by Jim Sawyer
(Dr. Bones says: this is another article sent to me by the articulate and entertaining Jim Sawyer, who fancies himself an old coot but is plenty hip when it comes to common sense advice to new preppers.)
It’s been my observation that these days when a person first gets into prepping it’s hard to resist going overboard and over budget. There is so much to get, so much to do, never enough money and seemingly so little time left to do it.
The new Prepper reads all the experts telling them not to rush, develop a plan, have a budget and don’t go into debt, set a schedule, get training over time, and build up your preps over months or years.
That’s easy for them to say. They already have years of food and water stored, a great bug-out location all set up, all the latest technocool gear, a billion rounds of ammo, an armory that is the envy of some third world countries, enough precious metals to sink a fishing boat and have already had years to train for the End Of The World As We Know It.
But you, you are a day late and a dollar short, Bub. You have to hurry and catch up!
You can’t turn on the Discovery Channel, History Channel, Nat Geo or a dozen other networks shows without seeing the multitude of ways our civilization could end.
Not counting the far-out scenarios, like the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012 (THIS YEAR!), Divine intervention and zombie or alien invasions, there are still more than enough plausible possibilities to worry about; economic collapse, pandemic, terrorist or solar storm generated electromagnetic pulse, nuclear war, the Yellowstone caldera or other super-volcano eruptions, asteroid, comet or meteor strikes, reversal of Earth’s magnetic field and global warming, just to mention a few.
(Dr. Bones says: The Mayans didn’t know about leap years, so the Mayan Apocalypse actually occurred last June or July, I forget which. Don’t tell anyone!)
You have to get ready NOW! What happens to your family if any of these civilization ending events happen tomorrow, and you are not ready!
OK,… take a deep breath and calm down. Prepping for TEOTWAWKI is different than prepping for most run of the mill natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, wild fires, blizzards and floods.
Depending on where you live you should already have a basic threat assessment of the everyday disasters that happen in your area. In most cases they are an ongoing problem that will impact you every year at more or less predictable times of the year and even earthquakes are usually limited to specific regions.
TEOTWAWKI is another animal.
I became aware of prepping in late 1962 after an American U2 spy-plane took pictures of a nuclear missile base being built in Cuba. Back then I was in my early teens, living in Orlando Florida, 360 miles from Havana.
Even for a kid it was hard not to notice how scared everyone was. The “Duck and Cover” drills at school didn’t help much. (Did they really think sitting under my desk with my arms over my head would help me survive an atom bomb explosion?) It’s been said that the Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war.
(Dr. Bones says: My uncle used to tell me they put lead in school desks to protect against radiation. What adults will tell kids…)
Castro and the Russians backed down to Kennedy but it changed my life forever. My Dad and Uncle became “survivalists.” They built a full blown bomb shelter in the back yard. Both my Dad and Uncle were builders and for the time the shelter was a technical marvel; waterproof, underground, steel reinforced concrete, blast door with a 90 degree bend entrance (Apparently, radiation can’t turn corners. Who knew.), air filtration pumps, Civil Defense radiation detectors, canned food, C-Rations, water storage, bunks, DC lighting and a hand crank generator, you name it, it had it.
All that was nearly half a century ago. I wonder if it’s still there. Since then I have moved away and both my Dad and Uncle have passed on. I am now 63 years old and still here. More importantly, the world is still here.
As time moved on I lost interest in getting ready for the end of the world and moved on to making my way through school, the military, a career and a family.
I have always loved the out-of-doors, hunting and camping, and as the kids got older my wife and I figured out that camping was a healthy and more importantly a cheap way to have fun family outings together.
Camping gave me the excuse to drag out some of the old military surplus survival gear I had hung on to over the years and to get more.
Slowly I got back into what was then called survivalism. At that time the cold war and the threat of nuclear war still limping along. Nam had come and gone and some scientists had started talking about comet strikes and other “extinction events.” Economically, times were good, then bad, then good again, you get the drift.
There was a recession in 1973 because of oil prices and high government spending. In 1979/80, in the wake of the Iranian Revolution, added to by the decision of President Carter to order the end of Iranian imports there was the “oil crisis” with huge gas lines. In 1992 it was the Los Angeles Riots. And then in 2000 it was Y2K.
The point is, as Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, “It’s always something.” (If you know what that means you are not that young ether.) There always seemed to be something to keep me on the edge, and still into prepping.
(Dr. Bones says: For you young whippersnappers, Rosanne Roseannadanna was Gilda Radner in a fright wig in the original Saturday Night Live. Funny stuff for the times…)
Thinking back, it was easier not to go overboard back then. We didn’t have all the “techno-cool” stuff that is around today. Freeze dried was what happened to stuff you left in the freezer too long and a survival rifle was usually a breakdown .22lr carried by downed pilots. Mostly I gathered canned food and camping gear. Back then we did have a fair amount of surplus gear around left over from WWII, Korea and then Nam. I remember picking up two M1 Garand’s at the Army Navy Surplus for $20 each.
From time to time I have asked myself if all that time, effort and money was wasted? My answer has always been No, I don’t think so.
I bought a lot of food at lower prices. I ended up with a wonderful woman who enjoyed camping, prepping and shooting as much as I do. I learned a lot of skills that I could pass on to my kids and others. I spent many quality hours out-of-doors and I had a lot of fun along the way.
If there is one, my point is, you do not have to rush. It’s not a good bet that the world will end tomorrow.
If you start off in panic mode and begin amassing enormous quantities of stuff, just for the sake of having stuff, you end up with a bunch of junk that won’t do the job and then you will spend more cash on the gear that will do the job. If that impacts your life or the lives of your loved ones it can end up a problem.
If I were to give advice it would be to take your time, research first, and remember that buying the best quality you can afford is the smart way to go, even if you have to wait until you have the cash to buy it.
After deciding I need/want it, I do research to figure out which option would work best for me, how it fits into my other preps and gear, and if I can use it now to make my life easier or more fun now, then I budget for the gear. When I have the cash I look for the best resource and price and make a purchase. After I purchase I “play” with the item, use it, know how it works and where it’s weaknesses and strengths are. Sometimes that can take a year or more.
Don’t think I don’t still feel the pressure to get the latest and greatest. I still feel the pressure of not having enough stuff or the right stuff. I still run scenarios on what I would need if a car killing EMP hit while I am making my 40 mile, one way trip home or to work. I still calculate on a regular basis how long my water, food, and other expendables will last. But I have had enough time to understand that, most likely, things will go on the way they are. I have learned that you can never be totally prepared, just better prepared. I have also learned to resist instant gratification in favor of long term satisfaction.
The world may end tomorrow and you may not be ready, but it’s a lot more likely that if you ever do need your preps it will be because of a much more mundane but none the less important reason like a localized natural disaster such as a hurricane or a personal disaster, such a job loss. In that case, just having something will leave you better off than most. You don’t have to have it all when you are starting out.