Does it make sense to be a prepper? Should you spend time and money on things that will help you survive a potential disaster that might never happen? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these questions and always manage to circle back to the same answer: prepping is your auto, life, and house insurance all rolled up into one. Would you drive around without insurance? You could, but if you get into an accident you’ve got the potential to be paying expensive medical and vehicle bills the rest of your life. In my opinion it’s hardly worth it. Even if you’re not the one causing the accident you might still wind up footing the bill if the other person is uninsured. Life is a crap shoot and you need to stack the odds in your favor as much as you can.
Sure, paying insurance premiums sucks. I hate to see a portion of my hard earned pay check go out the window on payday to pay for something that might never happen, but I do it. I look at prepping the same way. You don’t know when a natural disaster or any other kind of disaster is going to happen. For example: winter is coming and we might get another ice storm like we did in ’98. Some people lost power for two weeks during that time and it was really something to see how people reacted to it. A few years ago we had a storm go through Maine and I lost power for three days. Not too bad, but then again I have a generator and my house is wired with a transfer switch. I had running water, cooked on a camp stove, used my grill, had lights, TV for the kids, and refrigeration. Although it was a pain putting gas in the genny every day or so, it would have been far worse without it.
What I found interesting is that during that time people would say, “Man, you’re lucky you have a generator.” Hmm, not really. I show up for work every day, have a side gig writing for a blog, and stay busy doing wilderness survival training for myself. I don’t consider myself lucky. I just show up for work every day.
“I don’t have time to prep!” Is something I hear from people who spend hours binge watching The Walking Dead. If you’ve got time to watch TV, you have time to do some prepping. I quit watching television back around the time MTV started airing that first “The Real World” series. I watched two episodes and felt like I’d lost a little piece of my life I’ll never get back. I turned off the cable and never looked back. After the cable is gone and there’s plenty of time I hear, “But I don’t have the money!”
You don’t need to go out and buy a huge stockpile of food, weapons, and ammunition the first day. This can be a game of little wins. Within a reasonably short amount of time you can have a pretty decent amount of stores in and ready to go in case of emergency.
What about firearms? My personal opinion is that firearms should be down the list of things you need to start prepping, but I guess that depends on where you live and who you might be expecting for company after TSHTF. I know this flies in the face of traditional prepper thinking and I’ll probably take some heat for it, but I’d rather have food to eat and keep out of sight then to have a large supply of guns and ammo, but little or no food to feed the family. A single well thought out firearm should do the trick for most people.
But let’s say you do want a gun and don’t have a bunch of money to throw at it. If you decide to get a gun and take from someone else who’s prepared, that makes you an armchair commando. It’s also a good way to get yourself killed or branded as someone who needs to be locked away. Chances are good that the SHTF event – whatever it may be – will not last forever and there will be a day of reckoning for those who went down the wrong side of the law, or moral code, or whatever may be in place at the time.
Ask yourself what’s the downside of having some extra food and water on hand? If you’re doing it right there shouldn’t be a down side. You should be eating the oldest part of your rotation and moving the new stuff to the back just like they stock groceries at the super market. If the lights go out for whatever reason, you’ll have food and water for awhile. That’s being smart, but you’d be amazed at how many people only have a few days food or less in their pantry at any given time. A lot of city folk out there like to pick up dinner on the way home so it’ll be fresh.
Taking Care of Number One When The Lights Go Out
I don’t think everybody will be a bad actor, but there are definitely a few out there that will act badly during an SHTF event or even a short range crisis. One of my favorite examples is during ice storms in the Northeast. There have been reports of people stealing generators while they’re still running and even death threats to line crews if they didn’t get electricity out to someone’s home!
Think about how important electricity is to us. It’s literally the blood that flows through the nation’s arteries keeping our food fresh, our lights on, helping to heal our sick people, and keeping us warm. When the power goes out many people band together and help each other out, but there’s always those few who aren’t prepared and will do anything to help themselves. You need to be prepared for those people as well.
If you can’t afford a full generator, or it doesn’t make sense because of where you live, you might also try a back up solar generator. It’s small, quiet, relatively inexpensive, and good enough to power lights and small appliances. It’s also renewable as long as the sun is shining! What could be better than that?
My first responsibility is to my family. I have a wife and two young children still living at home and I want to make sure they are safe and as comfortable as possible during any emergency. I’ve spent some of my hard earned money to ensure that happens and you probably have too. Part of that planning is protecting your equipment from those who haven’t and feel justified taking what is yours. My generator is in a small shed and bolted down. Someone could get it if they really wanted it, but it would mean some time and effort on their part.
Here’s a simple priority list based on the Survival Rule of Three’s. This is off the top of my head, so if you have anything to add leave a comment at the bottom of this post. The Rule of 3’s looks like this: You can survive 3 minutes without air. You can survive 3 hours without shelter. You can survive 3 days without water. You can survive 3 weeks without food. I translated the rule like this:
Air – People die every year during blackouts because they have their generators in the basement or somewhere not ventilated properly. Make sure your generator is in a place where it doesn’t build up carbon monoxide.
Shelter – You already have shelter and now it’s a matter of staying warm. Wood stoves, propane heaters, and kerosene heaters, are all ways you can keep your family warm during those times when the grid is down. You can also “huddle in place” by getting under some blankets if none of those options work for you.
Water – Have enough water stored in your house for at least three days or have a way to filter or clean it if you have a pond or other water source nearby.
Food – As you can see food is down the list as far as survival needs go; however, try telling that to your four year old when she gets hungry. Stock up on food so that if something happens you can at least feed them for three days or a week.
Aim to be self-sufficient. To answer the question at the beginning of this article: yes, it makes sense to be a prepper. I dislike the show “Doomsday Prepper” because the producers always have them say something like, “I’m preparing for a solar flare,” or some such drivel. Most preppers I know are preparing for anything. To say you’re preparing for one specific event is absurd. Prepare as broad and deep as you can and no matter what happens you’ll be ready when the time comes. Questions? Comments? Sound off below!