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Q&A: Prepper Expert Cindy Thompson Previews Florida Preparedness Expo

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life changes be ready expo

Off The Grid News recently sat down with Cindy Thompson of Fortress Management to discuss the upcoming Life Changes, Be Ready! Preparedness and Gun Expo, which will be held Nov. 2-3 in Lakeland, Florida.

The prepping expo is shaping up to be one of the largest of the year, and boasts a whole host of influential survival and preparedness speakers, authors and filmmakers. As a “female prepper” myself, I find it very encouraging and exciting to see yet another woman emerge as a leading preparedness organizer and educator. Thompson, much like Survivor Jane [1] and Melissa Norris [2], was moved to become active in the prepping movement by the financial uncertainty of our times and to share her self-reliance tips with the masses.

OTG: What prompted the creation of the Life Changes, Be Ready! Expo? Is this the first such preparedness expo presented by the Fortress Management group?

Cindy: This is not our first event; Fortress Management Group has been organizing events since 2004. The November Life Changes Be Ready! Preparedness and Gun Expo will be our second event in the preparedness community. Our initial Life Changes, Be Ready! Preparedness Expo was the first of its kind and size in the Florida market. Prior to our expo, a small community preparedness event was held in October 2012 in a rural area of Seminole County, Florida. The attendance and response to this small event was so overwhelming, we saw the need to organize a larger-scale event. The infrastructure for our first expo was put in place in less than six weeks but nevertheless, the premier Life Changes, Be Ready! Expo was held in DeLand, Florida in January of this year and was deemed a huge success by both attendees and vendors.

The mission of our Expo is to awaken individuals, families and communities to the need for preparedness through education and training while also providing access to premium products that aid in the pursuit of a self-sufficient lifestyle.

OTG: How did you become involved with prepping? 

Cindy: Our journey into prepping has its roots in being raised by parents and grandparents who lived a frugal, self-sustaining lifestyle filled with hunting and fishing, gardening and preserving what you shot, caught and grew in the garden. Their motto was “Eat all You Can and What you Can’t Eat, You Can.” This is the foundation upon which our journey as a family began in the late 80s and early 90s and has carried through to the present. With the financial uncertainty of the near future, being ready for any life changes makes even more sense today.

OTG: Why should Americans be better prepared for both a natural or man-made disaster?

Cindy: Even a cursory glance at the headlines of any newspaper, online news source or the TV news organizations will yield a bevy of stories related to hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes the world over. This holds true for man-made disasters as well, the Boston bombings are a recent attention grabber that yells for preparedness. No part of the USA or the world for that matter is immune from catastrophic events that disrupt normal channels of food, water and shelter. Being prepared insulates citizens from the lingering effects of any type of disruption in these supply lines.

OTG: Do you consider civil unrest after any type of disaster a major threat to both life and property?

Cindy: Certainly, civil unrest can be a threat at any time, especially when precipitated by a disaster. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is a glaring example of how quickly things can unwind in a negative way. Being prepared is the best way to stay out of harm’s way when the flag goes up after a disaster of any kind. If your pantry is stocked, you have fuel reserves or an alternative means of cooking and pumping water, the possibility of harm from being out and about trying to get food, fuel or water is greatly reduced.

The Essential Survival Secrets of The Most Vigilant…Most Skilled…Most Savvy Survivalists in the World! [3]

OTG: Approximately three million Americans now identify on some level as preppers. What do you think prompted the increase in preparedness minded activities in the United States?

Cindy: Headlines touting the financial chaos created by the banking collapse of 2008, ongoing terror attacks, and the increase in natural weather events has had the effect of showing those who are in tune of the need to provide water, food and shelter for themselves and their loved ones. More and more, being prepared is the best insurance against loss of power, water and social and municipal services.

OTG: What are some basic “changing the way you live tips” you would suggest to new preppers or families considering focusing more on disaster preparedness?

Cindy: The first basic “change the way you live” tip we would offer up is to slow down. A lifestyle of preparedness is not easily accomplished in fast-paced, hectic schedules. Nor is it accomplished by spending countless hours in front of modern media sources such as TV and Internet. A self-sufficient lifestyle requires prudent time management and strategic planning. It can be a very rewarding time for the entire family as new skills and experiences are shared.

As far as a practical initial “take action” step …. the first and foremost important step is considering how to have fresh, pure water. Having the means to purify water is by far the most necessary in becoming self-sustaining. Having a 30-day store of non-perishable food for everyone in the family would be the next step. Another consideration would be to have the means to protect yourself and your family in the event of a prolonged disaster event. After an event that destabilizes the region, the normal police services may be disrupted or overwhelmed, leaving the area to fend for itself.

OTG: What type of speaker topics or workshops will be highlighted during the expo?

Cindy: Our keynote speaker for the November Expo is David Kobler, aka southernprepper1 on YouTube. David’s highly viewed YouTube videos cover a wide variety of preparedness topics. His YouTube channel [4] is where one can see the vast knowledge that David has. As the event gets closer, we will post David’s presentation title.

As a special treat to Central Floridians, James Wesley Rawles of SurvivalBlog.com will be appearing via teleconference and speaking on “Preparedness in Central Florida — How Threats and Preparations will Differ from Other Regions.” Since Rawles’s new book Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse takes place, in part, in Central Florida. Rawles will share what he has learned about Florida and will directly address the challenges of living in Florida.

Other speaker topics will include gardening, survival medicine, concealment of firearms, herbal medicine, water, use of essential oils, emergency communications, how to organize retreat groups, politics and the prepper and many more.

At the Life Changes, Be Ready! Expo, we offer premium classes. These are classes offered to our attendees who desire a hands-on experience in some area of preparedness. Some of the classes that will be offered include a suturing class, a small game butchering class, preparing a bug out bag class and many more. Check our website for frequent updates on the classes offered and to reserve your seat.

OTG: Approximately how many exhibitors do you expect at the November prepper expo?  

Cindy: We expect 85-100 exhibitors at our expo.

OTG: What type of exhibitors should patrons expect at the Life Changes, Be Ready! Expo?

Cindy: Our goal is to have premium preparedness products represented on our exhibitor floor. Our exhibitors will carry everything from freeze-dried foods, water purifiers, ammunition, firearms and other self-defense items, heirlooms seeds, gardening supplies , food rotation systems, survival manuals and books, essential oils, firearms training, garden towers, holsters, lighting equipment, solar ovens and a host of other products.

Our goal at the Life Changes, Be Ready! Preparedness and Gun Expo is to have an educational, family-oriented event where everyone involved has the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills in order to further their pursuit of a self-sufficient lifestyle while networking with others of a similar mindset.

Everything You Need To Know To Keep Your Home And Family Safe. [5]

OTG: How do you think most residents and vacationers at the popular getaway spot feel about being inside a Constitution-Free Zone [6] – do you think they even realize?

Cindy: Wake up Floridians!  Do you realize that you live in what has been declared a Constitution-Free Zone (CFZ)? The whole Florida peninsula falls within what the DHS has declared a territory that has no constitutional rights.

The current usurpation of the freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution and Bill of Rights knows no bounds! The US border has always been an area where authorities, both local and federal, have exercised broad latitude in searching and questioning people moving into and out of the US. However, since 9/11 and the passing of the Patriot Act and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Bill of Rights has been trampled into the dirt. The Constitution Free Zone (CFZ) has been extended and molded into a constantly morphing set of assaults on the Fourth Amendment. This assault seems to know no bounds as the CFZ has been redefined by DHS to extend inward from all borders and coastlines approximately 100 miles. Just like any expansion of the Federal apparatchik, the DHS is using their constant mantra of “Keeping Us Safe From Terrorism” shtick to erode our God-given rights to freedom from unlawful, unconstitutional search and seizure. We must keep up pressure on our members of Congress to rein in this galloping juggernaut of the DHS in the name of border security.

If you find yourself in the grips of an unlawful stop and detainment by authorities, my recommendation is to do the following:



Be Ready! Preparedness and Gun Expo Presenters