3 types of Preppers you don’t want to be
Over the course of this site’s existence, I have received a lot of emails. Many have been very complimentary. Many more have had questions in them, and I try to answer every question that I can. But a few emails I received have been pretty insulting, questioning everything from my sanity to my intelligence to my manhood. I usually just chuckle, and then hit delete.
But in the past few weeks, I have received some e-mails that I didn’t chuckle at. Some of the email I received I felt was way off base when it comes to prepping. Some of them were borderline delusional.
Yes, there will always be people out there with mental illness that have access to the internet and e-mail. But I want to believe that some of these preppers simply suffer from ignorance. I am really wanting to believe that maybe some folks are just approaching prepping wrong.
This isn’t because they are stupid, but because they are just uninformed. There is a big difference between ignorant and just plain stupid. As the saying goes, stupidity is not the lack of knowledge, but the illusion of having it.
Ignorance can be fixed with those who wish to learn. And so I thought that maybe if I threw a little reasoning and logic out there, maybe I could help spread a little knowledge about prepping. My hope is that maybe a few preppers will “see the light” and have a better understand what prepping is and is not.
Some Misconceptions about Prepping
Just recently, I wrote an article on priorities in prepping on a tight budget. I listed an emergency cell phone as your #1 priority. I felt like the article was pretty well received. But I was sent an e-mail from an individual who proceeded to tell me how much of an idiot I was. He wrote, and I quote:
…idiot…When an EMP wipes out the power grid, good luck with your cell phone then! Water is the first priority plain and simple.
Now I’m not going to use real names here. I’ll protect the guilty. (Let’s just call him Larry.) But there are MULTIPLE problems with his response. I’ll give you part of my reply to him.
You are correct in that if an EMP were to hit the US, depending upon several different factors, the grid would go down, and our cell phones could be rendered useless. However, let me throw some information and logic at you, and show you why I said a cell phone should be your #1 piece of equipment.
The National Safety Council estimates that 38,300 people were killed and 4.4 million injured on U.S. roads in 2015 via traffic accidents. The number of people killed or even adversely affected by an EMP in the past 100 years? Zero.
Hence I think we can conclude logically that the chances of you being involved in a car accident are ASTRONOMICALLY greater than you being affected by an EMP.
In this case, would you rather have a cell phone to call 911? Or a 3 day supply of water?
The CDC estimates that there were over 43 million emergency room visits in 2015. That is well over 117,000 people a day across the US going to the ER!
The number of people affected by…say a zombie apocalypse? Zero.
Again…using the laws of probability, I’m guessing a cell phone to call for an ambulance is probably a much more likely possibility than needing Sawyer mini water filter.
Larry’s email sums up several problems, mistakes, and misconceptions that I see so many preppers make. I have broke down these prepper mistakes into 3 categories. Let’s cover these shall we?
Prepping for Worse Case Scenario Only
When you hear the term “prepper”, what do you think? I’m willing to bet that many of you think of EMPs, nuclear wars, global pandemics, etc. You might think it terms of Mad Max and The Walking Dead. And while we are prepared for possible scenarios like that, there is SO MUCH MORE to prepping than just TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) events.
Let me give you an analogy about why you DON’T prep for just the worst case scenario.
Assuming that you live somewhere that actually has seasonal weather (not Hawaii or southern California) you most likely have warm summer months and cold winter months. Where I live, it can get down into the low teens during the winter. So for those freezing cold days and nights, I have a big 5-11 three in one parka. (See pic on right.) Probably the warmest coat I have ever owned. Since that will be what I wear in the worst winter weather I’ll experience here in my area, that is all I need…right?
Well no. I actually have several different types of jackets. I also have some rain gear. In my closet I have some sweat shirts, hoodies, and pull overs as well.
Because I won’t always need my big heavy coat. Most of the time I may need something else instead. I’m not wearing my heavy winter coat in the spring when it is in around 50 degrees but rainy. I have a rain jacket for that.
What about a cool fall evening? It’s not freezing cold, but a light jacket would be nice.
I don’t have just a large, heavy winter coat and nothing else because the weather won’t always be at its coldest. Emergencies and disasters in your life won’t always be TEOTWAWKI!
I have been in numerous disaster situations. I lost my apartment to a tornado a few years back. The next year I worked in Moore, Oklahoma where a tornado killed 24 people and did over $2 billion dollars’ worth of damage. I experienced an ice storm several years ago where I lost power for about two days and was snowed in. My brother lost his job a few years back, and lived on his food storage for about 8 weeks until he found a new job.
In each of these situations, being prepared helped me and/or my family out in a difficult situations. Having the plans, gear, and supplies made each of these events easier to get through. And none of these emergencies was on the disaster scale of a EMP or global pandemic.
Stop and consider that the larger/more severe the scale of a disaster, the lower the probability of it happening. I’m not saying that it can’t or won’t happen. But as I have shown in the above illustrations, the chances of small, localized, or even personal emergencies are FAR MORE likely to happen than a WROL (Without Rule of Law) event.
I mean if you really want to think about the absolute worst case scenario, that would be something like a large asteroid or comet hitting the Earth. Maybe a direct hit from a Gamma Ray Burst from a supernova star just a few light years away.
If one of these events occurred, all life on this planet would basically end. No amount of dooms day bunkers or food storage would save you. So in that case, why even prep at all?
Well…because there are so many other possibilities that could happen! “Larry” was only looking at a large, catastrophic event. He wasn’t stopping to think about smaller emergencies.
Should you prep for the worst case scenarios? Absolutely. But not at the expense of prepping for more likely and smaller events.
Thinking you know what SHTF will happen
Larry’s email said WHEN an EMP wipes out…like he had some sort of magic crystal ball and he knew that THAT would be the doomsday event. Well, if he is truly psychic, maybe he can tell me the winning numbers to next week’s Powerball drawing…or why Kerri dumped me out of the blue and broke my heart in the 8th grade. I’m still not sure why.
No one has the Dooms Day script. We do NOT know what will happen. Hence we prepare for a WIDE range of unknown events. And even if we have a massive SHTF situation like an EMP, I promise you it is NOT going to go the way you picture it in your mind!
For the sake of argument, let’s pretend that a terrorist organization launches a crude nuclear missile and detonates it a couple hundred miles in the Earth’s atmosphere, triggering an EMP. The day so many preppers have been preparing for has finally arrived! Investing in all of your Doom’s Day preps are about to pay off!!!
But the EMP doesn’t hit the US. Instead, it hits a large section of Western Europe. England, France, Spain, large parts of Germany, etc goes dark. The folks here in the US and Canada still have their cars and cell phones. But if you think that would not have MASSIVE complications on things like the global economy, international relations, etc you are in for a rude awakening.
What if a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) from the Sun hit the planet, but instead hits countries like China or Russian? Their power grid is gone! Now what?
Again….the US power-grid is ok. We still have our cars and our electric appliances. However, I promise you countries like China and Russia are not going to go to 3rd world country status quietly. This would mostly likely alter relationships across the planet pretty DRASTICALLY!
These are just two slightly different scenarios. The different variables to those or other possible grid down situations are almost endless. And that is just EMP scenarios. There are hundreds and thousands of global situations that could happen! So stop thinking you know what will happen. You don’t! None of us do! All we can do is speculate.
Prepping for One Only or Two Scenarios
Last year I got into an email discussion with a guy named “Moe” about BOV (Bug Out Vehicles). Moe was telling me all sorts of things about BOVs. He talked about BOVs needed to be made before 1978 (or some such year), before vehicles began putting micro chips into vehicles. (For the record, I don’t recall which year it was he said…but I do recall him saying that he had a 1977 Ford Bronco.)
Moe also wrote, and I’m paraphrasing here:
Any and all vehicles made after such and such a year would be rendered useless. So don’t bother getting a newer model. And the vehicles need to be 4 x 4 and have a powerful engine etc. so you can go off road. Since the millions of cars on the road made after 1978 will come to a complete stop on the roadways. Yadda yadda yadda….
Anyway, you can see where this went. I asked Moe about the gas mileage for a 1977 Ford Bronco. I think it was somewhere between 9 to 11 miles per gallon. Not exactly fuel friendly. I continued with my observations…
So what happens if (during a SHTF situation) you are in a part of the country where you have trouble finding non-ethanol gas? Ethanol gas is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs water more easily than normal gasoline. That water can cause rust in fuel systems by creating condensation in the unfilled portion of gas tanks. It will also dissolve things like varnish in steel fuel components. Those dissolved particles will sit in the bottom of gas tanks until they are removed. If not removed, they will enter the fuel system when the fuel level in the tank gets too low.
Think that might cause you problems in your 1977 Bronco?
Ethanol fuel also creates less energy than non-ethanol gas. This can seriously hurt your fuel economy in vehicles not designed for ethanol gas. So your 9 miles to the gallon? Yep..it could get MUCH worse if all you have is ethanol gas.
And finally, we don’t have enough data to know one way or the other what the effect of an EMP on vehicles would be. This includes older vehicles! For more information on EMPs, I encourage you to read this.
Yep…there is A LOT we DON’T know about EMP’s effects on vehicles. And what is known has not fully been released to the public because it is highly classified. Also, there are so many different variables that come into play regarding an EMP. Things like the altitude of detonation, the angle of detonation, the position of your vehicle in relationship to the angle of detonation, etc. Those are just a few. The possibilities here are enormous.
To say that an EMP would wipe out all vehicles on the road newer than a certain year is an uneducated guess at best.
I then asked Moe what would happen if we didn’t have an EMP, but instead we had a global financial collapse. The price of fuel skyrockets to well past $15 a gallon or even more. Now that 1977 Ford Bronco is not quite as practical as other, more fuel efficient vehicles.
My point in all this is that being a prepper means being prepared for a multitude of different emergencies and disasters big and small. Focusing only on one or two scenarios at the expense of others means you really aren’t prepared for any other probabilities. That makes you a crappy prepper.
A while back, I wrote an article on mistakes I see preppers make. Part of what I said was:
To those who think that skill and ability with (and possession of) firearms top all other skills in an emergency (even more important than the ability to find and purify water or more important than finding/making shelter from the elements for example)…
A guy we will call “Curly” fired off an angry email. Curly told me that when the government and society collapses, only those who can defend themselves and hunt will survive. I would most likely be killed because I was trying to make a shelter and was not defending myself.
At first I tried to be reasonable. I pointed out the disasters I had experienced before…like the tornado that hit Moore, Ok. Or losing my apartment to a tornado. I didn’t need firearms for those.
He wrote, and I quote: “Those are not SHTF events!”
That set me off. (And is most likely the cause of this rant.)
So a tornado that kills 24 people and does over $2,000,000,000,000 (that’s BILLION) worth of damage is not a SHTF event? Try telling that to the thousands of people who were suddenly displaced from their homes and businesses or worse, had family members and friends killed or injured!
How incredibly narcissistic do you have to be to think that just because the event did not affect you personally, that somehow it is not a SHTF event??
I did not reply to Curly’s last email. What good would it do? It was Euripides who is credited with saying
Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.
Rant Over…Getting off Soapbox
I know this article is calling out certain types of preppers. This is not meant to be insulting or demeaning. Instead, I’m hoping that preppers will stop and self-evaluate. If they find that they might be slipping into one of the above categories, then hopefully they will use this as a learning experience.
I’m not the end all/be all of prepping. I am trying to use what I have learned as an outdoor survival instructor, police officer, and prepper to help teach others about becoming more prepared and self-reliant. But I am learning as well.
I have probably learned as much about being prepared by running this website and teaching others as I did before I started this site. I have gained so much knowledge because of it. For example, I wrote an article on 5 items not to stockpile for a long-term grid down scenario. One item I mentioned was gold and silver. (I go into more detail on why I wouldn’t stock gold or silver in this article here.)
A guy in the comments section of that article spoke about a family he knew who escaped from Vietnam by bribing officials with gold and jewelry the family had. Hence they had a use for gold and other precious items. That was something I had never thought about before. I’m willing to bet most folks here probably haven’t thought about having to escape FROM the US. But who knows what will happen in the future. It’s not something I would think could happen, but you never know.
Anyway, I learned something from his comment. It made me stop and think about some things I’d never thought about before. So certainly I want to hear from other preppers out there. Are there hints and tips I’m missing? Creative feedback and ideas are not just welcomed, but encouraged!
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