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When The Bug Out Bag Runs Out – What To Do After 72 Hours?

So you’ve had to abandon your home or BOL (or was not at it when the fan blades turned brown) and now you’re on the last day of your bug out bag, what now? The first thing you should do is STOP and take a minute to reflect. Check through your bag and see what’s still useful and what’s low or gone. For the most part everything inside your bag will last for weeks or even months if it has to. Your firestarter should still be in good shape, your emergency blankets are ok, you still have a tent….but what about your food and water? AAH yes! These are the real dangers. You still have heat, shelter, and light but without food and water, espeically water, you will die all warm and toasty.

Without food you’ll begin to feel hungry and run down in a day or two but you’re still ok for about another three weeks. Assuming you have a destination you’re trying to reach where you can resupply you won’t starve if you make it there in time.

Without water however you’re in much worse shape. You have 2-3 days before your body shuts down and you eventually die on about the 4th day. I have heard stores of people living 5 days, and even 7 without water but the average and the rule of thumb is 3 days.

What To Do

Examine your suroundings and weight your options.  If your goal is to get where ever you’re going and you know for sure that you can reach it in 1-2 days, then start marching. Don’t stop except to rest at night. Try to conserve all the water you can by not sweating.

If you don’t have a place to go or you’re more than 2-3 days out for a BOL, then you need to start looking for water. If you’re in the wilderness look and listen for signs of water and head in that direction. Signs can be green spots of vegitation in the distance (you may have to do for it), naturally occuring valleys between hills, or something as obvious as a creek bed.

If your survival senario puts you in an arid enviroment such as a desert you should start planning now for your water, not after the shtf. Have a plan and a place to go and carry enough water to get you there otherwise you will surely die. If possible drive the area now while you can think and plan things out. It may be possible to cache some extra supplies in a hidden spot along your path, but you have to do this beforehand.

If you’re in an urban enviroment (which most will be) remember that there is probably water all around you, although it may not be drinkable. It would be hard to imagine a house without at least one can of pop or a bottle of water somewhere inside. Hopefully you will find someone who can spare a bit.

Spigots on houses (beware the owners), ditches, man made lakes, and swimming pools are all great sources. If all hell has truely broke loose then take refuge inside of an abandoned house and look for water in water heaters, the BACK of toilets (not the bowl), and sink traps. They will all hold some water.  Just remember that this water will more than likely be contaminated so filter and boil it first.

Once your water is restocked either hunker down and build a temp base camp until you can locate food, or keep moving to your BOL. If you’re in luck your senario may be over by then and you can begin going back to a normal life. If not I hope you are learning self sufficient skills now as well as basic long term survival.

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Sergeant Survival

I spread the news of disaster preparedness and homesteading skills to the masses. My mission is to teach the keyboard commandos out there some real life skills.


  1. I never thought of looking in the toilet tanks for water. This is a great article and really provided ideas for finding water when all the supplies are exhausted. I hope I would still have my Lifestraw in case I come in contact with any water sources. I feel pretty confident that I would be able to trap some small game in that time or catch a couple of fish.

  2. I have also heard that hot water heaters are a good source of water if you are teally in need.
    In my BOB I carry water purifications tabs (more than 3 days worth) and a SteriPEN with extra batteries.

  3. The best bug out book that I have found is called, “Realistic Bug Out Bag” by Max Cooper. It blows away all of the other books on the topic.

  4. Truly say this is a great topic because I have never thought of this. Means we always think about the condition and bug out bag for 72 hours to handle the conditions and think that after that we will be safe. But by this blog you have given a serious topic for discussion and to share with others. Besides this you have given some good suggestion to survive after bug out bag runs out.

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  8. […] No matter your reason or feeling about what is going to happen in a long term SHTF survival situation, I highly recommend you get out of any populated area quickly and Get To Your Bug-Out Location. […]

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