The 5 Minute Prepper #20: Bugging Out From Work

By Rob Hanus

Most of us spend five out of the seven week days at work and typically during the daylight hours. Many disasters happen during the day. Consequently, the odds are that you will be away from home when disaster strikes.

This means that you need to be prepared for a disaster during your at work hours, while not making it look like you’re a prepper. You don’t want to tip your hand that you’re the “Doomsday Prepper” guy or gal. And this is mainly because you don’t want anyone to look up your address and show up on your doorstep looking for handouts!

Another reason you don’t want anyone to know is because preppers seem to get “volunteered” for all sorts of weird tasks around the office and constantly get asked to borrow your flashlight or knife. Neither of which should be loaned to the typical cubical-rat, as it’s unlikely you’ll get it returned in the same condition.

You should have a small prep kit at your workplace for “just in case” emergencies. This should include items that would be useful in case you were trapped or stuck at work for an extended period of time. Things like food, water, and OTC meds are just a few things to have. Your vehicle should have your Bug Back Bag, but if you carpool or use public transportation, you should have supplies that would allow you to walk home, starting with a comfortable pair of walking/hiking shoes.

Interestingly enough, there are also many items around the office or workplace that can be quite useful in a post-disaster environment, including expedient weapons. Recently, I took a survey around my work place and found many items that could serve well as prep gear.

Here are the useful items I found:

  • Scissors – Probably most obvious as an impromptu weapon. I’d take all I could find.
  • Several pieces of metal were for partition walls or other furniture that could be useful as well. If I had to, I could use the oversized stapler as a sort of mace.
  • Sustenance – Coffee, sugar, tea, snacks – there were plenty of these. Taking the highest calorie food that you can get would be wise, as you’ll need the energy if you’re hiking home.
  • In my office, we have an RO system for water, but there were several water bottles around to take.
  • Coffee filters – for use as expedient water filters.
  • Pens, pencils, markers and notebooks for taking notes, starting fires (paper = tinder).
  • Paperclips, binder clips, tacks, utility blades.
  • Magnifying glass – I’m not sure why it was on the supplies shelf, but it can be used to start a fire.
  • Soap, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, paper towels – basic hygiene supplies.
  • Plastic bowl, cup or mug – useful for drinking, digging, etc.
  • Electric cords, LAN cables – I’d either cut, yank these from their appliances, or unplug them. They’d be better than nothing if I needed cordage.
  • Batteries – There’s a stock of AA batteries for keyboards and mice.
  • 5 Hour energy – several of the employees have this in their desks or cabinets.
  • Garbage bags – several different sizes, have many uses.
  • Radio – there was an old radio on the back supply shelf. Just happens to use AA batteries.
  • Female supplies – Yup, I’d take these, too. Great for wound dressings.
  • Tape – Mostly the clear Scotch-type tape, but there was a small roll of masking tape. Might be better than nothing.
  • Tools – The office has a small set of tools, including screwdrivers and a hammer.
  • Bags – there was an assortment of different sized bags that people had brought for one reason or another, but never took home. These would come in handy for carrying all this stuff.

Now, it needs to be said that taking this stuff is probably considered stealing or looting by some people. However, if it really is a survival situation, then you should supply yourself with the items to make it home safely. You can also keep a log of what you took and from where, so when things get back to normal, you can always replace these items, but know they are there in case you need them.

As you can see, even in the small office in which I work, there are many items that would be quite useful if there were an event that would thrust me into a Bug Back situation. It’s still a good idea to have your own supplies tucked away in your vehicle, locker or desk, but even if you find yourself on an “away mission” when a crisis strikes, being familiar with what the average office has to offer, and how you can best use these items for survival, means that you wouldn’t be caught helpless.


Rob Hanus is the author of the book “The Preparedness Capability Checklist” which is an easy to read book with the absolute best method for intelligent and deliberate prepping. Rob is also host of the Preparedness Podcast.

You can get the Rob’s book here http://www.thepreparednesspodcast.com/capability-checklist/

and tune into Rob’s podcast here: http://www.thepreparednesspodcast.com/preparedness-podcast/


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  • Hawk says:

    Bugging out from work is a real high probability for most of us as you have indicated we are at work 5 out of 7 days and from 7 am till 5 or 6 pm if you commute. Where I work you are not permitted to have a firearm in your vehicle. I have a bug home butt pack I carry in the car along with additional clothing and jackets. One item you might consider that a lot of businesses have is a paper cutter and they can be anywhere from 12 inches to 24 inches long. The cutting arm when removed from the cutting board would make an excellent weapon in an emergency and can be quite intimidating to a small group threatening you. NO one wants to take a blow from something like that. And don’t forget the snack machines in an emergency. I hope we never have to use any of our bug out items- nevertheless it pays to be prepared mentally and with as much equipment as possible. (i would have a 34 mile hike home one way, so I think light weight.)

    1. Pogo says:

      Hawk: The rules say one thing. But, do they search your cars? Then… use your discretion. They are not going to pull out your spare everyday are they. Also, you can carry inside if you go “deep concealed”. Again, do you have to pass through metal detectors to get to work?

  • T. Zolotareff says:

    Rather than have to take anything from the office, it’s best to have a bag already packed with things you yourself have supplied and personalized. No guilty conscious.

  • Pogo says:

    I enjoyed the article and he has some good ideas and I get his point that many ordinary things can be used in an emergency. So I am not being critical of the article. However, One of the reasons I prep is so I know- I have what I need; and I am not fighting my co-workers for the xyz or stealing their energy drinks. That is why I have a Get Home Bag (GHB) in my vehicle. I also have an Every Day Carry (EDC) bag that I take inside the building. Mine is the ubiquitious soft sided insulated lunch cooler with two compartments. Along with lunch is all my other stuff that I want with me at all times. Hidden in plain sight.
    Unless you share a desk or work space where there is no privacy at all; or if your supervisors and co-workers snoop around alot; or if you are subject to surprise inspections; There is usually some place to hide a cache of instant ready to eat food, water purification tablets; fire starter; safety googles, n95 mask, Map with alternate routes to get home, etc. You can still use the list above to grab more stuff on your way out. But if not — then: I see backpacks on people all the time. No one thinks twice about seeing one. This is a city, not the country. I also see many female office workers wear good walking shoes to work and then switch to dress shoes in the office. They usually carry extra bag. Put your stuff there, slide it under the desk and take it home every night.
    BTW, the walking shoes may be necessary if the emergency is an EMP.

    1. Good points Pogo. Be prepared ahead of time. I guess Rob is thinking of extra stuff he might pick up?

  • Ideaman says:

    I find it ironic that you don’t want people coming to your cubical to take your stuff but say you are going to take someone else’s 5 hr energy drinks from their desk… Don’t overlook the paper shredder for a source of ready tinder, rubber bands can be linked together and then combine multiple strands to make bungee cords. Industrial mop handle makes a great staff or walking stick. letter openers make an stabbing weapon or take the arm off a paper cutter for a machete.

    1. Hi Ideaman,

      Lets hope it never comes to this< yes? but you are resourceful.

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