There are a lot of people in America today who are concerned about emergency preparedness.
Just like people were afraid of the Russians in the 50s — building bomb shelters and stocking them with all of the things that a person might need for daily life in the event of a nuclear fallout — these Americans, “preppers,” are preparing themselves for another kind of fallout. Whether it’s a hostile takeover they fear, an overreaching, over-intrusive government, or something else, people all over the place are getting ready for a catastrophe. What is shocking to me is the way that a lot of outsiders view these people as just plain crazy.
In my house, the focus on emergency preparedness began when my husband lucked into a pallet-load of MREs (meals, ready to eat) for the low price of free. Now, trust me, when I learned what he had gotten, I didn’t think it was lucky. My first thought was more like, “Where the heck are we going to put a pallet of MREs?” I had no idea what we were going to do with 400 pre-prepared meals, but we tediously started tucking them away in our basement, wherever they would fit on shelves, under tables, stacked ceiling-high in the corner. The amount of packaged food we had was enough for both of us to live on for a whole year!
Once we had the MREs, the obsession really began to grow in my husband. He was convinced that we needed to have more than just food stored away in the basement — that there were all kinds of things that we could find ourselves needing if something bad ever did happen. A lot of the time, I kind of brushed him off. It wasn’t that I didn’t see his point or that I didn’t think it was good to be prepared, but I just didn’t see an immediate threat on the way we lived our lives.
Around that same time, I was invited to have dinner with a friend of mine in her home and help sort out some of her little girl’s baby clothes that she wanted to give away. When we went into her basement, I was surprised to see several rows of shelves filled with all kinds of necessities, from canned food to soap, deodorant, unopened packs of underwear and socks. There were boxes stacked in the corner labeled “razors” and “batteries.”
“I know you probably think this is crazy,” she said to me as she led me through the maze of shelves to a storage room in the back, “But you’re going to think this is even crazier.”
As we stepped into the storage room where she kept her baby memorabilia, I was surprised to see a room full of modern-day weaponry. Rifles were hung from pegs on the walls next to Kevlar vests and body armor. There was a safe, bigger than a refrigerator, in the corner that my friend told me was filled with cash, bullets and knives. I didn’t think she was crazy, though. I was happy that my husband and I weren’t the only ones concerned about the future.
Shortly after that, a lot of talk came up about changing gun laws, limiting civilians’ rights to certain weapons, etc. My husband and I had a talk about where things were going with this country that we love so much. Let me set my disclaimer right here: we are not conspiracy theorists, pessimists or any other kind of “ists.” We don’t live every day with this overriding fear that President Obama is going to come to our front door and demand that we hand over our guns and our freedom. But freedom doesn’t mean what it once did. Every year, the government takes a little more power over us, our freedoms become a little more shortened, and there may come a day when they are shortened too much and we have to fend for ourselves. We don’t hope for that day, but there is no harm in being prepared for it if or when it comes.
We decided that we were not going to be left without a bone to gnaw if the big bad ever happens. So we cleared out a space in our basement and started acquiring the things that we saw a need for: Air mattresses, food (obviously), first aid, a generator, a solar shower, batteries, propane and gasoline (stored carefully away from everything else), weapons and ammunition. My husband learned to reload bullets so that we wouldn’t be dependent on sporting goods stores to sell us a $60 box of bullets that may not even be available in the future. I learned how to make lye soap and lotion from scratch and we stocked up on all the ingredients and tools for that, as well.
We didn’t bother collecting any other kinds of food to store up, though we do occasionally can our vegetables. Having been raised hunting and fishing, my husband was confident that food would never be a problem for us as long as he had guns, ammunition and fishing poles. I was confident enough in his abilities that I didn’t question it. After all, we haven’t had to purchase meat in the seven years that we’ve been together.
Based on everything we have stored up, my husband and I calculated how long we could survive. What we found was that without buying anything else, with no outside help whatsoever, the two of us could live for four years without ever having a need to leave our own property.
When you make the decision to really get started with emergency preparedness, there is a strong possibility that people will think you are crazy. People think we’re crazy sometimes, too. You have to ask yourself, though: When the time comes, who is really going to be crazy? Is it going to be you? Or is it going to be the hordes of people knocking on your door because you were the only one who was ready?