Prepping. Where did they go?

Podcast episode 093020

Good evening and welcome to this week’s show. I hope this show finds you well, and your family is strong during these unprecedented times. Between struggling to stay healthy amidst an international pandemic, as well secure in many cities embroiled in racial unrest. I am so thankful that you have taken some of your precious time to share it with me. I want to respect your time and hope to relay some useful information to you during our time together.

To this end, I’ve had many of you email me questions about, what we used to call, “doomsday preppers”. It probably stems from the television show that brought it to our attention, National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers. The show spawned a popular culture of extreme survivalists that thrived throughout the nation. In the show, many talked about the systemic termination of humankind. This subculture spawned the Zombie Kill squads across the map. There are tons of benefits that can be obtained from these groups, but alas, we’ll cover that in a couple of minutes.

Many of you have asked where did they go?

For those of you who missed the show,  let me define what preppers are/were. Shows versus reality. Let’s talk about those the stereotypes they showcased throughout the several seasons the show was on the air. The cast of the show were the extremists of the culture, but the overall idea was to make sure that their lives would continue following an international catastrophe. The had built bunkers, stocked up food for years, or has underground gardens where they could continue their lives regardless of what got thrown at them. The went off the grid, their own power, and communications network, they were completely self-sufficient. In addition, most had plans to get from where they were, with all family members, to their designated safe houses, stashed away from prying eyes. This was the extreme level the show went to promote the idea of extreme survival. The problem was they focused on individuals who portrayed the stereotypes surrounding survivalists. This led to a negative connotation being attached to the word, prepper. However, for those of us who tuned in each week, we gleaned something from each show. Whether it was short wave radio communication, or electrical power generation completely without the local grid. We took away a small piece from each show. Well, most of us did anyway.

Much of society referred to these individuals as being a little different, most considered those folks paranoid. However, this misinterpretation led to an outcasting, which was perfectly fine for many of the individuals. The psychology behind these people was probably pretty normal until the cameras turned in their directions, where it became a case of “more money than sense”. Let’s talk about the reality of prepping. I do feel that the production of those shows opened America’s collective eyes to the availability of that lifestyle. I personally think that, if nothing else, it should have demonstrated the potential to live “off the grid”. However, I believe that the extremity of the productions is, ultimately, what killed the show. I will say that the idea behind those “doomsday preppers” is alive and well in a global market into the billions per year. Many of us tend to stay at the lower end of the spectrum, but there is still those extremists. Many of them have chosen to remain out of the limelight, tending to be much lower key than the show would have us to believe.

Prepping Extremists. Yes, as with everything else, there are extremists within this category of life as well. People who have convinced the end of civilization as we know it is just around the corner. Whether they are oversensitive to the current state of the world or translating the New Testament of the Christian bible in an attempt to align today’s events up to the book of revelations. They become convinced that they have some “interpretation”, or in many cases, they misunderstand a small fraction of the larger narrative and determine that they have been given some knowledge. Now, I am not here to discredit them, as we must all have our own path to follow, to this end I would have to say I fully support them in their decisions to go against the common thought process to prepare themselves for what they see as Armageddon. Between hidden underground bunkers, to camouflaged solar panels, they are creating their own destiny. Most of us choose to go in a different direction, and that’s really the main idea here.

Prepared versus “Prepping”. Where does one cross the mental line between these two? Therein lies the question. The idea for being prepared for anything has been around as long as life as existed on the planet. Breaking down the two statements, we can quickly see that they are both the same thing. Many would conclude that prepping is further up toward the extremist portion of the spectrum. One has to consider one’s supply chain when determining the level of preparedness to engage in.

We’ve covered the idea behind the show, by now you’re wondering how do you ensure your own success as a prepper. Let’s take a minute to examine what it means in reality. Within the big picture of being prepared, there are several major parts (based on the order of necessity)

  1. Clean, breathable air
  2. Housing and/or shelter.
  3. Food and nutrition
  4. Water
  5. Clothing and/or protective gear.

Now, how much of that list do you send on “the grid” for? How much of that list have to be obtained from outside the home. This is the basic principle behind prepping. By identifying one’s shortcomings if the grid and/society should fail. It really comes down to one’s supply chain.

Within the survival genre, the exists a basic rule of thumb for placing the importance of the life-sustaining objectives, the numbers are easy to remember it is The Rule of Three:

  • You can survive three minutes without breathable air (unconsciousness generally occurs), or in icy water.
  • You can survive three hours in a harsh environment (extreme heat or cold).
  • You can survive for three days without drinkable water.
  • You can survive three weeks without food.

Clean, breathable air. This is a major necessity of survival, as without oxygen humans die, and living tissue dies as well. But the abundance of oxygen could be just as dangerous if it’s loaded with smoke particles, volcanic ash, or nuclear fallout. This need is so basic that it transcends the spectrum of the prepared study. Whether it be smoke particles from the forest or large urban fires caused by unrest, or natural disasters, being able to have breathable air is critical. When it comes to air, the need for some level of filtration system is paramount, depending on the scenario you find yourself in. In an urban fire, you also have a high probability of included toxic chemicals as well. This then becomes a focus when preparing for the “Zombie Apocalypse”. For those extremists, they have commercial-grade air filtration systems for their bunkers, and gas masks for the times they have to venture out. Realistically, a home air filtration system with taped windows and a double door entry should be sufficient to keep you safe from most air impurities. You need to scale your application to the size of your base.

Housing and/or shelter. This is the next biggie, as it provides a level of protection from the elements. Whether it’s a man-made structure or a natural location, the idea is the same. In addition to providing protection from the elements, it can also be configured to provide a level of security as well. There’s a lot of benefits packed into the housing section. Humans can survive for about three hours exposed to extreme weather conditions, although that might be the longest three hours of pain and suffering that one could imagine. Within the confines of this section should be a matter of temperature control. With the ability to restrict airflow across affected areas the potential to get the affected areas back up to temperature. The list of benefits contained here is substantial, however, the greatest part would be the mental healing that can happen here.

The next major concentration should be water. Humans can survive for about three days without water. The human body is comprised of approximately 60% water, and the volume of water dictates the passage of the neuro-electricity for thought. This is the reason people get a little goofy when they are dehydrated, as the neural pathways are impaired, and can lead to a very serious condition, and even death, if left untreated. But care must be taken when obtaining water. Seawater contains a substantial amount of salt, and will therefore increase the need for additional water. By drinking seawater, especially for an extended time. Desalination needs to occur before the seawater can be used as a drinkable source. In addition, still water can become brackish, and for all intent and purpose, create a very unpleasant period of time after the water is consumed. With brackish water, the water requires treatment prior to usage. If you happen to find yourself in an area where you could create either: A) condensation, B) morning dew, or C) rainwater, unless you are expecting an acidic rainfall with nuclear fallout, the above water collection methods might yield some benefit.

At this point, we have made it through the first week. Clean air, clean water, and shelter, our required needs have been met. Now it’s time to settle in for the longer-term survival.

Food and/or nutrition. This is the next in the order of importance, as humans can survive for about three weeks without food. Now, there have been tons of books written about finding things in the wilderness to eat. Setting aside the idea of hunting for food, there is a substantial garden available through many different environments. Whether it be mountains, jungle, forests, or the desert, there are delicacies that can be found throughout. Now is the time to study some of these books in safety, before you need those skills.

This list has included the dire necessities of basic survival, however, take each of these sections to the extreme and you have arrived at being a contestant on the “Doomsday Prepper”. As you move into the longer phase one needs to consider one more topic.

Clothing and/or protective gear. While not being listed in the Rule of Three, the realization that being away from, or without society, hygiene becomes fairly inconsistent, which could assist in the spread of infection due to injuries, particularly on the extremities. While a good first-aid kit should remedy most insignificant minor injuries, most of them could be avoided with clothing and protective gear. While those types of injuries are critical, exposing human flesh to the elements can create long-term damage to the body unnecessarily.

With that knowledge, you should be able to keep your family and self safe.

Now for those of us who have either A) house pets, or B) working-class animals (i.e. protection, support, etc), have you considered their needs? I want to talk about this for a few minutes, because every time I see a localized disaster-type of event, I  immediately hear of, or see (on the news channels), household pets taking the brunt of the disaster by taking a backseat during the disaster aftermath. So, if we reconsider our five points from above from the animal’s eyes, let’s really think about the difference between what you see and/or know when it comes to a disaster, and what they see. Firstly, we need to understand that they feed off of your energies (dogs do anyway…), so if you’re panicking, they may be terrified. During a catastrophic emergency don’t expect normal behavior from your animals (i.e., typically the loss of command control, etc). So, like a small child you will need to comfort them as well, so think about a favorite toy, or blanket that smells like them very similar to small children. Just like your small children, you will need defined methods of restraints and control. I will explain this thought process using my two dogs. The first thing I’ve got to say is that one of my dogs is very old (about 12 human years) and is a large yellow Labrador, while the others are working-class dogs (younger GSD and Malinois). The first thing to know, GSD and Malinois are crated for bed and quiet times, so there is comfort and normality in their crates, while the lab wanders around our dining room at night freely.  The reason I note this is that should we have to extricate from our home, I will need to ensure that the working dogs have either a dedicated sleeping/quiet areas that they have been taught to use or under constant restraint for their own safety. I think about their food and water needs which is based on the duration of a temporary displacement. In addition, what about their medical needs? Human medicines do not work on animals, and most often can lead to more damage than good. So, having some veterinary medicines in your first-aid kit. Again, ensuring that animals are restrained following any type of disaster because, again, they are not going to behave the same way they normally do… Keep it in mind. Let’s talk about how we can help our furry friends face the same five challenges we identified for us as survival.

  1. Clean, breathable air – like humans, animals need oxygen too. If the air is smoke-filled, or radioactive, they too will need some type of face coverings to ensure their lungs are doing the same jobs ours do. Unlike us who recognizes the benefit of covering our mouth and nose, animals are not going to be as keen to the idea of having their face wrapped up, so maybe some preparatory training here might go a long way in helping. In addition, securing the face protection might be a little more challenging, in addition, remember that (at-least) dogs cool down their overheated bodies by panting, this may cause excessive amounts of liquids into the face coverings… which could, in turn, damage and/or destroy anything you put over their mouth.
  2. Housing and/or shelter – like humans, animals can only face more extreme temperatures to a degree. While yes, a built-in fur coat helps extend the temperature range down, it only goes so far, so consider blankets and/or animal clothing for increased protection against the colder elements. The heat will have its own effect, while many animals have methods of cooling down, understanding your animal’s methods is critical to their survival.
  3. Food and nutrition – like humans, animals need food and water, especially in extreme weather conditions. However, just like their human counterparts, they can only exist for a certain timeframe without food and water. While instinct may lead them to eat or drink unhealthy things, you are their guide to help keep them safe. As an example, is a dog’s desire to drink water laced with anti-freeze which, by the way, causes irreparable damage to their nervous system as well as brain functions. Something to be avoided, however, unfortunately, this is a process versus a training thing, as you cannot train a dog to avoid a particular water source when they feel they are in dire straits.
  4. Water – In much the same way humans need water, so do animals. Calculating their usage is just as important as calculating yours. A gallon a day, per dog, is a good rule of thumb to start with. The depths of Summer and Winter may require a little bit more, especially if exposed to the elements during that time. While they have very little need for daily hygiene water like humans would, but they may require additional drinking water to ensure their health status.
  5. Clothing and/or protective gear – like humans, animals may need additional protective gear to ensure their safety. Iditarod sled dogs wear “booties” over their feet to protect their pads from the super cool, and sometimes sharp, ice they run on. Vests can protect against slight slices or soft pokes from their surroundings. Eye, ear, or throat protection may also be necessary depending on the situation. Be prepared for what could potentially happen following a disaster.

Taking care of animals during, and following a catastrophic event in your community will be paramount to their survival, just like small children who are unable to make wise decisions during the chaos that follows an event of that magnitude, we need to be diligent in assisting them in making the right choices for their own health, safety, and their security.

As far as the preppers, where they have gone? They are still out there, they are still standing by waiting on the collapse of society, or whatever they believe the sign is for the end of the world as we know it.

As always it has been an absolute blast to be with you here today. Please join me next week for our show “Safety in numbers” where we will talk about strategically aligning others to minimize the risk to you. Stay safe, Peace.

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