There was a show on TV a couple years ago called "Doomsday Preppers." It garnered a lot of comments, all the way from people who thought those depicted on the show were complete loony tunes, to others who agreed that doomsday is imminent in one way or another.
While the series covered some people who could be considered extreme, if not the lunatic fringe, some of them came across as pretty normal. In the real world there are many people who believe in being prepared, even if they reject the sobriquet, "prepper."
A few years ago our part of the country was hit by a devastating ice storm in February. Roads were blocked by snow, ice, fallen trees and power lines, and electricity was shut off for thousands and thousands of residents. Luckily, water was not shut off for most people for any significant length of time.
The electrical grid was cut off at our house for 20 days. Because of our lifestyle, we were only moderately disadvantaged. We had a camp stove and lantern, both of which work on unleaded gas. The quilts my mom is so famous for making made nights almost luxuriant. My wife's parents live in an area that was virtually unaffected by the storm, so they loaned us a generator. We started it for about an hour in the morning to run the fan on our gas furnace and take the edge off the chill. In the evening we did the same to take a shower. The refrigerator and freezer were plugged in at the same time (via an "octopus") so that our food wouldn't go bad as a result of keeping our house moderately warm. We ate from the plentiful canned food in our cabinets or from the beef we had frozen after raising a calf.
My studio is heated by a gas stove that doesn't rely on electricity to work, so we also had the option of staying out there and just letting the house stay cold.
Without knowing it, we were already preppers.
Within the past decade our area has had a devastating tornado, a flood, and an ice storm. Most everyone has at least heard about "our fault," the New Madrid fault line, and felt small earthquakes. During the last major series of quakes, the New Madrid earthquakes of the winter of 1811/12, the earth moved like waves on the ocean; buildings and animals were swallowed by formerly solid earth; and the Mississippi River ran backwards. Reelfoot Lake was formed from what had been dry ground. Read a little about it here: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1811%E2%80%9312_New_Madrid_earthquakes). According to scientists, we are due to experience something like that again at any time. Ever heard of an EMP (electromagnetic pulse)? They can be either naturally occurring or manmade. A natural one happened in the 1800s that knocked out the vast majority of electronics and electrical systems in the WORLD. A big one now would not only knock out our electric grid, it would permanently disable unprotected electronic equipment, automobiles, etc. According to a government commission that looked into these things, approximately two-thirds of the U.S. population would die from starvation, disease and societal chaos within one year of a massive EMP attack by a foreign country. That is SERIOUS folks.
As recently as fifty years ago, it was very common for country people to spend much of the year canning fruits and vegetables, to be eaten in the winter when fresh ones were not available. As a kid I ate a lot of meals of green beans or tomatoes, or that included sweet pickles that my mom had canned. Some people still "put up" food every year. Guess what? Those people are preppers.
At the same time, there were still quite a few people who picked wild edibles like "poke salad", wild asparagus, plums, wild "choke" cherries, and more. I used to love the jellies my mom made after we picked black berries from the wild patch on our farm. We had a lot of fun picking them too. I still chuckle when I remember Mom telling me not to pick the red berries, because, "They are red instead of black because they are green."
I've painted a pretty bleak picture of the possibilities, but a few relatively simple preparations can make a big difference in the impact these emergencies can have on you and your loved ones.
FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Association actually recommends that everybody keep a supply of food and water on hand for emergencies, such as the aforementioned ice storm or the hurricanes and tornadoes that parts of the US see every year. See, even the US government believes in prepping. Check out their website (www.fema.gov) and do a search for "booklet". I urge you to download and read their booklet, "Preparing for Disaster". It will guide you through preparing a plan and assembling an emergency kit. Those two things alone could be the difference in something horrible happening to your family and only having a mildly uncomfortable time with stories to tell about your adventure.
If it made the difference in even a period of discomfort and hunger and one of relative comfort and enough food, wouldn't you like to be a prepper too?