When is it time to get out of Dodge? Part 2

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When to get out of Dodge (GOOD) is the question a lot of survival minded people ask themselves. Sometimes, in the case of massive flooding or earthquake damage, the answer is obvious: get out now!

But looking ahead to a time when the rule of law and the structure of our society may not be reliable, when do we know that it’s time to get out, to leave the security of our homes and, hopefully, move on to a safer location?

Last month I asked a number of survival and preparedness experts to weigh in on this question. You can read Part 1 of their responses here.

Now for Part 2, another set of experts weigh in with their assessment of, “How will  you know it’s time to get out of Dodge?”

From Nathan Jefferson, author of The Wayward Journey

The long and short answer is very binary. You won’t or you will.That’s really helpful, right? So let me clarify: in most possible scenarios you won’t really know that TSHTF right away. To help illustrate what I’m talking about I’ll use two events; Event X and Event Z.

Event X is a regional, national or even international event that leaves you wondering about your next steps. These happen dozens if not hundreds of times a year around the world and usually a level of normalcy returns after a few days, weeks or sometimes months.

Event Z, is the game changer. You aren’t wondering if TSHTF. Instead you are running around and executing your plan (you have a plan, right?) trying to prepare as fast as possible. The easiest examples would be nuclear war, invasion by foreign forces, national or international large scale events.

For this part of the discussion Event X will be our focus:

People, even the unprepared, are pretty resilient and it would normally take days if not weeks for things to slowly fall apart after Event X.

You’ve seen it on TV and in the news dozens if not hundreds of times after localized disasters. People sit around and expect someone to come help them and that everything will be all right. While there might be looting or other criminal elements around that you don’t see in your average day, things are still pretty quiet and society holds together until they eventually get better or worse. You can find hundreds of examples of things getting better; it’s the norm and to be expected.

It is this very expectation that helps keep the wheels on the bus for the first few days or weeks. As a prepper person who wants to help restore normalcy and keep you and your family safe you should be spending your time executing your plan, assuming things will get back to normal, but always being ready in case they don’t.

For this, you should have everything you would need for a bug-out or to hunker down, ready and waiting. BOV (Bug Out Vehicle) loaded, BOBs (Bug Out Bags) stashed by the door, window protection pulled out from storage, water containers filled, etc.
You are ready to bug out or you are ready to fortify, but you aren’t executing that part of the play, yet.
You should be listening to the news; local, national and international. If available check the internet. Contact relatives, friends, or those in your mutual support group via any means available, phone, internet, CB, Ham. You want to watch for things like:
  • Widespread rioting
  • Mass evacuations
  • People being taken to relief camps
  • Gas and food shortages
  • Warnings that utilities will be out for extended periods of time
  • Spreading unrest or turmoil

It will be up to you, based on what you learn, to make the judgment call of when to move to the next steps of your plan and bug out or fortify. If you are bugging out, leaving a day before normalcy returns probably won’t hurt, just treat it as a practice drill. If you are fortifying, you might want to wait until the last minute to do any permanent structural changes to your house, but having your protective plywood in position by windows and doors won’t hurt.

For Event Z

You know Event Z has happened. (If it is an Event X that turns into an Event Z, you should already be well on your way to being ready.) You will hopefully have some means to listen to the news and hear details such as:

  • Nuclear attack/meltdown
  • Martial law
  • Invasion or large scale attacks
  • National scale natural disaster/catastrophe (such as Yellowstone Super Volcano or meteor impact)
  • Response to other disasters has failed
  • Almost instant national unrest

If Event Z happens, you will be executing your plans as fast as possible, and hopefully, it isn’t the first time you are testing it.


An Event X that turns into an Event Z is what I believe to be the most likely; where a ‘normal’ disaster finally overwhelms the response and turns into a complete meltdown. For this to happen it would likely come from a combination of two disasters. Think economic meltdown and earthquake or oil shortage and massive hurricane, or any other two things that eventually overcome people’s natural resiliency.

I hope and pray we never have to deal with either of these types of events, but I’ll never stop getting ready just in case!

From Bernie the Apartment Prepper

1.  Temporary situation that requires you to leave immediately, but hopefully return when it’s safe.  Some of those would be:

  • weather-related such as hurricanes
  • flooding
  • wildfires
  • chemical spill

2.  Permanent bug out, when you have to leave and you may not be able to come back for a long time, if ever.   This is a bit more complex and involves carefully watching for signs.

For me, it would be time to leave if:

  • No trucks delivering to the stores, and it does not look like they will be coming for a long time.
  • Infrastructure has gone down: no electricity or water for a few days, and no anticipated fix.  In this situation, people will start getting desperate in the city, and you don’t want to be trapped.
  • No rule of law;  911 and police no longer responding. This means no help will arrive if you or your family are threatened, and looters will start coming in soon.
  • Your gut tells you it’s time to leave.

From Claire Wolfe, author, columnist at Backwoods Home

Of course “before the balloon goes up” we’ll see much of what we’re already seeing:

  • militarization of police
  • wild fluctuations in financial markets
  • growing authoritarianism and surveillance
  • huge disparity of wealth
  • perpetual wars
  • crumbling infrastructure
  • lack of opportunity for young people
  • smart money going offshore
  • and (most recent and worrisome) currency wars as central banks around the world all race to make their money the cheapest.

But of course, all those things can go (and have gone) on for years.

The real collapse will probably be an abrupt, cascading series of events. All the pundits will scream (assuming they still can) about how “no one could have predicted it.”

My crystal ball is in the shop for repairs, but here are three things you might see right before things go blooey:

1. A sudden doubling or tripling of inflation, which the federal government will either deny or try to fight via silly patriotic campaigns.

2. The military being permanently moved into or near cities “to fight terrorism.”

3. Rolling shortages of key goods (bread, gasoline, crucial industrial supplies). These will be called “temporary” and pundits will say each shortage is caused by isolated, unrelated factors. But, one after another, they’ll keep happening.

Really, though, it’s most likely that a black swan will set the ultimate collapse in motion. Anyone who’s concerned about “when to get out of Dodge” should already have gone. Or go now.

READ MORE: Do you know the three warning signs that’s it’s too late to prep? Click here to find out what they are!

Read the entire series of articles

Part 1

Part 3

Part 4

22 thoughts on “When is it time to get out of Dodge? Part 2”

  1. It always happens whilst your making other plans doesn’t it? Life I mean. Our family had only, a couple of weeks before, sailed out of our home town in Australia for an extended holiday when ‘once in a hundred years’ floods wiped out the north side of town, where we lived. We were fortunate enough to have a self contained escape pod in the form of a small sailboat, which we are still on. Six months down the track, meant houses have not been repaired, including ours. As parents we have tried to maintain the holiday atmosphere for the children’s sake even though we will return in a few months time to pick up the pieces, so to speak. Being mindful of disaster possibilities and planning is a major part of coping with these upheavals, but more importantly is faith and hope. The South Pacific Islanders have a resilient outlook that ‘the sun will come up tomorrow’. Our God has promised that he will never leave us or forsake us. When things are out of control He is always in control!

  2. Liked Mr. Jefferson’s contribution – reason would dicate that preparing for event X, especially those events which are likely to happen in your area, is far more prudent than preparing for Event Z. Event Z by defination is one of those high consequence, low probability events. They might be “fun” to role play but preparing for Event X is much more prudent, practical, and probable.

    As for Bernie… okay, again reasonable insights, but nothing someone who’s given it five minutes thought wouldn’t have come up with.

    But as for Ms. Wolfe, if I understand her correctly possible threats include everything that’s happing in the news now, only just worst… Then things you might see before “things go booey” include scarey army guys near cities, high inflation, rolling blackouts, etc – basically California. Then if things get really, really bad you’ll see a black swan – which by defination is something no one could have seen. Thanks for being specific Ms. Wolfe…

  3. Good article. We all want to take care of our loved ones and certainly knowing when to move and when to stay is important. The bigger question, I think, is where to bug out to – the way things have been set up, I don’t think there is a safe haven left in this world, although there are some remote places where you may be ignored for a while.
    In that, concerning the fear and worry. Satan has a plethora of black swans, but God just laughs. Trust God, not your BOB or your gun or your skills. He has it figured out and whether you survive or not, He’s the one you should be running to now and then.

  4. I agree, Mr Jeffersons comments are most appropriate. We experience frequent, weather related, electrical outages, which first led me to being prepared. I have always been a camper, which helps. We are pretty much prepared to bug in, and are working on a bug out plan. But I think that planning for Event X and being ready for Event Y is the way to go.

  5. You all misunderstand and under estimate the brutal and simple nature of your governments.

    If they’ll go “house to house” in Boston they’ll do the same thing to you.

    Backwoods magazine is rag for simpletons which provides no clear instructions for anything except how to pluck chickens.

  6. It is time to get out of Dodge when you have a place better than Dodge where you can be.

    Maybe that is now. No? Only you can evaluate your personal alternatives.

    As for this year’s risks that *could* produce an event Z… Well… our society in the US has not been self sufficient in any way for decades. This is manifest in a trade deficit (meaning we consume more goods than we produce) internationally, and a budget deficit in the Federal Government.

    So, without going into a dissertation on the how’s and why’s, the Federal Reserve has been creating a lot of money for a while now. Mostly it has been to bail out banks, who have put the newly created money in their excess reserve accounts where it earns a tiny, tiny interest rate, prevents the bankrupt banks from being technically insolvent, and otherwise affects the real economy almost not at all.

    So what happens if real interest rates get to be much larger than that excess-reserve rate? Well, then the banks will loan a lot of that money out. The new money in the market will drive up prices. Inflation will EXPLODE very suddenly. The Fed Gov’t will be squeezed to make interest payments on T-Bills, which will cause people to sell T-Bills, which in-turn will cause interest rates to rise even more, and cause the Fed Reserve to print more, and cause the banks to loan more…until the currency is worth nothing, the Government is bankrupt and collapses, etc.

    Historically this scenario strikes very suddenly, over a weekend or at most a few weeks, and takes 18 months to 2 years to play out.

    Did I mention that interest rates have been inexplicably rising despite the Federal Reserve’s best efforts?

    One thing, and one thing alone makes inflation: When someone gets money for nothing.

    The question is this: Is there somewhere better than Dodge you can be? And can you get there?

    This should be a daily question not because of any particular set of current risks, but despite them.

  7. ruffseasahead

    “Anyone who’s concerned about “when to get out of Dodge” should already have gone. Or go now.”

    Anyone who addresses/considered an expert in the best location during the hard times ahead would consider us to be living the worst location in the US. Well, maybe we could. There is always someplace worse. We are unable to get out of Dodge. In “The Long Winter,” the towns people were told to get out of Dodge, or rather DeSmet, South Dakota by an experienced Indian. Not only were the townspeople unprepared, they were unable to get out. It was only by the Grace of God that they survived.

  8. If the grid goes down, not just a local blackout but a verifiable large area without power, there will be a noticeable increase in crime within an hour. Go now!

  9. I would like to know more about where we can go, when we “get out of Dodge.” Other countries seem just a messed up. For many if they came for the guns it would be the time to fight or run i.e. get out of Dodge. But since virtually all other countries do not allow their citizens to possess firearms without permission, it seems crazy to flee to such a place.

    Any good ideas about where to go?

    1. thesurvivalmom

      Wade, that really is the 40K question, isn’t it? Many survival minded people are asking themselves that very question. Some have left the country. Costa Rica, Belize, Chile — I know people who have immigrated to each of those. Others are evaluating individual states and deciding which offers the best combination of job potential, healthy economy, economic and political freedom, lengthy growing seasons, water availability, just to name a few. To get started with your research, I recommend reading Joel Skousen’s book, Strategic Location. I live in Arizona and when I noticed that his evaluation of the state and recommendations were right on, it led me to trust his advice for other states also. Good luck!

  10. A few of years ago on Christmas Eve my husband and I were in the center of a large, crowded shopping mall in Honolulu when the lights went out over the whole island. Night time in the tropics can be very dark indeed when the power is out and there is not a full moon. There was only the light of a few small emergency exit signs. I tend to be rather paranoid about being surrounded by lots of strangers in a public place in pitch darkness. So I told my husband I didn’t want to sit on one of the benches (we were in the mall atrium at the time) and wait for the lights to come on, instead I wanted out of there right away. So, he indulged me and used the tiny penlight on his key chain to get us safely through all the clothing racks of a large, pitch dark Sears store so we could get outside to the side of the building where we thought we had parked our car among hundreds of others on that side of the building. We were lucky to find our car by just starlight and a small penlight (colors get washed out at night). I asked him to just drive us home instead of waiting in the car for the lights to come back on. Very few shoppers had gone to their cars yet so for once it was relatively easy to get out of the parking lot and onto the main shoreline roadway out of Honolulu (usually very crowded, but eerily empty that night). We were able to get home in about 30 minutes which was a minor miracle since just one traffic accident can cause a two or three hour gridlock on the H1. As it turned out, the power stayed out for several hours for the whole island. The next morning, the local news channel reported that there had been a three hour wait for cars to get out of the same shopping mall we had been lucky enough to leave early. So I guess the take home lessons are: always remember where you parked your car, know where you are in a large building relative to where you parked your car, always have a flashlight with you and leave early if something weird is going on.

  11. We will know when the man of sin goes to the holy place as described in Matt.24. This abomination as spoken of by Daniel the prophet is the current pope or his replacement should something happen to him. He will

  12. When is it time to get out of Dodge? Probubly the minute you start feeling uncomfortable in whatever situation arises. Don’t wait, you can always come back if you’ve jumped the gun. But where are you going? If you are in a big city and think that you can just camp in the countryside, you will be sadly disillusioned. That is someone’s property and you will probably not be welcome. Work on finding a place with family or friends now, ahead of time so you have a place to go where you are welcome. If your only option is to camp, how about state or national forests? What about banding together with others in your area to buy a piece of property together now so you can turn it into a camping spot that can also be used if TSHTF? When we were kids we had 40 acres in the woods near my grandparents farm where we put an outhouse and had a hand pumped well. It was a great get away for the 8 of us with our camper. You could even build a shed to store supplies. Now is the time to figure this out!

  13. S. Mary Monica

    The best laid plans can take unexpected detours. In 1980s, I purchased a farmhouse, planted an orchard, berry bushes, vegetable garden, & started free range chickens. Good hunting & fishing in the area, too. However, 3 major surgeries have made caring for my property physically very difficult. So I put a sale price of $59,000 on my house, and plan to buy a smaller rural place where I can prep on a smaller scale. So my advice: if you are older, don’t bite off more than you can chew if you purchase a bug-out place. If there is a blackout of utilities, you’ll need a wood stove, hand pump on a well, etc. Think primitive, like the Amish. Put in an asparagus bed, blueberry bushes, dwarf fruit trees that once established will feed you for years.

  14. IndividualAudienceMember

    S. Mary Monica, your story is yet one more reason why I think it’s a good idea for people to bunch up, get together with others in whatever way you can. Seems to me you didn’t need to leave your farm, you needed to bring in others. But of course, YMMV.

  15. IndividualAudienceMember

    The reply button doesn’t seem to be working up above, so I’ll add this bit @ Eric here, for what it’s worth:

    What’s with the attack on Backwoods Home Magazine (and us all)? Have you got a chip on your shoulder or something? It seems to me BWH a great complement to The Survival Mom. It also kinda seems like you’ve never spent any time there. If you did you’d understand that many very intelligent people there are quite aware of the nature of goberment. I’m sorry you could only learn one thing there out of the many troves of information and advise.

  16. AMEN!!!

    Untold thousands of people will be flooding out of the cities to the countryside… to squat or flat out try to take over someone else’s place.
    Word to the wise- don’t do it. It is very likely you may be finding yourself shot at.


    How do you figure on getting out of Dodge if you don’t always keep that gas tank full. One of the biggest mistakes to make will be to try and get out, find out, that there is no fuel, or that it is being rationed. Another, better have a 50 cc vehicle of some sort to weave in and out of those bumper to bumper cars, trucks, buses, etc., because a bike won’t get it. The masses will dump you and take that bike. Horse, how about they kill the horse and eat it. Get a small motored scooter or motorcycle to maneuver you out. Head for the nearest running water, brook, river, spring, etc., and head north.

    1. The Survival Mom

      If you don’t get out early enough, in the very first surge, it’s too late. When you think about people running out of gas, becoming angry, scared, and violent — you just aren’t going to make it very far, gas or no gas.

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