But women like Jennifer aren’t preparing for a currency collapse, biowarfare pandemic, or any of the other fantastical global crises that have made America’s prepper subculture synonymous with bunkers, bitcoin, and Infowars conspiracy theories. Instead, they view prepping as a lifestyle — one that has very little to do with defending their territory from hostile invaders and everything to do with the more quotidian business of providing for your family and running a home.
The federal government is concerned, too. An October 2017 House hearing on the EMP threat noted that The Great Northeast Blackout of 2003 plunged 50 million Americans into darkness for a day, contributed to 11 deaths, and cost the country $6 billion, all because a powerline near Cleveland zapped a tree branch that damaged 0.00001 percent of the grid. In 2012, a high-voltage powerline failure caused the world’s biggest blackout, plunging 670 million Indians into darkness.
Update: Yes, if you have prescription meds you’d die or suffer without, definitely pack an extra few weeks’ worth in your go-bag. And stick in extra glasses for anyone who wears prescription lenses. I didn’t add these because the former doesn’t apply to me, and I haven’t gotten around yet to buying the latter, but commenters have reminded me that these two things are at the top of the FEMA list.
What programs like Doomsday Preppers have accomplished, or at least contributed to, is turning sometimes well-informed, sometimes totally unwarranted paranoia into a booming prepper-industrial complex. Each year, swap meets pack hundreds of convention centers and fairgrounds across the nation—they’re like camping shows with a dose of military surplus and hands-on instructional sessions. The September 2017 Kansas City Survival Expo & Gun Show, for instance, had tips on seed saving, “Overcoming 900 Health Diseases” and “A Devastating Street Self-Defense System.” The latter was taught by Norman Cantwell, who inspired Patrick Swayze’s character in Roadhouse. You get the feeling that he and Steven Seagal would be friends.
But mothers like Nygaard, Luther, and Bogwalker probably don’t need to a sociologist to remind them of that: They’re busy taking care of the kids, cooking, cleaning, running their own business, and doing their best to ensure that everyone around them has everything they need. It can be hard to draw the line between being a mom who is a survivalist and simply being a mom who lives her life with an eye to the future, but maybe that’s kind of the point: In giving traditional “women’s work” a name — like prepping or homesteading — they’re simply making that work more visible.
During his presentation, Mr. Charles suggested that a well-prepared bug-out bag was only part of the equation; just as important was knowing where to go. “Bugging out will not be easy,” he explained. “It might take three or four hours to get out of the city. If the bridges are blocked, you might have to use a raft to get across the river. Everyone’s situation will be different.”
Dozens of websites and books offer advice on supplies to have on hand and in stock if "the end of the world as we know it" – TEOTWAWKI, as it's known in survivalist circles – comes to pass. Here, then, is a rundown of the supplies you'll need to ensure that this proverbial "end of days" is not an end for you and yours, but rather a new beginning. [Could Cockroaches Really Survive a Nuclear Blast?]