Prepping for a catastrophe is a daunting task. There are a whole lot of bases that need to be covered. How you prepare is directly impacted by both location and professional background. Those with a military, law enforcement, or medical background definitely have an edge when preparing for life after the power grid goes down or during a civil unrest scenario. Fortunately for those of us who do not fall into those professional categories, more and more training survival and medical prepping classes are popping up around the country.
Off-the-grid or homesteading families are undoubtedly the most self-reliant of all preppers. Folks who live in suburban or even small villages in rural areas have distinct advantages over their urban counterparts. But even rural residents still pale in comparison to suburban off-grid dwellers and homesteaders when it comes to dissecting readiness attributes. While a big back yard or a multiple lots offer the chance to grow your own food, livestock is typically not allowed to roam around the neighborhood.
Off The Grid News recently sat down with Doomsday Preppers’s star Jay Blevins  to discuss the various approaches and aspects of prepping . In addition to appearing on the hit National Geographic television show, Blevins is also an accomplished author and former law enforcement officer. Jay has opted for the group prepping method of survival. As shown during his segment on the show, Jay has developed a prepping network to help protect his suburban neighborhood. During the show, Blevins and his neighbors ran through a disaster drill showcasing their self-defense skills when banding together to protect a home. While some preppers prefer an “OPSEC” method of survival, the group prep plan appears to be working well for Blevins. His group consists of fifteen other families, all of which routinely participate in emergency drills.
When the term prepping first became a part of our everyday vernacular, most of the information shared online and in books detailed how to craft an escape plan and what items should go into a bug-out bag. American preppers have those concepts down pat now and are eager to consume far more tactical and disaster-specific advice. Preppers were once considered a part of the far-right fringe. Today, the concept of preparing for disaster and living a more self-reliant existence has gone far more mainstream; there are approximately three million people identifying themselves as “preppers” in the United States.
Jay’s newest book, Survival and Emergency Preparedness Skills, or SEPS, goes into great detail about both the physical and mental skills needed to survive a disaster. The beyond-the-bug-out-bag novel began as an informative supplement Blevins was adding to the emergency kits he was putting together for friends and family but later grew into more.
Interview with Jay Blevins:
OTG: During your appearance on National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers , your law enforcement background played a significant role in your preparedness plans. How big of a role did what you experienced while dealing with criminals on the street impact the way your approach prepping?
Jay: Of any career I’ve had, my time as a deputy sheriff in the Washington, D.C. area shaped my approach to prepping. First, the training was invaluable. Second, that experience allowed me to see the unfortunate realities of the human race. I’m not jaded, but I’m far from naive about the evils that people are capable of inflicting on each other.
That experience opened my eyes to the reality, that if certain people will victimize their fellow citizens under normal circumstances, how much worse they will be in emergency situations. It taught me that there are some people who cannot be reasoned with, talked down, or stopped from harming you or others without the use of force, and so I know I need to have ways to protect myself and my loved ones as part of my preps.
OTG: Some preppers prefer to go about their planning alone, or with a small group of family members; others prefer a community style approach. During the Doomsday Preppers episode in which you appeared, there appeared to be at least a neighborhood-wide approach. Why did you decide to create prepper network?
Jay: I believe in the idea of having a critical mass of people in order to truly survive. I’m not so prideful as to say I have a deep expertise of every skill needed to survive. As a network, we cover all of those skills. From medical specialists, to outdoor survival skills specialists, to hunters, trappers, nurses, cooks, etc., we have every skill covered that is necessary for extended survival. There is also safety in numbers and mutual assistance.
Sure, I understand why many preppers don’t want to tell others about their supplies and/or about what they do, and I respect that. I just think I have a better chance of survival having a close-knit, trusted group of preppers to work with.
OTG: How do you feel about the way you were portrayed in the National Geographic series and the perception of the show?
Jay: For only having fifteen minutes to fit twenty-four full hours of filming into, I think NatGeo did an outstanding job of telling our story. There were aspects of my writing and our faith I had hoped would make the show, but because we’ve had so many other TV, radio, print, and internet opportunities, we’ve had a chance to supplement information the show wasn’t able to get to.
OTG: What preparedness tips can you give specifically to those who live in suburban areas?
Jay: Tap into local resources … neighbors, emergency responders, utilities, and find out what emergencies have had the most profound affect in the last 20 years. Have plans to shelter in place, as well as to bug out. Don’t wait until things get bad to bug out … get out before everyone else gets that idea. Have multiple bug out locations and routes picked out. Most importantly, know the basic skills like land nav, self-defense, etc. Don’t just rely on technology like GPS. In the worst case scenarios, some of the best technologies fail.
Check back later today for part two of our discussion with Jay!
— Jay Blevins (@jayblevinsTLF) April 19, 2013