"I fear that so many feel that a long-term supply is so far beyond their reach that they make no effort at all. Begin in a small way…gradually build toward a reasonable objective.” -President Gordon B. Hinckley,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bugging In

"Bugging out" is the when you must evacuate your home and search for a safer area in the event of a large disaster. Sometimes, bugging out is not necessary or the best decision. The alternative is called “Bugging In.” Bugging In or hunkering down during a large-scale disaster can present many challenges. Most often the utilities we depend on are shut down – known as “Grid-Down.” Disasters can devastate our most critical services including water supply, hospitals, waste and trash removal, transportation options, fuel and grocery supplies, natural gas lines, electricity, phone service, and even public safety. A Grid-Down scenario can last for several days or even weeks. During this time, you must be able to provide basic survival needs for you and your family.

We are counseled by church leaders to obtain our year supply of food. We should be prepared to spend a minimum of 2 weeks during a Bug In. Start with just 3 days and work your way up from there.

Our basic human survival needs remain the exact same no matter where we are in the world or what circumstances we face. They will always be: shelter, water, fire, food, first aid, and self-defense. The order of priority may change, but the basic categories will not. Here is a brief breakdown of each category including several solutions to consider for a short-term Bug In scenario.


During a Bug In scenario, shelter may seem fairly obvious. It is your primary place of residence. However, there is more to shelter than just a roof over your head. Shelter must protect us from the elements – even if access to modern utilities is limited or nonexistent. Shelter becomes your #1 priority in cold conditions. You must have alternative heating solutions in place just in case a disaster strikes during cold weather. Some excellent and affordable options are wood burning fireplaces, kerosene heaters, and portable propane heaters.

Kerosene heaters retail for just over $100. They don’t require electricity and are very easy and safe to operate. The fuel (kerosene) also has an extremely long shelf life – I’ve heard of 20-year-old fuel burning just fine.

A small propane heater can last 4-6 hours on one tank. The portable Buddy Propane heater is safe for indoor use. Retail price around $90. For smaller spaces, portable emergency propane heaters are excellent solutions.  Extra propane canisters are easy to store as well.

Wood burning fireplace/stove/insert.Retail $1500+, but can save you money on your electric or gas bill every winter. If you choose to install a stove make sure to get one like mine (pictured) that you can cook/boil water on.

  1. Other home (and car) heating tips: Close off certain rooms of your house and ‘move in’ to the room with the heat source. Close doors or hang blankets to zone out other areas.
  2. Hang blankets in front of large windows to reduce heat loss.
  3. Have good blankets and sleeping bags on hand to help keep you and your family warm.
  4. Just one candle can warm the inside of a freezing car as much as 8 degrees.


Whether you use a well or depend on municipal water service, a disaster can put a stop to your flow of fresh drinking water. Without water you can die in as little as 3 days. The best short-term Bug In water solution is to simply store extra water in your place of residence. You can buy commercially bottled water by the case/gallon or you can bottle and store your own water in food-grade containers.
A very popular do-it-yourself water storage solution is re-purposed 2-liter pop bottles.There are countless water storage solutions available ranging from fancy interlocking containers to 55-gallon drums. You’ll have to choose a solution that is right for your environment, budget, and consumption needs. Always store your water in a cool place away from full sun exposure.


During a Bug In scenario, fire represents two categories: warmth (which we’ve covered) and cooking. I recommend your emergency meals be very simple to prepare, requiring no cooking at all, if possible. However, it’s important that you have an alternative cooking solution in place to cook meals and boil water if necessary.  A few options are:
  1. Fireplace or Wood Burning Stove
  2. BBQ grill
  3. Natural Fuel Rocket Stoves
  4. Camp stove
Stove Tech 2 door stove with Metal liner


 Think “open and eat meals.” Ideally, your emergency food rations will consist of meals that require 
 little to no preparation. Boiling water for reconstitution should be the most complicated step of any 
 emergency food ration. Your food preps should also have a long shelf life and not require 
 refrigeration. There’s no sense in stocking your shelves with fresh vegetables that are going to rot in a few days or with frozen dinners that will go bad without electricity. It’s very easy to over complicate food storage. Keep it simple!
Freeze dried food- just add hot water
  1. Military Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) 
  2. Freeze Dried/Dehydrated Meals  
  3. Store-Bought Canned Goods/Packaged Foods
  4. Can Your Own Food
  5. Hunting, Farming, Gardening, and Gathering

First Aid

You may not be able to leave your house. Hospitals and pharmacies may not be open. The most important thing in this category is prescription medicines. If you or a loved one is dependent on some kind of medicine then you need to have enough on hand to get you through a short-term Bug In disaster. Explain to your doctor that you are preparing an emergency kit and you would like to have an extra refill for that kit. These medicines need to be monitored and rotated just like food. Ensure that your first aid kit is fully stocked.


Disasters create abnormal circumstances. First responders (and public safety) are always overwhelmed. Response times are always delayed. 911 is always inundated with calls. Phone and internet services (land and cell) are often interrupted. Disasters can drive good people to do things they would not normally do. 

 Home Security
Simple and inexpensive upgrades to your home’s security can be very effective in preventing successful break-ins during disaster scenarios. A few basic upgrades can include:

  1. Solid metal or wood doors – no decorative glass.
  2. Dead-bolt on every outside door.
  3. Consider an inside mounted door bar for added security.
  4. “Beware of Dog” sign even if you just have a cat or goldfish. Criminals are looking for easy targets.
  5. Upgraded door hardware with deep-set 3” screws.
  6. Exterior motion lights (solar-powered) – front and back.
  7. ‘Defensive’ rose bushes below each ground-level window.
  8. Upgraded window locks / cut wood-block stoppers for inside.
  9. Well-advertised video alarm system – whether you have one or not.

 Self-Defense Tools & Training

Guns are the obvious home defense weapon.This is a personal choice. If you choose to own a weapon ensure that you and your family know how to use it. Firearms training and practice are crucial elements to gun ownership and effective self-defense. Other self-defense tools include pepper spray and stun guns.

Two things many people forget:

1. Know how to turn off your utilities. Disasters have a way of damaging electrical lines/circuits, gas lines, and water lines. If yours are affected you may need to turn them off. Make sure you have the proper tools (and knowledge) to quickly and safely disconnect all of your utilities.
2. Disasters can also affect sewage systems and trash removal. Store extra heavy-duty trash bags to contain human waste and trash just in case. It’s important to maintain a very sanitary bug-in environment. A 5-gallon bucket lined with a trash bag makes a suitable makeshift toilet.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this. I have been looking for some alternative heating solutions ever since my bills have been getting more expensive than I could have ever imagined. I am hoping to save some money in the long run.

  2. This is so good! Hope you don't mind me sharing it with my sister.