes it nearly impossible to be unaware of its presence. The management, the municipal, state, or federal authorities typically implement some sort of warning system around these. Be certain of it – and keep prepared – even if a nice history of malfunctions and leaks suggests these are safe to be around.
Biological and chemical facilities
Chemical and biological plant accidents and disasters can have an even greater negative impact on the environment and local community than nuclear disasters. In some cases, accidental releases might linger for decades. For many reasons, including the Hollywood and propaganda effect, the oversight and social awareness produced by those also tend to be less severe than with nuclear plants.
Dams and mining reject reservoirs
Last month I recalled the Brumadinho tragedy that happened here in Brazil in 2019. Nearly 300 people were killed by the mudslide, which also severely harmed the environment and wildlife. Some consequences may never entirely heal and continue to exist today. Get a topo map and determine whether you are downstream of these locations, in a basin, or in another dangerous area.
A few years ago, I would only bring up prisons as a high-risk element in developing nations where insurrections and escapes are common. But even if I were to live in a first-world country, I would remember how unstable everything is going forward. For obvious reasons, prison breakouts pose a serious threat to the neighborhood.
People should look at what occurs in countries like South Africa, Argentina, Venezuela, and my own nation, Brazil, before ignoring the risk that crime poses in rural areas. The distances and the lesser density mean that violence in rural regions can be harsh since criminals can act more freely, even though it is not as common or prevalent as in major cities.
Railroads and roads
As the case of the train tragedy in Ohio demonstrates, there are risks associated with living in the vicinity of a railroad or heavily used road. Even if train accidents are relatively infrequent (at least until now), the overall scenario is unstable and strange things are happening all over, as I’ve been trying to emphasize. Keep as far away from hazards and threats as possible rather than just focusing on becoming ready to handle them. A toxic spill on a highway in Arizona forced an evacuation just this week. In fact, Daisy reported that a local friend there said that residents were warned not to have ANY kind of flame due to the highly flammable contaminant in the air – including that on gas heat or gas stoves. With a cold front moving in, that’s a bad situation.
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Bugging out isn’t just in the woods.
The key lesson here is that bugging out doesn’t necessarily mean running into the woods with a backpack, and strategic relocation doesn’t always mean relocating permanently to a different state or nation.
Both can involve a quick excursion to a hotel, a family member, or a friend’s home in another city or part of town, or something like that. The issue then becomes how to plan and get ready for that. No matter the circumstance, the following must be taken into account to ensure a safe and effective bug-out:
- A well-thought-out plan is necessary to avoid panic and improvised solutions in case of emergencies. We make stupid decisions when we’re desperate. Prior testing and looking for gaps are equally crucial.
- Remaining informed at all times to prevent being taken off guard. Create whatever mechanism is required to stay up to date on the circumstances in your area in order to avoid being caught off guard.
- Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice by keeping the essentials organized and close at hand, so you and your family can go as quickly and efficiently as possible in case something arises. To assist with that, check out my book on how to build up an emergency bag (bug-out bag) and EDC, available here on TOP’s Self Reliance and Survival Learning Center.
For more ideas of how and where to go, check out Daisy’s guide, The Bug Out Book.
I’m finishing another book, this time about bugging-out drills, and will write an article on the topic in the near future, too. These exercises combine city evasion, backpacking, and stealth camping with tactical and strategic emphasis. I frequently lead folks on these dry runs in my city on motorcycles, but I also do them for fun and fitness on foot whenever I can.
But even though I love going on outdoor adventures, I don’t entertain fantasies of being the Lone Wolf living in a forest. I reside in a large city. Thus my primary strategies, plans, and preparations to face crises and emergencies are oriented toward surviving and thriving in the urban environment. In an emergency, my first response is to seek shelter with my family.
However, the world is getting crazier by the day, so we never know. And that’s why we prepare.
What do you think? What was the cause of the train crash? Do we need to rethink aspects of bugging out? Are there other facilities you think people should take into consideration outside of those listed above? Would you be prepared for a rapid and unexpected evacuation in case of such a disaster? If not, can we help you brainstorm potential solutions? Let’s discuss it in the comments.
Fabian Ommar is a 50-year-old middle-class worker living in São Paulo, Brazil. Far from being the super-tactical or highly trained military survivor type, he is the average joe who since his youth has been involved with self-reliance and outdoor activities and the practical side of balancing life between a big city and rural/wilderness settings. Since the 2008 world economic crisis, he has been training and helping others in his area to become better prepared for the “constant, slow-burning SHTF” of living in a 3rd world country.
Fabian’s ebook, Street Survivalism: A Practical Training Guide To Life In The City , is a practical training method for common city dwellers based on the lifestyle of the homeless (real-life survivors) to be more psychologically, mentally, and physically prepared to deal with the harsh reality of the streets during normal or difficult times. He’s also the author of The Ultimate Survival Gear Handbook.
You can follow Fabian on Instagram @stoicsurvivor
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