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March 9, 2023 | Are We As Prepped As We Think?

John Rubino is a former Wall Street financial analyst and author or co-author of five books, including The Money Bubble: What to Do Before It Pops and Clean Money: Picking Winners in the Green-Tech Boom. He founded the popular financial website in 2004, sold it in 2022, and now publishes John Rubino’s Substack newsletter.

My wife and I live in a place that’s pretty but hazardous. Earthquakes (there’s a big offshore subduction zone), forest fires (lots of trees), war (a nearby military installation), and civil unrest (a city a couple of hours away) are all at least theoretically possible here. And of course there’s the shared American problem of a government that’s lurching toward dictatorship.

So we prepped with the idea of being generally ready to either hunker down for a while or leave in a hurry. We bought survival rations, a generator, water, ammo, etc. I put together a bug-out bag and we decided on which direction we’ll drive if we have to leave in a hurry. We knew we weren’t done but felt like we were close.

Then I found an article titled 11 Most Common Bug Out Mistakes, which proved beyond doubt that we’re waaaayyyy farther from being truly ready than we thought. On the assumption that some of you are in the same leaky boat, here’s a condensed list of mistakes the article points out:

Not Having a Plan. You might have accumulated the right gear, but if you’ve only thought generally about what to do in the crucial moment, you’re sure to waste precious time and miss life-or-death details.

Not Having a Destination. A bug-out plan without a firm destination isn’t a plan at all. The destination has to be specific — a particular building you’ll shelter in or a particular place to pitch your tent. Assume that if you’re bugging out, many others are too, so your destination should be someplace you know you can stay.

No Alternate Plan. As Mike Tyson likes to say, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. The prepper’s analogy would be a flooded road or angry mob that makes a detour necessary. If you haven’t already decided on that detour and scouted it out, you’re exactly where you don’t want to be, in uncharted territory. It’s also a good idea to have an alternate destination, preferably in the opposite direction from the primary one.

Bugging Out Late. Whether and when to bug out is a judgment call. But dithering and getting out late – when roads are packed and shelter sites are claimed – can be a deadly mistake. Your plan should include the criteria you’ll use to decide whether and when to go.

Being Too Obvious. A brand new heavy-duty pickup truck stocked with cutting-edge survival gear confers some obvious advantages. But it also makes you a target for all the have-nots. Being heavily armed is a partial solution, but discretion is much better. In other words, prep but don’t flaunt.

Being Out of Shape. Watch a few episodes of the Walking Dead and notice how much running is involved. If you’re a couch potato, the best plan and most complete gear won’t enable you to carry a 50-pound pack up a mountain trail. So train with an eye to such contingencies.

Over-packing. For a bug-out bag to be workable, it also has to be light. That means only packing essentials, which in turn means saying no to some otherwise very appealing things. So put the cool but not essential stuff in the car, not in the backpack.

Not Bringing Fuel. One of the biggest threats to bugging out in a vehicle is gas station chaos. Mobility is life, and that takes gas. So keep the bug-out vehicle topped up and have metal gas cans full of fresh gas on hand. And remember to take them when you go.

Not Doing a Test Run. Talking about something does not teach you how to do it. There’s no substitute for actually practicing your plans and backup plans.

No Supply Cache. The typical bug-out bag has only three days worth of food in it. What then? If you don’t have a supply cache in place, you’d better hope the emergency is one of those really short ones. So find someplace to build the cache, then stock and camouflage it.

Expecting to Live Off the Land. Hunting/gathering is hard to do in the best of times. In an emergency, there will be a lot of competition from people who didn’t prep and therefore have no choice. You don’t want to be one of them. So even if you’re experienced, living off the land is not a serious fallback plan (see above: supply cache).

Bite-Sized Pieces
This is obviously a lot, and tackling it as a single project would be overwhelming for most people. So, as with any other big, complex job, the best approach is to break it up into bite-sized pieces that can be completed in, say, a month. A focused year would cover the list.

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March 9th, 2023

Posted In: John Rubino Substack

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