Form a Plan

Personal Plan

Depending on the disaster scenario you find yourself in, you have to make a choice whether to outlast inside your home - referred to as:

“Bugging In”

...or to move out of the danger zone, away from your home or the region completely – referred to as:

“Bugging Out”

Coming to a decision requires you answer one relatively simple question: Is it safer inside or outside? This question becomes more difficult to answer however, when a disaster situation escalates. Initially it could be the best decision to stay in your home, however if for instance a fire is roaring through the area, it could be within your interests to move, quickly.

The house was falling apart... we couldn’t keep them out much longer, so we left.

Considering this Bug In vs. Bug Out situation is the beginning of your Personal Plan.

Your Personal Plan should be an established, step-by-step plan regarding your movements and actions, and those of whom you expect to be involved with during a disaster – family, friends, etc. At this point of your learning it is difficult to complete an adequate Personal Plan because you have not yet received the information necessary. This is the beginning: grab a notebook and pen or open up a word processor and take notes as you read.

  1. What level of disaster do I want to prepare for?
  2. What types of disasters are more likely to occur in my region?
  3. Do I have supplies that will meet the Three Basic Needs of Survival and the Three Supplementary Needs of Survival while I am Bugging In inside my home?
  4. Do I have a Bug Out Bag ready to go that contains supplies that will meet both The Three Basic Needs of Survival and the Three Supplementary Needs of Survival?

These are the first questions we need to ask ourselves when forming a Personal Plan. The following questions are more complex and difficult to consider initially, but become less intimidating the more you read and understand.

  1. How will I get home during a disaster?
  2. What circumstances may make it difficult to get home during a disaster?
  3. Where will I meet the people included in my Personal Plan?
  4. What circumstances may make it difficult to meet up with the people included in my Personal Plan?
  5. At what point may I need to leave my home (Bug Out) during a disaster?
  6. If I need to leave my home (Bug Out) during a disaster, where will I go?
  7. How long can I last away from my home with the supplies in my Bug Out Bag?
  8. How will I navigate successfully outside my home?
  9. What circumstances may make navigation difficult?

The people you wish to include in your Personal Plan must be aware of the actions you’re planning to take, particularly in regard to your movements, well before a disaster actually takes place. This is very important, because depending on the extent of the disaster, regular lines of communication might be down. It’s possible you won’t be able to contact each other by phone or through the internet, so know your meeting place (and your following backup meeting places) beforehand.

Bugging In

When planning to Bug In, certain considerations must be taken, more specifically in regard to your location, the time of day, and amount of people affected when any disaster strikes. A plan to Bug In for a particular disaster could get off to a very bad start if you have assumed you’d be at home when it happens. If you’re away from home regularly throughout a normal week – at work, for example – plan for the possibility of being away from home when disaster strikes.

If in the midst of a disaster you are not at home and want to be, several questions must be considered.

  • Can you travel home on four wheels, or are roads likely to be blocked?
  • Is it safe to travel home sooner, or later?
    • Are there currently environmental hazards?
    • Are other people a danger?
  • Are you sure home is a better place to be than your current location?
  • Are you and those included in you personal plan still, to the best of your knowledge, able to act accordingly?

In most circumstances it is completely impractical to have your Bug Out Bag with you wherever you go. However it is a good idea to have several items with you which will aid you in making the journey back home from wherever else you are when a disaster strikes. Consider the previous questions and provide yourself with the items that will allow you to make your way back home on foot, if worse comes to worst. While it can take between several hours to a day, most people working regular “9 to 5” jobs can, with appropriate preparation and planning, make it home on foot with only a water bottle or two, given the right circumstances.

Bugging Out

Initially, when Bugging Out, the same considerations should be taken as with Bugging In:

  • You may be away from home when disaster strikes.
  • Roads may be blocked.
  • It may be safer to stay where you are for the time being.
  • Others must know what the plan is and still be able to stick with it.

Bugging Out however needs to be approached somewhat differently, because when Bugging Out, you no longer have the comforts of your home and the survival needs it may provide for. An important question you have to ask yourself when forming a plan is, “What scale of disaster would it take for me to need to Bug Out?” Regardless of the type of disaster, the only answer to this question is: It’s no longer safe to be at home. If your life is in danger, or your resources that meet one or more of The Three Basic Needs of Survival are significantly lacking, perhaps it is necessary to Bug Out.

Additional circumstances must also be taken into consideration when Bugging Out:

  • Where are you Bugging Out to?
  • How are you getting there?
  • Do you have adequate supplies to make the journey?

During a Level 2 disaster, you may only need to Bug Out to a relatively close-by location; a safe-zone set up by your government, where supplies that meet the needs of survival are distributed. This is from where the 72-hour rule is formed; should the disaster be at Level 2 or lower, you should be able to receive aid within 72 hours.

Bugging Out during a disaster beyond that of Level 2 may require you to have a more extensive Bug Out Bag, allowing for more flexibility and a different path to take. A Level 3 disaster denotes a world where aid may not be coming for a very long time, if ever; basically, you’re on your own. To Bug Out during a Level 3 disaster creates a need for a location to Bug Out to. Such a location is, strangely enough, referred to as a Bug Out Location (or BOL, for short).

Bug Out Locations

A Bug Out Location should be a safe haven; remote, secure and stocked with the supplies you’ll need to survive indefinitely.

Bug Out Locations exist for the purpose of escaping the dangers that a city or town bring whilst inundated by a disaster. Disasters disrupt the systems that govern the lives of people residing in our society. These systems essentially provide the livelihood of the population. When such systems are disrupted, deteriorate or completely collapse, the majority of the population is quickly confronted by their reliance on a system now gone, and their helplessness because of it, at which point panic begins to set in and drastic measures are turned to. It is at this point that you do not want to be near people; perhaps it is time to Bug Out.

There are essentially two types of Bug Out Locations, both of which tend to be significantly distant from your usual residency:

  1. A rural property owned by yourself or friends/family.
  2. A predetermined, remote area of bushland.

Ideally one would be able to incorporate a 2-step approach to Bugging Out, with a primary BOL (Bug Out Location) being a rural property and a secondary BOL being remote bushland. Similarly to when you first make the decision to Bug Out – when a disaster has escalated and it’s no longer safe to be at home – you may have to consider Bugging Out again to your secondary BOL, should the disaster escalate while you’re at your primary BOL. Not everyone is fortunate enough to own a rural property however, or know someone who does, in which case an area of remote bushland may be your best or only option.

A rural property

A rural property at best can be a home away from home. To be able to leave one home and move into another can make post-disaster life much more manageable. Such a property should be stocked with adequate supplies to keep however many occupants alive and healthy for an extended period of time. The only real limit to the extent of preparation able to be taken is money and space. Be wary though, both water and food expire; when storing such supplies, plan to rotate them on a regular basis so they can actually be used when they’re needed and so nothing goes to waste.

A potential downside to using rural properties as Bug Out Locations is that they’re commonly accessible via a highway. During a level 3 disaster within a town or city, many people, like yourself, soon come to realise that being around other people can be dangerous. However unlike yourself, many people will not have any form of predetermined BOL, let alone a rural property stocked with supplies, but they may end up travelling out away from cities or towns in search of such places. It is at this point that you will have to be very wary of desperate people coming across your property in search of anything they can use to improve their situation. To prevent such situations from developing in the first place, security should be considered, as should a secondary Bug Out Location if worse should come to worst.


A predetermined, remote area of bushland can ensure your safety through its isolation. The bushland you choose for a BOL should be located in an area with a reliable source of water and, if possible, food. Any public campgrounds should be ruled out; if you’ve camped there before, so have thousands of others, and chances are it’ll be one of the first places they think of too.

Similarly to a rural property, a remote area of bushland you plan to use as a BOL should be stocked with supplies. Your supplies should be well hidden and protected from the elements, and able to last you for an extended period of time. Such supplies are commonly buried for safekeeping in an airtight, waterproof, sturdy container, which is commonly referred to as a “cache”. Focus on the Three Basic Needs of Survival first when considering items for a cache; remember you will need to meet these needs first during a disaster and continue to do so in order to survive.

Selecting an area of bushland near running water such as a creek or river is a great idea when considering potential Bug Out Locations, because the Water need can be easily met, and there is potential to successfully meet the Food need should fish be present.

Whichever type of BOL you decide to opt for, how you plan to travel there from your usual residency should be considered. If roads are not blocked and you are able to travel there on four wheels, plan to do so on only one tank of fuel. It is also important to consider how you plan to travel to your BOL if roads are blocked. It’s entirely possible to travel just about anywhere by foot, but it can take a lot of time, energy and resources.

Always remember that the supplies you store in either type of Bug Out Location will run out one day. Plan ahead; begin thinking about how you can survive with your knowledge and the natural resources available, rather than what you have stored.

Survival Fundamentals

As we know, survival means meeting The Three Basic Needs of Survival: Water, Shelter, and Food. These basic needs are derived from the human body’s requirements to continue functioning. Unless you meet these needs adequately, you will die, even without a disaster unfolding around you.

Surviving more comfortably means meeting The Three Supplementary Needs of Survival: Medical/Hygiene, Navigation, and Communication. These supplementary needs surface and begin to become more important when one is Bugging Out.

Meeting all six survival needs adequately depends on your knowledge, and the resources available to you. Survival knowledge comes from research and experience. Information pertaining to this knowledge however is not discussed here in great detail as of yet, because the scope of such knowledge is too vast. It is up to you to seek out specific information, through the internet, books, and other people.


Taking a keen interest in the following skills will significantly improve your chances of survival in a disaster situation.

Know your area.

  • What is the fastest route away from your home and the surrounding area?
  • Where are nearby water and food sources?
  • What are potential obstacles and bottlenecks?
  • Where is a good vantage point?

First aid.

  • Knowing how to treat a sprained ankle can make Bugging Out significantly easier.
  • In a less stable environment, you will likely find yourself in a less sanitary environment; knowing how to disinfect sores and wounds can prevent infection.

Self defence.

  • Desperate people will resort to desperate measures to stay alive; be prepared to use physical force to defend yourself.
  • Be aware that the amount of force you may use to defend yourself could be subject to a jury, at a later date.

Ability to drive a (manual) vehicle.

  • A situational skill that could very well come in handy.

Orienteering and navigation ability.

  • When planning to Bug Out, you will most likely find yourself needing to travel a considerable distance; you may know how to get there by road, but what if roads are no longer safe to be near?

Bushcraft skills.

  • Should you find yourself traversing the wilderness – which may be ideal when Bugging Out during a Level 3 disaster – knowing how to make a fire, build a shelter, and find food could be incredibly useful. Having these skills may also help in reducing the weight of your Bug Out Bag, which will be discussed later in further detail.

General fitness.

  • Living through any sort of disaster is stressful; being in shape can significantly improve your body and mind’s ability to cope. Being faced with the prospect of travelling a great distance – hopefully with an excellent Bug Out Bag on your back – and knowing you are physically able to do so can be a great boost to morale.


The resources available to you complement the knowledge you possess. In a mathematical sense, the resources in your Bug Out Bag are inversely proportionate to your knowledge.

I.e. Initially, when one possesses a lesser amount of survival knowledge, one has a larger amount of resources in their Bug Out Bag. When one has spent a significant amount of time learning and practising their survival skills and have gained an adequate amount of survival knowledge, certain resources in their Bug Out Bag can then lessen, at the owner’s discretion. E.g. Initially, one doesn’t know how to catch fish, so one carries several cans of baked beans in their Bug Out Bag. Eventually, one learns how to catch fish, so one can remove the cans of baked beans from their Bug Out Bag, lessening the weight of the bag, confident in the fact that they can catch a tasty trout under most conditions.

Build your Bug Out Bag