If the sh** hits the fan, they are ready for it

Photo by Jud Burkett, The Spectrum.com

Global economic meltdown, mass natural disasters, pandemics... Whatever the apocalyptic scenario, "preppers" are ready for it. Lamps made from potatoes, toilet paper from cloth, toothpaste from glycerin and... lots of Spam.

It's no surprise that the trend, known as "survivalism", was born in the United States, where the principle of self-reliance is one of the founding values of society. Convinced that disaster could strike when we least expect it, the most prudent of US citizens are preparing for the worst.

One self-described "prepper" explains the reason for his lifestyle change to emergency "survivalism" on his website:  "In May of last year, I had an epiphany: bad times lay ahead. I accurately predicted the current financial crisis back then, and with my new-found knowledge, I don't see much hope for recovery any time soon. I've learned that our "global economy" is nothing more than a great Ponzi/pyramid scheme, and I've come to realise that the only way to insulate one's self from the collapse of that scheme is to prepare for self reliant living."

"Preppers" use the Web to share warnings, tips and do-it-yourself instructions for making everything from toothpaste to cloth female hygiene pads.

Most see owning a gun to defend their stockpile as a natural part of being prepared, and are staunch advocates of the right to bear arms. Women "preppers" are experts at stockpiling year-long supplies of food, and come up with ingenious recipes for cooking with anything canned, frozen or dehydrated.


A prepper demonstrates how she stores two year's worth of food. Posted on YouTube by foodstoragedeals.


“It's more important to be prepared in a big city, because there is a wider range of disasters that could happen”

Tom Martin is a truck driver from Idaho. A little over a year ago, he founded the American Prepper's Network, which started out as a group of blogs and is now a non-profit organisation dedicated to bringing "preppers" together and centralising free information on efficient emergency preparedness.

The biggest factor for determining what kind of preparation you need is your location. People in Florida or Louisiana need to prepare for hurricanes and possible floods, whereas people in California need to be ready for earthquakes. People in big cities may be more concerned by possible terrorist attacks or high crime rates. However, if you are well prepared for one disaster - if you have an emergency evacuation plan, if you have useful emergency equipment and know first aid gestures - then it can help in many cases.

Where I live, in Idaho, it's mostly severe blizzards in the winter, and forest fires in the summer. I live in a very sparsely populated rural area with my wife, and my brother and his family live close by. We have our own livestock and grow our own fruit and vegetables, so I don't really have to worry about stocking years' worth of food. We'll stock enough to get by for two, maybe three months, in case of drought or particularly hard winters; otherwise I can always hunt or grow my own food. We also get fresh mountain water from a river near my house.  We have a wood stove that heats the house and that we can use for cooking too, and stocks of candles for lighting so we don't have to worry about power cuts.

I actually think that it's more important to be prepared in a big city, because there is a wider range of disasters that could happen. But it's also more difficult (less natural resources, less storage space), so most people find it overwhelming and would rather just not think about it. I don't think that's the right solution though: after hurricane Katrina, hundreds of families had no access to food or drinking water for weeks, and the government was criticised for not getting emergency aid to them faster. But if they had prepared, at least they would have had enough to get by on during that emergency, and less people would have suffered. If you use your space wisely, there's always a way to be prepared for the unexpected."

Examples of "prepper" storage and supplies

Prepared food storage. Photo posted on the preparednesspro blog.

Ingredients for home-made toothpaste. Recipe on kentuckypreppernetwork.com.

Lamp made from a potato - invented by Tom Beaseley. Posted on readyornotsurvival.com.

Cloth toilet wipes (for when toilet paper runs out). Posted on wallypop.net


The sad thing is if an

The sad thing is if an American talks about prepping or getting ready for disasters they are looked at like they are paranoid. Most preppers, survivalists, etc. keep their lifestyle secret. Too many Americans have grown up believing that the government is their mother, father and Santa Claus all rolled into one. They cannot or will not believe that it's possible for the lights not to come on, the Walmart trucks not to run or the gas stations to run out of fuel. We grow up learning history about those with self reliance and a pioneer spirit yet most Americans today want to be coddled like small children. It really is sad how far the average American citizen has fallen over the last few decades.

Other uses for preparedness

There's a dimension to preparedness that has been overlooked in this article: personal disasters. It is far more likely that we find ourselves laid off, having health problems or injuries that sap financial resources and prevent work or having friends, family members and neighbors in some category of personal disaster (as opposed to a disaster that affects everyone in a geographic area). In my circle of contacts, I have more examples of people using home storage and preparedness methods to resolve these issues than I have from the catastrophic earthquakes and storms through which I have lived.

Also, based on my circle of contacts, the storage defense issue is way overplayed in the article. Most people I know who pursue preparedness as a goal are extremely generous people and share what they have. I have personally been the beneficiary of that generosity when times have been tough.


Good article and very good comments. As a prepper, I'm glad to see the debate here, because I think it's shed some light on the importance of prepping. Most of us preppers are normal people. I have an advanced degree and work in a high rise office building. The only difference between me and someone who is not prepared is that I have plans and supplies in place for disasters, be they natural or man-made. I also have many friends (here in the Midwest) who are doing the same.

We had a snowstorm here this year that illustrated the contrast. In anticipation of the storm, many people went to the grocery store (I did not, because I have plenty of food). On local news, they showed the store shelves had been cleaned out. The average grocery in the United States does not have more than 1-2 days' worth of food on its shelves. Think about that, and whether you owe it to yourself and your family to have your own stockpile.


March 13, 2010

the most prudent of US citizens are preparing for the worst.

“It's more important to be prepared in a big city, because there is a wider range of disasters that could happen”

A good suggestion to all preppers after they posted their videos.
Buy one AK47 for every person in the house and enough bullets to maintain
alive for ten days before the police arrive.

This is what I named "Angelical Colective Paranoia. Perhaps they don't saw yet all ungry people fighting for survive.
What you are gona do when the come for food?

Learn to flippin SPELL Dumby

Learn to flippin SPELL Dumby


First, it's "dummy," and you're missin' an apostrophe in "flippin'." Next, English is probably not his first language, so cut him some slack, Jack. What other languages do you speak to any halfway understandable degree?

I do have to agree. If

I do have to agree. If English isn't his first language, then it certainly is better than my French and I wouldn't appreciate people bashing me because of my French spelling. Besides, as preppers, if we are to reach out to others, we have to be teachers, and a good teacher won't call their students stupid. They may ridicule us, but the fact that they are here reading the article means they are at least lending an ear and maybe we can change their minds and attitudes.

LOL...The point is, to get

LOL...The point is, to get everyone else to prepare too so we don't need the AK47

The point is...

This is the most enlightened, encouraging thing about prepping that I have read. Mr. AK 47 has, I suspect, another agenda (but perhaps I betray my liberal paranoia.) But to wish preparedness for everyone is a progressive sentiment, and I salute it. I usually have enough canned goods for my household for a week, minimum. That's just how I shop. As my housemates like to camp out, we have gear to help. It goes to show, you can be prepared without the paranoid mindset that is associated with the movement, at least in the popular mind.

Thank you for the

Thank you for the comment.

"To wish preparedness..." This is good. But, I like to take it a few steps further and act by "Encouraging and teaching Preparedness" Simply wishing it is not enough. But I think you will find that "Encouraging and teaching" preparedness is also a Libertarian and Constitutionalist sentiment as well.

"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people...They are the only sure reliance of the preservation of our Liberty" - Thomas Jefferson.

"By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail" - Benjamin Franklin

"If you would have a faithful servant and one that you like, serve yourself" - Benjamin Franklin

Having a fully prepared and self-reliant society, one which is not dependent or reliant on government to solve their problems would virtually eliminate any need or desire for socialism. If all who were able to work, would work, rather than drain the systems resources, then there would be enough wealth amongst the giving to help those who truly do need it through charity.