I usually go into lists like this thinking “this person is going to prove how little they know”. But, you just proved how much you know. This list is spot-on, especially the parts about preparing both for and against human nature. IE: in a perfect “bad” situation you want to be that person that is prepared, and can help others learn how to survive by teaching them to hunt, farm, build shelter. But, in a realistic survival situation you need to protect yourself to ensure you’re not just prepping for the big dude down the street with a gun to come over and take advantage of you.
So Michael Mills at the UK's University of Kent decided to correct this gap in our knowledge. Mills went on an American road trip, spending time talking to (and butchering animals with) 39 preppers in 18 different US states. Rather than rampant paranoia, Mills suggests, preppers are motivated by non stop media coverage of natural disasters, as well as a government that encourages them to prepare for the worst.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in their "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign says that "the public should report only suspicious behavior and situations...rather than beliefs, thoughts, ideas, expressions, associations, or speech...". However, it is alleged that a DHS list of the characteristics of potential domestic terrorists used in law enforcement training includes "Survivalist literature (fictional books such as Patriots and One Second After are mentioned by name)", "Self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies)", and "Fear of economic collapse (buying gold and barter items)".
When I asked about some of those I had met along the way — say, the geared-up 12-year-old, Leonardo Ruiz Jr., who, dropping his suspicions, later gave his name to a photographer — he gave a forbearing smile. “There’s a spectrum,” Dr. Redlener said. “On one end is mindless complacency. On the other is paranoia. The challenge is to find that place in the middle where you understand that bad things can happen, but it doesn’t consume your life.”
Bogwalker, a Washington state native with a degree in ecological agriculture who built much of the compound with her own two hands, says she considers herself much more of a homesteader than a prepper. Still, she says she’s seen many women who identify as preppers take her courses. “I think no matter where you are on the spectrum with your definition of prepper, a lot of the people, probably 65 percent of my students, are curious about the future,” Bogwalker says.
When he gets up to show me about his cabin, Pense stands with the height and permanence of the dignified trees that encircle the property. He doesn’t say “um,” or “well”—the slow, deliberate syllables that emanate from his jowls feel like historical record, perhaps with a sprinkle of Americana, but not quite jingoism. Listening to him talk about his life is like having R. Lee Ermey recite your high school American studies textbook, but gentler.
Really enjoy your common sense approach to the prepping lifestyle and hitting on this list. One thing that we found a challenge when we started was financial preparedness; not necessarily a prepping budget, but getting rid of unnecessary, burdensome debt that robs you of the truly important things in life, and preparedness goals. Keep up the good work of sharing!
Experts worry most about the grid’s nervous system: 2,000 extra-high voltage transformers. They’re 200- and 300-ton behemoths, individually engineered to meet specific power demands, and on average, they’re 40 years old. Notwithstanding the fact that 85 percent of transformers are imported, the U.S. Department of Energy says it takes between 5 and 16 months to replace a single one. According to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Committee, an attack that destroyed nine of the 2,000 transformers would “cause a protracted nationwide blackout.” There’s no national cache of spare transformers.
Jennifer had already taken the necessary precautions the night Hurricane Maria came barreling through the Caribbean. The 46-year-old stay-at-home mom, who lives on two acres of land with her husband and four children atop a mountain in Manati, Puerto Rico, was ready to make use of the filter she’d purchased for sterilizing rainwater in case the taps ran dry. And she didn’t have to worry about food, because her pantry was already stocked with two-and-a-half years’ worth: giant buckets of lentils, flour, and rice; shelves lined with mason jars of fruits and vegetables she had grown and canned herself.
Don’t stop there. Take a hard look at demographics. Are you in a city where gangs, mobs or terrorist attacks are likely? Do you live in a remote area where the failure of transportation systems or the lack of fuel will cut you off from supplies arriving from the rest of the world? Is your employment situation tenuous requiring that you build up some cash reserves to get you by just in case the job goes away?
Pense tells me this sitting beside the fireplace that heats the furnace-less cabin, necessary in the damp 40-degree weather. He wears a Realtree camouflage jacket, circular wire-framed glasses, gray slacks and black leather shoes. A sign above the fireplace reads: “Invest in precious metals. Buy lead.” Carved in a split log on the mantel is, “A country boy can survive.” The guttered roof deposits 30,000 gallons of Ozarks rainwater into storage tanks outside each year. It’s a prepper’s paradise.
By his own estimate, Pense says there are a few thousand people in the Springfield area who have listened and who are ready. The preppers. Most don’t like to be called preppers because of the connotation that they’re crazy; Chicken Little wasn’t well-received by his people, either. Most don’t even like to talk about it, but a few of them do. So for three months toward the end of 2017, I sought out the doomsday survivalists to find out: Is it really crazy to live like the sky is falling?
I just read your article, its great your helping folks out like this sharing your knowledge and experience. Ive been prepping now for about 5 years slowly growing our preps for our family but I noticed a couple of items I really think you should add to your list if you dont mind my suggestions. Not that I know anything you dont but if we all share ideas we can help each other. which is my first point. If you have a couple of friends you can trust, work with them and each work on specific lists to grow your… Read more »
Perhaps the most unusual thing about the female prepper lifestyle is that it suggests a counterintuitive movement through time: a return to a slower, more elemental way of life, one that eschews the conveniences of modern consumer society in favor of the empowerment that comes from doing things yourself. Some of the women I spoke to said being a prepper helped them carry on the same old-fashioned life skills — like gardening, canning, and smart budgeting — that helped their mothers and grandmothers during the Great Depression. Others harkened back to the homesteaders of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, whose pioneering settlement and cultivation of the Great Plains form the backbone of the American myth of self-reliance.
Thomas spoke about these in his article on purifying contaminated water. Basically, the reverse osmosis water purification systems, like the one featured as #5, will take care of larger contaminents. Couple that with ultraviolet disinfection and the rest of water purification is pretty well taken care of without requiring anything too expensive. Remember that this system requires electrical power, so you’re going to need to take that into consideration. But with a solar panel generator, it’ll do the trick perfectly.
Zombie Squads make up a small portion of the overarching prepper movement—people devoted to learning how to survive any disaster, from a house fire to a zombie attack. The movement, says Huddleston, an anthropologist at Saint Louis University and Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, has grown “a ton” in recent years. “Because one, people are afraid of things in the world,” he explains. “And two, I think many people have had experiences with different kinds of small-scale or even large-scale disasters, be it Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy, and they see that there is some practical value in knowing a little bit or having a little bit”—such as knowing how to do first aid or having enough food on hand.
A second motivation comes from the media, which tends to provide nonstop coverage of natural disasters and their aftermath. Mills said nearly every subject mentioned Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, or both. Mills' road trip took place in 2014, and Ebola and ISIS both made frequent appearances in the risks mentioned by the preppers (as they might again today).
Ned in the comments reminded me that a bike really should be on this list. Of course, I don’t really need to say, but a good mountain bike is incredibly useful in a SHTF situation where fuel is hard to get. Ned mentioned that it’d be a good idea to couple the bike with a carrying rack on the front or back, and if you can, an electric generator. I think that’s a pretty damn great idea; only problem is I haven’t managed to find any electric generators for bikes that actually have good reviews. If you know of one, please recommend one down in the comments section.
There have been many great inovations in water filtration in the last few years. Many of these products are used in backpacking so we can get an idea of what products work best from their reviews and from my research I came to the conclusion that the using the Sawyer Squeeze mixed with a flexible bag type water bottle like this that can sit flat and compact but can be filled up to 3 liters which you then squeeze out of the filter. Mix this with the hydration carrier of your choice. (I suggest source packs with their gravity feed system) so you can fill that up and then you have 2 or 3 liters on your back as well as 3 liters in the bag ready to be filtered. You can also just use the bag and filter themselves as a water bottle. I highly suggest you have at least one filter for each person in your family. They come with bags that will work fine but I suggest a better water bottle bag.
When I go offroading/tent camping, I usually bring an ice chest with real food, but one of my friends always brings Mountain House freeze dried food and gives very high ratings for it. So I bought the "classic assortment bucket" just to try out. The meals taste as good as Hamburger Helper with fresh ground beef. The seasoning is spot on and the sodium content fits with the typical American diet which tastes good and helps you retain water. This is good in a survival situation. It's bad for people with heart failure, but it's really good for healthy people that are starving and have limited water supplies. Skeptical that I know what I'm talking about? I'm a molecular biologist and a board certified sub-specialist medical doctor trained at University of Washington, UC Irvine and Stanford (you can Google me). The "per serving" numbers ... full review
On a humid day in early August, I traveled to Wild Abundance, a homesteading and primitive-skills school in the rolling green hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Founded by Natalie Bogwalker in 2012, the facility in Weaverville, North Carolina, offers courses in gardening, foraging, herbalism, tiny house construction, hide tanning, and any number of practices that might come in handy when living alone in the wilderness. It’s also a functional homestead with a sprawling vegetable garden and a series of charming hobbit-like outbuildings fanned out across a wooded hillside.
“And carnal nature said, ‘I’ve got eight shots, they’re not by their weapons, I’m going to kill every damn one of them.’ And then I saw the women. Hollow-faced, it looked like you had draped skeletons with cloth. Horrible, and the children were the same way. Far, far worse than anything I had ever imagined. I could see it, I could smell it, I could taste it, I could feel it. It was real. It’s going to be an experience you don’t want to go through.”—A dream Len Pense had, circa Fall 2017.
It was not by chance, Mr. Edwards said, that prepping first took root in New York in the black community: he himself is black, and in the 1990s he became a frequent guest on “The Open Line,” a call-in radio show on the “urban adult” station WBLS. Around the same time, he started giving classes in disaster preparation at the National Action Network, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s civil rights group. “Obviously,” Mr. Edwards said, “because of our history, black folks know that bad things happen.”
In his book Dancing at Armageddon: Survivalism and Chaos in Modern Times, Mitchell, the sociology professor, develops a working theory of survivalism as a response to living in a society where every object we could possibly need is already taken care of for us. “The shelves are full, and the channels are full,” Richard tells me over the phone. “This is a response to a culture that has stripped away from us our sense of efficacy, our capacity to craft culture.”
Using a compound crossbow in hunting was something I had done well before getting into prepping. Because of my local laws, owning a crossbow or an air rifle is much easier than having a real firearm. I have had tried a number of different crossbows and have stuck with the CenterPoint Sniper Crossbow because of its great 4x32mm scope, its 370 feet-per-second speed, adjustable stock and a very easy drawback.
Yup, you’re right about the dehydrated food having around half the daily recommended calorie count for adults – but I still feel they’re valuable if you can afford it. A food stockpile that big will a least help you get by for the year, regardless of whether you’ll be thriving. And it’s easier (in my opinion) to supplement a stockpile than to depend on growing, hunting, trapping, or fishing everything yourself, especially if you’re not used to doing it.
The one thing which hits home to me is a reminder to keep following what Frank Herbert wrote in his Dune series. “Fear is a mind killer.” A little fear helps motivate but we, humans, seem to overdo even or especially in our emotions. Whether it’s the ‘net’ or the news, it seems people want to push that fear button to motivate others. So now when it happens, I teach people to take 3 deep breaths in and out s l o w l y. This allows the dino rational self to catch up with the emotional lizard. Having experienced a few ‘events’ in life. This had helped me through. Thanks for the list. Am going through these as an evaluation 😉 and reminder.
With the recent alarming events we're seeing a lot of interest in becoming prepared. If you're new here and worried, please first take a deep breath. Things are most likely not immediately dire. The chances of your worst nightmares happening soon are still very, very small. Take a few more deep breaths. Becoming prepared is much more like running a marathon than a sprint.
"I bought these hand warmers for my winter emergency pack. I get stuck two or three times a year due to heavy snow. When it get's cold here, it gets incredibly cold. I've had to spend hours digging my car out. I put the HotHands in my gloves and also one in my shirt pocket. A couple of packs in the shirt under the jacket will help build up the heat and maintain it. What a lifesaver! I've used it only a couple of times and it works well each time."
Jim Cobb is the author of Prepper's Home Defense (2012) and Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness (2013). He has been a prepper for most of his life and has worked almost twenty years in the security management and investigation fields. He also is the owner and lead trainer for DisasterPrepConsultants.com. Jim's primary home online is found at SurvivalWeekly.com. He lives and works in the Upper Midwest, sequestered in a fortified bunker with his lovely wife and their adolescent weapons of mass destruction.
When I first started prepping, I did not mention my new little “hobby” to anyone. You know, OPSEC and all that. But about a year into it, I realized that I could not do it all on my own. There were things I was having trouble grasping and I needed help. As I tip toed around the edges of my community, I found some like minded people and much to my surprise, I found that I had skills and knowledge that they lacked.
It seemed important to know if this all-encompassing negativity was histrionic or appropriate — that is, if the hard-core Preppers I had met were crazy or were, in fact, on to something. Just before the show-and-tell, I came across a news report about Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, whom Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had recently named to lead a commission investigating how ready the state was for another Hurricane Sandy-like emergency. I arranged an interview, figuring that he, if anyone, could answer my question.
Great list for those people who want to start prepping but don’t know how. It would be really great to add survival seeds on that list. Learning how to homestead or growing food will save you a lot of money for survival food. Also, it would be great to consider the place where you’re residing and stock the necessary items you will definitely need in case of SHTF.
Newer innovations have allowed mobile phone users to still communicate in recent floods using the GoTenna devices, which are paired with mobile phones to create their own mesh network and communicate without needing a phone signal. These are much more limited in range than HAM radios though and only have a 5-7 mile reach. It is possible to send a message further but that would have to be through the meshing or ‘hopping’ through these devices.
This isn’t the end of the world prepping. If the end of the world is happening there is no need to prepared. What you just described is a good way to die really fast. You think you’re going to wait until something happens and hold down a store for supplies? Last place you want to be is in the middle of a situation happening. Looting and stealing supplies while a disaster or incident is happening good way to die. Why? Because there’s going to be thousands of other people doing the exact same thing. Anything happens, i’m going to sit… Read more »
This bug-out motorbike may be just what a city dweller needs to run for the hills, with its ability to weave through traffic around miles of cars with occupants also trying to escape. Its oversized universal rack accepts bolt-ons to mount survival gear or harnesses of the rider’s choice, and with the addition of two optional fuel tanks, this baby can go for 250-300 miles before you’ll have to battle other looters of abandoned vehicles to get more gas.
The other thing I want to point out is that there is a bit of redundancy to the solution and resolution of some the listed prepper mistakes. It stands to reason that a mistake doing one thing will overlap with something else, and so, for the purpose of this article, I felt it was important to maintain those small redundancies. Now that I think about that, isn’t that the prepper way?
I have had my own Big Berkey system for at least five years now. Even if I have friends over who have no idea about prepping, they are interested in it for the fact that it provides clean, healthy, filtered water. I use the Big Berkey specifically because it uses a high standard of filtration to remove bacteria, parasites, mercury, lead and the high amounts of chlorine that is in my local drinking water and I don’t have to change the filters as much as I do with other filters. Safe to say, once people start filtering their water they notice the taste difference straight away.
I would agree that the moral ground of choosing to not have a firearm is great for some people. I have a family and am prepared for our needs with supplies and learned skills and would not expect to need assistance of others. I am currently working on extra supplies that I might be able to distribute to others in need. I like to help others and do not see the world as an evil place. Unfortunately with a catastrophic event law enforcement is often not available. History and current events in less “civilized” areas has proven that without law then anarchy and predatory animals are often unleashed. I feel that it is my moral obligation to protect my family. If I took the stance that I would go firearm free for moral reasons then I don’t think that I could live with myself if I was powerless to stop thugs from overpowering me then stealing our hard earned supplies necessary for our survival and then brutalizing my wife and young daughter when I might have been able to stop it with force. If accepting the risk of being less able to protect your family is acceptable to you and your family for moral reasons then god bless you and I support your decision. Could I live with the “stain” on my soul for protecting my family from predatory animals using force? Yup. How many “stains” could I tolerate….depends on how many predators and how many bullets I have. I do not live in fear and do not think that my commitment to my family protection as a husband and father makes me psychotic, paranoid, pathetic, a coward or a sociopath and feel slighted at the suggestion otherwise in your post. I would say that each of us must make the moral decision themselves about use of firearms for protection. I don’t judge others decisions and wouldn’t expect others to judge mine. I think I am a realist. A protective firearm can be like a fire extinguisher- you don’t have one because you want to use it or expect a problem but stuff happens.
This group consists of people who live in tornado, hurricane, flood, wildfire, earthquake or heavy snowfall-prone areas and want to be prepared for possible emergencies. They invest in material for fortifying structures and tools for rebuilding and constructing temporary shelters. While assuming the long-term continuity of society, some may have invested in a custom-built shelter, food, water, medicine, and enough supplies to get by until contact with the rest of the world resumes following a natural emergency.
It’s one thing to have solar panels, another to have a generator, and quite a remarkably nice thing once the best of both worlds are mixed. Yes, this is high up there on my dream wishlist. No, it’s not at all a necessity, but would it make life one heck of a lot easier if you had this even during a power outage – hell yes. Also – “It takes the same amount of time to charge your device from a Goal Zero power pack as it does from the wall.” How cool is that??