You can definitely see the use for preppers. And to be honest, these aren’t even new items either. When I was growing up, my parents had a pot belly fireplace with a flat surface on top that we’d boil water, pan fry eggs and even cook dinner. Nowadays, I have an electric kettle and electric stovetop. If the electricity was to go, I’d be using my fire stove for everything.
Disasters have, of course, put pressure on communities for a long time—including in the region now known as Mesa Verde, an area in southwestern Colorado renowned for its astonishing cliff dwellings. An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people lived at Mesa Verde between 1225 and 1260, and then the population declined rapidly. For a long time, archaeologists had no idea what had become of them. But Pueblo tribes—in what is now New Mexico and Arizona—had, for generations, told stories about an exodus from Mesa Verde, and they claimed the previous inhabitants as their ancestors.
If the day of reckoning stretches on beyond a few months, however, the ability to grow one's own food will become paramount. Seeds and gardening tools, therefore, should be on everyone's doomsday supply list. Opt for so-called heirloom seeds. These seeds yield disease-resistant crops that produce yet more seeds season after season, unlike hybrid seeds used for mass-cultivated, commercial crops, which can develop into sterile plants.
When I started putting together my first survival kit, I just collected whatever weird stuff I could find—like tablets that would protect my thyroid from nuclear fallout. My mindset changed when my first daughter was born. I realized I needed a more practical end-of-the-world plan, with equipment that would be useful for things that might actually happen. Nuclear war is probably not in store for 2018, and if it is, I’ll just open a window. I don’t want to live through that.
As you can see, a big thing for my prepper gear consists of the essentials of water, food and more good food items. When it comes to actually getting that food, I can not live off freeze-dried food or long-lasting tin food, I know my family can’t either. We are too used to eating fresh, gourmet, homegrown meals, and in all honesty, if the SHTF, I’d like to think I would be sitting back still eating herb-doused chicken wings.
Perhaps for that reason, many of the practices that bloggers like Luther and Nygaard describe as prepping seem to blend into the world of homesteading, a brand of self-reliance more closely associated with living off the land. According to Gaye Levy, the Arizona-based writer behind the blog Strategic Living and the founder of Backdoor Survival, one of the longest-running woman-run sites in the space, the two aren’t exactly the same thing. “I think prepping is pretty clear: You’re preparing for a disruptive event that’s gonna turn your day-to-day world upside down. Homesteaders typically will have a plot of land. They attempt to grow their own food, they raise farm animals, and that is their job.”
If worse came to worse and I had to leave the house, this would probably be one of the things I would throw in the car just because it filters treated and untreated water, so if I was camping outdoors and unsure of the water, I could easily filter large amounts of water. Of course, some would prefer to use a Lifestraw or Sawyer filter, but they are small devices that are only really suitable for hikers or survivalists who are expecting to travel on foot for long distances.
Drinkable water is even more important in the short term than food for making it through a disaster situation. Keep bleach handy to kill bacteria, viruses and other potential pathogens that can contaminate a water supply. "One gallon of Clorox can disinfect 3,000 gallons of water," said Dennis McClung, proprietor of 2012supplies.com, a website offering survival information and supplies pegged to the widespread Mayan calendar myth that the world will end next year. Just add eight drops of bleach to a gallon of water and let it sit for 10 minutes, McClung told Life's Little Mysteries.