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The act of prepping has been around for centuries, the only change has been the technology preppers have come across throughout the years. From the ancients to the present day indigenous peoples have been storing food and supplies to survive. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the act of prepping has skyrocketed. There were many mistakes made during this natural disaster to include mistakes made by the government. Given the amount of lost lives following the storm as well as the shortage of food and water immediately after, Americans have begun storing their own preparations to ensure their survival. A prepper has at a minimum ten basic items when they begin to prepare but many go much further than those ten items. Prior to Hurricane Katrina as well as today there are many Americans that feel prepping is unnecessary or a waste of money, but a prepper would say differently. As you will learn, prepping goes back generations, involves many different scenarios, and is done on many different scales. America has failed to prepare to survive in the past, and many Americans still do so we will look deeper into how to fix this problem and why those that do prepare do what they do. Keywords: Prepping, survival, disaster, preparedness, emergency.
Prepping: Is America Ready?
According to Tom Perry of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, “The need for preparation is abundantly clear. The great blessing of being prepared gives us freedom from fear” (Perry, 1995). It seems more and more Americans are losing their lives when a disaster strikes due to being unprepared. American families should be more prepared to respond to natural disasters that are likely to occur in their area in order to ensure their survivability. It may be unclear to some by now what a prepper is, so to fully understand what will be discussed someone must first understand who they are.
A prepper can be a man, woman, child, or family that has seen history and the types of disasters that have occurred and has begun stockpiling items to allow themselves to be safe if these events occur. When starting out most preppers rely on the basics such as food, water, ammunition, and weapons in order to remain in their home when disaster strikes. While many view preppers as crazy people or someone that simply stores unneeded provisions, preppers are simply wanting to ensure their survival. While many believe an emergency and a disaster are the same thing there are slight differences. An emergency is a sudden or unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action (Emergency, n.d.). A disaster is a sudden calamitous event bringing great damage, loss, or destruction (Disaster, n.d.). There are many situations preppers use as their reasoning for being prepared such as economic failure, acts of nature, political upheaval, solar flare, Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) to name the most common ones. All of these situations are likely to occur at any time so remaining prepared at all times as Tom Perry stated allows us to be more in control of our outcome and lessons our fear.
Disaster preparedness should never distract a person from meeting life’s other needs and responsibilities (Bradley, n.d.). While prepping should be heavy on a prepper’s mind, family and friends as well as work should be most important on anyone’s mind. No matter the situation, emergency, or disaster occurring there are many more important things than worrying about supplies or plans at times when family needs to come first.
History of Prepping
The art or act of prepping dates back centuries. While many of us only have learned about preparedness in recent years, one of the earliest stories known referring to the topic is the story of Noah’s Ark. While many know not the story of Noah a brief background shows the Bible states:
“11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress[c] wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.[d] 16 Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit[e] high all around.[f] Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. 17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them. (Long, 2011)”
Given the story of Noah we can see that although commanded, Noah stored supplies for survival on-board the ark for survival of the coming flood. Given the preparation of food and providing for the animals, once the flood waters receded one year later life was able to flourish once again. While this was an extreme case of prepping, through-out the years, following the same methods and ideas were used throughout history.
Through the Middle Ages, if not for preparing the population would have perished. During the Middle Ages, the cost of feeding an animal in the winter months was so high the animals were usually slaughtered and the meat stored. Prior to the invention of heaters and electricity, wood was also a large product stored away for winter in order to remain warm during the cold months. These practices remained for many years until amenities such as electricity were invented. As technology progressed, while prepping has become easier, it seems fewer maintain the mindset. Through-out the 1900’s preparing was encouraged in support of the war efforts that were ongoing. It wasn’t until the 1970’s when the term “survivalist” was coined and “Famine and Survival in America” was written that preppers gained their negative view (Duff, 2017). Following the term and book being written, the media took it upon themselves to label those that took part in preparing as crazy, racist, and even anti-government which pushed many away from preparing for themselves and the ones they love. Starting in the early 2000’s when the tragic event know today as September 11th occurred, many began to look back into preparing and surviving. While this event started the large rise in preppers it was ultimately Hurricane Katrina and the lack of response by the government that pushed many back into the prepper lifestyle. While the views are not as negative today there are many that still believe those deemed “preppers” are still anti-government and crazy.
Today’s Generations and Preparing
The art of preparing has been around for centuries, it is the technology and generations that have changed. While more widely accepted today, we will look into the modern generations and their preparedness or lack of.
There are several generations we will examine, those around today, Millennials, Gen-X, and the Baby Boomer. These generations were chosen based on the fact that most generations past these have come and gone. According to a study conducted by Pureprofile, 2000 Americans were surveyed and it was found that an estimated 68 million people, or 1 in 4, recently purchased survival gear due to an election or natural occurrence outside of our control (Doomsday prepper statistics, n.d.). More than 160 million American adults (65.45%) are estimated to have either recently purchased survival gear or, interestingly, are already in possession of survival gear because they always keep them on hand. The remaining 85 million (34.55%) are not preparing for the end of the world as we know it. Of those who report prepping, 36.35% spent up to $400 on survival kits in the past 12 months (Doomsday prepper statistics, n.d.).
The Baby Boomer generation are known as those born between the years of 1946 and 1964. This generation range in ages from mid 50s to early 70s and according to the study conducted by Prueprofile, have bought the least amount of survival gear recently. Having witnessed, been a part of, or heard about the Great Appalachian Storm of November 1950, the preparation should be even more relevant now due to age. Being that this generation lived through rougher struggles than most of us, one would think that they would be the most willing to be prepared. It seems as age grows the dependency on others or the government becomes a part of life as well. Or, the gear they bought long ago still meets their needs.
The Gen-X generation range in birth years between the early 1960s and the early 1980s. According to the study conducted 31% of the Gen-X population recently purchased survival items. While just slightly behind the Millennials in prepping, Gen-X has been through their share of disasters. Between the early 1960s and 1980s this generation saw disasters such as Hurricane Camille killing 256 people and the 1974 Super Outbreak of tornadoes totaling 148 tornadoes and killing 315 people.
One of the top and youngest generations preparing would be the Millennials generation with 38% of them recently purchasing survival items. It is believed most of this comes from the more recent and stronger disasters that have occurred. Being that this generation was born between 1982 and 1993, they have seen horrible events such as the Oklahoma City bombing, September 11th, and Hurricane Katrina.
Having a Plan
Having a plan is among the most important preparations a survivalist or prepper can have. While states, counties/parishes, and cities have Emergency Action Plans (EAP), having one for the home is just as important. These EAPs allow the community and surrounding communities to know how response will occur given a particular disaster as well as allowing the citizens to gain the knowledge of what they should do given a certain type of disaster.
A part of having a family EAP is to allow the family to know and understand what they need to accomplish in an emergency situation. These plans need to include all members of the family especially if the plan includes children, special needs, and the elderly. When these participants are included into a plan it is likely there will be more precautions needed to be taken such as extra medications, oxygen, or equipment. Coming from a special needs parent personally, there are many added stresses and items needed to prepare for yourself and someone with special needs. From a personal view, a created binder with a family EAP, copies of all important documents, and information about my child with special needs was added to ensure it is a grab and go type situation if evacuation is forced upon us.
Recently in the news it was shown that a Category 5 hurricane will strike the islands of Hawaii, but what is worse than just the storm hitting is the lack of preparedness. The news stations were showing local consumers piled into a store buying any and all necessary items to survive the storm that is coming. While this is one way to prepare, having the items already available prior to a storm and not going after items last minute allows for a less stressful personal environment and more time for last minute preparations such as boarding windows. Having friends living in Hawaii and knowing people from the islands, questions were asked about how prepared they were. After asking more than 20 friends, the conclusion was gathered that most wait until the last minute or they know there is no escaping disaster to gather supplies. There were also many that stated the government would help them after the storm, so instead of relying on themselves they are relying on someone else.
Supplies and supply lists are never the same nor do they ever have specific items a person should store. While all lists are suggestions it is ultimately up to the person taking preparing into consideration. Regardless of the list a prepper finds or a YouTube video they watch there are normally ten basics everyone should follow or begin with. The following are a preppers ten basic items: food, water, security, shelter, hygiene/first aid, cooking, lighting/power, tools/misc./entertainment, sanitation, and communication (Henry, 2014).
Many people coming into prepping can be overwhelmed with the prices of items as well as quantity of different items that complete the same task. Prepping is based on a budget and the prepper’s budget decides where the prepper may want to shop. What is meant by this is that if a prepper is on a limited budget most if not all items can be purchased at a store such as Dollar Tree, but if the prepper has an unlimited budget or is not looking to worry about price as much they may look at larger retail stores such as Bass Pro Shop or Cabala’s, Amazon, Costco and so on. While the qualities will be significantly different, at least the items are within the prepper’s inventory.
Speaking of inventory, maintaining an inventory of items is a vital part of prepping. Knowing when items were purchased, how long they last, how many a prepper has, and what is still needed will help keep a prepper on track. While many items can maintain their usage following an expiration or use by date, there are items that can be harmful following these dates.
Now that most aspects of prepping have been touched upon, scenarios of why people prep must be explored. While most prepare for natural disasters there are those preparing for events such as an economic collapse, political upheaval or even an invasion from another country. Websites such as Ready.gov or FEMA.gov provide many scenarios as well as a guide of how to prep. Using the timeline provided within Ready.gov a new prepper can begin a routine and learn what they must do prior to, during, and after the disaster occurs. Regardless of the reasoning for preparing, in order to ensure survival it must occur.
In a country where the unpredictable occurs almost daily, many would believe prepping should occur with each and every citizen in the United States. While many have given important views on this same topic there are those that tend to stick out such as Gen. Patton or even Stephen King. Another wise man, Benjamin Franklin, once said the best words, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. In other words if people do not prepare for what is to come people will not survive what is coming. With that said I leave you with this question to take how you’d like. If the government is stockpiling food, water, weapons, ammo and medical supplies do you think it is a good time for you to do the same?
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