Who are the Real Preppers?

Prepping isn’t much different than meal planning…

By Jonathan Parker

In the past few years (and longer if you look hard) there has been a movement rapidly spreading across America: Prepping.

Who are these “preppers”? Why is National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers striking a chord with so many? Popular as it is, it may leave the wrong impression about actual preparedness and the people engaged in it.

While your average citizen doesn’t have a bunker full of chemical warfare suits, it’s impossible to ignore that there is a paradigm shift in the way people think about the future. On top of uncertainty in the job market and rising food costs in the economy, the Cyprus Banking Crisis where money was directly stolen from depositors is poised to spread like a virus to other countries. People want to protect themselves from this uncertainty.

Why is it a part of the social fabric to plan ahead financially, but people wince at the thought of pre-planning for other life categories?

The proposal and passing of gun control bills in many states caused a major vacuum as rifle and ammunition manufacturers sold years of inventory in only a few months. The drought the U.S. experienced in 2012 is still creating a residual rise in food and grain prices, and there was a mass culling of swine herds disrupting the market for years to come.

Many folks are coming to the realization that, unfortunately, what we consider “normal”  may not return. So why would it be abnormal to plan accordingly?

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For hundreds of years in America, it was normal to garden and can your own food. What some people consider weird prepping behavior used to be a yearly event in your great grandma’s kitchen. Their generation understood the potential fear of not knowing where your next meal would come from. They lived through the Great Depression and WWII and understood that the only guaranteed food supply was what you grew and stored yourself.

So you find yourself concerned. You aren’t comfortable with the way things are going. You ask yourself how long could you live on the food in your pantry and you don’t like the answer. Congratulations. You are becoming a “prepper” and you are no different than the average family who plans ahead.

There is no stiff definition. No set protocol. No manual. In fact, the reasons people prep are as broad and diverse as the people themselves. It’s the hardworking ant in Aesop’s fable versus the grasshopper who says “I’ll do it tomorrow” and then expects the ant to bail him out.

One recent example from which we can learn: Hurricane Sandy. With the words “Never Again” still  hanging in the air from New Orleans, we saw emergency housing overcrowded. Food and water supplies – the most basic needs when you lose your home – were delayed and lost. OK, it was less devastating than New Orleans, but not by much. Not when people still had no power or basic necessities three weeks after the water went down.

At the very least, you should take a look at your daily needs and ask yourself a few questions.

“Which is more likely in my neighborhood?”

If there are no stores open, do I have enough…(food, water, pet food, heart medicine…)?

Most people still drive to work with less than a half tank of gas. (But its EXPENSIVE to fill up).
Or they fill their prescriptions a day or two after they run out. (Long lines at the pharmacy, my Dr. won’t give me more, etc.)

Another question: Where will I go if I need to leave my house? How will I get there?

Did I hear you say – “I don’t live in a hurricane zone so I don’t think this applies…”

Part of prepping is planning for the most likely event, while hoping it never happens. Houses still burn down, basements flood, trees fall. Do not assume that the next major event in your life will be a hurricane or a flash flood. Think about the more likely scenarios. When was the last time you lost power? The water treatment plant backed up and you had to boil water? Many of us may never experience an earth-shattering natural disaster.

But I bet all of you have had a flat tire or a car accident. Having insurance, a spare tire, or a plan with AAA is just plain smart.  So is prepping.

You can’t provide for every single scenario. It’s simply unrealistic. What you can do is see that your basic needs will be met if you can’t reach your local big box store. And it doesn’t have to break the bank either. Did you know there are ways to prepare on $5 a week? And you’ll rarely save a lot of money keeping your gas tank at 1/4 full.

Being prepared is a personal endeavor. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. What works for me might not work for you. In any long-term emergency situation your order of reliability starts with yourself, next should be your family, then friends/neighbors, then space aliens, then if you can’t find anyone else, the government.

Preparedness isn’t much different than meal planning – which is becoming more popular to everyone’s budget as cash-strapped families are being forced to insulate themselves from food deprivation if their paychecks don’t cover food expenses. It’s also normal to prepare in the event of job loss. Having an emergency fund is popular to ward off credit card use. “Buy Local” people say – so “Think Local” when planning ahead.

Ensuring your family will be safe, warm and well fed is your responsibility. And it’s a big one, but the comfort that comes from being prepared is almost unmatched by any other. The future may be uncertain, but it doesn’t have to be frightening.

Attitude is everything.

Having 10 years of beans, a shotgun and 20 miles of paracord won’t save you if you panic. In any survival situation, in any handbook, they will tell you – keep calm. Keep a positive attitude, keep your mind occupied with proactive thoughts.

Anxiety and stress have extremely negative effects on your body and, in that regard, on your ability to maintain yourself in a stressful environment. Combat this with knowledge and practice – a little bit each day goes a surprisingly long way. Knowing the week won’t outlast your paycheck makes you feel better right? And being familiar with emergency scenarios can help you react with a calm demeanor and positive attitude.

So just like great grandma, if the stock market collapses or world war erupts, or if a falling tree knocks down the power line to your house and the Xbox goes out – You can simply head to the basement, grab another jar of beans and have dinner with your family, calm, cool and collected, all because you planned ahead.

Jonathan Parker is an EMT-Paramedic and Preparedness Instructor with a love for emergency medicine, self-sufficiency and homesteading. His goal is to empower people towards a natural and sustainable lifestyle.

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