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 guv'mint came through after all!

You hit the nail on the head, Tom. Those of us who are preparedness don't have to stand in line when disaster hits and hope that nobody loots our house or property while we're in line. Anyone who thinks it can't happen to them is worse than deluded.

These guys spend so much

These guys spend so much time and effort getting ready for armageddon that real life passes them by!

Real life passes us by??

I don't know about preppers spending so much getting ready for Armageddon that real life is passing us by. I just know that I don't waste my money on toys (plasma-screen TVs, expensive cars, expensive furniture, mortgages I can't afford) that I don't need and that won't help me in the long run but instead I'm putting money toward things that can help me live better if I lose my job, if the economy continues to get worse, if something happens to me or my family, or all of the above. Laugh at me if you want, but at least my family and I have several months worth of food that we already eat anyway, so if disaster strikes, we won't have to wait on government "help" to arrive too little, too late. Having extra necessities (food, water and many other things) will also put me in a position to offer anonymous help to others in my church and community if and when disaster strikes. I'm right in the middle of "real life," my friend...

Real life has never passed

Real life has never passed this prepper by!
I have lived in 13 countries and 30 states.
Had and raised 7 kids.
Worked branding cattle...as a stripper...as a vet tech...as a movie extra...as a seamstress...as an artist...in construction...as a dairy farmer...and many other jobs.
Went to college and university for awhile. Got an education, but not a degree.
Seen a sunrise at a castle ruin in Ireland..seen a sunset in the Grand Tetons...skinny dipped in the Mediterranean with a charming Greek and have *mooned* a policeman in Paris from a taxi...swam with dolphins down in the Florida Keys....slept in a tent on the Appalachian Trail...went to concerts, ballets, symphonies, art galleries...
Life is good. Stuff all you can into it!
Prepping does NOT mean you aren't living! It is just preparing to live and survive if things get bad.

I support the right to bare

I support the right to bare arms (fifth paragraph) entirely, especially during the summer, when it is too hot for sleeves.


I totally, wholeheartedly, agree, though. I would go further and say if someone wishes to bare their arms in the spring or autumn because they find long-sleeve shirts or sweaters too much, then so be it. However, since I live in a temperate zone, winter can be quite harsh, so I wouldn't support baring arms in winter. You could catch a bad cold.

Prepers on the wrong track

Extrordinary how misguided those people are , probably they don't have children hence no reasons to defend their future .
Instead of preparing for riots , they should get organized to replace their corrupt Governmnet and return Peace and prosperity to America , that's the REAL solution , not burring your head in the sand . WAKE UP !

Hint : HOW are you gona defend your home if sourounded and attacked by some 20 pilegers with guns ??? Like I said , WAKE UP !

Though I some what agree

Though I some what agree with that, the organizational part would be impossible and they will have forces waiting for us Nancy and big sis will be driving tanks. But I have stashes underground in several places and none of it is on my land or anyone that I know. I check them from time to time to be sure they are undisturbed. I can escape by foot, car or truck, I have way points for each of those needs burried in barrels along the way to my destination spot. the Govt wont help you but it will gladly save its own ass.... `


Nothing could be further from the truth. I have 4 children ranging in age from 3 to 16. I am active in my community and my childrens lives, I read, watch TV, go to the movies occasionally, shop at the same stores as all my neighbors, go to my kids activities, etc. I am also active politically in my state. My head is much further from the sand than the head of a person who assumes that everything is going to be just fine. It doesn't take me a huge amount of time and I don't live in fear. It's a simple matter of keeping track of what's gong on around you and picking up a few extra boxes of this and that each time you go to the store.
It always amazes me how people jump to judgement about preppers. They have this picture of a single guy in his 40's living in a tent or a cabin somewhere witha pile of MRE's and an arsenal. Preppers are just like you - I guarantee you couldn't pick me out in a crowd.
As far as defending myself from 'pilagers' - no true prepper keeps all his/her 'eggs' in one basket ;). We encorage those around us to prep as well and many of us have even though far enough ahead to prepare a bit for our family and neighbors just in case. We're not fringe lunatics - we're responsible members of society. We're not focusing our efforts on armageddon - most of us just want to get through the next local weather anomaly.

"they should get organized

"they should get organized to replace their corrupt Governmnet and return Peace and prosperity to America"

We've been trying that for decades with no luck. It's much easier to just prepare for ourselves. I've found it easier to wake people up to getting prepared rather than trying to change an impossible government. If everyone has stored food and water, then who will do the pillaging? What need would there be for rioters to riot and pillagers to pillage if they are all prepared. It's easier to change one person at a time than a whole government that will not listen.