“Is Prepping Reserved for Crazy People?” A Thoughtful Response to Skeptics
Recently, I saw someone asking a question about prepping on the popular question and answer site, Quora.
The questioner so eloquently asked:
“Are preppers crazy, or do they have a point?”
That was it, no further elaboration needed apparently!
I normally don’t entertain internet trolls and just keep scrolling, but for some reason this one stuck with me. I mean, maybe this person was legitimately searching for justification to go against the grain of society and begin prepping themselves.
Or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve put many long hours into building an educational site and resource that stands in direct opposition to this very stigma that prepping is only for loonies.
Either way, since I took the time to type it out for some anonymous bloke, I thought it’d be far better to share it with you in case you face a similar prepping skeptic in your life. (We all have them, don’t we?) 🙂
So here it is…
Do you agree, disagree?
Is prepping reserved for crazy people?
Should I answer more questions about preparedness and prepping on Quora or do you think it’s a waste of time and effort?
After reading my response, please be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below!
“Are preppers crazy, or do they have a point?”
Before I answer this question I think it would be beneficial to get on the same page about what the definition of a “prepper” is.
My definition of a “prepper”
In my book, a prepper is simply ‘someone who makes preparations (aka. preps, prepping) in advance of a potential emergency situation.’
If someone, for example, has a basic car emergency kit, or stocks extra bottles of water in their garage, or owns a back up generator in case of a brief power outage, I would consider them a “prepper.”
Now that low key of a definition may come as a surprise to those reading this…
Reason being, it is far more popular and accepted for preppers to be romanticized as those prepping for more extreme scenarios — cataclysmic events such as a financial global collapse or a society-crippling terrorism event.
While preppers indeed span across a very wide spectrum, they all have a common understanding of how life works —
Bad things happen that are beyond our control. Prepping in advance can help soften the blow.
So with “prepper” now defined, let me answer your question “Are preppers crazy?” with another question.
Are you crazy for carrying insurance?
There’s car, home, life, health insurance… just to name a few.
You rarely if ever use it, but the thought of not having it is almost unthinkable or worse yet, foolish. (And for those of us in the US and in other parts of the world, even illegal!)
Like any insurance policy, prepping is — as survival expert Creek Stewart calls it — “SHTF Insurance.”
And for those skeptical of “prepping,” if you have insurance of any kind…
You’re a prepper too, whether you want to be or not!
So if Life Insurance is a policy that is paid out upon death, then maybe it will help to think of prepping as a “Don’t Die” policy for you and your family.
When “stuff” hits the fan in your life, you will be glad to have it!
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go and sell your home and build a bunker in preparation for the Apocalypse…
Some might call that crazy…
Rather, if you have yet to do so, you might want to first start by having some extra food and water in the pantry, putting a basic car emergency kit together and having a bug out bag ready… you know, just in case.
Some might call that smart!
Categorized in: Bug Out Bags, Emergency Preparedness
I have said all of the same things you have. It was well phrased. I was in the Oklahoma National Guard for 14 years with 3 combat tours and 4 deployments for natural disaster response, including Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the 2013 Moore tornado. Those experiences allowed me opportunities to train civilians who don’t believe in prepping, throughout several states.
Most people think that infrastructure like FEMA and the Red Cross suffice for all most but the most dire situations and they’ll never be in one of those. They don’t realize that a SHTF scenario can be incredibly localized. The average response to a tornado in Oklahoma is 30-45 minutes. In that time, people are incredibly exposed to all kinds of secondary threats like exposure, lack of medical attention, flooding, gas fires, clean water, electrical hazards in the flooded water areas, etc, etc. This is one example of even a very localized incident that usually doesn’t even overwhelm local emergency departments, but still puts the average person in extreme danger without basic preparations.
Not to mention that I have witnessed it take several days before these people make it to a hotel because they can’t access the support of their homeowner and car insurance, bank accounts, etc. phones have made it better, but not if the one agent for the 2-300 mile area is overwhelmed.
I only caution that people use the FEMA site or simple examples when trying to help their family or local support system adopt the basic plans we all understand are important.
The reason people think preppers are crazy is 1.they think that preppers are paranoid but,really we know what reality is and we are doing prepping because of that. 2.when they think of preppers,they think someone who is always in his/her bunker eating MRE’s mainly because of hollywood and so called prepper shows.3.they also think that preppers are rich brats who waste their money on bunker and MRE’s or we are just conspiracy theorists.
I teach a course on wilderness survival, and I have taught it through several community / adult education programs. More than once, I have been grilled about whether it was a “prepper” course. They didn’t always know that word; once it was “those crazy survivalist people.” I have had to promise that it was not “one of those” things.
I do 10 x 2-hour sessions, usually, and I leave the final two open for whatever the class wants – survival stories, specialty survival (arctic, desert, etc.), but the two most popular requests a prepping and gear/gadgets, the latter even though (or maybe because) I try to de-emphasize fancy survival gear and focus on knowledge and practice and preparation. But prepping always comes up.
Here is my take. Something like 90% of the American people are badly under-prepared even for the most likely emergencies. Another group, maybe 1-2%, are grossly OVER-prepared, even for the LEAST likely emergencies. That latter group is the group of crazies that give sensible preppers a bad name.
What’s the difference between them and the middle group, the sensible preppers? Just my opinion, of course, but the most common symptoms I see are these:
1. They spend inordinate amounts of time and money (relative to income) on prepping. They are essentially ruining their present lives to prepare for some unlikely, apocalyptic future. If an individual WANTS to do that, it’s up to them, but some of these people are ruining their families’ lives, too. For people just getting started, I recommend a one-time investment of 5-10% of annual income, then ~2% of annual income each year, not including everyday-use items that can also be valuable in emergencies*. I also recommend that if money is limited, substitute TIME for learning and for practicing skills. Most people with $1,000’s in fancy gear can’t match a knowledgeable person a “Five C’s” collection that costs under $100 total.
(Obviously that lets richer people prepare more extensively, and for more things, but even people of modest means will find themselves better prepared than most millionaires if they take a practical and efficient approach.)
2. They tend to be paranoid and fond of conspiracy theories, and to focus on highly unlikely TEOTWAWKI scenarios rather than the much more likely natural disasters or local civil disturbances.
3. A large fraction have a disturbing fascination / obsession with guns, and often have collections that (as described) must have cost $10,000-plus, and would require a great deal of ammunition and practice time if they are to maintain their skills. Some of them seem actually to WANT society to break down so they can live out their fantasies. Guns and other self-defense weapons have their place in prepping, but the people most focused on them are actually more liable to make themselves attractive targets for criminals / predators / military / law-enforcement than to defend themselves effectively. Unless you are part of a large, well-trained, -disciplined and -equipped group, being silent and invisible is better than a truckload of guns.
4. Like most of the producers of survival shows on TV, they don’t get that the optimal survival strategy is often static and boring. They are predisposed to movement and to aggressive action, when hunkering down and not drawing attention to yourself* is usually the best approach.
(* Except of course if you WANT to draw the attention of potential rescuers – depends on the situation. But if threats of violence are the main issue, the “Grey Man” approach is best.)
Thanks Alex. I think the key takeaway I get from your great response is found in #1: “…but some of these people are ruining their families’ lives, too.” I’ve seen firsthand how detrimental an unchecked mindset like this can be to living a ‘normal’ life.
Are preppers crazy? Yes! And I am a prepper on many different levels. I pride myself on being that kind of crazy. The car kits? Yes. Back up generators? Yes ( and that is plural, different sizes for different applications). Food and water? Yes. Other odds and ends? Yes.
My area, not unlike many others in the Carolinas and now Florida, has been struck by hurricanes. If one isn’t prepared on some level, you will be up that creek without a paddle. You cannot depend on the government or others to save you! You must have a plan. You must know when to “fight or flight”.
Our situation in the Carolinas was bad but Florida gets the prize and not one they would want. We pray for those folks.
Whether the situation is a local disaster or the proverbial SHTF scenario, you must be ready to face it head on.
Can one be too prepared? Maybe but maybe not. Provisions you make may never be used but its like insurance. If you need it, it helps in the end.
Keep up the good work. I enjoy your messages and try to incorporate such input into our daily routines as they fit.
Well said! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, Jeff. It means a lot!
Very well put. Great job.
Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, Big Bill!
Of course preppers are crazy . . . some of them. Others are as sane as anyone on the planet, and more sane than most.
The crazy ones subscribe to bizarre conspiracy theories and spend so much time and money prepping for the most unlikely distopian futures that they ruin their actual day to day lives, and usually the lives of their families as well.
The sane ones prepare reasonably for futures that are both likely to occur and likely to leave non preppers out in the cold and starving.
95% of people are grossly under prepared for adverse events. 1 or 2% are grossly over prepared. Sane preppers are that small percentage in between.
I guess I am a prepper , liked the article
Awesome, Paul! Glad you liked it. Thanks for letting me know.
I hope this is not some in the back door sales pitchbut.we all prepp.some more than others.I keep 4 to 5 days food water for me and my direct family.anything after that look for a group I can join and contribute what I can
Two words: Hurricane Michael. (And I live in Seattle! And, yeah, I used to live in Florida, but not the panhandle.)
I have extra water in the garage. I have a bug out bag. I have a two week supply of food and energy food. I have a rifle and ammo and a pistol and ammo. I have silver coins. All it would take in for N. Korea to explode an EMF bomb above our atmosphere and all hell will break loose. No food, no transportation, no electricity. No credit cards. No nothing. I will only bug out as a last resort, but if I have to I am ready.
Of a less severe nature, the last 20 inch snow fall we had the streets were not plowed for 4 days. After the last ice storm there was no electricity for a week.
I live near the New Madrid fault. If a mag 7 quake hits that, there will be a lot of unhappy folks where I live. I do not intend to be all that unhappy as they will be.
It absolutely amazes me that people are so incapable of taking care of themselves. They always expect the government to take care of them instead. When the hurricane hit the Carolinas, people had a week notice to prepare. Many did not and had to be rescued. There could come a time when rescue is not an option.
Even today it surprises me that people still rely on law enforcement to protect them even when law enforcement is totally incapable of doing so. The US legal system is a revolving door for criminals. In today out tomorrow.
You had better be prepared.
Good response. As with all things in life there are degrees to consider. I myself have a small emergency kit in the back of the car and have started to look at and prepare for “Bug-In” at home.
Having 3 cats it makes it a little difficult to plan for a bug-out scenario. Call me crazy cat man but to put it simply “If they can’t come with me then I ain’t going.” So I am gathering resources which will keep all of us alive and well for at least 14 days. Will be longer the more time I have to prepare.
If cats make you crazy, then time for me to join you in the asylum! Pets, young children, and elderly parents are all reasons why hunkering down is usually better than bugging out.
And while survival beats dying to protect your “stuff,” it is a fact that abandoning your home means abandoning most of what you own. A friend of mine had to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Katrina. By the time she was allowed back, her apartment building, which was undamaged by wind or water, had been stripped clean by looters. Even fixtures and copper wires and pipe were gone, and the place was as unlivable as if it had been consumed by the storm.
I understand your position about your cats 100% because I am in the same position. So I find myself storing extra cat food and litter for them as well as food and water
for my family, and I won’t even get into the stray cats we feed…
I think your explanation was spot on. To me it’s crazy not to have a months worth of food and water. You just have to keep the “what if” mentality If thats crazy then call me crazy.