When to stay and when to go?


My three part series of articles last week on “Updating and Revising our Approach to Self-Defense” has sparked e-correspondence with several readers.  A common question from those in big cities, particularly those that have experienced, or are at high risk for, urban unrest, riots and looting, is “How will I know when it’s time to get out, rather than just hunkering down and hoping for the best?”

My simple answer is that if you wait to figure that out, the odds of doing so correctly and in good time are very poor indeed!  Historically, all over the world, those who waited until the last minute to “get out of Dodge” fared very badly.  Many didn’t make it before being caught up in the trouble they were trying to avoid.  Those who did make it often found the facilities and support networks they hoped to use at their destinations had already been stretched to breaking point by earlier refugees, so that there was very little (sometimes nothing) left for them.  Some found that bad guys had “bugged out” along with good guys, and brought their criminal, anti-social, violent tendencies with them.  Houston after Hurricane Katrina provides a useful example.  There are many others around the world.

I’ve said for several years in these pages that if you live in big cities that are at risk for that sort of crime and violence, you should leave immediately if at all possible, and move somewhere safer.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s now become essential.  Hard times are coming to our cities.  Crime and violence have already increased out of all recognition, and will continue to do so;  and the authorities have already demonstrated that they’re powerless to prevent that.  Some of them don’t want to – they encourage the mob, because they derive their power from whipping up racial, ethnic and cultural tensions, then exploiting them.  They call it “identity politics”.  I call it criminal irresponsibility at the very least.

If you absolutely can’t relocate, for whatever reason(s) seem good to you, I can only advise you to plan your exit now, while there’s still time.  This will include having the necessary supplies packed and ready for every member of your family as individuals, and for the group as a whole.  On her blog yesterday, Sarah Hoyt put up a guest post describing various types and sizes of “bug-out bags” (BOB’s).  I highly recommend that you click over there and read it in full.  The author did a pretty good job of summarizing the essentials.  I also second his recommendation for small, pullable wagons if you’re bugging out on foot (a last-ditch procedure, let it be said).  His recommendation of Lehman’s wagons is good;  as an alternative close to hand, consider Harbor Freight’s garden wagon, which can haul a pretty respectable load and is several hundred dollars cheaper than the high-end Lehman’s offering.  You can build a wooden superstructure for it quite easily.  (Remember to buy spare tires and an air pump!)

I’d place greater emphasis on weapons than he does.  Just look at the crime and violence all around us!  It’s getting worse by the day.  You’re very likely to need to defend yourself, your family and your belongings against aggression from others who want what you’ve got, or are looking to beat down anyone of the “wrong” racial group.  You’d better harden your heart right now to the fact that you may have to employ potentially lethal force to stop them – but you can’t do that unless you’re armed, equipped and trained to do so.  Go read that three part article series of mine again (links above), and take it very, very seriously.  I strongly (very strongly!) suggest that every adult or older teen member of your family/group should have a handgun and a long gun, and know how to use them.  They’re no longer luxuries.  They’re necessities.

As to when to bug out, Matt Bracken offered this advice on Gab.  As a former US Navy SEAL, he knows his subject matter.

Only a few scenarios would result in a simultaneous national collapse. A nuclear missile attack, an EMP attack, a giant solar flare, etc.

Otherwise, the collapse will unfold and spread unevenly. Sri Lanka was an early warning.

We may see hyperinflation or a deflationary depression or even both (really bad stagflation). But when a large percentage of Americans cannot 1. pay their rent/mortgage 2. fill their cars to commute to work (if they still have jobs) 3. Buy groceries to feed their families, that’s when TSHTF will kick off.

The poor inner cities will suffer first and worst, so SHTF will happen there initially. Then, expect urban supermarkets and drugstores to be looted to their bare shelves. They will not be restocked. The EBT system will not magically repair the stores, provide security, and put food back on the shelves. This will happen unevenly in a few big cities first. Maybe [your city], maybe not. The regional power grid and supply chain situations will determine which cities collapse first.

But when the supermarket looting just keeps going, spreading and expanding from city to city and then out into their suburbs, it’s time to bug out, [if that is your plan.]

This collapse will not self-correct. Not even martial law will be able to fix what will be happening. [Think Humpty-Dumpty and the powerlessness of all the King’s men.] But martial law may prevent you from bugging out if you wait too long. That is, you may be forced to stay in your local area by LE and NG roadblocks and checkpoints.

So if bugging out is your plan, do so when the supermarkets begin to be looted to the bare shelves for food in your state, and they are not restocked, and the looting begins to spread toward your city. Or, if you are “bugging in,” initiate your neighborhood self defense plan, according to Jack Lawson’s “A Failure of Civility” and “The Civil Defense Manual.”

Matt’s also written a cautionary, fictional short story titled “When The Music Stops – How America’s Cities May Explode In Violence“.  Click over there to read it for yourself.  I fear he may be right.

As for Jack Lawson’s “The Civil Defense Manual”, I endorsed it myself in these pages a few months ago.  It’s an excellent compilation of advice and hard-learned lessons about almost all the circumstances surrounding civil emergencies and societal collapse.  Highly recommended reading:  and if the price puts you off, ask yourself what your life’s worth.  Having been a Sector Civil Defense Officer in one of the more violent and crime-ridden cities in the world, I speak from experience when I say that I consider it a worthwhile investment.

For myself, bugging out is not an option.  I’m too old, broke and slow to be able to cope with that, and my physical restrictions (I’m partly disabled) mean that isn’t about to change.  Miss D. and I will be “bugging in”, and preparing to defend what’s ours against anyone and everyone who decides it should be his/hers/theirs.  I can be very persuasive about that, if I need to be.


EDITED TO ADD:  Don’t miss an excellent case study in how to assess the readiness/suitability of a suburban home for a SHTF situation, over at American Partisan – Part One and Part Two.  It’s well worth reading.


  1. Rule number 1 don't be a refugee.

    If you're bugging out, you better have a planned out place to bug out too.

    At that place you best have friends and a supply cache awaiting you.

    Bicycles are your friend. Anywhere your family can walk they can bicycle, and you have options to stay off road IF you know the area you're traveling.

    10 days hiking in ever increasing craziness or a day + to get to your pre-planned bug out site. Your call. Walking is LAST Resort.

    Reading that BOB article linked (Thanks Peter) EVERYBODY should read the last part. Real life traveling with family.

  2. RE: (Remember to buy spare tires and an air pump!)
    Better to replace the as-issued pneumatic wheels and tires with "run flat" types at the outset. Pro Tip: Negotiate a better price by buying 5; your car has a spare, why not your bug-out cart? (Tip: It isn't always always the tires that fail, sometimes it's the bearings….). Sell the pneumatics, someone is always building something that needs wheels.

    If you get a metal mesh version (Lowe's. Home Depot, Harbor Freight – the Lowe's & HD versions have hinged sides, quite useful) etc.) cut a piece of 1/2", or 5/8" plywood to fit the bottom to make a solid "floor".

    And, cut a short (6") piece of 4X4 lumber diagonally to produce 2 triangles, use them as wheel chocks to keep the wagon from rolling away on inclines. Use plastic coated steel cable or small chain to secure them to the cart, long enough to reach the wheel you want to chock, so you always know where they are.

    An extension on the pulling handle is handy as well, as delivered they're short for maneuverability, but another 12-16" will keep your calves and heels from being continually bumped.

    Couple welded "hook points" on each end is handy – use a wide nylon tow strap across the chest to aid in pulling or across the back to aid in downhill braking, as needed.

  3. As mentioned above, you have to have somewhere to bug out to and a plan, preferably with secondary and tertiary plans, to get there.

  4. Peter-

    I could have written this for myself – the only edit is in CAPS.

    "For myself, bugging out is not an option. I'm too old, broke and slow to be able to cope with that, and my physical restrictions (I'm partly disabled) mean that isn't about to change. MY WIFE and I will be "bugging in", and preparing to defend what's ours against anyone and everyone who decides it should be his/hers/theirs. I can be very persuasive about that, if I need to be."

  5. I've managed to get the kids out of the city for the next few years. I'll be going to them if the worst comes to pass, and I can get there on half a tank of gas.

    Unfortunately we are not in a Free State so some options are limited.

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