Being Prepared without being a Prepper

I do not know what it is, but prepper culture is huge right now. I don’t know if it is the success of television shows like The Walking Dead, or fact that we now have a culture who has lived through Y2K, 9/11, the end of the Mayan Calendar, and as of last Saturday, the end of the Viking Calendar. Since I have been accused of being a prepper several times in the last few weeks, I wanted to give this some discussion.

There is a HUGE difference in being prepared for natural and man-made disasters, and stockpiling everything, getting ready to live off the grid for years at a time, and looking forward, some with eager anticipation, to “the end of the world as we know it.” One is being prudent, one is being a fear monger.

In the last few weeks we have had two ice storms, a tornado, and an earthquake in and near Milledgeville. Going back further, we can add a bomb threat leading to a campus evacuation and automobile accidents leading to power outages to the list. While these are not events that would lead to the end of the world, they are events that could make a big difference is your life, at least for the short term.

Everyone is different, and so being prepared means something different to each person. We have a lot of storms in our area, but not many earthquakes. So, it is more important to be ready for a storm. Ice storms, while they have happened twice in the past month, are generally a every 2-3 year occurrence.

So, what should you have to be prepared, without going to the level of being a prepper? Here are some of my thoughts. There are two things you need to think about. What do you need, and where do you need it. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs comes into play here. While self-actualization is good, it is not what you’re going to be thinking about when you do not have food and shelter.

As for where, think about where you spend most of your time and what would happen while you were there. Most of us are normally either at home, at work/school, or in our car. If you get iced in at your home and the lights and water go out, what would you do? What about at work? What about in your car? It does you no good to prepared at one place, but have nothing at the others. What you need at each location varies. Your goal for each location would also vary. For example, if you were at work or in your car, your goal would most likely to be to get home. Where, if you were at home, you’d want to be able to hunker down and make it through whatever the problem was.

Every individual’s level of preparation is going to be different. It could be as simple as having a blanket and flashlight in your car, although I strongly encourage you to at least add jumper cables, walking shoes, some snacks, and bottled water to that list. Keep some peanut butter, crackers, and water in your dorm room or office in case there’s an extended lockdown. Flashlights would also come in handy there. Think through how you would contact your family if the telephone and cell phone networks are down or overloaded (Hint: getting a text message out is easier than a voice call).

Both the federal government and the State of Georgia have extensive resources and lists of things to think about. Or, you can even go on some prepper sites. Just keep in mind that you are more likely to need the kit for 72-96 hours due to a storm than for the end of the world as we know it.

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