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Why Prepare?

I’m asked this question from time to time, and it never ceases to amaze me. A guy asked me this a few days ago in fact, a bit unexpectedly. I turned and looked at him with a mixture of incredulity and amazement, and asked if he was kidding. Sadly, he was not.

I have to accept the fact that preparing doesn’t come natural to most folks these days. It’s hard for me to understand because of the way I was raised. I grew up in a rural area, and very poor. Unbeknownst to me at the time was the fact that there were a lot of years that had it not been for our rather large garden, our orchard, and the food preservation we did after harvest in the summer and fall, our family would not have had enough food the following winter.

It was just how we lived. Again, I didn’t think anything of it growing up because I thought everyone lived that way. There were no “preppers”, no end of the world doomsday events (ok there probably were, but Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet so we didn’t know about them), it was just normal life.

Life is different now for most people.

Living a life of basic preparedness, basic self-sufficiency, is no longer common. Most people these days are not prepared for even common life events, let alone something out of the ordinary. In my experience talking to people about it, this lack of preparedness is usually for one of two reasons: ignorance and/or normalcy bias.


This one is pretty self-explanatory. The saying goes (and it’s an annoying one) “you don’t know what you don’t know”. Well yeah, of course not, but that’s the very core of the problem. Many people simply don’t know why common sense preparedness is important.

Normalcy Bias

Nothing bad can ever happen to me. Or to you, right? That’s normalcy bias – things are currently good, therefore they will always be. Even if you yourself aren’t this way, chances are you know someone who is. They go through life with their head in the sand, thinking that bad things happen to other people, but not to them. They are, of course, much mistaken.

I see this one a lot surrounding the discussion of gun control. I hear people ask “well why do you need a gun in the first place? What do you think is going to happen?” These people have normalcy bias, usually with ignorance sprinkled on top to taste. They think that other people are robbed, raped, and murdered. Can’t happen to them.

So Why Prepare?

I don’t prepare because I think the world is ending. I’m not a Doomsday Prepper, nor am I suggesting that you should be one either. However, I do live in the real world, and in the real world bad things happen, and unfortunately, they happen all the time.

Bad things come in all shapes and sizes. For example, I think everyone should have a couple months worth of food in their house. Why? Because if you’re like most people, you eat several times a day, and chance are, so does everyone else in your family.

What happens when the grocery store doesn’t have food for you to buy for a period of time for whatever reason? We saw this most recently with Hurricane Sandy, but it doesn’t take a hurricane to make it happen in the world of just in time inventory.

What if the power went off for a few days or even weeks, again, like it did with Hurricane Sandy or recently in Kentucky after a large ice storm?

What if you lost a loved one and couldn’t work for a period of time? Could you afford to take that time off financially? What if you got sick and had a lengthy stay in the hospital?

What if a major earthquake happened in your area, you lost power, running water, and there was nothing in the grocery stores? Would you have food and water, and would you be able to defend it from the looters? Just this past week, officials in Southern California warned residents to be able to survive two weeks on their own in the event of a natural disaster. Could you go two weeks?

Preparing, being a “prepper”, isn’t necessarily about the zombie apocalypse. Should you be prepared for a potential financial collapse and the breakdown of society? Yes, I believe you should, but start with the things most likely to happen to you first. Have some food and water, and a way to purify water. Get out of debt and put some money away for a rainy day, both in the bank and out (Federal Reserve Notes and real money). Have a way to defend yourself and your family.

Preparing isn’t crazy, it’s the common sense that used to be common.


16 Responses to Why Prepare?

  1. Scarydad March 13, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    I lost my normalcy bias once and for all after hurricane Katrina. I was safe here in Houston but I had some friends from NOLA that had evacuated to Austin as they has been advised. They watched in horror as the lake swallowed their city. Fortunately I was staying with my girlfriend most of the time so I let them stay in my apartment for a while. Some of these guys had gotten stuck in traffic and hadn’t eaten or showered in days. And these were not caught-unawares or head-in-the-sand refugees. They followed the rules and had their shit together and STILL found themselves grossly under-prepared for what happened.

    Since then I’ve been ready to go at a moment’s notice and I am also prepared to shelter in place for a while if necessary.

    And if you think the government is going to save you, just remember the lots full of school buses that the government did not use to evacuate people and which were also flooded and destroyed.

  2. Jeremy Hayes March 13, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    I started a few years ago storing food but its only until recently did i pick up the pace and started better preparing. I’m not one of those like on TV, but I’m working on being not so dependent on electricity and the store shelves being stocked right when i need something. I feel society is to dependent on power and normalcy. I know tons of people who would be screwed if something bad happened with out warning…

  3. Darrell March 13, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Sounds like you listen to Jack Spirko. If you don’t, you should because you two (and myself) are on exactly the same page. If you don’t know who jack is, check out “The Survival Podcast”. He’s up over a thousand episodes now.

    • Brandon March 13, 2013 at 11:05 am #

      Jack is awesome.

      • Darrell March 13, 2013 at 11:15 am #

        I had a feeling you knew that.

  4. Cody March 13, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    Any suggestions on where to start on what types of food to start storing? I’ve started slowly getting togeter a supply of water, medical supplies and some odds and ends, but haven’t on the food end yet. I live in Houston and realized I needed to gather the essentials after Ike.

    • Brandon March 13, 2013 at 11:05 am #

      I will do a post on getting started with food storage.

    • Biff Sarin March 13, 2013 at 11:50 am #

      As a quick suggestion, buy several 24 packs of bottled water (each case totals roughly 3.3 gals) or a couple of 2.5 gallon self dispensing water jugs at the store. These are all cheap. For food, canned chili, soups, etc are a great place to start. As you gain the ability and knowledge to purify water, move on to “just add water” type meals. Ramen noodles may not be anyone’s favorite but they could save your life and have an excellent shelf life. If stuck in traffic while evacuating a local disaster, it’s actually possible to boil water on an engine block…no kidding. Remember that knowledge and skills are not only your cheapest prep, but may also be your most valuable.

    • Billy Bowers May 9, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

      Buy what you eat every day, just add a few extra cans each time you buy. Then make sure you date them and rotate them out. Eat the oldest ones first that way you will not let it go bad on you. If you don’t eat it now the chances are you will not eat it if times get hard no matter what you think you can do. Then when you get the chance add things like powdered milk, rice, dried beans, pasta and so on.

  5. Cody March 13, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    Much appreciated.

  6. Darrell March 13, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    until Brandon gets that up, you need to look first at what you have and use in your pantry. Take those items, and double the amount you would normally buy. When you use one, buy two. Doing this, you can begin to build up food storage of what you use. Then, use the ones with the closest expiration date. That is a good place to start. You can easiliy get to 30 days food storage this way with very little effort, and have no caloric or nutritional shock if you need to utilize the food. This will also provide a good base as you expand into the longer term stuff.

  7. Traci Parker March 13, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Two enthusiastic thumbs up. I’m going to share this with so many people lol

  8. scott rylander March 13, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    remember the can opener !!!!!

  9. nashprep123 March 17, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    I am the same kind of prepper getting started, and I think that getting more people to see this is VERY Important. I am big into learning skills that I could then use what was around me to survive. Making a knife or raising bees or growing your own veggies is indispensable to trade and barter if you were in that situation, also it saves some money at the grocery.

    Thumbs up on the site.

  10. 100atr March 18, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    I prepare because if the World changes and the rules change my family will be apart of it. I am not overboard about it, but a little here and there could reduce the impact!

  11. Stacy May 24, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    A full tank of gas, a gas can (full), and a extra propane tank or charcoal for the old grill will all be helpful as well. The thing I have noticed in any type of crisis is the amount of chaotic traffic and the lines at every gas station are literally a mile long.