It is has been a couple of years since I wrote about some of the mistakes and goofs we all make while prepping. Since then, a lot of things have changed. For one, the mainstream media has caught on to “three-day kit” mania which means more and more families are now ready for short term disasters. On the other hand, threats from wacko foreign leaders have escalated to the point where terrorist-driven EMPs, pandemics, and outright wars have become more of a possibility, if not a probability. Talk about two very different sides of the same coin!
Yet the preppers he worked with are in many ways not what most stereotypes suggest, Huddleston adds. They are generally well-educated and fully employed: “Lots of tech, computer programmers, web developers, that kind of thing,” he says. Most of them care a great deal about giving back to the world. They host information sessions on how to deal with radiation poisoning, for example, or teach people how to make “bug-out bags” (backpacks that contain emergency items for 3–5 days) in case of evacuation. Even though many of them are personally motivated by ideology, they are careful about staying out of political debates, explains Huddleston.
Of course, one of the most rewarding things about learning to make something with your own hands is that you can pass that know-how to other people. As students put the finishing touches on their shelving units and sawhorses, I get to chatting with Kathleen Lokey, a flannel-clad farmer from Greenville, Tennessee, who works for a nonprofit called Rural Resources. Through a series of workshops and training programs, the organization equips low-income, food-insecure teens in her area with the skills they need to take care of their nutritional needs, including many of the old-timey ones Daisy Luther teaches: growing their own fresh fruit and produce, canning, pickling, and making jams.
Another key difference is that the preppers didn't have any specific expectations for a particular disaster that's likely to happen. Some of them lived in flood-prone areas but would invariably mention additional fears like terrorism or outbreaks of new diseases. And for many of them, those risks didn't produce a sense that disaster was inevitable. Preparing was more a just-in-case activity. As Mills concluded, "Their concerns tend to emerge in response to numerous disaster risks that are widely reported and recognized in wider American culture."
Salt, pepper, some chili powder, mustard, sugar, honey – the list is endless. These items do not need to cost a lot nor do they need to take up an extraordinary amount of space. When push comes to shove, however, your eating experience will be greatly enhanced by having a variety of flavor enhancers on hand to enliven the taste of your stored food stuffs.
To find out, Mills placed ads on some popular prepper websites, recruited his cohort, and started his road trip. His goal wasn't a quantitative study; it was ethnography, which is largely talking to people, spending time with them, and seeing whether there are commonalities in how they think. It's important to note that regardless of how popular these prepper sites are, they probably won't produce a full cross-section of the prepper community, either, nor will selecting people based on willingness to talk to a researcher. That said, you'll still probably get more depth than you would by selecting for great TV.
For ideas, take a look at 12 Months of Prepping: One Month at a Time. Here you will find links to articles that take you though the process of gathering what you need in terms of supplies, gear, tasks, and skills to set you on a positive path of preparedness. It may not seem like a lot, but at the end of the year you will will be better prepared than 95% of your neighbors.
Yup, rocket stove DIYs are easy to find, but to each his own and if I can afford to spend $150 on a good knife, I can also afford to spend the same on a rocket stove that’s good looking, lightweight, extremely portable and a one-time buy. It’s the kind of thing I wouldn’t mind pulling out in front of the sheeple to have a BBQ or go camping with, and that makes me happy one way or another. Just like the rain barrel, I could DIY one myself, but it’s unlikely to look even a fraction as good (especially with my incredibly poor DIY skills), and so I’d rather just buy one and be done with it.
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.
Personal hygiene is even more important in emergency situations than during everyday life. We have so many conveniences at our disposal in our society. Yet many people don’t realize the challenges when those conveniences are no longer available. Personal hygiene is really about keeping clean and avoiding unsanitary conditions that can lead to illness.
Owning a cabin in a resort town gives the well to do an upper hand. When things get uncomfortable (too hot days in Florida for example) they head out for cooler places like Oregon or Washington). Sometimes younger grown children live year round at these second homes while attending out of State University or they may just have young family’s and parents who gave them huge down payments or the like. Such arrangements benefit all. If you think and act as the wealthy do, you don’t have to think like a bug. I have seen poor people spend thousands of dollars on weddings, even birthday’s, they could ill afford; when they might have provided their children and themselves a place to go for vacation, or, for other reasons.
It’s Doomsday Clock time again. On Jan. 26, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its annihilation estimation to 2.5 minutes to midnight, meaning the group believes we’re closer to oblivion that we’ve been since 1953-60. This ritual has been going on since 1947. That’s 70 years of scary (and sometimes less than scary) analyses of global threats.
I also found that I absolutely detest the rating system that Practical Preppers apply at the end of every segment. Not because they may or may not be right about aspects of that individual's preparedness, but becuase they fit that rating into a "box". Many preppers have to think outside the box, due to circumstances, finances, whatever, but the rating system seems to ignore that. In a few cases, even I found it insulting. I know they carried it over into season 2, but I'm hoping that if there is a season 3 that either gets changed or dropped entirely.
Even if the world goes permanently off-grid, you can maintain a modicum of civilization by making tea or a boiled egg, or even that beverage that once kept everything going, coffee. It also makes questionable water safer to drink. Constructed like a Thermos with a heavy duty glass vacuum tube inside, it can heat 16 ounces of water to a rolling boil in 20-49 minutes any time there is direct sunlight, all while the outside remains safe to touch.
Adam Hadhazy is a contributing writer for Live Science and Space.com. He often writes about physics, psychology, animal behavior and story topics in general that explore the blurring line between today's science fiction and tomorrow's science fact. Adam has a Master of Arts degree from the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston College. When not squeezing in reruns of Star Trek, Adam likes hurling a Frisbee or dining on spicy food. You can check out more of his work at www.adamhadhazy.com.