What Is a Prepper? Everything You Need to Know

The word prepper has both a negative and positive connotation, depending on who you’re talking to. Some people picture a crazy person building a bunker during the Cold War, and many believe they are prepping for something that will never happen.

However, a prepper is much more than that even if they seem like they’re exaggerating the future possibilities of a nuclear Armageddon. A prepper thinks that no problem is insurmountable if you’re determined and plan for every possible scenario.

They are determined and family-oriented people who sacrifice a leisurely lifestyle today to survive a possible disaster and sustain their lifestyle afterward. Here are some things that you need to know about preppers before you rush to judgment.

What Is Prepping?

The dictionary definition of prepping is “the action or process of preparing something, or preparing for something” or “the practice of making active preparations for a possible catastrophic disaster or emergency, typically stockpiling food, ammunition, and other supplies.” Prepping is a way of life.

Today, people no longer remember how to fend for themselves without assistance from society or the government. We are reliant on prescription medicines, technology, and government funding. If society, as we know it today, crumbled, many people around the world would not know how to survive or have the necessary supplies to do so.

Prepper vs. Survivalist

Many people use the word survivalist interchangeably with prepper, but there is a difference. Survivalists focus on learning woodsmen and primitive skills but don’t stock up on essential supplies.

They are similar because many survivalists are also preppers since they build a repository of necessary items and live the prepper lifestyle. Similarly, some preppers are survivalists and can live and thrive off-grid.

Timeline of the Prepper Movement

The prepper movement started decades ago. Here’s a look at the timeline of the prepper movement.

Before Y2K

Before Y2K, preppers focused on Cold War concerns, such as how to survive a nuclear war. They called themselves survivalists, and leaders of these groups included Kurt Saxon, Howard Ruff, Ragnar Benson, Mel Tappan, and Jeff Cooper. A lot of the activity centered around water purification, food storage, and underground bunkers. Many other people read Mother Earth News and dreamed of dropping out of society and homesteading as a means of survival.

Y2K Preppers

Remember Y2K when everybody thought the world was going to stop because of the computer programming shortcut that was going to wreak havoc when the year changed from 1999 to 2000? Computer technology back then only allowed for the last two digits of the year (00-99) instead of four, which would be necessary for the years after 2000.

Y2K preppers focused on fuel, food, and power since computers controlled everything. Many “temporary” preppers bought generators, gas, and large supplies of food. Prepping became mainstream, but temporary preppers returned to normal life once the threat ceased to exist.

Contemporary Preppers

After 9-11 and various bombings all over the world, the interest in self-reliance and readiness increased. Several natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and tsunamis in Japan and Chile caused the prepping lifestyle to gain momentum. Many preppers realized that they needed to make a life-change to become more self-reliant and plan for the worst. Their overwhelmed governments would not be coming to help.

2012 Mayan prophecies further fueled the prepper movement. Television shows and movies that focus on preparedness have further made prepping more popular. Many people still consider the movement on the fringe of society, but even the federal government promotes preparedness for disasters of all kinds. Ready.gov is a great resource for people who want to be prepared for hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, illnesses, and diseases, as well as many other disastrous events that could separate people from community resources.

Preppers today are focused on economic stability and disasters, as well as on other countries attacking the U.S. using nuclear bombs and Electro-Magnetic Pulse technology. People don’t view modern preppers as negatively as they used to.

Beginner Prepper Mistakes and Tips to Help You Prep

Now that you know what a prepper is and what they prep for, you may decide that you want to join the prepping movement in America. It might seem overwhelming when you think of the types of supplies that you need to stockpile. Here are some tips for beginners and common mistakes new preppers make.

Sit down and make a checklist of the essential supplies you’ll need if your resources are cut off, such as necessary survival gear, food, and vital first aid supplies. You don’t need to buy everything at once, but a list can tell you what you’ve purchased and what you need over time.

Make your own kits for things like essential first aid supplies. Premade ones are available, but the supplies are sometimes substandard.

You should start prepping as soon as possible because you never know when an emergency will occur. Good preppers are always prepared.

Connecting with other preppers is an excellent way to build strong friendships and support for your prepping activities. It’s always better to be around people who think like you and have a common goal.

Be practical with your prepping; you probably won’t need to prepare for a zombie apocalypse. Focus on the important things, and simplicity is best.

Don’t let prepping overwhelm you. You should enjoy life now and not spiral into the depths of despair, thinking of all the bad things that could happen. Take prepping a day at a time.

Most of us are on a budget, so don’t think you have to buy everything at once. It’s better to buy fewer higher-quality items instead of buying a lot of cheap things. You don’t have to spend huge amounts of money. Save money by purchasing things secondhand or DIY things, but don’t buy things from the dollar store.

Today, prepping for the worst-case scenario is not viewed as negatively anymore, with all the natural and manmade events occurring around the world. It’s important that you balance your life with living it to the fullest now but being prepared in an emergency. Any catastrophic event could last three days or three weeks. There’s no way to know. If you decide it’s the lifestyle for you, planning for the worst isn’t such a crazy idea anymore.


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