In any SHTF situation bugging in should always be your first port of call, simply because we have all of our creature comforts there with us in our homes, our supplies, kit, the security of 4 walls and they are surroundings we are completely familiar with and feel comfortable in. Once you decide to leave your home and bug out, you have only what you can carry - depending on your fitness level and overall state of health, you may not be able to carry much, then there is the fact that a solid brick house is much easier to secure and defend if the need arises than a tarp and a few sticks.
Some areas to consider for bugging in are -
Make sure your windows, doors and other access points are secure and robust, if you are on the ground floor, consider natural deterants under windows such as rose bushes and brambles and black out blinds so you don't draw attention to yourself. For your doors consider solid wood fire doors as a minimum, and if you can add a strengthened kick bar, longer screws in the hinges and a London Bar, We would also recommend you avoid any glass paneling as this can lower the security level of your door.
Light and Sound Discipline
We've all heard the expression "the nail that stands out is the first to get banged back down", well imagine being the only house on the street with light coming from their window during an event that leaves everyone without power, whether that be torch, lantern or candle, you're going to stick out like a sore thumb. Consider blackout blinds and tape the edges, I've even seen some people have pre-cut board made that they can slide of their windows once its dark so the window doesn't look boarded up. The idea is to hide yourself without looking like your hiding.
Sound discipline is your next concern, consider the impact that sound can have in terms of giving away your location. Remember you don't want people to know you are there when people are out looting properties, something as simple as a cough, baby crying or dog barking or even your footsteps can make a potential aggressor know you are there. A good idea would be to keep noise and movement to a minimum in the evenings when everything is generally quieter.
Ensure your hallways and passage ways are kept clear of clutter and potential obstacles, as these can pose as trip hazards in the event that you have to leave quickly and quietly.
Make sure you have enough water stocked or at least have access to a water source nearby which can be accessed at minimal risk to you or your family/group. We would also highly advise investing in a means to filter the water of contaminants, viruses and of course debris; our staff and many of our members highly recommend the Icon Lifesaver Bottle. You can't survive more than 3 days without water so this is one area that should not be overlooked.
You should look to store a minimum of 4.5 Litres per person per day in the event of a crisis, this should cover, drinking, cooking and hygiene.
Food is another must have commodity in any survival situation and bugging in is no different. The first piece of advice any seasoned prepper will give you when it comes to storing food is "Only store what you eat". Post SHTF morale will likely be at an all time low and that will be made even worse if you and your family/group have to eat things you really don't like. Cover the major food groups, protein, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables and when building your store, consider actual meals and purchase the items needed to make those meals. Next piece of advise is "Don't scrimp on the calories". In a SHTF situation you may not be eating as much as you are used to in terms of volume so you will need to make sure what you are eating is loaded with calories. Also don't forget your morale foods!, Whether that's chocolate, coffee, jaffa cakes, whatever it may be, a boost in morale will do you and your group wonders.
If you are bugging in you may not be able to or even want to leave your home for some time, if you have everything you need, you may not need to. This brings another challenge; Boredom! We would recommend adding things like board games, playing cards, books, paper and pens, empty diaries and such like to your preps. We would hope you have a well stocked "prepper library" already with books focused around survival etc, but it may be worth considering "feels good books", something that can take your mind off of the situation you are in if only for half an hour every evening. Also if you have young children, think about bedtime books and education books for continued learning.
Rubbish - Nothing says "We have lots of food" like a pile of empty tins and packets mounting up outside, how will you get rid of them?.... re-purpose them? Bury it? Burn it?, however you decide to do it, have a plan in place ready.
Human Waste - We all have to go when nature calls, but if the water's off and the toilet doesn't flush, what will you do? Dig a hole in the garden?, Pooh in a bag and bury it?... One of the biggest causes of disease in the world is poor sanitation, so make sure you have something ready in case you ever need it.
Hollywood glamourises Bugging Out, some people think they can just leave their home, hunt, fish, forage and disappear without a trace. The reality of the situation is this - We live on a small Island with a huge population, we're never more than a few hours walk from another person and unless you have experience hunting, trapping and fishing, are able to confidently identify edible and inedible plants, and have successfully grown varied fruits and vegetables, then unfortunately it isn't going to be sunshine and roses, and it certainly isn't something you can learn on the fly. These are skills you can and likely should start learning now. Even though bugging out should be your last option, it is still an option and likely one that could save your life, so make sure you have a plan in place, where will you go? How will you get there? What will you do when you get there? How long will it take to get there? What provisions will you need? All things you need to consider.
Check out our article on Bugging Out for more information on what you be considering.