New and looking for constructive criticism on my bug out plan

Hey, some recent life situations have made me have to rethink my entire bug out plan and I just want you guys to poke as many holes in my plan as you can so I can make it as airtight as possible. Any help is incredibly appreciated.

Some background: We recently moved my husband’s ailing parents in with us and then I was diagnosed with stage 3 lymphoma. My family now consists of me, my husband, my toddler, and my in-laws. I am currently undergoing chemo; my father in law has dementia, mobility issues and parkinsons; my mother in law also has mobility issues and must be attached to an oxygen tank all day. Neither of them can get very far without a walker or motorized scooter. We are not going to be hiking miles to a destination and will most likely be sheltering at home. My home is ready for this and it is not what I’m worried about.

What I need help with: I like the tiered system that was discussed and have tweaked it to what I think may fit my needs. Level 1 bags will be what I need to get to a friend or relatives house. Each person’s bag will have a boo boo kit instead of a full FAK, a couple basic snacks, water, toothbrush, important documents, clothes, cash, charging cords and plugs, a multi tool, paracord, maps, personal medications/oxygen/dentures/diapers (for the toddler and in-laws), and will look more like a heavy EDC rather than a proper BOB. Level 2 will be for hotels and will include all level 1 plus a flat of water, security/defense items, some food, a real FAK, radio, can opener, eating utensils, paper plates and cups, and kid friendly distractions. Level 3 would be for shelters if we couldn’t get anywhere else and would be level 2 plus personal care and hygiene items, sleeping bags, power banks, ear plugs, eye masks, garbage bags and locks to keep our crap safe. These are not the full lists, as adding every tiny item would be really long, but it’s a decent representation.

I am aware that all of this requires a car to get to these destinations and that a car may experience situations that would make us have to abandon it. My car is ready with more food, water, ways to procure more water, ways to make that water potable, ways to make fire, ways to make shelter, ways to signal for help, ways to defend, kid distractions, and additional first aid supplies. The plan is that either my husband or I would use the car’s GHB to find help while the other sets up a camp and tends to the rest of the family. It’s not ideal, and would really suck, but we wouldn’t die. As I stated earlier, sheltering in place looks like my family’s best option and will most likely be what we do for as long as we safely can.

Please let me know what you think and if there is anything I should consider adding, removing, or if there is anything I hadn’t even thought of. If anyone has experience in bugging out with the elderly and disabled, I would appreciate any feedback or ideas you might have. I’m really not sure what to do to keep them safe if we were to have to go anywhere on foot. Should I keep a type of generator in my car so that we can power the portable oxygen tank? Should I bring their walkers or just craft a badass walking stick from zombie skulls and tears of the unicorns? I truly have no clue how to do this with them.

Thank you in advance for all your help!


  • Comments (26)

    • 4

      First of all, I think you aree correct in planning to stay home for most situations – home court advantage and all that.

      What are th most likely situations in your neck of the woods?  in southern California, my primary concerns are wildfires and earthquakes.  Basically you dont want to stay home when wildfires threaten and you probably won’t have any choice but to remain in place during an EQ.  Consider your hazard profile and think about how you would probably respond to each.  I say ‘probably because you must remain flexible in the face of changing or unique situations.  Don’t be too rigid in your planning.

      Face up to a potentially distressing situation.  Your elderly folks may not b up to the challenges.  i am 84 myself and i am very limited in what i can physically accomplish compared to my capabilities of just a few years ago.  I hope that I can behave rationally if and when the test comes – come to think of it, that wish goes for all of us……

      • 3

        Thank you so much. I live in east Pennsylvania. We get power outages, bad winter weather, not too much flooding, mild tornadoes, no earthquakes or hurricanes to really worry about. The biggest threat that I can see evacuating for is the nuclear power plant nearby. I don’t know if my husband will be able to let his parents go, specially his mother, but it is definitely great advice help him prepare for it

    • 3

      My heart goes out to you with stage 3 lymphoma and father-in-law with dementia.

      What risks are in your area that you are concerned about? Every area is different and therefore our responses might vary depending on what you are facing. 

      Regardless of issue, and this might not be too feasible due to cost, do you have or have you considered a bug out van or camper? My thought is that if you have an emergency evacuation it might not be easy to move everyone quickly and having a vehicle that is ready to go and self sufficient might ease some of that stress. Understanding of course that is not a cheap option if you don’t have one. 

      • 2

        Thank you! I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe like a mini RV or camper attachment  so we’d be able to live out of the vehicle? That’s a really great idea. I live in eastern PA so, other than some bad storms that I’d most likely stay home for anyway, my biggest evacuation worry would be due to the nearby nuclear power plant

      • 2

        Welcome!  I agree that with challenged adults an RV/camper that you could have prepared and even transport lying patients if necessary is ideal, and expensive.  You could then identify RV parks or campgrounds to bug out to in several directions. These also typically have options for generators/batteries for the medical equipment.   Even if you can’t afford one, you can use that scenario to think of how you can adopt some of those ideas into your existing plans. 

        You have a rare threat for most of us on this forum: Nuclear accident.  Consider getting strong respirators for everyone.  this article on TP is informative.  

    • 3

      Good afternoon Lauren,

      A combination welcome to the Forum and a hope that your chemo treatment is working OK.

      Consider “thinning out” your actual evac loads. A principle of emergency management is to minimize detail.

      Do load up on flash lights / batteries and strobe lights.  Sometimes big box stores carry the combination.  Seek common batteries. Set up overall situation for “realistic, worst case disasters” (FEMA).

      For dwelling and vehicle try to get some window placards alerting authorities about eg dementia person present.

      Specifically, I’d say to seek additional O2 bottle(s) for car so as to avoid a generator – and the fuel. Again: minimize details for an emergency.  You’ll be under stress.

      Are you in contact with the Lymphome Foundation ? Your area might have a volunteer who can meet with you.  This could yield much info re sheltering and evacuation planning. 

      Try to consolidate.  Instead of an electric scooter or walker for an evac, check web for a larger and modified walker or cart of some sort that can carry a person and also supplies eg EDC, BOB, combinations.

      Recommend contact you emergency management department to ask how you can register “if” a nuclear emergency.. For the citizen prepper this is usually an evac matter … regardless,.. let them know of the disabled in house and ask for any placards to alert their responders.

      I am a forum member who is a senior citizen (a teen-age brat when around Hikermor !) with some major disabilities.  I am mobile, however. I mention this to say I have my foods and supplies eg repair tools, appropriate for hand injuries from Army aggrivated by arthritus. Have lost some cognitive ability and driving adjusted accordingly. Other ailments just part of aging. My family does leave planet early so must avoid this thought. (Biggest matter now.)

      A closing comment;

      For you, a car evacuation to eg a hotel (if available-in Penn will doubt it. Rooms reserved for responders arriving to augment local number.  I’m south of you in coastal Virginia between Fredericksburg and Hamton Roads. There are no evacuations once announced – only being stuck in car.

      Shelter in place with the extra O2 bottles and attachment to transfer to personal size.

      PRIORITY goes to your kid.

      • 1

        Thank you. I was able find a form online to fill out that requests evacuation assistance if the power plant were to have a problem. I’m looking into finding a modified cart, do you have any suggestions or links? 

      • 2

        Good morning Lauren,

        Two points for this specific reply;

        Check out the Center For Disability Issues and the Health Professions of Western University of Health Sciences, Pumona, Calif. (www.cdihp.org).

        Surf around site and see if they have a “contact us” feature.

        Anther general … not specific to your above questions … point is to check what Pennsylvania’s Emergency Management programs offer. I’m sure everything is present but does require looking for stuff. Penn is regional base of FEMA area 3 (Virginia is in area 3). Do some surfing around and see what developes. Another BASIC source for info is a visit to local/area fire department.  Those folks have already dealt with all the matters and disabilities you’re presenting here.

        Other point;

        Am holding off for now re identifying carts since am guessing you’re not driving a box truck thst can carry many of these carts.  Again, that’s why a coffe break trip to local fire station can provide for narrowing focus to the practical. Just a soccer mom van with 5 passangers AND loadout appears to be too much.

        Also, try to see what your public health district has to offer.


        I’m a life member of Disabled American Veterans so I personally see all the types of carts – and O2 cannisters and machines to refill.


        Madam here does not want it at all, but recent change to national regulation allows for self-training a service animal.  Besides saving $20,000 (wouldn’t happen anyway) for trainig fee, I’d get a Frauline German Shepard trained to make me expresso with a side of cacao squares of 2% only sugar. PLUS, her breath is more therapeudic than a visit to a VA Medical Center ! 


        After website surfing do post here what could be of value to you learned from the sites.

    • 4

      First off, are you new to prepping or just to the site? Because your plan is very well thought out and if you are new to prepping you are off to an incredible start.

      I feel very sad for the life struggles you and your family are going through. It does complicate things but it seems like you have a go get ’em attitude and are going to come up with some good solutions. 

      Let’s first talk about your shelter in place plan as this is most likely and to be honest the best solution for everyone in your family with the challenges you are facing. Read this article about bugging in, it’s a good one. I am naive in this area, but is the oxygen tank something that is refilled on a regular basis or does she use a machine that produces oxygen out of the existing air? I would look into building up a reserve of that or purchase a machine that make make it on it’s own to be more resilient to shortages in oxygen.

      With the motorized scooter keep the battery charged as much as possible, keep up with repairs, and look into a solar charging option.

      For your bugging out supplies, make sure to rotate through food, medication, and oxygen every few months to keep things fresh and ready.

      Like you said your circumstance will require bugging out with a vehicle so keep up on that maintenance, and know multiple routes to where you are going. Since your vehicle and the mobility it provides is so key to your survival, have ways to defend and protect it against those who wish to take it from you. Invest in some additional fuel storage that can go along with you.

      Don’t rely on your evac location to have all you will need to maintain your current lifestyle. Invest in a generator or battery backup supply of power to keep life saving equipment running during a power outage. Also good for staying warm.

      My number one tip though, saving the best for last… Is to sit down and talk with the family and make up a game plan together. You have a solid plan here, but is everyone in the family on the same page and know how to mobilize and what to do if you were not available? Each person knows their abilities, disabilities, limitations, and what they are capable of more than you do. Ask each person what they need, what they can do, and if they have any other ideas that can aid in the bug out. 

      • 2

        Thank you! You make a lot of really good points. The oxygen she has runs on a machine that we plug into an outlet, there are no canisters, and she has a portable one that runs on a rechargeable battery. I have a small generator but should definitely get a solar powered one. I’ve talked with everyone but, with a toddler and someone with dementia, there isn’t much they remember or can help with. I think I might try to practice some basic drills or surprise family outings so we can practice getting out fast and help them be more comfortable with it.

    • 4

      When you have physical limitations, disabilities, and are reliant on medication or equipment it does make life, survival, evacuation, and prepping more challenging. I believe that prepping is more important and vital for those of us who aren’t as able as others. For example, if you aren’t able to hike it out on foot, then you need to prepare and plan ahead more on what you will do and how to accomplish the same task that is easy for an able bodied individual.

      As you can see, most of us do have health issues or those close to us do. I hope that brings you comfort and know that you have a good support system of other people here on the forum with the same concerns you have.

      • 3

        Wow! The threads you posted are absolutely amazing and exactly the kind of information I need. Thank you so much. I’m so happy I found this website. I feel like a lot of the preppers out there think they are in the cast of the Expendables but everyone here is so nice and sane. You and the rest of the staff should be very proud of the amazing articles on this site and the great forum space you maintain. Do you know of any preppers out my way in PA that I might be able to coordinate with?

      • 2

        Thank you so much for the extremely kind words! We do have a fabulous and very helpful community here on the forum. It’s nice to chat back and forth and combine our prepping knowledge to help others out. I’m sure there are many things that you are good at that can help someone else out too.

        As for resources for preppers in Pennsylvania, check out this forum post where someone in North Carolina was asking the same question. I link to a few resources in my comment on there and other users pitched in some good ideas as well. 

    • 1

      you have a “damned if I don’t and damned if I do” scenario >> it doesn’t get much worse …

      you’ll want to bug-in if at all possible and as long as possible >>> makes you in a bugging out SHTF riding the crest of The Wave at the very best – more likely in the back with the flood aftermath …..

      you’ll be contending with the devastated route allll the previous bug outs created >> blocked roads – abandoned vehicles – no resources – roadblocks – highly pizzed off locals – left behind bug outs >>> for bugging out it doesn’t get much worse 

      best I can suggest is to be ever soooooooooo cautious about holding out for a bug-in – it’ll be a royal pain to pull the trigger and have it go false alarm – but for your situation it’s a definite life saving decision ….

      might want to think about a split bug out – get your child to safety for sure along with the bulk of your resources – follow up with Team 2 if the SHTF worsens ….

    • 2

      For the portable oxygen tank you have, do you mean you already have a portable oxygen concentrator?  (If not, consider getting a portable oxygen concentrator.)

      To power a portable oxygen generator or other small electric devices in your car, instead of a stand alone portable generator consider getting a power inverter that can plug into the 12 V (cigarette lighter) outlet in your car.  Simple ones are inexpensive though you might need one with pure sine wave output which is a little more expensive.  (Check that the inverter would produce enough watts for both peak and continuous power needs of your oxygen concentrator or other equipment.) 

      • 1

        We have a car charger but it sucks. It takes forever to charge it.  A portable oxygen concentrator sounds good though. I’ll see if we are able to get one 

    • 1

      You seem to have thought through your situation fairly carefully and realistically.  I have just a few misc thoughts.

      While staying home is clearly going to be best for most situations, I think that it’s great that you’re packed to leave if needed.  Even if it’s not a SHTF situation, you might need/want to leave your house under a smaller, more localized “emergency.” For example, if there were a local, but extended, power outage, or a furnace or plumbing failure in your house, it might make sense to go stay with a relative.  In those cases you’d have some time to pack, but it’s hard to be efficient with a house full of high-need people, and you’d be grateful that you’re ready.

      If you haven’t already done so, it would also be really worthwhile to work out your family evacuation plans in case of a house fire.  If you woke up in the night to the smoke alarm going off, do you and your husband have a plan for who grabs the kid, who helps the parents out, where you meet up outside, etc.? For quickly getting the parents out, you might consider having lightweight folding transport wheelchairs available, if you don’t already have them. Those would let you quickly push them out of the house, rather than the glacial pace of moving with a walker.

      And, thinking about transport wheelchairs, they would not be sturdy enough to trek for miles in a bug out situation, but they would let you move away from your immediate neighborhood if needed. They also could be carried in the car, and would be useful if you did have to go to a hotel or shelter, as they would give the seniors a safe place to rest and hang out (kind of like a stroller for the toddler).

    • 2

      Good morning Lauren,

      You are the ideal – the perfect – candidate for membership in some small group of confident preppers.

      Much more may be available from Medicare if knowing how to navigate it.

      Had mentiomed I’m a life member of Disabled American Veterans. Even the local chapters serve as clearing houses for knowledge of the large programs. At the regional meetings, these folks know how to “get things done”.

      Of course, soon, DAV  will leave the scene.

      • 2

        Bob, you are so cool. I’ve seen your posts on a lot of other threads and you always have good advice. Thank you for all the links you shared earlier too for the wagons and chairs

    • 1


      Daisy is pushing her Bug Out Book – but there’s good advice in the article – I don’t agree with all of it and there’s additional steps to bugging out that should be on every prepper’s checklist >> no one ever mentions shutting off the utilities 

      • 3

        Another thing that is mentioned in the link you shared is to keep pets inside with you to show that no one is home. If you have a dog, that can be hard to then teach them that it is okay to go inside the house and have a way to take care of that waste. I don’t know how easily a dog will know to start going on a piece of fake grass or not.

      • 2

        Good afternoon Illini Warrior,

        Haven’t checked in last couple of years, but there was a section of the Shenandoah Valley where the authorities did not want evacuees to turn off utilities – specificially, I remember it was natural gas supply. 

        The rationale was that on return, the few involved counties did not have enough utility company techies to relight the pilot lights.