What is a “prepper?”
Some would say that when survivalists go off Zoloft, they become doomsday preppers. Whether it is the zombie epidemic, the collapse of the Federal Reserve, radioactivity from a supernova explosion, or the armed terrorism of ISIS, preppers believe that the world is headed for the Day of Judgment.
They call it SHTF – when the “sh*t hits the fan.” Consider it insurance against Uncle Sam. Across America, three million people identify themselves as preppers.
Here’s why you’re not one of them.
9 Mistaken Assumptions of the Newbie Prepper
1. You are not Jason Bourne.
No matter how many Xbox Live hours you’ve logged on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, you are not adequately prepared for the pandemonium of martial law. You’ve put all your eggs in one basket: an automatic M4 Carbine or semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle.
Take a hint from the years 2008-2013, when AR-15 ammunition was harder to find than a Democrat in Alabama. AR-15 rifles have achieved market saturation, and once Armageddon cometh, ammunition will quickly be stockpiled and sold for Brobdingnagian black market prices.
Your better bet is a double-barrel, pump-action, 12-gauge shotgun. Ammunition is plentiful. Parts are cheap. Uses are multiple. With an adjustable choke, you can hunt everything from rabbits to turkey to fish. With a set of slugs, you can take down a deer or looting criminal.
Take a lesson from Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch in Robert B. Parker’s western novels: Nothing beats a trusty shotgun.
2. You lack potent social skills.
Think your bear spray and bottled water will protect you if a Category 5 Hurricane razes the American South? Think again! Three-quarters of Americans dwell in urban areas. For most survivors, people skills will be more important than survival skills. Ever watched “Survivor”?
Read, study and practice the seminal book, “Social Intelligence,” by Daniel Goleman, and then follow it up with his other work, “Emotional Intelligence.”
Goleman believes that social and emotional intelligence allow humans to navigate complex social situations. Humans are wired to connect at the neural level, he argues.
Mirror neurons encourage empathy, altruism and corroboration. So when you need a shot of penicillin for a bacterial infection, remember that the pen is mightier than the sword.
3. Your stash is a target.
Thomas Hobbes contended in “Leviathan” that the pre-civilized natural condition of man is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
If Hobbes is right, then once Y2K Edition 2.0 hits, your stash of canned green beans, sourdough starter and salted venison will be under fire. So don’t brag about your stash.
Everyone you inform will either become an asset or a liability. Maximize the first; minimize the second.
4. You fall into analysis paralysis.
Which will come first: a dirty nuclear explosion? Genetically-engineered killer bees? Solar flares? An electromagnetic pulse?
Where does the list end?
Keep your sanity. Plan and prepare only for the top three or four doomsday scenarios.
5. You bug out instead of bugging in.
In the event of an apocalyptic societal collapse, Mother Nature will wipe out far more of mankind than man himself will. Surviving in the wild takes a lot more than a Swiss Army knife and a 120-pack of MREs.
Can you build a snow cave? Brew tea with spruce needles? Identify flint versus sandstone?
Build a water filter using charcoal, leaves and sand? Most preppers will survive the collapse of civilization squirreled away inside a home with a 2,000-watt inverter generator and a gutter garden, not playing hermit in Rocky Mountain National Park.
6. You don’t know how to use your gear.
Can you find the North Star in Argentina?
No, you can’t. Because you didn’t know that once you cross the equator, Polaris disappears, and instead you use the Southern Cross for navigation.
Moral of the story: You must know how to use your gear! Can you convert GPS degrees, minutes and seconds into decimal notation?
Just remember this equation: Decimal value = Degrees + (Minutes/60) + (Seconds/3600). Can you tie a bowline loop, a prusik knot and a hunter’s bend? How about a highwayman’s hitch or a constrictor knot? Can you build a ham radio from parts cobbled together from eBay auctions?
7. You stored all the wrong food.
Freeze-dried chicken breast. Canned French-cut green beans. Spicy Ramen Noodles. You spent $5,000 on food that looks like it’s going on a mission to the moon.
In starvation situations, men have been known to murder longtime friends over a spare bar of chocolate or a fresh orange. So don’t skimp on the sweets, and understand how food is stored. Fight against the six food storage enemies: temperature, oxygen, moisture, pests, light and time.
8. You don’t have any documents.
The most important, most ignored prep is a documentation package: Social Security cards, bank account numbers, family contact information, insurance forms – and a minimum of $5,000 in cash.
9. You forgot to make a personal library.
Doomsday will not be spent fighting invading armies or setting snares for jack rabbits. Most of doomsday will be spent in the shadow of candlelight, surrounded by family and friends, sharing memories and reading outdoorsman handbooks and mystery novels. So don’t ignore the power of entertainment.
Learn to play the harmonica. Amass a personal library. Laugh often.
Don’t just survive; live.