Over on the Living Ready Magazine Facebook page, the question was asked the other day about how to define the term “prepper.” (Of course, I don’t see the post now but I swear it was there yesterday.) As a writer, I make at least part of my living through words. Therefore, I have a tendency to think a lot about their meanings. Perhaps I think too much about it from time to time but so be it, sue me.
What is it that makes a person a prepper? How would we differentiate between a prepper and, say, a homesteader? Well, here’s how I look at it.
A prepper is someone who is actively taking steps to provide for their needs and the needs of their family during times of crisis. A mom who make a conscious decision to set aside some extra food in case the family breadwinner gets laid off? Yep, she’s a prepper. A husband who has purchased several cases of bottled water and stashed them in the basement, just in case? Sure, he’s a prepper too. The college kid who has a bug out bag squirreled away in his dorm closet? Absolutely a prepper.
The homesteader is a prepper if not by intention then just by a matter of course. He or she is engaged in providing for the family’s needs through growing gardens or crops, raising chickens or other animals, and other self-reliant endeavors. Of course they would be considered preppers, though they might not think of it that way.
It is sort of like those logic puzzles many of us hated in school. All homesteaders may be preppers but not all preppers are homesteaders.
The reason for prepping need not be a concern about any “end of the world” scenario either. Let’s take a closer look at the mom I mentioned earlier. She’s primarily a stay-at-home mom to a couple of kids, though she has a part-time job she works a few evenings a week to help make ends meet. Her husband has been working at the same job for about eight years now. Raises have been few and far between the last couple years due to the economy and there has been talk about the company moving some jobs overseas. Wanting to provide for her family as best she can, mom starts adding a few extra cans of food to the grocery cart each week. Not cases and cases of veggies, mind you, just a few here and there as sale prices permit. Maybe she grabs an extra turkey before Thanksgiving and puts it into the chest freezer, along with a ham at Christmas. Before long, she’s put together enough extra food to last at least a few weeks, perhaps a couple months if they are really careful.
She gives almost no thought to dire predictions about the end of the world as we know it. She’s much more concerned about what she feels are more realistic disasters, like unemployment. Though she’d never call herself one, she’s a prepper down to the bone.
My point is this — many people out there are indeed preppers, they just don’t think of it in the same way. Shows like Doomsday Preppers are partially to blame for this. They tend to focus on the outlandish aspects of prepping, end of the world scenarios, that sort of thing. It isn’t necessarily all bad, of course, but the end result is many people who are interested in disaster readiness get turned off by the gloom and doom. They want to know how to provide for their family if they are stranded at home for a week due to weather and they instead are inundated with information about FEMA camps and black helicopters.
What is a prepper? Someone with common sense who wants to be prepared for life’s big and little emergencies. It really is that simple.