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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A conversation with a new prepper

An excellent post from Tim for new & 'old' preppers alike. Tim was on James T. Stevens Family Preparedness Guide Blog Talk Radio with Tom Martin (founder of the American Preppers Network) and I last evening. You can listen to the podcast here.

Sorry it has taken so long to write this post, the reserves and life have kept me running.  I recently had to travel to South Carolina do my reserve duty.  While waiting for a briefing to begin I overheard one of the people in my squadron talking about a new hand gun he had purchased.  I then heard him talking about long term storage food which really got my ears up.  I joined the conversation and realized that this person had started prepping and was trying to get his long time friend on board.  I let him know that I too was a prepper and inquired how long he had been prepping.  

This article is some of my observations and thoughts on what transpired.  For this article I will refer to the person that I had the conversation with as Joe.  Joe is a highly educated officer in the USAF reserves; he is also an airline pilot.  He has been through the basic military survival school, and is an avid outdoorsman.  He lives in a major southeastern city in a subdivision.  I learned that he had been “prepping” for about nine months.   I asked him what he had done so far to get his family prepared.  What he told me next I have heard before.  It seems that I have had many conversations like this over the past couple of years and they always seem to go the same way.

The first thing that Joe told me about was his primary battle rifle that he had bought, and the ammo that he had to go with it.  Next he rattled down the list of the other fire arms he had purchased, it read like he used one of the postings from a survival website as a shopping list.  All of the guns that Joe purchased were the top of the line best that money can buy loaded with the fanciest gadgets that can be attached to them.  I hope that the guy at the dealer had a good Christmas, because Joe spent more money than I make in a month.  I to have guns and believe in keeping them, but you need the skills to go with them. 

The next thing that he talked about is the cases and cases of survival food he had purchased.  He had all the best MRE’s and freeze dried food you can think of.  He had spent another small fortune on these. Now some will say I am just jealous that he had the money to do this and I don’t, I’m not.  I am glad that there is one more person out there that I don’t have to feed if things go bad.  Where the conversation went from here is what I want to get out to as many preppers as possible.

Right now there are hundreds of thousand of people that are waking up to the fact that there is freedom and power in being able to take care of yourself and family.  I went through it myself.  There is almost a pattern to the process. It usually goes like this.  First is the realization that our society is fragile.  This brings fear and anxiety knowing that you aren’t prepared.   In this phase most people go out and spend money.  In this phase people don’t have a direction; they just know that they need to do something.  Most people go to the web looking for information.  There are many great sites out there, like this one, but there are three times as many that are either trying to get attention through scare tactics or sell the latest survival gadget.  Joe stumbled across one of these sites and thought that he wouldn’t be prepared until he had the money to buy all the cool stuff.

I then started leading the conversation in a way that I thought would help Joe relieve some of his stress.  I wanted him to realize that it wasn’t just the things that he bought, but his skills to work through a problem.  I started asking some questions that I hope would make him think.  The first question I asked was what he was preparing for, now I know this is a simple question but it is one that we all need to ask ourselves.  If you are getting ready for the end of the world as we know it than the things that you do are different than if you are just trying to be ready for the next winter storm.  If you are getting ready for civil unrest you do some things different than if you are preparing for bad economic times.  It is up to each person as to what they believe.

After realizing that Joe was like most of us and wanted to be ready for just about all events that might come, it was time to change his thinking.  I feel that prepping is not just what you have at your bunker; it’s a mindset that you have to enter into.  It should change the way that you look at every day situations.  The next question I asked was what his plans were if something was to happen right where we were, he was three hundred and fifty miles from his family.  I asked him how long it would take him to walk home if there was no gas.  His answer was pretty typical; he said that he could do it in three or four days.  Most people that are in shape can walk about thirty miles a day if conditions are good.  He hadn’t thought about this.  Next I asked what equipment he had with him to make a ten to twelve day trek on foot.  He had nothing.  I asked him if he had thought about a bug out bag to keep with him when he traveled, he informed me that he had planned to buy one that he had seen on the net for sale, he even showed it to me on his smart phone.  This BOB was being offered by one of the online retailers for $625.  It had the neatest gismos and gadgets; it had 72 hours of food for four people, it was quite slick.  I then asked if he trusted the stuff in that bag.  He told me that he did because it was offered by this great survival guru.  I asked if he had added up the cost of the things in that bag and compared getting everything separate.  Later that day I added it up, and could have bought it all plus some for just under $325.  This also brings me to another point.  Those of us that have been doing this for a while have a responsibility to help the new preppers.  We have been through these trials and errors and know the best deals on the things that we need.

Next I asked Joe what his plans were if the situation that he prepared for lasted longer than his food or if his extended family showed up on his door step.  Our conversation lasted about three hours and we talked the gambit of prepping topics.  It appeared that Joe walked away with a little better outlook on where he was, and where he needed to go.

For most that read this site this stuff is old hat, but there are many out there that are just realizing that they are not prepared.  For those people I would like to give this advice.  There is so much info on the web and in great books that it can be daunting.  Just realize that there are many people that make their living selling survival products, look at what there motives are, if they have found that people will through money at there fears than they are probably not the person that you want to deal with, but if they are someone that has a heart to help then they probably are offering a great resource.

For the Prepper that has been doing this I charge you to step up to the plate and teach.  Teach what you know to people that are just getting started.  Let people know about your mistakes so that they might not repeat them.  If you find a great deal let people know about it.  For every person that we get just a little bit better prepared that is one more person that might not be a burden on the rest of us. 



Ken said...

...i quit trying,occasionally i converse,share my opinion,and our ranks swell...what scares me,is the 4 or 5 to 1 ratio of folks who thinks "everything will be fine,just put on these rose colored shades,those things could never happen 'Here'"...anyway,good post Marica (& Tim)

Marica said...

It's all Tim. I just click some buttons!

TP said...


Well said! I have taken a few new preppers under my wing to show them the ropes, and it's like you said, we have all been through the run around trying to find the right gear for the best price. We do have a part to play in teaching the "newly awakened." Thanks for posting this, it was a great read.

upinak said...

Very well done!

Tim did you happen to tell him to have his wife take some basic gun safety courses?


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