The term “prepper” came into use a few years ago after the media had effectively demonized the word “survivalist” and those who practiced prepping were looking for a more politically correct term to use. Personally I thought survivalist was just fine but I kind of like the sound of “prepper”. After all I was a Girl Scout and the motto is “Be Prepared”.
The idea of prepping has been around for a very long time. The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “Plan ahead or find trouble on the doorstep.” The recent outbreak of storms in the Heartland as well as the downward spiral of our economy has made me re-evaluate my priorities…and my attitude toward prepping.
My first exposure to prepping came as a very young child. Whenever there was even a hint of a severe thunderstorm we had to load up in the car and drive across town to my maternal grandmother’s house. We would get in the storm cellar until an “all clear” was issued by my Dad. Dad was claustrophobic so he would take Mom and me and make sure we were safe but he refused to enter the cellar. The cellar had a steep narrow stairway and two bunks with couple of chairs and shelves lining the walls. The shelves were filled with canned goods from Mamaw’s garden so there was no chance of going hungry while underground, at least not for several days. I was always terrified of the cellar. This was the 1950’s and the doors were not as well made as today. One of the adults had to be brave and check the cellar for spiders and snakes before anyone else could enter. We had to carry kerosene lamps and without them you could not see your hand in front of your face. When I was around five my grandmother moved and I was secretly delighted to never have to enter that cellar again.
I entered elementary school in the early 60’s. Along with learning the three R’s, we were introduced to the fear of nuclear war. We had tornadoes drills and we had bomb drills where we all lined the hallway at school and covered our heads with our hands. Oddly enough we did the same thing so matter what the expected disaster. My Dad was an amateur radio operator (or HAM as they are called) for as long as I can remember. One of his friends actually built a bomb shelter in the early 60’s. It was much larger than the storm cellar I spoke of earlier and had several bunks, bottled water, dehydrated food, a generator and a complete HAM radio set up for communication with the outside world. It was made entirely of concrete with the entrance to the stairway built into the side of a hill. While unused, it is in fact is still there today. Going there during storms was much more fun than the storm cellar and yes, I think we even spent a little time there during the Cuban missile crisis in Oct of 1962. I was too young to realize the seriousness of what was happening but looking back I know that this was prepping at its finest. Now I will go on to say that the man who built this shelter was a bit of an extremist. Once when his niece wanted snow ice cream he got out the Geiger counter to test the snow before she was allowed to eat it (following the old adage “better safe than sorry”).
I have not lived with access to a storm cellar or bomb shelter for over 40 years, yet as I approach my “golden” years I find myself wanting a safe room and maybe buying a bit more ammunition than I have in the past. My husband and I and are seriously considering purchasing dehydrated food with a 25+ year shelf life and storing seeds in the event that food is not readily available. Do I really think I will need this? The answer is “I don’t know”. But the next generation might and if I can get my grandchildren to be prepared then I have left them something that cannot be taken away from them.
Even stranger than that, I find that as I drop tidbits of this way of thinking into conversation, many of my friends and acquaintances are leaning this way as well. There is no way to prepare for any and every situation that might arise so you must be adaptable. Prepare as best you can and improvise where you must. But, be prepared, for whatever disaster might come your way.
King Solomon was once thought to be the wisest man in the world. In Proverbs 27:12 he cautioned, “The prudent see danger and seek refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”
Once, I thought preppers were extremists with a doomsday mentality. I thought they were people who were preparing for something that would never happen. Now, at times, I think I am one.
For more information on prepping take a look at Survivalist 101.