Sunday, May 3, 2015

"The 15-Second Bug Out"

The Street Smarts column at Swat Magazine discusses bugging out. Not the "end of the world bug out," though:
I’m referring to situations where someone like me starts pounding maniacally on your door and yelling, “Police! Get out! Get out!” The reason could be a ruptured gas main, hazardous material spill, barricaded gunman two doors away, bomb threat at your hotel, or another annoyance not of your own making.

While I’ve never been forced to flee The End of the World As We Know It, I have certainly displaced hundreds of people in situations similar to those I just listed. In fact, 12 hours before these words were written, I was double-checking an “empty” apartment during a fire scene and discovered a suddenly frantic woman who had been overlooked during the initial evacuation. She wasn’t in any imminent danger from the small blaze in another unit, but she did face a serious health threat stepping outside in the sub-20 degree wind chill.

Why? Because she wasn’t prepared to be forced from her home with literally one-second notice.

Therein lies the crux of today’s sermon: plan all the complicated Road Warrior-style bug-out maneuvers you want, even though the odds are good you’ll never be forced into such a retreat, but don’t forget there’s a high probability that someday you’ll have to instantly flee your home or office due to a lesser crisis.

Quick test: stand at your front (or office) door and ask yourself, “What do I do if I have 15 seconds to evacuate?”

First and foremost, based on the number of cold and semi-dressed people I’ve seen wandering around during various emergencies, clothing appropriate for the weather and sturdy shoes are the most important items you’ll need. If you have the typical coat closet near your front door, the clothing problem is easily solved, but make sure there’s at least one pair of slip-on shoes staged there too.

This admonishment also goes for the office. Women in dresses, high-heeled shoes and fashionable but inadequate coats are especially at risk during evacuation and the aftermath. A pair of sneakers, pull-on sweatpants and a heavy coat or jacket kept in a gym bag under your desk might just transform you into the smartest-dressed salesperson at the emergency shelter.

If you can only grab one item, grab your cellular phone. A means of communication can facilitate resupply or evacuation, or simply give peace of mind. Don’t underestimate the importance of letting family know you are alive and well when there are live news broadcasts of a major calamity taking place at your factory.

You might want to have some other items ready, provided they are near the door, lightweight, and have minimal bulk. For further inspiration, research those bags we preppers are always talking about: “EDC,” “Bug-Out,” “72-Hour,” “Get-Home,” “Grab and Go,” “Crisis Kit,” or “The old suitcase we keep in the closet for emergencies.”
Related PostAttending a Presentation by the Local Emergency Management Agency.


  1. When I saw the title of this piece, the first thing that came to mind was my get home bag stored in my vehicle. And, while I have an extra winter coat in my vehicle, I do no have extra clothes or shoes. (Hmm, maybe I should put some effort into putting clothes and shoes in the vehicle.)

    But, back to the main point of the article. With only 15 seconds, I'm probably not going to be in the best condition, but give me 30 seconds and I'm golden.

    For many years, I've tried to "stage" my clothing and EDC items for easy retrieval in case of an emergency (fire and tornadoes have been my primary concerns). When I undress at night, the clothing I just took off is placed where it can be quickly retrieved, with socks placed on top of the weather appropriate shoes I was wearing that day. The EDC items that go in my pockets are carefully placed on the night stand next to the bed. Fortunately, I've never had to test this preparation, although a few times I've had to get partially dressed with flashlight and pistol in hand to check out a strange noise.

    1. Sounds like you are pretty much good to go! Since I work in an office, I have to wear shoes intended for business wear. I use to keep an extra set of light weight hikers in my car with a pair of hiking socks. Fortunately, Merrill (which make pretty good hiking boots and shoes) also makes shoes for business or business-casual that are acceptable for walking, and I've switched to dark, conservatively colored hiking socks that I can just wear to work.