Written by: Ismael Barrios
Hundreds of TV series and movies depict various perspectives on what "the end of the world" could look like, whether caused by natural disasters, outbreaks, or government collapse. These films, primarily for entertainment, present numerous possibilities and challenges that might one day befall humanity. They make you think about how you would act in these characters' positions and whether you believe you could handle such situations or if they make you reconsider your entire life plan.
Over the past several years, people across the United States have started preparing for the worst, particularly given the pandemic and US political instability. Millions of survivalists are stockpiling supplies in large quantities and equipping themselves with knowledge and weapons. Doomsday prepping expert John Ramey estimates that approximately "15 million Americans are actively prepping right now." He also states that last year, close to 10 percent of US households engaged in doomsday prepping, compared to just 2-3% before the pandemic.
Some may view these individuals as merely paranoid or conspiracy theorists. However, if the world were to fall into crisis, we might be grateful that so many people had the foresight to prepare for the unknown. These survivalists have thought out plans, solutions, and everything necessary to keep themselves and their families safe. They may seem crazy now, but what would you think of them during a crisis, should one occur?
Numerous common quotes emphasize the importance of preparation, such as "if you stay ready, you don't have to get ready" and "it's better to be overprepared and underwhelmed than it is to be underprepared and overwhelmed." These sayings reveal the survivalist mindset: not negative or pessimistic, but recognizing that anything can happen at any given time. People keep fire extinguishers not because they view others' cooking negatively but to be prepared for any possibility of a fire, whether from the kitchen, an electrical malfunction, or an unattended candle. Over the years, many feel that they have more and more reasons to prepare.
Doomsday preppers have been publicly known since the 1950s during the Cold War. Although Americans had been prepping for many years before, the Cold War seemed to normalize these safety procedures. Nearly 70 years later, survivalists have evolved and become even more innovative. What was once considered a backup plan due to paranoia surrounding the war is now a backup plan for any negative outcome for the country. Events like the pandemic, the attack on the Capitol, the war in Ukraine, inflation, and riots have all contributed to increased "paranoia." More people are realizing the need to take control into their own hands instead of relying on anyone or anything else. Being one step ahead of whatever you may be preparing for is a key focus for many survivalists.
Over time, survivalists have developed "game plans" for various situations, often referred to as "bug-out" plans. These plans are practiced by family members of all ages and sometimes even animals. They involve knowledge of bug-out spots and, in most cases, bug-out bags. They may also have bug-out vehicles and routes in case they need to travel on foot for any reason.
Many preppers are trained and equipped with firearms or weapons to ensure their security. They stock up on food through various preservation methods, such as smoking, freeze-drying, nitrogen sealing, vacuum sealing, and dehydrating meats and other foods. They also plan to replenish their food supplies through hunting, farming, and gardening, both soil-based and hydroponic. In addition, they store non-perishable foods and items with a long shelf life, such as canned foods, granola bars, rice, coffee, tea, and MREs. Hygiene supplies and other essential items are also stockpiled, along with items that can be used for bartering. Many survivalists believe that regular currency, such as the dollar, will lose its value or effectiveness when SHTF (S— hits the fan), as they often say. In addition to supplies, most preppers have bunkers, reinforced homes, or other forms of specific security for their "bug-out locations," each with a precise countermeasure in place to protect their valuables and lives.
Critics often label doomsday preppers as obsessed or extreme. However, most preppers view their efforts as helping others survive, no matter how "annoying or weird" they may appear. Over the years, various events have contributed to the increase in prepping.
Although not everyone agrees or participates, many businesses have sprung up to cater to this growing market, offering supplies and shelters for those involved. Some preppers may not prefer pre-made survival kits because they are tailored to someone else's standards, but these markets still serve many customers and assist them in their quest for self-preservation.
While it may not always be apparent, thousands of individuals are prepared for situations that you might never expect to encounter outside of a screen. Despite differing opinions within and outside the prepper community, most doomsday preppers believe that those who don't listen or realize the importance of preparation before it's too late will regret it.