Today in a new installment of ask-a-prepper we talk to Pat, a well known author from the PrepperJournal.com and renowned prepper. He gives us some amazing answers and insights that are very helpful and useful. Thank you Pat.
How long have you been prepping for?
I have been prepping since late 2007. It was around that time that I started purchasing books like How To Survive The End of The World As We Know it by James Wesley Rawles. Searching on the internet led me to videos and articles and websites. Survivalblog.com was probably the first I started going to regularly, but I think Captain Dave’s Survival was the first site I started reading while I was waiting for my car to get serviced one day. It hasn’t been updated in forever, but from there I started researching everything else and wound up in some very interesting places.
Any reason why you began prepping? A specific event?
There was no specific event and my family has never been through any disaster thankfully. To be honest, it was a gut feeling that I still have to this day that something is going to happen. I don’t know what it will be but I just have a sense that bad times are on the horizon. While thinking about all of this and researching, I was also enlightened to how fragile our society is so my big feeling of impending doom sits side by side with the practical side of me. Even if no major SHTF event ever happens, normal life is filled with plenty of scenarios that could catch us off guard and we need to prepare for those as well.
Do you live in an Urban setting or a rural one?
I live in a very Suburban setting in a decent sized town on less than an acre of land. Fortunately, we are miles from a lot of farmland in any direction and there are hundreds of acres of woods nearby, plenty of lakes and ponds and wildlife is pretty plentiful.
If the time comes are you bugging out or in?
The initial plan will be to bug in but I like to say reality always gets a vote. If needed, we have the supplies and experience to bug out on foot, but lack any definite place to go unfortunately. Things would have to be very bad for us to leave but we are able if the need arises.
Has prepping changed your lifestyle?
I don’t know if it has changed my lifestyle really. We still do the same things we did before I started prepping and hang around with the same people. Prepping has caused me to evaluate choices in life with a different lens than I did before. It certainly has a seat at the table whenever decisions are being made and it is like my silent partner in that respect. If we are choosing how to spend money for example, I have my wants and needs and all of that is filtered through the lens of how could this choice impact us if the grid went down.
Do your preps include an underground shelter or bunker?
I wish! My kids will tell you that is my dream and they would only be half-way kidding. No, survival bunkers are way out of my price range and I don’t live anywhere that I could have one installed without hundreds of people knowing about it quickly. That would defeat the whole purpose of having one, but I will say that if I won the lottery, it would be in the ground underneath my survival retreat, surrounded by castle walls and a moat filled with crocodiles with lasers on their heads.
If times ever got tough would you work solo or with a support group?
A group would be ideal for a wide variety of reasons and I can’t see going it alone unless we were forced to by radical circumstances like we were the only people that survived a plague or something cataclysmic. We aren’t overly social, but we would band together with good, like-minded people in a crisis. There is safety in numbers and if times ever got that bad, you would want to have some substantial numbers with you. The problem would be who though as we haven’t vetted a large group to date. Getting to know strangers would take time, drastic situations and a lot of trust built upon experience with them.
If you could give a new prepper some advice based on your past mistakes, what would they be?
I don’t know if I would have what I call outright mistakes, but there are some things I might do differently. I think all new preppers should research everything before they pull the trigger and make any decisions. If you are new to prepping I would ask what you are prepping for? When you can visualize the reasons and articulate them to someone, it begins easy to make a plan. If you are prepping for hurricanes for example, what is your plan when the next one comes around? Once you have your plan, start making lists of what you need to do. From that list, you will likely need to purchase some items and make changes to your cars, homes, evacuation routes etc. These lists should be put into a priority that makes sense to you and just start going at that list in priority order but make sure you are leveling your preparations so that you don’t have a million gallons of water, but zero food or fuel for example.
Did your significant other have a problem with your prepping? Did he/she back you?
I have written about this on theprepperjournal.com and at first she thought I was crazy but that was due to how I came at her. Essentially, I had started researching all of these things and my mind was full of ideas, things to worry about and plans that I hadn’t shared with her. The plans were based upon my desire to protect my family and my gut-feeling that something big was coming but she didn’t know any of that. One night I just hit her with everything I wanted to do to be prepared without actually preparing her to hear what I had to say. Her response was that I was crazy so it was back to the drawing board. It took a lot of time, conversations and patience. In the end, I had to let life and current events prove my point for me. When there was a disaster and you would hear tragic tales of people being without power, looting and violence I would calmly talk to her about how I want to make plans for events like this. She couldn’t argue with that logic when a real live example of it was staring her right in the face. Now, she is almost 100% in my camp. She doesn’t buy some of the conspiracy theories I can see validity in, but she is on board with prepping for unforeseen events. She has just recently signed up for her concealed carry class too when at the start she had no interest in guns whatsoever. Now she can see the need for security and is taking proactive steps toward that shared goal.
Kids. If you have any are they incorporated? If so how? Were they hesitant on doing so?
My kids were young enough to see adventure when I started and could instantly grasp the concept of not wanting to suffer if the grid went down. They were instrumental in convincing my wife on a lot of things and I could pull them in using things like zombies which they related to on a fun/imaginary level. We would get things for the “zombie apocalypse” and my kids know this isn’t real, but in the back of their minds, they can see the usefulness if the undead were walking down our street. Hey, you never know…
Can you share any tips for the elderly or low income families who wish to prep but are unsure of how to start based on said age or income level?
Without taking poor health realities into consideration, elderly people need the same things as younger people do. Food, water, shelter and security. Stocking up extra water is the easiest thing you can do and shouldn’t cost much at all. Food might be a little more expensive, but rice and beans are very cheap even now. A couple of months of canned food could be the difference between life and death for anyone and shouldn’t break the bank. I would recommend a handgun at a minimum for anyone for protection. A shotgun would be better for defense of the home, but can be a little harder to wield quickly. Most of the people we talk about don’t have more than three days of food and water in their homes. If you can beat this average by a week, a month, three months then you are better off than probably 90% of the world. Start out slowly and build as you can, but start.
Doomsday Preppers. Has the show hurt or helped the prepping community?
I really think it has done a little of both. It has highlighted the lifestyle of prepping and demonstrated various ideas, thoughts and scenarios that get people thinking about their own lives. That is good and I am sure the prepping industry’s growth is some measure of how shows like this raise awareness. On the flip-side, I think this show choses people who are going to be interesting and maybe even slightly eccentric because who wants to watch a normal family making normal preparations. From that aspect, the show tends to highlight people on the fringe and now Doomsday Prepper is used by the media to describe anyone who goes off the reservation. Overall, even with the negative press I think shows like this are raising an awareness and more people are at the bare minimum thinking about how to prepare and survive.
Does your extended family or friends give you slack about prepping?
Not really at all. Of course, I haven’t completely opened up to them about everything I have and prepare for. They do know that we have firearms and supplies just in case and I think both me and my wife are able to present this as common sense preparedness that is really hard to argue with. Now, if I was putting in that bomb shelter, that might be a tough one to explain.
If nothing happens in your lifetime or children’s lifetime for that matter, would you feel that you wasted your time and money?
Not at all and that is honestly my prayer for the future. I would love nothing better to be sitting in a rocking chair when I am 100 years old, holding my great, great grandchildren on my lap while I am surrounded by my whole family as they laugh at me for all my crazy ideas that never came to pass. I don’t think that is going to happen though so I am betting against a future like that. Either way, I win in the end I think. If I am wrong, we are all fine. If I am right we are prepared.
Want to give some advice to a new prepper?
There are dozens of great blogs out there, books, videos and even movies that cover the subject of prepping. If this is something that has piqued your interest or like me you have a gut feeling that something bad is just over the horizon, start learning now what is possible. Use the time you have to start preparing and working with others to share your knowledge in a way they will understand and be open to.
Here is a fun question. If you had to pick one item to aid you on a deserted island… what would it be?
I would pick my wife. That might be cheating, but I would rather have her with me than just about any other supply. If my wife is disqualified, it would be my survival knife. I don’t think there is another single supply unless we are talking about a satellite phone that is more useful when you are trying to survive than a sharp knife.
Last words or thoughts you wish to share?
David I would like to thank you for the opportunity to share this with others on your site. I hope that in some way this information will be useful to anyone who is looking for ideas or motivation on how to prepare their family for disasters, small or large. You do not need the government to help you; you have all the tools within your own control if you just take practical steps now. Good luck and thank you again!