Yellowstone: Bugging Out When It Finally Goes

This whole website is about preparing for scary and dangerous situations. Even with that being the case, I try to keep it positive. The bright side of prepping is that you’re prepared. When you know you’re prepared, you can relax. You know that whatever comes, you’ve got a plan. You can keep your cool and you’ll continue your life. With this in mind, there are few situations that will radically change life as we know it. Those situations are pretty unlikely. The chance of a Hollywood style disaster sending the world into chaos is extremely low, everywhere except for Yellowstone. 

This is why Yellowstone scares the hell out of me.

Potential aftermath of a Yellowstone eruption.

Yellowstone: The Numbers

On average, Yellowstone catastrophically erupts about every 690 thousand years. It’s been 630 thousand since the last one. That puts us well within the range of another “big one” at any time. It’s worth noting that we don’t have a ton of data on this, and we can’t predict when eruptions will happen. But these numbers are close enough to keep me worried. I live in the midwest, Yellowstone is in Wyoming. If it’s halfway across the country, why am I concerned?

What Is A Supervolcano?

I’ve seen it very eloquently put: Volcanoes make mountains, supervolcanoes erase them. Most people are familiar with the Mount Saint Helens eruption. It’s the most well known US example of a volcano.

The last time Yellowstone erupted, it was 4000 times bigger than that. Projections put the survival rate in Wyoming at next to 0 if it were to go. While it’s true that the most violent threat of a volcano is it’s debris and lava, the ash is the most far-reaching. The entire western US would likely feel the shaking from the eruption. There isn’t a part of the world that wouldn’t feel the ash.

The Last Supervolcano

The last time a supervolcano erupted it was around 70,000 years ago. This is known as the Toba supervolcano in Sumatra, Indonesia. We weren’t there at the time but evidence from the environment shows devastation. Scientists believe that the eruption caused a “volcanic winter” effect. This effect blocked out the sun for 6 to 8 years. To the wildlife afoot, this must have truly looked like the end of days.

Yellowstone: What Can You Do?

The point of this site is preparation. All this doom and gloom is meaningless worrying unless we can put it to good use. The possibility of a supervolcano eruption should do a few things. For starters, it should bring some humility. There are so many massive  things in the world that are out of everyone’s control.

On the other hand, some things are in our control. We can take it into our own hands to be as ready as possible for these massive disasters. By taking our fate into our own hands we can relax. We can rest assured in our knowledge that we’ve done what we can. What exactly can you do?

For starters, if you live within the blast zone of this disaster, you need an exit strategy. For a lot of people living close to Yellowstone, there’s nothing to be done but move. Disasters like this are huge and happen quickly. Within a certain range, destruction is inevitable.

That said, if you’re anywhere within the larger ash zones, you’ll have a chance to flee. If the big one goes, there will be a mass exodus. Many people will successfully get away from the brunt of the disaster. This explosion will shake the world, but life will continue. Being a refugee in a state you’ve never been to is a whole lot better than being part of Pompeii part two. 

The Supplies

On top of this plan, you can make sure that you’ve got the supplies to keep going as you escape. You may be stuck in your car, or even on foot with a bag for days or weeks. If you have emergency rations and supplies, you’ll be able to keep trucking along to safety.

Air masks and respirators will be the absolute most important piece of gear you have. The second this event hits, they’ll be impossible to find. The world’s production won’t level out on these for years. If you make sure you’ve got enough masks for you and your family, you’ll be in a much better position. 

The prep for this event isn’t much different from the prep for other major disasters. The real piece of knowledge to take away from this is just the possibility that it’ll happen. Most people know that a hurricane or a tornado could throw their world around at any time. The fact that there is a massive supervolcano under America’s most beloved park is shockingly less well known.

You May Also Be Interested In:

What Does A Pandemic Look Like?

I’m going to try not to make this another Covid article. As I write this, information is cloudy. To know what is/was really going on with the virus and its response will take the clarity of hindsight. A pandemic is a serious thing, which is why we have to identify what it looks like.

Pandemic response tent in Macau.

That said, two things have proven true. The world will eventually be okay, we’ll get back on track. The other is that this virus wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Mortality rates are in question but it’s clear that we aren’t looking at the New Black Plague. The world population is largely unchanged. The lives lost are tragic, but society continues on.

Identifying a Pandemic

So what does constitute a pandemic? It’s actually a pretty loose definition. It’s normally defined as a disease/virus/germ, that effects many people across borders. By this definition, seasonal flu’s every single year are “pandemics”. This likely isn’t the pandemic you’re thinking of or trying to prepare for. If you’re worried and prepping, the pandemic you’re worried about is more intense. You’re thinking death in the streets and uncontrollable spreading. This describes something else. Something that has a much higher chance of coming from somewhere more sinister. This sounds like a bio-weapon.

Some conspiracy theorists think that Covid is a bioweapon. I don’t know if this is true. What I do know is that if it is a bioweapon, it’s not a very good one. When people talk about the risk of bioweapons, this isn’t what they talk about. There are hundreds of truly terrifying diseases locked up in research centers. If you were a terrorist, there are much scarier options to choose from.

Are we at risk of biological terrorism. The information, especially now, is cloudy. Biological weapons are outlawed by the Geneva Convention, but criminals don’t follow laws. The only thing we can do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

That said, when do you bug out in the face of an epidemic?

Emergency Responders In A Pandemic

I’ll start by identifying some markers and we can look at how they could be flags it’s time to get out of dodge. Let’s start with hospitals. At the start of Covid a big concern was keeping hospitals from hitting capacity. Fortunately, they never did. If they had, this would have been a red flag. If hospitals are pouring out into the streets, this is a sign that society as we know it isn’t handling the pandemic.

How about police? In the face of Covid, police put on masks. They didn’t stop responding, they didn’t abandon their jobs. If police stop responding to calls, or they fall apart all together, that’s a red flag.

Stores and Supplies

Let’s look at supply chains. When there’s any sort of public panic, there will be runs on supplies. Stores will run out of key items. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way. As an item starts to run low, word gets out that it’s getting scarce. As word gets out, people will blast the supply even more. This is what happened to toilet paper and hand sanitizer at the start of Covid. But then something important happened. Stocks leveled back out. You can find these things again in most places. This means we avoided what would have been a red flag.

If the grid broke down due to people abandoning critical infrastructure, this would have been a huge red flag.

When you’re trying to decide whether it’s time to head for the hills, you have to take stock of the situation. Look at everything objectively and make a rational decision. 

Before you have to make that decision, you want to be prepared for it. This is why it’s so important to have a bug out plan and a hunker down plan. If you have the space, you need to have emergency supplies. Once you realize you need these things, it can be far too late to get a hold of them.

You May Also Be Interested It:

What If The Grid Goes Down? (How To Survive It)

The fact that you’re reading this article means you’re hooked into the grid. The grid refers to the power grid. It’s the massive interconnected system that keeps everyone powered and communicating 24/7. This is a far-reaching, complex system kept running by hundreds of thousands of people. What if it all suddenly stopped? Is this even possible?

Useless power lines if the grid goes down.

Yes, and it’s terrifying.

What Can Cause It?

I’ll start with how this could happen. The flashiest options are also the least likely. One method of taking down power grids would be with EMP attacks. These electromagnetic pulse weapons are just missiles with a heck of a payload. There’s a chance that another world power could use one of these, but it’s not likely. This would be a massive act of war that would lead to the destruction of society as we know it. 

Unfortunately, there’s a natural phenomenon that’s unpredictable and just as dangerous. That’s solar flares. There are solar flares all the time, most of the time we don’t notice. About 150 years ago, just such a solar flare hit us. Some scientists believe we’ll see another one within the coming decades. It knocked down telegrams and some operators even reported getting shocked. Since the technology was new and not big, damage was small. If a solar flare of that size happened today, the damage would be trillions of dollars.

Not only would the damage be expensive, it would be disruptive. This is much scarier for the average person. Governments and big companies will get supply chains back on track, but how long will it take. You can bet anything that the gap is going to be chaos.

But even though some scientists believe a solar flare is coming, it’s still not likely. What is likely, are cyber attacks. USA Today states that a cyber attack hits the grid about every 4 days. All it would take is for one of these attacks to be more successful than they are. Power outages already cost us $33 billion a year to fix, and that’s with them being as small as they are. 

So if the big one hits, what happens?

What’ll It Look Like If The Grid Goes Down

First off, it’s going to get quiet. Most people aren’t used to the silence that would follow a grid down event like these. Fortunately and unfortunately, it wouldn’t stay quiet for long. Some businesses might have generators but stores would close fast. At this point, the panic would start. You’d see a drastic spike in “survivor crimes”. These are things like looting and self defense around the looting, the things you might see around other disasters, but worse. This makes stores and major streets dangerous places to be. 

If the grid was knocked down by a cyber attack, it should be back up soon. This is why preparation is important. If you’ve got even a week up supplies at home, you don’t have to go out and try to get it. You can hunker down with your family and wait for things to get back under control.

Irreparable Damage

If it was an EMP, this may be a different story. EMPs damage circuitry. This damage can’t be reversed from a distance. Electronics would need replacing. The time to get the world back up and running gets a lot longer. There’s a chance that the world may never fully recover from the chaos that follows this. This is the kind of situation that bugging out can help. Once stores are picked clean, looters will turn to residences. Your supplies are only good if you can hold onto them. Getting out of dodge, especially in urban areas, will put space between you and unrest.

We live our lives completely intertwined with the grid. In a way, the fates of the grid and society are intertwined. By preparing for major disruptions, you detach yourself from this reliance. By having plans to follow, you keep yourself from falling into the chaos.

You May Also Be Interested In:

Hurricane: How To Bug Out Or Hunker Down

Bugging out in the event of a hurricane is different than a lot of other bug out situations. For starters, you’ll have some warning before you need to get out. You’ll likely be able to return after a temporary period of time. You also know if you’re in an area that’s at risk. With all these things considered, what questions do you need to answer about your evac plan?

A hurricane rolling in.

When do I need to bug out? 

Step one is keeping an eye on when you might need to leave. Where do you get this info? NOAA has a website specifically for keeping track of active storm risks. It can be found right here: . If you live anywhere near the east coast, it’s a good idea to check this site often during storm season. This is especially useful for planning travel or outdoor activity. If you’re thinking about going camping or boating, makes sure you know the storm schedule. 

What should you bring with you?

I’ve got some articles about what to put in your bug out bag, so you should have a good baseline. There’s no telling what can happen when you have to bug out. Even with a solid evacuation plan, you should try to be ready for anything. That said, your bag should fit your plans.

If you’re planning to go to a public shelter, there are things you likely won’t need. You won’t need a heavy cooking kit. You can leave the axe and saw at home. There are other things you can spend the weight on! This is a good time to consider luxury items you wouldn’t normally. Pillows and blankets are in short supply at shelters. Not to mention, it’s nice to have comfort from home. Bringing these will ensure your family will stay comfortable. 

Another thing to keep in mind is keeping entertained. There’s a chance you’ll be in the shelter for a week or two. That’s a whole lot of down time. Bring things like iPads or laptops, but also make sure to bring non-electric stuff. There’s no telling if you’ll have continued access to power. If you bring books, notebooks, and games, you’ll have entertainment that won’t die on you.

What if you can’t make it to the hurricane shelter?

That all said, prepping and preparedness is about planning for the worst, not the best. There’s a chance that for one reason or another, you won’t get to the shelter. For this reason, you don’t want to slim your bug out bag down too much. You can drop some weight for luxury, but make sure you stay self sufficient. Make sure you can still start a fire, make a basic shelter, and clean up drinking water. A hurricane brings a lot of water. You’re going to want to make sure that you can get some clean for drinking. You’re also going to want to make sure you can get dry and keep warm. 

Should you always evacuate when there’s a hurricane?

The government actually doesn’t recommend evacuating unless your area has a flood risk. I don’t either, to an extent. When evacuation orders hit, everyone hits the road at once. Usually more people than even have to. There’s been a trend recently of over-evacuating. This can be very dangerous if the storm hits while everyone is still choking up the highway. You stand a much better chance hunkering down at home than in a car. 

If you can evacuate ahead, this might be a good opportunity to visit family or vacation. Evacuation can be very expensive. Hotels sell out and are costly in the first place. By staying with friends or family, you save money and likely have a more comfortable time. If it looks like something serious is headed your way, that might be a great opportunity to visit family. If you’re going to spend money on a hotel, you might as well go somewhere nice and make a vacation out of it.

When you’re wondering whether your bug out plans are complete, answer these questions. That’s the crux of planning. Figure out what questions you’ve got, and then make sure you have an answer. If you answer all your questions, you can rest assured that you’ve done all that you can. That is, until you look up some more questions to answer!

You May Also Be Interested In: