Prepping, or preparing for an emergency or apocalypse, has become a popular pastime, and is quite in vogue. So what, exactly, is prepping? A basic definition of prepping would be “wishing for the best, but preparing for the worst.” Because there are so many things that can happen, ranging from fires, floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes to war and economic collapse, people have begun to realize that being prepared is vital.
There are myths about prepping, and mistakes people make in regards to prepping, some of which are fairly common. Some are based on perceptions of how the world works, while others are from either not thinking things through, or not knowing enough yet about the process and necessities involved. Some of these myths include:
- 911 is there for emergencies. This is true, to a certain extent. However, if you speak with someone who lived through an emergency, like Hurricane Katrina, for instance, they will tell you that 911 is so overwhelmed that chances of them helping one individual ends up being fairly low.
- 72 hours’ worth of supplies are enough. While even a little would be helpful, it’s actually better to have at least two weeks’ worth of supplies on hand. Three months’ worth is even better. While some disasters take less time to clear up than others, it is very common for it to take more than three days to return things to normal after a disaster.
- I can’t afford it. Even if you feel like you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it is not that expensive if you start slowly. Each time you shop, add an extra bag of rice or an extra can of vegetables, and in practically no time, you will have a good beginning.
- It’s too complicated. There are a lot of factors that can be considered, but nobody has to try to do everything at once! If you only focus on one potential disaster at a time and take little steps, you will begin to build up the necessary supplies.
- I don’t have to worry about that happening here. A false sense of security is a common thing. Even when something is unlikely, that does not mean it cannot happen. Earthquakes are happening in places where they did not previously; rioting can happen anywhere; floods are not relegated to only certain areas. Economic difficulties affect the whole nation. You never really know what might happen where you are. It is better to be prepared.
- I can get all the information I need online. There is, indeed, a wealth of information on the internet. However, it is wise to keep in mind the possibility that, in the case of a disaster, the internet may not be accessible. It is a good idea to gather several printed books that contain the needed information, as well, in order to have access to them when you need them.
- It’s just like camping. Not exactly. Most of the time, when you go camping, you have stores and facilities in fairly easy reach where you can purchase needed (or forgotten) items. Disaster preparation requires planning for everything you will need for several weeks, with the knowledge that it is unlikely there will be any way to buy essential items.
- I have insurance; that will cover it. Insurance companies are really worried more about themselves. They will be in no hurry to pay up if your policy even covers disasters or terrorism-related incidents. Additionally, there are likely to be many people attempting to collect, and the company may not have the means to pay everyone. All of this also assumes you can even get in touch with the company, which will be difficult if communication lines are down.
- I should let other people know I’m prepping. This is actually not a good idea. For one thing, general knowledge that you have a stockpile could encourage burglary. Even if you escape that, there are people who might assume that, in a disaster, they can just come to your house. They do not realize that would mean that your supplies would not last very long, and that it would be a detriment to your own family. They do not realize that you would be well within your rights and wise to turn them away. It is best to keep your prepping to yourself and your immediate family. Sharing that information could be hazardous for you and your loved ones.
- I can be completely prepared for every possible scenario. There is no possible way you can be complete, 100% prepared for everything. Choose the scenario(s) most likely for your area, and focus there. Over time, you can expand one at a time, but there are always surprises.
- I have all the supplies! Maybe so, and that is great, but do you have the skills needed? Having the supplies is only half of being prepared. If you do not know how to use the equipment, or if you have never practiced, then you may find yourself in trouble anyway, when the time comes. Some of the skills you might consider learning include CPR, how to run your generator, basic first aid, how to reconstitute dehydrated foodstuff, and much more. You can view this page to find generator options.
- Should I buy it with my credit card? The short answer here is no. If you are using the card only to purchase online and you will pay it off immediately, then you should be ok. However, carrying a credit balance in order to be prepared is undermining your preparedness. You want to reduce or remove bills, not add them.
- Water supplies must be sufficient. Water takes up space and does eventually ‘go bad’ unless it is sealed properly and stored properly, so it is somewhat difficult to store. Also, most people tend to underestimate how much water is needed. Each person will need at least a gallon a day (according to FEMA). Half of that would be for drinking, while the other half would be used for washing or cooking. This is an average; nursing mothers, children, and people who are ill will need more, and medical emergencies could use up some water, as well. You may want to consider purchasing water purifying tablets or chlorine bleach to make water safe.
- Vitamins are essential. In the case of a disaster, you want to stay healthy. This will be impossible if you do not have enough vitamins, and most of the food one stores are deficient due to the types of food and preparation for storage. Therefore, storing adequate supplies of supplements is a key factor to be considered.
- I have food, why do I need guns? Or I have guns, I don’t need to store food. Either of these mindsets will result in being unprepared. If you store plenty of food, but no weapons, how will you keep others from taking your food and protect your family? If you only store weapons and ammunition, how will you feed your family? Hunting is often proposed, but there may not be game available, and a diet of only meat is deficient in many nutrients. It would be wise to be prepared on both fronts.
- I don’t even know what I have. Keeping an inventory list will both allow you to fill in any gaps and It will be much more efficient if you make sure you know what you have. Dates on the supplies are helpful, as well, because you need to rotate the stock.
- I don’t need to rotate my food stocks. Your food stocks are the food items you are storing. Not everything will last forever – food storage has enemies. These are moisture, pests, oxygen, temperature, and time. Even if you have the first four perfectly accounted for, you cannot stop time. Therefore, using the oldest food first and replacing it with newer items will keep your stock fresh.
- Remember your pets. Pets are a part of the family, but it is easy to forget to store extra supplies for them – such as litter, food, water, and maybe small toys to keep them occupied.
- What about hygiene? When gathering food and medical supplies, remember basic hygiene. You want to include things like toilet paper, toothbrushes, soap, and whatever else you use on a regular basis. Being able to brush your teeth and wash up may not seem that important until you aren’t able to do them.
How Many People Are Prepping?
The prepping industry is growing. While it is not possible to know exactly how big the industry is, there are indications that it is widespread. It is easy to find places online to shop for supplies and many large towns have stores dedicated to selling things a prepper would need.
You may live in a big city. Perhaps you live in a small town. Even if you live in a community size between these two, chances are there are those in your area that are preparing for an emergency. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find survivalist/prepper meetings or an exposition for those interested in learning more about prepping. If you can find one, you will likely find hands-on activities for your family, plenty of information, and sources from which to purchase much-needed supplies.
Kinds of Prepping
There are two different kinds of prepping, in general. These are short-term, which is preparing for a disaster lasting up to three months, and long-term, which plans for more than three months – often up to two years. The basic idea is the same, but the equipment and supplies are often a little different.
Short-term prepping is something that anyone can consider. Of course, there is a chance that there won’t be an emergency where you live, but there is also the chance that there will be. In recent years, there have been snow storms (as recently as 2014-15 winter months), tornadoes, blizzards, floods, wild fires, and hurricanes. That is only in the United States in the past 10 years, there were other disasters around the world during the same time period. Even though every state has not dealt with these natural disasters, they seem to be more frequent and affecting more areas. Having enough food and water to sustain your family for three months is a wise decision.
Long-term prepping may not be something you feel you can do right now. Even if you don’t want to create two-years worth of food and water stock, you may want to consider having enough food and water available to last six or more months. There are a variety of online sources to purchase freeze-dried or dehydrated foods or other items that will help you attain your food storage goals.
Reasons Why People Prep
There are many possible reasons why people choose to collect supplies and prepare themselves. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Having experienced a natural disaster or watching a loved one go through one
- A concern that there will be an economic collapse
- Concerns about government insurgencies or war
- In order to be as self-sufficient as possible.
Those who are preparing for the unknown do not want to have to depend on others or the government should a disaster occur. They feel like their being prepared means it will be possible for them to last with little outside help. That is the basic premise behind prepping.
If you would like to learn more about prepping, you can search the internet (there is a wealth of material available, check out books from your local library, or read the other articles about being prepared which are listed below.