The “polar vortex” officially became a thing this year as it turned weather conditions upside down. Epidemics and viruses, threats of war, and economic meltdown — these are some of the occurrences no man could stop from happening. In June 2012, four million people went without electricity when an unexpected summer storm knocked out power across the mid-Atlantic region. Hardest hit were the Washington suburbs of Northern Virginia and Maryland. A storm during the summer? Who would have thought?
On that fateful day, I decided to never compromise the safety of my loved ones. On that day, I decided to be a prepper. Yes, a prepper — a growing community that gave National Geographic its highest ratings ever. The majority of people who saw the “Doomsday Preppers” series were not very kind, calling preppers crazy and wild-eyed people waiting for the end of the world as we know it. But the thing about preppers is they don’t wait, they prepare and not just for the apocalypse (as most assume) but for emergencies and occurrences that most people don’t take seriously.
However, if you were with my family who huddled in the basement as the storm ripped through our neighborhood, tearing our roofs, slamming windows, and blowing down trees, you would probably understand. More than 20 people died.
The next day after the storm, temperatures reached triple digits again. The extreme heat was hurting recovery efforts. Our house was damaged, we had no power, supermarkets and shops were mostly closed, and we ran out of food. During those weeks, I thought: I will never let this happen to my family ever again.
A Prepper In All Of UsIt dawned on me that I was not alone. I was not the only one who will do whatever it takes to keep my loved ones safe. I was not the only one who fights hard to survive.
As many as three million Americans call themselves preppers. They are regular people who like regular things. They are professionals, couples, rich and poor, old and young. You could be living next to a prepper and not know it. They are the new breed of survivalists whose preparedness guide and practices go beyond the norm.
A prepper’s emergency management includes not just a 72-hour survival food kit. Prepping means sustainability. Keeping a stockpile of food and artillery, getting survival training, and having an escape plan are among prepper practices that make people cringe and laugh. But the truth is: there is a prepper in all of us. Preparing for the future, preparing for simple home emergencies, preparing for hurricanes make everyone preppers. The difference probably lies not in magnitude but the extent and degree of wanting to survive which transcends beliefs, orientation, and practices.
Being A PrepperIt is not easy to be a prepper. The “Doomsday” series was more like a weekly invitation to laugh at us, “lunatics”. Some imagine preppers as armed zealots hunkered down in bunkers. When visitors drop by my house, I still don’t have the courage to show them my own survival kit. We call them bug-out bags: our own array of disaster swag. Members of the New York City Preppers Network proudly exhibited them at a church in Washington Heights last year. They contain: compasses, hand-cranked radios, solar-powered flashlights, fire starters, road maps and pills. Some preppers tweaked bug-out gear to suit their needs and interests.
Preppers often have their own checklists and preparedness guides. Prepping seems like a tough practice and the common question is: “where do I start?” If you are the type that will do everything to protect your family, then prepping should not be a difficult task. Everything will come naturally with training and practice. There is no single formula for prepping — emergency survival kits must be patterned with what you and your family need and the training required varies with what specifically you are preparing for.
However, for beginners to have an idea of what prepping is all about, the basics are food kits, the art of stockpiling food and preserving it, first aid kits and skills, keeping your place warm or cold, locating sources of water and power, and disaster training.
Preppers And Pop CulturePreppers are an ever-growing community, thanks to television shows, documentaries, movies, businesses and dedicated websites that make the idea of preparing popular and common. Taking after the National Geographic’s “Doomsday Preppers,” the Discovery Channel launched its own series called “Doomsday Bunkers” and the TV special “Apocalypse Preppers.”
Movies such as “2012,””Contagion” and “World War Z” show viewers that, while fictional, the world is not safe from disasters and epidemics. Like these movies, preppers do not intend to cast paranoia among people. They simply remind that complacency has no place in this world.
There are also hundreds of websites and blogs, personal or official that are dedicated to preppers. Top websites such as SHTF Plan and Survival Blog get as much as 60,000 visits a day combined.
Whether for long-term or short-term emergencies, people seem to be taking action and industries cashing in on preppers are proof of this — from ordinary household items to bug out gear. The demand has made prepping a multi-billion industry.
Prepping is often seen as overly-dramatic but to me it is nothing but preparing to survive. It is survival revolution. No one deserves to feel the pain of losing someone we love or losing everything we worked so hard for. Prepping is more than just a phenomenon; it is here to stay because danger does not discriminate — it can happen anytime, it can happen to anyone. Preppers are regular people who will do everything to keep themselves and their families alive. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Jack is an experienced hunter, shooting & self-defense instructor. On Secretstorages.com, he writes about self-defense knives, security camera systems, surviving in the woods, etc.