The Non-Prepper’s Guide to Prepping

 

Water-Tablets1-840x350There has been a remarkable increase in interest in “prepping” in the last few years. It started with the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina, and now there are TV shows dedicated to people getting ready for the end of the world and a candidate who has talked about “exo-atmospheric electromagnetic pulse weapons” during a Presidential debate.

“Survivalism” was once considered a fringe movement comprised of wackos who believed all manner of conspiracies theories. Now congressional staffers are encouraged to have “go bags” and there is a website run by the .gov to help people survive a major disaster in their area.

There’s a lot of confusion over what prepping is and is not. Some think that prepping means holing up in a bunker with ten thousand rounds of ammunition and five years of food, but that seems a little … excessive to me, if not downright crazy.

My mother and father grew up on farms. Whenever my family visited our aunts and uncles on their farms, there would inevitably be spontaneous canning sessions and berry-picking outings that resulted in pantries and larders stocked withflashlight1 months worth of food (Side note: You’ve heard the phrase “Running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off”? There’s a reason why that phrase exists. Trust me on this.).

It’s not that there wasn’t food available, it’s just that my relatives understood that the infrastructure they relied on to provide them with food, power, and whatnot might not be there when they needed it. Now, pick up that same attitude and drop it on top of modern society, and you have prepping.

Simply put, “prepping” is nothing more than the ability to spontaneously go camping at a moment’s notice, using only the gear you have near you.

While that sounds simple, the fact is for most of us, “going camping” requires more than a little forethought and planning, something unavailable when the walls are (literally) crashing around you. You won’t have time to check if there’s batteries available for the flashlight or if you’ve packed your sleeping babatteriesg. You’ll need to leave right this very second, with only enough time to grab stuff that’s in easy reach. The trick is to make sure that you have, within easy reach, what’s needed to maintain yourself for a set period of time. The more stuff you have, the longer you can go without outside help.

It’s not crazy to want to be ready for what life throws at you; if anything, it’s right in line with the core conservative ideal: The government is not your nanny, and it cannot and will not be there to care for you all the time. You buy fire insurance for your home because you realize it may burn down. I bought flood insurance for my home because I live near the Florida coast. So why not have stuff that helps to ensure you’re more likely to survive, given the (small) chance something really, really bad might happen to where you live?

I’ll have a quick run down on what sort of skills and gear might be needed in such a situations next week, but in the meantime, check out ready.gov; it’s really quite good (although they do leave out one important element of wilderness/disaster survival, bonus points if you can spot what it is).

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  1. The King Prawn Member
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Good stuff. Pre-Y2K some family friends gave us a box of preparedness supplies for Christmas. Much of it went into the camping supplies. Now it’s all basically gone.

    Since we had a small earthquake yesterday, and because talk of “The Big One” is becoming a thing, I probably should be much more prepared than I am.

    I look forward to your future writings on this subject.

    • #1
  2. Blue State Blues Member
    Blue State Blues
    @BlueStateBlues

    Well, obviously they’re not going to tell you to have a gun and ammunition handy.

    • #2
  3. PHCheese Member
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    I have several months of food and water and other necessities. I live in both a earthquake and hurricane zone. Sort of crazy not to be prepared.

    • #3
  4. donald todd Member
    donald todd
    @donaldtodd

    Back in the 1830s a man named William Miller deciphered scripture to determine that Jesus’ return would occur in 1843.  Those who believed Miller prepared for the end of the world.  To be sure, Miller missed the date of Jesus’ return, but an idea was planted in the minds of people that He would be coming back, relatively soon.

    It is 2016 and the idea of an apocalypse is not limited to people of a particular religious persuasion, rather it has taken root in the minds of people who have seen the ravages of Katrina and other destructive phenomena, such as urban riots, a contempt for law and order, and lines blocks long for getting to gasoline (I remember this from Carter’s inglorious years in the White House).

    And, should a hostile neighbor on this planet get the urge, perhaps a missile exploding in the atmosphere and causing anything using supplied electricity to crash the various electrical grids in the US.

    “Honey, get the picnic basket.  I think we’re leaving.  Now.”

    • #4
  5. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Having a couple of months of food and supples on hand is just a cheap form of insurance.
    Buy what you use anyway and rotate the supplies.
    Could not believe that 2 or 3 days after Hurricane Sandy we heard complaints of people ” starving with nothing to eat”.
    Seriously?

    • #5
  6. lesserson Member
    lesserson
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    Because we’re in a hurricane prone area I try to keep several weeks worth of food and water on hand. It’s nice to have a bit of a natural excuse to prep a little.

    • #6
  7. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt Bartle
    @MattBartle

    “but in the meantime, check out ; it’s really quite good”

    Sorry – am I missing something? It’s looks like there should have been a link there.

    • #7
  8. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton
    @KevinCreighton

    Matt Bartle:“but in the meantime, check out ; it’s really quite good”

    Sorry – am I missing something? It’s looks like there should have been a link there.

    There’s supposed to be a link to ready.gov, but it got stripped out, and I can’t edit it without taking the post offline. I’ve pinged the editors about this.

    • #8
  9. Wiley Member
    Wiley
    @Wiley

    Glad to see this topic on Ricochet. Keep up the good work.

    • #9
  10. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Kozak:Having a couple of months of food and supples on hand is just a cheap form of insurance.
    Buy what you use anyway and rotate the supplies.
    Could not believe that 2 or 3 days after Hurricane Sandy we heard complaints of people ” starving with nothing to eat”.
    Seriously?

    I’ve voluntarily gone without food for 3 days.

    • #10
  11. Blue State Blues Member
    Blue State Blues
    @BlueStateBlues

    Kozak:Having a couple of months of food and supples on hand is just a cheap form of insurance.
    Buy what you use anyway and rotate the supplies.
    Could not believe that 2 or 3 days after Hurricane Sandy we heard complaints of people ” starving with nothing to eat”.
    Seriously?

    They may have lost food due to flooding.

    We usually eat fresh meat and produce, although there are a few things in the freezer.  After a week or so we would probably be reduced to pasta and rice, canned beans and tomatoes, and whatever oddball stuff was in the back of the cabinets.

    • #11
  12. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    I am surprised to see this on the main feed – it should be. I remember Y2K – I was working at at large consulting firm – they had an IT dept. that was working round the clock – 3 days before, I went to my ATM and it showed I had about 300K more than I really did….by Monday the glitch was fixed – phooey.  My co-workers were strapping wads of cash to their thighs (not really – just putting it under the mattress).  I had enough water and canned goods for the neighborhood for a year.

    I’m an average person in a hurricane state. I think I started to pay attention more, after the 2008 crash.

    I keep cash on hand (our county lost power and gas pumps didn’t work), been through Hurricane Ivan (lost power for 4 days), I top off tank, keep extra food and water, batteries, even a supply of garden seeds, just the basics. The world has gone bananas since 2008 and I think your advice Kevin, should be heeded all the more.  Thank you!

    PS – I have heard gov ads on radio recently heeding people to prepare – not sure if it is from FEMA, military re-opened old cold war facilities in CO and WY, federal banks have sent bug out kits to employees, Homeland Security has stocked up – maybe we should too….

    • #12
  13. Metalheaddoc Member
    Metalheaddoc
    @Metalheaddoc

    I find this subject fascinating. One thing I haven’t figured out is what is the best way to have a decent supply of water? Those cases of bottled water seem inefficient and wasteful.

    • #13
  14. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    I started doing this when I moved to Turkey because Istanbul’s on a massive fault line, and obviously completely unprepared for even a modest earthquake, no less the massive one that seismologists expect. I no idea this was a hobby called “prepping.” It’s really just common sense. After my brother and his family very narrowly survived the quake in Port-au-Prince — many of their friends did not — my friends in Istanbul and I started what I now know would be called a prepping club in Istanbul to teach people about non-structural seismic risk mitigation, what they should have in their homes, and what to do during and after a quake, when pretty clearly there would be no functional emergency or public services. To anyone on Ricochet who lives in California or the Pacific Northwest and hasn’t thought or prepared for this: It’s really just common sense, and if you devote a weekend to taking care of a few basic things, you’ll feel a relief you don’t expect, because you are, basically, in denial — and denial takes a lot of mental energy. Here are some of the things I wrote about it when I was living in Istanbul. If you have any questions about seismic risk mitigation, don’t hesitate to ask.

    • #14
  15. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton
    @KevinCreighton

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: I started doing this when I moved to Turkey because Istanbul’s on a massive fault line, and obviously completely unprepared for even a modest earthquake, no less the massive one that seismologists expect.

    Bingo. It started for me when I lived in Ecuador, and 2/3rds of all the creature comforts of the U.S. were available to me at any given moment.

    Just not the same 2/3rds all the time, and it would change at a moment’s notice. Once you get used to the idea that any given part of of our current “JIT” lifestyle can (and will) fail, you start to put away the things you need to smooth out life’s little bumps.

    • #15
  16. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton
    @KevinCreighton

    Metalheaddoc: I find this subject fascinating. One thing I haven’t figured out is what is the best way to have a decent supply of water? Those cases of bottled water seem inefficient and wasteful.

    They are. Unless you live in a seismic zone, there will probably be some advance notice of the bad things headed your way, at which point, you drag out something like this, drop it into your tub, fill it in less than an hour, and you are set for days.

    Otherwise, unless you live in the desert, there will be water available, just stuff you probably don’t want drink. Get a metal pot for boiling and LifeStraw or similar for non-boiled water, and you’ll be fine.

    • #16
  17. Crabby Appleton Member
    Crabby Appleton
    @CrabbyAppleton

    I used to look askance at preppers, but recently I was binge (re)watching James Burkes’ excellent series “Connections” and he introduces it with an account of the great East Coast Blackout of the late 60s and points out the fact that we have created for ourselves a great cultural/technological trap. If our technical infrastructure were to collapse ( and it is certainly a plausible scenario ) we wouldn’t likely have the individual knowledge to survive on our own unless we were to consciously plan for it. I have since started stocking up on food/water/emergency supplies so at least I/we can get through the initial phase and then gawdhelpus.

    • #17
  18. RyanFalcone Member
    RyanFalcone
    @RyanFalcone

    It is a great feeling to build skills for making oneself more independent. Just having a mentality of survival and going through the process of planning for disasters has a tremendous affect on one’s emotional, physical and mental well-being. It is like teaching victims of abuse self defense.

    • #18
  19. Frozen Chosen Member
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    Metalheaddoc:I find this subject fascinating. One thing I haven’t figured out is what is the best way to have a decent supply of water? Those cases of bottled water seem inefficient and wasteful.

    You can get food grade 55 gal drums to fill with water.  Put a drop or two of bleach in and you’re set for several years.  You can buy pumps for the drums as well.

    • #19
  20. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Claire’s mentioning of earthquakes reminded me of a story I read years back about a financial adviser named Gerald Celente – he’s a survivalist who was on 14th floor of large hotel when the Chilean earthquake hit in 2010 I think? Right before 4 AM, he was awakened by howling dogs – they were racing down the street – then came the rumbling and swaying. As a martial artist, he was trained to keep balance and react quickly – he and his business partner made it to first floor via steps in 3 min.  They got info from online network group they were a part of for emergencies and were told to get a cab and head to Buenos Aires, since airports shut down in Chili. They were able to get a flight home from there.

    When we lived in Massachusetts, I was awakened early morning by dogs barking, next the bed and heavy dresser rumbled – I heard a loud noise – thought it was a massive truck going by – the dew from the trees was all over the ground – it was an earthquake in the middle of the state – not even near.  Amazing that animals can sense danger first.  Even the animals and birds were fleeing before that huge tsunami hit years ago at that Asian resort – sometimes you have only a few lifesaving minutes – something to think about.

    • #20
  21. hcat Member
    hcat
    @hcat

    You young people know no history. Preppers, then called survivalists, originated during the Great Inflation of the 1970s. They and the hard money folks (another response to the Great Inflation) were a major force in the revival of the Right at that time. The Great Inflation belongs up there with the Grear Depression and the Crash of 2008 as one of the great financial calamities. The price of Time and Newsweek, which were real news magazines then, jumped from $.25 to $2 in less than a year. And do you know why Motel 6 is called that? Because in the late ’60s, when it started, the single room rate was really $6. This explains why the Boomer generation, whose financial habits were formed during that time, are not very thrifty and like to borrow other people’s money.

    • #21
  22. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton
    @KevinCreighton

    hcat: Preppers, then called survivalists, originated during the Great Inflation of the 1970s.

    I may or may not have started reading Soldier of Fortune magazine right about that time, so I remember. The “survivalists” of that era were  a fringe group a best (and at worse, actual neo-Nazis). It’s one thing to have a small element of society talking about hits to our infrastructure and life after SHTF, and another to have wired.com talk about seed banks and 72 hour kits.

    Survivalism has become mainstream. What effect having large elements of our society accept the fact that our society might not exist at all is yet to be seen.

    • #22
  23. profdlp Member
    profdlp
    @profdlp

    I’m semi-prepped.  In my case, I’ve been building up a Jeep as an overland/expedition vehicle and wanted to have lots of basic survival gear on hand.  My bugout bag stays in the Jeep and I’ve been slowly adding freeze-dried food, etc.  My camping gear is all packed in the garage and ready to go, mostly because I never got around to stowing it last fall.  I’ve decided I like it that way.  I could be out the door in five minutes with enough stuff to last for weeks.  Toss in a gun or two and I could stay out indefinitely.  (I know where the deer live.)

    • #23
  24. Frozen Chosen Member
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    profdlp:I’m semi-prepped. In my case, I’ve been building up a Jeep as an overland/expedition vehicle and wanted to have lots of basic survival gear on hand. My bugout bag stays in the Jeep and I’ve been slowly adding freeze-dried food, etc. My camping gear is all packed in the garage and ready to go, mostly because I never got around to stowing it last fall. I’ve decided I like it that way. I could be out the door in five minutes with enough stuff to last for weeks. Toss in a gun or two and I could stay out indefinitely. (I know where the deer live.)

    Until the EMP blast takes out the electronics on your jeep.  I heard of a guy who bought a 1986 Bronco for his bug out vehicle because it didn’t have any electronics to fry.  Just sayin…

    • #24
  25. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton
    @KevinCreighton

    Until the EMP blast takes out the electronics on your jeep. I heard of a guy who bought a 1986 Bronco for his bug out vehicle because it didn’t have any electronics to fry.

    This is a little down-in-the weeds for me. Yes, there is a chance that this might happen, but the number of EMP warnings I’ve had in the past 12 months remains steady at zero.

    Hurricane warnings and tornado alerts? More than zero. That’s a more pressing need, because it’s actually happened.

    • #25
  26. Frozen Chosen Member
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    Kevin Creighton:

    Until the EMP blast takes out the electronics on your jeep. I heard of a guy who bought a 1986 Bronco for his bug out vehicle because it didn’t have any electronics to fry.

    This is a little down-in-the weeds for me. Yes, there is a chance that this might happen, but the number of EMP warnings I’ve had in the past 12 months remains steady at zero.

    Hurricane warnings and tornado alerts? More than zero. That’s a more pressing need, because it’s actually happened.

    I know, but you gotta admit the guy has his bases covered, right?

    • #26
  27. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton
    @KevinCreighton

    Frozen Chosen: I know, but you gotta admit the guy has his bases covered, right?

    As a friend of mine says, “If you’re prepared for the zombie apocalypse, a three day snowstorm is just a minor inconvenience”. ;)

    • #27
  28. Crabby Appleton Member
    Crabby Appleton
    @CrabbyAppleton

    If you don’t already know, learn how to garden. If you already know, make sure you teach your children. Just sayin’.

    • #28

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