11 Disasters that Will Get You to Bug Out

Being ready to bug out is part and parcel of prepping. When you have major trouble coming your way, instead of trying to lean into it and tackle it head-on, a far more elegant solution is just to get you and the people you care about out of the dang way!

man hiking with backpack into the woods

A situation does not have to be dire beyond comprehension to justify playing it safe and putting plenty of distance between you and danger. There are always greener pastures somewhere, and you would be well-advised to have a plan and stay prepared to get to those greener pastures when things take a turn for the worst.

Unfortunately, things are rarely so simple as we would like them to be, and nowhere is this truer than when it comes to actually bugging out.

On foot or in a vehicle, it seems like preppers sometimes forget that, chances are, they will not be moseying out of town in an unhurried and untroubled fashion once the decision to bug out has been made.

No, it is far more likely instead that it will be a mad scramble in the midst of chaos with plenty of curveballs, carnage and catastrophe to avoid while en route to your bug-out location.

It is far from an exaggeration to assert that executing your “real” bug out will be challenging and indeed a survival scenario unto itself, and being prepared to deal with any unexpected eventualities that can and will occur both before and during your dash out of town might very well spell the difference between a successful escape and dismal, miserable failure.

In this article I will share with you various bug-out disasters that could get you to evacuate, so you can ensure you’re not in the wrong place when the time is nigh.

Not All Bug Outs Are the Same

It is a foolish assumption to think that a bug out looks the same for all people living in all places. Do you really think everyone’s circumstances are the same, that they will be facing the same event with the same concerns?

That is rhetorical; of course you don’t and neither do I! What is true of course is that any given bug-out will entail quite a few variables. What kind of variables? Have a gander at this short list, and know this is just a few of them:

  • Nature of the Event – This is the crisis that is actually sending you fleeing. Your bug out will likely look different depending on what is happening. What is taking place? Natural disaster? Man-made catastrophe? Cosmic event? Zombie plague? Chances are you won’t be running away from a hurricane the same way you would a breakdown of civil order. Some events might make a bug out drastically more dangerous all the way around.
  • Starting Point – Did you really think you’ll be sitting at home with your feet propped up and your BOB packed when the call goes out? Probably not: you could be at work, school, traveling or somewhere else. Consider the fact you might have to get home before you can properly bug out, or bug out from where you are, now deprived of all of your preps and supplies.
  • Complications – You planned to bug out in your vehicle; as it turns out that is no longer an option. You planned to go on foot; turns out that going on foot is now impossible. What do you do? How do you react? What if your initial plan is suddenly deep-sixed?
  • Round Up – Unless you are going things entirely alone, and have no one else depending on you, you probably have at least one or two people that you are responsible for or just don’t want to see left behind and left for dead as they watch your taillights fade Into the distance. What if your loved ones or dependents are not with you when the balloon goes up and you know you have to bug out fast? What if you had to locate them and collect them before hitting the road and heading for safety?
  • Curve Balls – Depending on the nature of the event and all other factors involved, you might decide against bugging out initially, only for the wind to start figuratively (or even literally!) blowing in the other direction, and now you have to get your butt in gear and bug-out posthaste.

These are just a few of the potential variables you will have to deal with during a real life bug out event. Right now, as you start to put these variables together in different ways the real complexity of the situation you’ll be facing is probably dawning on you. It is a heavy feeling for sure, but don’t let that get you down.

Just like anything else, proper planning and preparation will make the difference no matter how chaotic and how uncertain the situation is.

That is much of the reason that this article exists; hopefully, by going over some of the varied scenarios that we present, you can challenge yourself, and spice up your own bug-out planning.

If all you are doing is practicing a once or twice annual hike with a light backpack as a bug out “exercise” you are not even close to being prepared for all eventualities.

Likewise, don’t dress up a family vacation road trip as real bug-out preparation; if you aren’t dealing with all the complications and variables listed above, even in practice, you aren’t pushing yourself as far as you probably should be.

11 Bug Out Scenarios to Practice Today

Hurricane – Timing is everything.

  • Bugging out from a major hurricane is always a good idea.
  • Leave too early, and you might jump the gun, but try and leave too late and you won’t be able to reach a safe distance in time.
  • Bugging out from a hurricane will put your logistical planning to the test.

Hurricanes are one of the few natural disasters that are so massive and so slow (comparatively) that we are afforded ample warning of their approach in our modern era; days at the least and usually a week or more as the storm slowly plows across the open ocean towards land.

They might be slow, but they are proper juggernauts! Hurricanes are the most powerful storm systems on Earth, and produce a brutal triple threat in the form of powerful sustained winds, biblical rainfall, and inundating storm surge that can scour entire communities right off the map.

If you live anywhere near the coast, you would be wise to plan and practice your hurricane season bug out until you and anybody going with you can execute it like pieces of a well-oiled machine.

You might think you can take it as it comes with a hurricane since they are so slow, prone to weakening, and often make last-minute turns that will spare communities the worst of their effects, but this would be a mistake. Properly executing a hurricane bug out is going to put your risk analysis and logistical planning skills to the test.

It is a dicey thing: On one hand, you can leave too early only for the hurricane to dissipate, turn away or otherwise reduce its threat, and you will have expended considerable time, effort and money for nothing. A classic false alarm.

On the other hand, many folks who live on or near the coastlines are notorious for getting lazy when it comes to hurricanes since they are an annual event.

Hanging on too long before deciding to hit the road might see you in a bad spot, with clogged highways and interstates, gas shortages, and nowhere to bunker down as the storm finally makes landfall. That is a bad spot to be in!

Ultimately, the correct answer is somewhere in-between. You should have what you need packed and ready, and a hard deadline time and date set during hurricane season for any given storm, and ideally one that will let you avoid the mass of last-minute evacuees

Preferably, your hurricane bug-out route should go via lesser traveled routes that will let you cover ground faster without contending with traffic.


Civil Unrest

  • Disasters don’t just happen while you are at home.
  • You might have to fight through one situation to get home in order to properly supply, prepare and then bug out.
  • Keeping a get home bag or even a few supplies at your workplace for just such an eventuality can give you a leg up on getting home safely.
  • More than most other events, this is one disaster where you will likely need to defend yourself.

One big blind spot that most preppers have is a particular assumption: the assumption that they will be starting their bug out from an at-rest, at-home position! Statistically, this is highly unlikely!

The average adult living in America spends 40 hours or more a week at their job, whatever that is. Your “office” might have a desk and computer in it, or it might be high up in a bucket truck working on power lines, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that when you learn about a developing situation, such as mass civil unrest and rioting, that has struck your city and furthermore is imperiling your neighborhood while you are in the middle of rectifying a spreadsheet or installing new insulators on a power pole you had best clock out early and get home as quick as you can.

This is bad enough during any time-is-life situation considering you now have transit time home to contend with on top of your prep time, load time and departure, but to make matters even worse, you will have to contend with very real dangers just to get home.

How are you going to handle it if you have to drive through streets that are clogged with violent rioters who are beating people and burning vehicles? Even worse, how will you contend with such an event if you have to go home on foot?

There are two ways to approach this increasingly likely scenario: the first is that you stay prepared to bug out properly from wherever you are, meaning you need to keep a bug-out bag with you and be ready to roll.

This, of course, assumes you do not have anyone else depending on you that you must collect in the meantime…

The second way is to keep a smaller “get home bag”, or GHB, in your vehicle or stashed at your office place that contains the bare minimum equipment you will need to safely make movement to your home on foot, or for you single people who are bugging out at once, to your first supply cache.

Why wouldn’t you just keep a BOB with you whatever the case? Simple: a BOB is big and heavy, whereas a GHB is light, and only as heavy as it takes to accomplish the bare minimum. If you need to hurry home to reconnect with loved ones, that will make a big difference!

Scenarios just like this one can greatly complicate your bug out effort since you’ll be under both time pressure and greater danger the entire time prior to bugging out.

firefighters putting out a fire
firefighters putting out a fire

Wildfire – One wrong choice could be deadly!

  • Wildfires can threaten entire regions; be prepared to go far and fast to get away.
  • The unpredictable and capricious nature of wildfires means you might see typical routes closed or completely cut off without warning.
  • Waiting too long to bug out from an approaching wildfire might mean you get overtaken and burned alive; go while the going is good!

Wildfires are an increasing threat annually, and one that has been in the news constantly for the past few years.

If you live on the west coast of the United States or anywhere in Australia you have probably been living with the sights, sounds and smells of nearby wildfires scorching hundreds of thousands or even millions of acres along with many buildings.

Whether they are caused by global warming and cited by human activity, natural warming cycles or a lack of proper forestry efforts matters very little when there is a roaring inferno heading for your neighborhood.

Wildfires are a capricious and insidious threat, and though they do not typically cause much human death compared to other disasters if you are overtaken by one it is almost always lethal. Copious smoke, extreme heat and leaping flames will kill anything and everything in their path.

To make matters even worse, wildfires move quickly even when contested by the best firefighting technology we have, and if the weather turns against you they can accelerate precipitously.

Some people decide to wait and see what happens when a wildfire is heading their way, trying to wait until the last possible minute in an effort to avoid abandoning their homes. Some brave and stalwart amateur firefighters choose to do what they can in order to battle the blaze themselves and hopefully save their dwellings.

More than a few people in both categories hang on too long and are forced to escape through a nightmarish landscape that is burning on all sides with smoke reducing their visibility all the while.

In recent years quite a few people evacuating from a wildfire that drew too near wound up making wrong turns that saw them get lost, stuck and overtaken by the flames, tragically losing their lives.

If you want to avoid such an unhappy fate you must have your bug out plans down to an exact science. You must know every possible route, every detour and every alternate path in and out of an area.

Discovering a road or path that is blocked by flames means you must react immediately and correctly to get yourself out of a bad situation, and if you are wise you will go by vehicle at the first opportunity. Trying to escape a wildfire on foot is a harrowing experience you will never forget- assuming you live, that is.

Terror Attack – Avoiding what may yet come.

  • An isolated terror attack might not be any reason to bug-out, but it could herald more attacks to come, perhaps imminently.
  • However, an ongoing terror threat or a severe incident might mean bugging out to clear the “hot zone” is worthwhile.
  • You must be especially cautious to avoid crowded streets, mass transit and other high-value targets when bugging out as a follow-on attack could be planned for just such an occasion.

Terror attacks are another SHTF event that is showing few signs of slowing down in the 21st century.

As long as people think they can get what they want and move the political football a little farther down the road by killing scores of innocent people to prove a point, there will always be madmen willing to perpetrate the deed.

Terror attacks often happen so quickly they are over before there is any real opportunity to bug out, but just as often metropolitan areas will be living under a heightened state of terror alert due to actionable intel that has been discovered.

Naturally this can see an entire area locked down with fear and an overwhelming law enforcement presence.

Everywhere you go and every move you make, you’ll be second-guessing yourself so you don’t wind up as part of a juicy target in the form of a mass of civilians. This is especially hazardous if the potential threat is chemical or biological in nature.

Instead of living with that kind of uncertainty it is probably best to go ahead and get out of dodge.

This is one instance where listening to the media and the experts might wind up screwing you; it is all too easy to wait for more information, instructions or some other prescient insights from experts instead of actively working to improve your situation and your overall safety.

This “wait-and-seeism” is a form of analysis paralysis and should be avoided.

The best way to accomplish this is to have your own personal line of demarcation: Decide now under what circumstances and what kind of terror threat you will attempt to shelter in place or otherwise mitigate risk, and under what circumstances you will bug out for the duration of the threat.

If you do decide to bug out you should make every attempt to do so via a route and method that will produce the least possible exposure to harm in case your number comes up.

Earthquake – Tough going in the aftermath.

  • Moving during an earthquake is almost impossible.
  • Earthquakes seldom give any meaningful warning; you’ll have to bug out afterward to escape the carnage.
  • Damaged buildings, crumbling infrastructure, landslides, avalanches and aftershocks will all seriously threaten your safety during a bug out.
  • Pathfinding will be very difficult after a major quake; they can reshape entire landscapes!

Earthquakes are some of the most common and the most destructive natural disasters around, striking without warning and, in the case of the most powerful quakes, leaving behind a landscape that is utterly broken and extremely dangerous to traverse.

This causes something of a catch-22 for preppers, since you will never have any advanced warning of an earthquake occurring and cannot bug out ahead of time, but even after the primary quake is over you will always have to be worried about aftershocks when you are trying to evacuate.

Even trying to travel in the aftermath of an earthquake can be truly harrowing, with downed electrical lines, cracked or crumbled roads, burning fires, and even chasms in the very ground rent apart standing in your way.

Ideally, you should get away from any buildings or other structures that pose a risk of collapse as soon as the initial shaking stops, and getting clear of any built-up areas or areas that could be at risk from attendant landslides or avalanches is a top priority.

That being said, trying to plan a possible route through an earthquake ravaged area could be the very summit of difficult.

Bugging out through or around a ruined city or town in the aftermath of an earthquake is going to put your improvisational skills to the test: Some roads might not be severely affected but they might take you too close to buildings on the verge of collapse or near other hazards that have revealed themselves.

Routes you would otherwise be able to depend on in any other kind of disaster scenario might now be rendered completely impassable, choked with debris or too risky to navigate.

In the case of a very strong earthquake, the entire area might be rendered unrecognizable, with landmarks, street signs and other navigational aids completely rearranged or destroyed.

You would be wise to get clear of any damaged structure, any built-up area, and any place that might suffer from a follow-on avalanche, landslides or aftershocks, but attempting to do that very thing is going to put your bug-out skills to the test.

You should practice now by getting comfortable taking zig-zagging, unusual routes in and out of the area where you live.

Civil War – Nowhere is safe, only safer. Trust no one.

  • A civil war scenario represents a total threat; to your physical safety, supplies and shelter.
  • Moving through occupied areas will take on an entirely new and harrowing character when a nation is experiencing a civil war. You could be detained, robbed, or killed if you are suspected of being “opposition”.
  • You must be prepared to go a long way to reach safe and habitable bug-out locations far from any fighting. Even then, you might be greeted as an interloper, not a refugee worthy of helping.
  • Fleeing the country is not out of the question. Have you developed your bug-out plan to this level?

Civil war, once thought to be laughably unthinkable for developed Western countries is now not such an impossibility. With increasing strife, political division and constantly growing cultural rifts, simmering civil clashes could potentially escalate into full-blown civil war heading into the 21st century.

Unlike many of the other scenarios on this list, any civil war is going to be a widespread, long-lasting and holistically dangerous event. This is not something you can simply run away from unless you plan on fleeing the country entirely.

When you consider the dangers inherent to a civil war in the context of bugging out, there is much to be frightened of. Anyone who is potentially on the other side of the conflict might have cause to hassle, rob or even kill you outright just because you are one of them.

This could potentially mean fleeing from an active conflict zone and blundering right into the arms of people who wouldn’t spit on you if you were on fire. It is difficult to overstate just how tenuous safety is during a civil war.

Even if you can be assured of getting to a place that is nominally friendly, don’t expect to be welcomed with open arms. There will be plenty of refugees going to and fro, and they will be straining already overstrained supply lines of water, food and other commodities.

You might be treated more like a pest than someone in need of help. Surviving a civil war will strain your self-sufficiency skills and preps to the absolute limit.

One of the smartest things you can do to get ready for civil war is to establish a network of like-minded preppers, be they family members, friends or even voluntary associates like members of a MAG.

The more distributed the members of this network are the better, as they can serve as refuges or safe havens for their mates who are forced to flee conflict zones.

This is one situation where a bug out of extraordinary length might be necessary in order to reach safe harbor. Considering that a civil conflict is never over soon enough, the long-term gains might outweigh the comparatively short-term risks of such a lengthy and perilous journey.

Radiological Event

When bugging out could be necessary, but puts you at tremendous risk of exposure.

Far and away one of the most insidious threats that any prepper could possibly face is the threat posed by radiation, specifically radioactive fallout. Popularly, this is thought to occur most commonly as a result of a nuclear warhead detonation, though this is far from the only source of the silent, invisible and deadly threat.

Nuclear power plant accidents, spills resulting from transportation or manufacture of nuclear fuel and terroristic use of dirty bombs (conventional explosives laced with radioactive material) will all scatter radioactive material far and wide to a greater or lesser degree.

Radioactive fallout is so dangerous because it does not give any obvious warning. A little bit of dust, dirt or other debris that looks harmless could be dangerously radioactive thanks to the event and by the time you start feeling symptoms from proximity it could be way too late.

What is worse, this radioactive debris will contaminate everything it touches, and until it is removed everything affected by it will be soaking up more and more dangerous amounts of radiation.

Overwhelmingly, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from the dangers of radioactive fallout is to get inside a good shelter and seal it up tight.

Sealing a structure against radioactive fallout is typically done by shutting down all HVAC systems, closing chimneys, vents and louvers and sealing cracks and crevices with tape. A good shelter itself is any structure that puts the maximum amount of dense material between you and the fallout- Remember: mass attenuates radiation!

You are probably already considering the obvious problem here; what if you do not have any good shelter around but are none the less in an area that is likely or certain to be affected by the

Fallout? Will you sit on your duff and pray that it misses you, or will you do something to try and improve your situation? If you are like most preppers, you will at least try and that means you need to get going. It is time to bug out.

Bugging out from a radiological fallout event is extremely risky and you have to know the specifics of what you are facing.

A nuclear warhead and, to a much lesser degree, a nuclear power plant accident will scatter radioactive material high into the atmosphere which will then drift on prevailing winds before settling back to Earth to do its deadly work.

This can afford you a certain amount of time to move before you are in serious danger, anywhere from 30 minutes to perhaps an hour or more depending on weather conditions. This is time that must be used efficiently and wisely, as once that debris starts to come back down you had better be buttoned up tight.

On the other hand, something like a dirty bomb detonation or a transportation accident could scatter fallout over a much tighter area but do so far quicker, meaning your bug out must be equally quick as you are likely to be exposed when underway if you’re anywhere near the area.

In this case, your bug-out plan must be focused on reaching minimum safe distance and then immediately decontaminating yourself, and your gear to remove any potential traces of the dangerous fallout.

This type of event is a great example of how your bug-out parameters can change radically for the exact same threat depending on the context.

Tsunami – Time is of the essence, and there is only one way to go.

  • Scramble! Any tsunami warning or indicator means a tsunami is on the way, and you have only minutes to reach safety.
  • The aftermath of a tsunami is incredibly perilous. You should bug out for the long haul if you are able as you will be unable to return safely for some time.
  • Any large body of water, including freshwater lakes, could generate a tsunami, so stay on your toes and be ready to go at a moment’s notice anytime you are near a shoreline of any substantial size.

A tsunami is a massively powerful surge of waves that move inland at speed, typically generated by an undersea event like an earthquake on the seafloor, a landslide or something else.

The gargantuan mass of water is incredibly destructive, sweeping away and drowning people, tossing cars like bath toys and severely damaging all but the most heavily built structures.

Once the initial waves recede, the area is still completely flooded with all that entails. But the havoc does not stop there, as tsunamis can often strike multiple times in a comparatively short amount of time, killing survivors of the initial wave, and severely hampering rescue efforts.

If you live anywhere within a couple of miles of the coast, or frequently travel near a coastline for work or pleasure, you must be prepared to respond at the instant to a tsunami warning, or a probable tsunami event.

Assuming you are in a tsunami prone area, a tsunami alert system will likely be activated on all frequencies, channels, and through public address systems.

If the alert system is not activated, but you are near the shore and notice a sudden, pronounced, and unusual recession of the tide or hear a curious, whooshing, freight train-like sound coming from the sea, assume that a tsunami is incoming! You have precious little time to get as far away from the shore, and as high as you can!

Your objective when bugging out from a tsunami threat is to get as far away from the shore as quickly as possible, typically a minimum safe distance of one mile, but farther is better.

If you cannot or you have no time to react, you must get high off the ground, either in a sturdy building multiple stories tall, by climbing a tree, or getting atop of an overpass if all other things fail.

To be caught on ground level when a tsunami sweeps ashore is to be drowned in powerful currents, crushed by floating debris, or both. Many people who survived the initial surge are dragged far out to sea when it recedes, never to be heard from again.

Even though tsunamis strike with little warning and do so rapidly you must still be prepared to bug out.

It is hard to overstate just how bad the situation will be in the aftermath. Transit will be virtually impossible on foot or by vehicle. If you are forced to return to the area before the water recedes you will be in terrible danger.

Your best bet for surviving is to get yourself, your loved ones and your survival supplies far out of the danger zone as quickly as possible.

Government Lockdown

  • Government orders, mandates and laws may directly conflict with your critical survival objectives.
  • High stakes: Disobeying any government mandate could lead to you being arrested or potentially even shot.
  • The bigger the city and the faster the road, the more likely it is you will be encountering police and military bent on stopping civilian traffic. Stick to remote areas and little-used or even unknown roads for success.

I think everyone in the world has painfully learned through the events of the recent pandemic that the government that is ostensibly responsible for your safety is more than happy to take away your rights, and essentially imprison you in your house if it serves their ends.

No, really; it’s for your own good citizen, now go back inside and don’t make me ask you again…

One eventuality that every prepper must be prepared for when bugging out is that you’ll be doing so in flagrant contradiction to government orders for dealing with the current situation, whatever it might be.

It could be a shelter in place order, a mandatory curfew, or something else up to and including manned roadblocks and checkpoints on all major thoroughfares. If the government’s orders run directly counter to your objectives, how would you handle it?

Will you risk incarceration, possibly even being shot, to get where you need to go to keep yourself and your family safe? This is not the stuff of fiction; events just like this happen every single day all around the world.

A prepper who is faced with this choice will have to decide whether or not to tow the line and follow instructions, risking whatever might follow, or to defy the government command in order to accomplish what they need to do.

If you decide to go with the latter, it is going to put an entirely new and hair-raising spin on your bug-out proceedings, be it on foot or by vehicle. In any but the most remote locations you’ll be forced to move cross-country, steering clear of population centers and the most traveled roads and paths, lest you be discovered.

Even when you get to your destination the fun won’t end, because you can depend on being shaken down for your ID, or papers, and once it is discovered you are “not from around there” you could be facing trouble if you do not have an airtight alibi or excuse chambered and ready.

This is an interesting example of how a SHTF event can change both your mode of travel and also what destinations are viable. Are you prepared for a “paradigm shifted” bug out?

You can forget trying to get into a populated area that is swarming with law enforcement or military forces once you have completed your journey unless you know a discreet way to get through the picket.

Industrial Accident

  • Nature of the event varies with type of facility and accident.
  • A chemical spill could poison air and water.
  • A fire or mingling of two chemicals could mean a titanic explosion proportional to the amount of chemicals involved.
  • You must be aware of what plants are around you, and what chemicals they handle; you will respond according to the nature of the event as soon as you learn of it.

Anyone who lives near a working port, railroad tracks or any kind of industrial center where hazardous chemicals are used or refined in any kind of process must be prepared for a serious industrial accident in the form of a chemical spill, or a potential explosion.

Just looking back through American history and the 21st and 20th centuries will furnish many examples for both of these events, and several of them are among the worst of their kind in our nation’s history.

Dealing with an industrial accident, especially a potential explosion, is a dangerous thing; one where sheltering in place might not be enough to protect yourself from either the release of deadly airborne chemicals or a potential explosion if you are close enough to the epicenter.

Do you risk leaving what known cover you have where you are buttoned up and hope for the best? Better not get it wrong…

This is a scenario where you cannot count on waiting to the last minute for clarification from authorities or to see what happens; it is up to you to know what you are dealing with and it is also up to you to make the call whether you stay or go and then execute as quickly as possible.

Does this sound unfair because you don’t work in the chemical industry? Too bad, so sad, welcome to prepping. This is what we all signed up for, remember? Greater self-reliance and self-sufficiency. This is what it feels like. That being said, don’t despair as the homework you’ll need to do is quite simple.

Simply stated, you need to know the nature, operations and activities of every major refinery or production plant in your area and most especially the ones near your home.

What is their typical product or operation? Figure that out, which will not be difficult, and then find out what type of industrial accident is typically associated with those chemicals.

Is it a hazardous chemical that will aerosolize and poison the air if it breaches containment, or is it a volatile and energetic substance that could result in a gargantuan explosion if worse comes to worst?

Using this information you can create a situation report, or a threat map, that will let you make the correct decision as soon as you hear about any potential spill or mishap.

If Acme Chemicals Corp., located just a quarter mile from your home or office, is experiencing a fire at their refinery, one that you heard about on the news, and they are known for producing ammonium nitrate fertilizer, you also know with certainty that you have to start putting distance between you and that plant or risk destruction.

Additionally, do not discount the idea that you might have to bug out on foot or by vehicle wearing protective gear in case of a very nasty spill.

Have you ever exerted yourself while wearing a gas mask or respirator? How about a full body chemical suit? Do you even have those supplies, and do you have them for your family members?

You might laugh at the notion of walking around in a “moon suit”, but these events are especially common and must be taken seriously.

dog looking at pick-up truck across flooded road

Flood – Looks like walking and driving are out.

  • A severe flood event will make bugging out on foot nearly impossible, and vehicular movement very risky.
  • Any kind of watercraft will greatly increase your chances of bug out success, though caution must be used.
  • As a last ditch option, if you have a pre-plotted route across the high ground in your area you might try to wade your way through a flooded area, but this will be hazardous!

Floods are another extraordinarily common disaster around the world, and a special threat in low-lying areas and near any large body of water like a river or lake. Even if you don’t live in any of those places, you must be aware that any place where it can rain it can flood, so don’t get cocky.

Floods are incredibly destructive, and although they do not seem as lethal or as spectacular as some other natural disasters they are one that you will more than likely have to deal with at some point in your life so you must be prepared.

Floods are sort of a “bonus disaster” in that many other disasters will cause flooding as a side effect. Severe thunderstorm? Might result in flash flooding. Hurricanes and tsunamis feature severe flooding as just one of the many negative side effects that result from their passage.

Long days of rainy weather? That’s going to mean a flood for sure! Sometimes floods even result from man-made catastrophes or mishaps, usually breaking dams, leaking levies and more.

The biggest issue attendant with bugging out in response to a flood is that all of your traditional bug-out methods are liable to be rendered impossible.

Walking out of a severely flooded area is almost impossible, and even if it isn’t, it features many attendant health risks due to what might be hidden or carried in the murky, swirling water.

Driving out is similarly difficult unless one has a specialized vehicle, either one equipped for fording or one that rides so high on its suspension it ferries passengers safely above the water. Both methods are dangerous.

So what is a prepper to do in case the time comes to bug out when experiencing a flood or some other event that will cause flooding? You have two choices. The smart option is to gain access to some type of watercraft that can carry you and your family in relative safety away from the flooded area.

The second option is to study and plot with exacting care a route along the highest ground in the area that should be nominally passable even when under a little bit of water. This requires extraordinary caution as only a few inches of moving water is required to knock an adult off their feet and sweep them away.

Hopefully you can just stay put and wait for the water to recede during a flood but you had better have a backup bug-out plan if the day ever comes where you must try to evacuate when everything is already underwater.


If you are very fortunate, you will be able to execute your bug-out plan with a minimum of interruption, modification or additional challenge when facing a SHTF event, and simply move to your first chosen bug-out location with nary a problem.

Unfortunately, experience has taught us that life most often has other plans, and your bug-out plan must be adapted to the specific circumstances facing you or to a rapidly evolving situation. You can give yourself a leg up now if you choose to research and practice these modified bug-out plans before you are forced to improvise on the run.

bug out disasters Pinterest image

1 thought on “11 Disasters that Will Get You to Bug Out”

  1. wow, thats a lot of scary stuff!!! being old, looks like I wont be much good in some of those situations. dont have anywhere to go, and if I do, its too far to get to. oh well, I’ll prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

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