National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers is a new weekly show which explores the lives of otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it. If you were like me, the first time I saw the title and preview for this, I was sure it was going to lampoon preppers with all the ferocity of Jurassic Park’s Tyrannosaurus Rex. I mean, seriously, haven’t we all been subjected to the raised eyebrows, the subtle head shakes, and the not-so-few suggestions of paranoia from our family, friends, and neighbors? So it was with a great deal of skepticism that I watched the premiere and second episode of the series.
It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Each week, several people and/or families are showcased. You learn what each individual or group is concerned about, you see what their preparations involve to meet those concerns, and then National Geographic’s survival expert rates the effectiveness of their system. They are graded based on their concerns, the area in which they live, and how they’ve prepared. We have an eclectic mix of hillbilly preppers to street survivors, all planning and preparing in their own unique ways.
For instance, one family last night had 10 years worth of stores to tide them over in the aftermath of a catastrophic event. They were well equipped to either dig in and stay put or bug out. However, they had put all their stores in one place. The expert suggested dividing the stores up so that these items would be available no matter what course of action they had to choose.
In another segment, a single woman living in Houston shared her survival concerns, her preparations, and her contingency plans. There were a few holes in her preparations as well, but she was limited in what she could do because she lived in an urban environment deep in the city.
During the show, preparation statistics are flashed across the bottom of the screen. Last night they showed the percentage of Americans who believe that preparedness is more important than a 401K savings program. I was surprised at the figure… 41%. This percentage makes me realize that there is a sizable portion of our country that still understands the value of responsibility and independence, and that our mantra of being prepared is getting out there.
When you go to National Geographic’s website, you find other interesting information and statistics as well. On the Doomsday Dashboard you can see the events that we are the most worried about. The top four are:
- Economic collapse (27%)
- Megaquake (24%)
- Pandemic (20%)
- Nuclear War (19%)
Further down the list are fears about an oil crisis, 2012 doomsday scenarios, and EMPs. However, neither the show nor the site seems to be trying to cast preparation into the worst possible light. One tab on the Doomsday Preppers section has prepper tips, and includes video about how to make a survival bag, how to start a fire, how to forage, and how to use nature to heal.
As with anything, I would suggest that those who are trying to prepare and learn things watch the show. Take away the information that is useful, and let the rest be either entertainment or disregarded. There is something in here for anyone… urban dweller, suburban housewife, country folks, and even, to an extent, survivalists.
This show isn’t about hardcore, going into the backwoods, and living off grub worms while waiting for the worst to happen. It’s about ordinary people, still living their ordinary lives, but taking precautions for the “what-if” scenario. Some may seem a little eccentric, but they all personify a part of the American spirit that refuses to be dominated by hopelessness and despair. These people are reaching down inside themselves, finding the will and the means, and doing the best they can to ensure their survival.
That, in itself, is a lesson for all of us.