I connected with Jennifer through Daisy Luther, the Virginia-based writer and survival preparedness expert behind the blog The Organic Prepper, which boasts more than 30,000 followers on Facebook and roughly 32,000 monthly visits on Pinterest. Jennifer says she learned a lot about prepping from the site and is a member of its affiliated private Facebook group, which Luther says is nearly 77 percent women. (Luther and other bloggers I spoke with for this story say that while they approach survivalism from a female perspective, they’ve encountered no small number of men who are interested in these practices as well.)
There was a time when I was a prepping newbie and even now, seven plus years later, I have more to do and more to learn. In my heart of hearts, however, I still feel like a beginner and so I empathize with those that are just getting started. They may be moms and dads, seniors like myself, or enlightened millennials. That said, these days I feel fortunate that I have come so far with my prepping activities. Moving beyond obsession, the prepping way of life is now a part of my core. It is “what I do” as well as being a hobby and a passion.
A couple of weeks ago, on a leisurely Sunday afternoon, 40 people gathered at a church in Washington Heights for a show-and-tell session sponsored by the New York City Preppers Network. One by one, they stood in front of the room and exhibited their “bug-out bags,” meticulously packed receptacles filled with equipment meant to see them through the collapse of civilization.
Several years ago, a New York City firefighter named Jason Charles read the novel “One Second After,” by William R. Forstchen, and decided to change his life. In the book, an electromagnetic pulse goes off and sends the United States back into the Dark Ages; in its foreword, Newt Gingrich writes that this technology is not only real but terrorists know about it. “It was pretty much a green light for me to start prepping,” Charles says. The latest episode of The New Yorker’s “Annals of Obsession” video series centers on doomsday preppers—people who aim to equip themselves with the skills and materials they would need to survive a world-ending calamity. Charles is now the organizer of the group N.Y.C. Preppers, which teaches city dwellers how to fend for themselves. He says that he has stockpiled enough supplies that, if the worst came to pass, he would be able to be self-reliant for a year and a half.
While close friends visiting my home might be allowed a look at my haphazard bug-out bag, I mostly kept quiet about prepping, aware of the embarrassment I was courting. It was, therefore, with a measure of relief that I found myself this month among brethren Preppers who intuitively understood my desire to have at hand a packed supply of power bars or a LifeStraw personal drinking tool. You do meet Preppers in New York who are preparing for extreme events like solar flares or an eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera, but most say their concerns are more immediate, more local: chief among them being terrorist attacks, natural disasters and economic collapse.
A tarp. For actual survival, a generic blue tarp from Lowe’s isn’t going to cut it. I’m looking for something that is specially designed to help you survive in winter, like [the Xenon winter tarp, $140 and the Old Man Winter by Wilderness Logistics, $160]. They can be used as a tent, as ground cover, to catch rainwater, to patch holes, for a trap, and even to drag back heavy animals.
Judging by that rationale—“people are not going to take care of you”—the impulse to prep is as much a response to governmental failings as it is to apocalyptic fantasies. During Hurricane Harvey, Houston residents relied on the “Cajun Navy”—generous volunteers with boats—to evacuate them. After Hurricane Maria, a Harvard study found that the Trump Administration’s neglect of Puerto Rico caused four thousand six hundred and sixty-five deaths, many because of interruptions to medical care. And, this week, as historic fires engulfed huge areas of California, the President accused the state of “gross mismanagement of the forests.” Charles, outlining his vision of a doomsday scenario, says, “It’s when law enforcement stops going to work, that’s when the breakdown begins. Now you’re talking about a free-for-all, every-man-for-themselves kind of deal.” Whether or not the apocalypse comes, it seems like that breakdown is already under way.
A bug out bag is critical but what do you put in it? When considering disaster preparedness, keep in mind that what survival gear and emergency supplies you add to your bug out bag and then pack for your survival kit can mean the difference between life and death, or at least affect your level of comfort if SHTF and you had to get outta dodge. Read this article to find out what you should consider putting in your bug out bag.
To the unprepared, the very word “prepper” is likely to summon images of armed zealots hunkered down in bunkers awaiting the End of Days, but the reality, at least here in New York, is less dramatic. Local Preppers are doctors, doormen, charter school executives, subway conductors, advertising writers and happily married couples from the Bronx. They are no doubt people that you know — your acquaintances and neighbors. People, I’ll admit, like myself.
I just rotated my canned foods and such over the holiday weekend. When you start getting busy it will get away from you. I was able to donate some goods coming up on best buy date to local pantry and of course we prepared some of these items in upcoming meals. I did have to pitch about 8 or 9 cans, so I am getting better at not loosing too much. The goal is not to loose anything! We try very hard to stay abreast of the expire dates and restocking the shelves as frequently as we can.
Some of us may prep a little and others may prep a lot. Along the way, we may make some of the mistakes I have listed above, and most assuredly there will be others. At the end of the day, however, we all want to live a life filled with growth, opportunity and the ability to take care of oneself physically, mentally and spiritually. To me, that is what prepping is all about, mistakes and all.
With can foods, there seems to always be either a lot of fat, sodium or just a tonne of preservatives in the foods. I live quite an active and healthy lifestyle and I generally eat quite healthy, so the reason I bought a dehydrator is so that I can take my own fruits, vegetables and my own cooked meals and dehydrate them for a later date. This works well for me as I find I am being a bit more frugal by taking my own easily made meals and snacks to work, outdoors and even having them when I am too lazy to cook at home. That, and anyone else in the family that enjoys snacks seems to like it as well.