Unless you live in a cave, you've probably lived through the End of the World at least a few times, I know I have. Events like 2012 and Y2K have come and gone and we're still here. That's not to say the world, or at least the world as we know it, doesn't face a variety of very serious threats both natural and man-made.
I don't know when the world will end, but I do know that predicting it is big business and there are plenty of people making a fortune in the "Prepper" market.
"Prepper" has become a pejorative term and is used by the media to conjure images of camo-clad para-military types hunkered down in bunkers downing MRE's. Now there is nothing wrong with camo, bunkers or MRE's (I like the bbq beef ones) but the stereotype includes a scent of wild-eyed paranoia that tars a whole cohort of Just in Case thinkers who have the forethought to "put up" what their family needs. By that definition, our Mamas' Mamas and everyone before them were preppers.
To be honest, if my neighborhood is hit by a tornado or if the power in my town goes out for an extended period of time, I sincerely hope ALL my neighbors are preppers. Prepared people are less likely to panic or roam the streets looting stores. If my neighbors are prepared, I don't have to worry that they are hungry or cold so I can focus on my family without feeling guilty. If my neighbors and I are prepared, the government supplies or food won't have to be stretched to include us.
Preparedness is a higher order of Just in Case thinking. Preparedness is having a Plan B...a work-around for something that we rely on that has stopped functioning; things like electricity, running water, sewage disposal, sources of food, etc. Building up your pantry is Preparedness activity as well as a great, money-saving way to provide healthy food for your family.
Being prepared doesn't make you a nut. In fact, there have been and will continue to be so many times when the power grid fails or the roads are closed or the flood waters rise, that not being prepared seems more nutty to me.
Ice Storm of 1998
Many power lines broke and over 1,000 transmission towers collapsed in chain reactions under the weight of the ice, leaving more than 4 million people without electricity, most of them in southern Quebec, western New Brunswick and Eastern Ontario, some of them for an entire month. At least twenty-five people died in the areas affected by the ice, primarily from hypothermia, according to Environment Canada. Twelve more deaths and hundreds of millions of dollars in additional damage were caused by the flooding farther south from the same storm system
Not being prepared for the power to go out for two weeks caused a lot of stress and suffering in my family that wouldn't have happened otherwise. I wasn't prepared because it hadn't happened before so it hadn't ever really occurred to me that it could happen. That's how we get caught unprepared. Humans seem to be hard-wired to think that things will always be as they are or as they are usually. We seldom stretch our minds around the"what if" possibility. What if there was no power? What if there was no gas? What if there was no grocery store? What if there was no drinking water? What if the trashman didn't come once a week? What if all five of the kids were stuck at home, inside for two whole weeks without tv? Millions of people endure extended power outages every year.
There's also personal catastrophes that happen at the worst possible time and can derail us very quickly. I've had a few of those, and I imagine you have too (or know someone who did). Things like:
- Job loss
- Extended illness or death of a loved one
- Single parenthood
- Extended absence
There are many more, but you get the idea. These are the things that can sweep through without warning and, like a wildfire, just burn your whole life to the ground. I lost a very secure job literally overnight...twice! My husband went to return movies to the video store and never came home. Most recently, my beautiful, 24 year old niece passed away suddenly. Never, in a million years, would I ever have thought that any of those things would happen, but they did and I was caught unprepared each time. My neighborhood and my town didn't feel a thing, but my family was rocked to its foundations. We can't really prepare for a specific personal disaster, but if we've been practicing preparedness in other areas, it can lighten the load. A well-stocked pantry that can eliminate trips to the grocery store will go a long way toward easing the financial burden that comes with a personal disaster.
Each month we feature a Just in Case item that can help you with your work-arounds. Some of the items are a little expensive, like a water purifier and solar generator, but they go a long way to making a hard situation much easier. I plan some of the bigger purchases around tax time if I'm getting a refund (in years past, I've spent my tax refunds and had nothing at all to show for them) or I'll use my Rainy Day Fund.