Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article.
The term “Doomsday prepper” is often associated with the paranoid, anti-government stereotype of the 1990s. The truth is that many of today’s survivalists are everyday folks with full-time jobs and responsibilities like anyone else. So what separates them from the pack? The forethought to be prepared should disaster strike.
Many modern day survivalists aren’t necessarily prepping for “Doomsday.” (Large-scale emergencies can include everything from earthquakes to major floods.) But whether you’re preparing for the next hurricane or Judgment Day itself, there are loads of resources available to fill every need.
“Being prepared for an emergency is a combination of planning, stocking and learning,” said Scott Kelley, a combat veteran and former intelligence officer who now runs a popular survival website called Graywolf Survival.
“By what we’ve seen in every single regional disaster that has ever happened in America in at least the last century, Americans on the whole are absolutely not prepared for a big natural disaster or state of emergency,” he said.
Kelley believes that major TV networks have portrayed preppers as a fringe group, which has stigmatized the idea of preparing for large emergencies. On the contrary, he recommends stocking up on essentials like diapers, food, water, repair parts and other items that will be hard to come by during an emergency. He also suggests reaching out to neighbors beforehand so that you can form an immediate group should something happen. One person may have a medical background, while someone else may have access to a ham radio. (If cell phone service becomes unavailable, emergency radios are vital in picking up updates from disaster relief agencies, including the current relief situation and locations for water and food.)
In other words, teaming up immediately increases the odds of survival.
Perhaps the most obvious way to prepare for a national emergency is to stockpile food. Enter companies like Food4Patriots, which sells pre-packaged kits of high-quality, dehydrated survival food. Securely packed in waterproof totes, items are designed to last 25 years.
“More than one in five Americans say they believe the world will end during their lifetime,” said Allen Baler, a Food4Patriots spokesperson.
“When we in the emergency business talk about these things, we’re not trying to be fearmongers,” said Baler. “Instead, we’re communicating facts that will hopefully sink in and cause people to take preparedness seriously.”
For people like Tanya Rauch, the idea of stockpiling food in preparation for a natural disaster is definitely appealing. Now a Florida resident, Rauch and her family were living in South Dakota during a 2013 blizzard that broke records in the state. The event shook her town.
“It knocked down trees and power lines, killed like 50,000 cattle and blocked roads for days and, in some cases, a week or more,” said Rauch. Now living in Florida, the threat of hurricane season looms.
“We realized that no location is immune to natural disasters and decided it was a good idea to have a backpack for each family member that would have enough food and water for several days, plus flashlights and batteries, matches and various other things,” she said.