End Times

Prepping Now $40 Billion Industry In U.S.?

Last week, I blogged about a Chicago Tribune article on the current state of “prepping” in America.

Last night I came across another insightful piece on the status of prepping in the U.S. on The Daily Universe (Brigham Young University) website in which Sarah Averett reported Monday:

Preparing for emergencies has become a hobby and lifestyle for an increasing number of people throughout the U.S. who call themselves “preppers.”

Preppers are enthusiasts of all things emergency preparedness, ranging from interests in survivalist techniques and homesteading to food storage and first aid. The term “prepper,” popularized by National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers series, refers to people who put time, money and effort into learning skills and collecting items that will help them become more self-reliant.

The prepper world has experienced exponential growth in recent years, according to preppers throughout the U.S.

“It’s really hard to identify exactly how many preppers there are, but since 2007, we’ve gone from a $10 million market to a $40 billion market space (nationally),” said Scott Stallings, founder and CEO of PrepperCon…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

An interesting read, which you view in its entirety here on The Daily Universe website.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Happy New Year

Just wanted to wish Survival And Prosperity readers a Happy New Year if you celebrate it on January 1.

In 2015, I’ll be striving to provide even more insight on this blog into “protecting and growing self and wealth in these uncertain times.”

Speaking about “uncertain times,” I still see America’s “financial reckoning day” down the road. I wish it wasn’t so, I don’t see it being the end of the world, but I believe the point-of-no-return for fixing what’s wrong has come and gone.

Regrettably, Washington and the Fed papering over the mess that became readily apparent to many by the autumn of 2008 only makes the coming crash that much more ugly.

Life is going to get a whole lot tougher for many Americans very soon. If I could have one more wish for the new year besides peace and prosperity for all mankind, it would be this:

Take advantage of this relative calm before the storm to try and blunt the pain I see ahead of us.

As such, I’ll be there in 2015 to point out signs of the coming carnage and to share insights into maintaining/improving one’s way of life in the face of such adversity.

Happy New Year,

Christopher E. Hill
Editor

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The Economist Magazine Investigates Preppers

“Some Americans find survivalists sinister. After Adam Lanza shot 26 people in a school in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, the media made much of the fact that his mother was a gun-stockpiling prepper. Yet there is no evidence that preppers in general are more dangerous than their compatriots. On the contrary, when natural disasters strike, it is useful to have neighbours who know how to stormproof a house and have bandages to spare.”

The Economist website, December 17, 2014

Late this morning, I stumbled on an article on The Economist website about preppers. I just finished reading “Preparing for the apocalypse: I will survive,” and thought I’d blog about it a little. The author (couldn’t find a name attached with the piece for some reason) did a pretty good job writing about preppers/survivalists, not falling victim to the usual stereotypes/generalizing echoed in a comment on the article. From “walrusandthecarpenter”:

Preppers are people who are unhappy with their life and can’t wait for the end of the world to come and the tables to turn. They are excited for it to happen.

Me? I like my smartphone. I have a first aid kit though.

“I like my smartphone.” What a goof.

Like I was saying, the author did a pretty good job (points deducted for trying to link those Westboro folks to preppers) with the material. I found what James Wesley, Rawles of SurvivalBlog.com-fame had to say particularly interesting. From the article:

So how might TEOTWAWKI come about? The biggest threat, says Mr Rawles, is a huge solar flare. The last big one, in 1859, known as the “Carrington Event”, disabled telegraph lines. A similar disaster today would “fry the circuitry” of electronic devices and take out the power grid “from end to end”. It would take years to reactivate. Perhaps 60% of the American population could die, predicts Mr Rawles…

I’ve seen some put that die-off figure at 90 percent.

There was also this about present-day preppers:

Survivalists vary politically—just as they are dispersed geographically—and their views colour their apocalyptic imaginings. Many are conservatives, worried about crime, terrorism and hyperinflation and sure that the state cannot be relied upon to protect ordinary citizens. But a fair number are environmentalists, convinced that the planet can only take so much abuse before it becomes uninhabitable. The movement is broad enough to encompass anyone who suspects that disaster is looming, for any reason. It used to be mostly “Bible-believing Christian conservatives”, says Mr Rawles, “But now we have a lot of alfalfa-munching Birkenstock-wearing leftists.” He adds: “The more the better.”

One more reason for me not to bash specific political ideologies/parties- except when they really ask for it, of course.

(Editor’s note: Any former readers of Boom2Bust.com out there remember when I used to savage “Dubya” and Hank Paulson? Thinking of that reminds me this giant economic mess belongs to both sides of the political aisle.)

Jason Charles, a New York firefighter of Doomsday Preppers-fame (blogged about here), is also featured in the piece.

You can read the well-written article in its entirety on The Economist website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Survivalism ‘Shouldn’t Come With A Bad Reputation’

“Survivalism: The stark ideology that may have led to killing of a Pennsylvania state trooper”

-Actual headline on the Washington Post website, September 17, 2014

“I love publishing material that readers can sink their teeth into and learn a lot from. I hope to do a lot more of it when things calm down on my end. At the same time, I will blog about some topics that might not be so informative- like prepping as a form of insurance, for example. Why’s that? It depends on the situation really. But in the case of “Prepping As Insurance,” I’m disappointed in how the mainstream media often portrays preppers/survivalists. Many times, the so-called Fourth Estate equates preparedness with anti-social behavior, paranoia (sound familiar?), and/or domestic terrorism. I like to point out that emergency preparedness (something Uncle Sam/other levels of government actively push- even while demonizing it in some instances) can be thought of as another form of insurance and one of our civic duties as American citizens (the emphasis on self-reliance/sufficiency frees up public safety resources in major emergencies) by its practitioners. Letting the idea fester in our society that prepping is BAD could ultimately result in way too many helpless Americans in a SHTF situation. My intention with this post- while not really one that is chock-full of knowledge- is to help torpedo that dangerous idea with hopes (dreams?) of a more resilient society once again.”

-One of my comments in a discussion about last Friday’s Survival And Prosperity post entitled “Prepping As Insurance”

I’ve always thought any negative associations with prepping/survivalism stemming from related “reality” TV shows like National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers were essentially harmless. As they were rolling out a couple of years ago, I trusted people would be able to figure out it’s only entertainment television– with some useful knowledge thrown in to keep more “demanding” viewers coming back for more. Entertainment TV with a good deal of shock and awe to ratchet up ratings and score as many advertising dollars as possible.

Several years on, and plenty of critics- particularly in the mainstream media- of preparedness/survivalism base their view at least in part of what they’ve seen on TV.

Doomsday Preppers Toilet Paper

Doomsday Preppers Toilet Paper


They just don’t get it. And if you ask me, in many cases it’s because they’ve haven’t researched the subject thoroughly enough (either by choice or lack of time).

And the ones that do but who still try and push the goofy idea that most- if not all- preppers/survivalists are authority-hating, machine gun-toting, wannabe special forces types who are two sandwiches short of a picnic and long for the end of the world (note I’m not including “as we know it” here) to remake it in their own image- well, don’t forget they’ve got newspapers/other media products to sell.

So it was with some relief that I encountered the following article yesterday on the WFMZ-TV 69 News (Allentown, Pennsylvania) website. Talking about the ongoing manhunt for alleged cop killer Eric Frein, 69 News staff wrote:

This weekend, 69 News spoke with the chief of the Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue about survivalists.

Mark Hopkins believes Frein will be able to evade police for a period of time, but police will catch up with him.

He says to a degree, everyone is a bit of a survivalist, and that description shouldn’t come with a bad reputation.

“I wouldn’t want to see that lumped together and think that all survivalists or all people that are doing this prepping stuff want to hurt people, because that’s not the case; this is clearly an outlawry,” Hopkins said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Everyone is a bit of a survivalist, and that description shouldn’t come with a bad reputation.”

Something the “haters” would do well to remember. But probably won’t, or choose not to out of self-interest or something else.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

“Survival expert believes police will catch up with Frein.” 69 News. 21 Sep. 2014. (http://www.wfmz.com/news/Regional-Poconos-Coal/survival-expert-believes-police-will-catch-up-with-frein/28175968). 22 Sep. 2014.

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National Geographic Channel Hosts Doomsday Preppers Blog Carnival

Last weekend, I wrote a post entitled, “What Effect Have (Post-) Apocalyptic-Themed TV Shows And Films Had On The Prepping Movement?” I did this as part of a “blog carnival” the National Geographic Channel is hosting on its website this week (I also participated in an earlier one back in March 2012). Kristin Montalbano posted the following Tuesday on the Doomsday Preppers Blog on the Nat Geo Channel site:

Judging from recent apocalyptic films This is the End and World War Z to “what if” disaster shows like NBC’s Revolution or Nat Geo Channel’s upcoming American Blackout, to reality fare like Doomsday Preppers, it’s safe to say that the “end of the world as we know it” is on everyone’s mind. But what effect has TV shows and films like these had on the prepping movement? We thought we’d poll some of the best and brightest in the preparedness community to find out what they thought.

“Some of the best and brightest in the preparedness community.” I’m incredibly flattered, and pretty sure I shouldn’t be counted among this group of prepper bloggers if only because I’m not much of a prepper, but someone who just covers prepping as part of my blog’s focus on financial and personal safety issues.

Anyway, the blog carnival featured posts from a number of preparedness bloggers over two days- October 22 and 23. On Tuesday, it was Gaye Levy of Backdoor Survival, “Erich” of TacticalIntelligence.net, Bernie Carr of The Apartment Prepper’s Blog, and “The Road Warrior” and “Jarhead Survivor” of SHTFBlog.com. On Wednesday, it was “Angela” of Food Storage and Survival, yours truly with Survival And Prosperity, “Silent Prepper” of Prepper Central, and Tara Dodrill of Common Sense Prepping.

I’ve only just begun reading the responses from carnival participants, but they’re very interesting from what I’ve perused so far.

Now, I’ve actually been lucky enough to meet some of these bloggers in person, and let me just tell you- they really seem to know their stuff. But don’t just take my word for it. Drop by the Doomsday Preppers Blog over at the National Geographic Channel website and check out their latest blog carnival:

Doomsday as Entertainment – Preparedness Bloggers Weigh In: Part 1
Doomsday as Entertainment – Preparedness Bloggers Weigh In: Part 2

A special thanks goes out to Nat Geo Channel’s Kristin Montalbano for organizing yet another terrific carnival. I think I can speak for all of the participating bloggers when I say thank you for giving us the opportunity to take part in this event.

Stop back tomorrow for more on the National Geographic Channel and a televised event that’s taking place this Sunday.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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What Effect Have (Post-) Apocalyptic-Themed TV Shows And Films Had On The Prepping Movement?

“i friggin LOVE “doomsday preppers”!”

-Milla Jovovich, American model and actress of Resident Evil-fame, Facebook post, November 24, 2012

Back in February 2012, the Daily Mail (UK) reported that “as many as three million Americans now fall into the category dubbed ‘preppers’- people who are making detailed plans for the end of the world as we know it.”

(Editor’s note: Most mainstream media outlets drop that “as we know it” bit out, which is a shame as there’s an important distinction to be made between preparing for the “end of the world as we know it” as opposed to the actual “end of the world” where such activity may be thought of as futile. Kudos to the the British publication for keeping this scenario “intact.”)

That the ranks of individuals taking up preparedness have grown significantly in the last couple of years while (post-) apocalyptic-themed television shows and big screen productions simultaneously exploded in popularity is probably not coincidence. As a matter of fact, it’s something the National Geographic Channel, as part of an upcoming “Blog Carnival,” is currently exploring. The American cable and satellite television channel wants to know what effect these TV shows and films have had on the prepping movement.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a strong correlation between the two. As more shows and movies of the (post-) apocalyptic genre were aired/released for public viewing, I can’t help but suspect increasing numbers of Americans bought into the idea of prepping.

I have a feeling the seed for prepping was already planted before watching such shows and films in many cases. Scientific and technological advancements in the Information Age have increased Americans’ knowledge of potential man-made and natural disasters beyond events fresh in the mind of many such as 9/11, 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, the Panic of ’08, 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, and April’s Boston Marathon Bombings. Viewing such productions on a TV in the family room or at a local movie theater might have made such threats feel closer to home, thereby prompting action.

So the TV shows and films may have served as some sort of prepping recruitment vehicle. Yet at the same time, the preppers portrayed in such media have more often than not been of the extreme sort. These individuals probably aren’t a good representative of your typical prepper, if only because there are many different kinds of preppers out there.

Not surprisingly, I’ve noticed a number of production companies and cable/satellite television channels have come under fire because of the way preppers are portrayed. I can understand why this is, as some believe such depictions only serve to fuel ridicule and potential persecution of preppers by a number of parties including the mainstream media and the government. However, keep in mind that cable/satellite television channels and production companies are part of the entertainment industry, where these extreme prepper types can be quite entertaining to watch (cha-ching!). Those behind the ridiculing and potential persecution of American citizens for merely fulfilling the federal government’s recommendations as it concerns household emergency preparedness should keep this in mind as well.

At the end of the day, it must be pointed out that preppers actually perform a major public service in the event of a community/regional/national emergency. That’s right. Think about it. Preppers strive to be able to take care of themselves, family, friends, and even neighbors in many cases in the event of a real crisis. That’s one less person or group of people public safety agencies need to attend to in a significant emergency, where resources are typically stretched thin already. Because preppers can assume this “sheepdog” role, police, fire, and other groups can focus their limited amount of resources on others (more often than not, those who didn’t prepare).

One might even argue here it should be the civic duty of Americans to prep if they can.

Imagine if every American household had a couple of weeks of emergency food, water, and other supplies socked away in case of emergency. The next time a man-made or natural disaster reared its ugly head, think how much smoother the emergency response might be, especially when compared to those recent events I listed earlier.

Returning to the National Geographic Channel’s question as to what effect (post-) apocalyptic-themed TV shows and films have had on prepping, despite often portraying more extreme prepper types (it’s just show business!), it’s my belief such productions have increased the ranks of preppers in the United States, thereby assisting public safety agencies across the United States in the event of a real disaster as preppers should be able to take care of themselves and a number of other individuals in many cases, freeing up limited resources to be applied elsewhere in the emergency response.

Thank you for doing this preppers!

And production companies and cable/satellite TV channels like the National Geographic Channel- go ahead and give yourselves a nice pat on the back as well.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Brady, Tara. “Fill the pool with fish and stockpile the guns: Up to THREE MILLION ‘Preppers’ in the U.S. are prepared for for the end of the world.” Daily Mail. 11 Feb. 2012. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2099714/Meet-preppers-Up-3-MILLION-people-preparing-end-world-know-it.html). 20 Oct. 2013.

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On TV: Doomsday Castle ‘Water From a Stone’ Review

Earlier this week, I found some time to watch the third episode of the new National Geographic Channel TV series, Doomsday Castle. “Water From a Stone” first aired on Tuesday, August 27.

In the prior episode, “A Stone From the Sling,” the family focused on accessing a sustainable food supply and on defending the road leading up to the castle via a medieval siege weapon. This time around? Brent Sr. said:

Today I’ve prepared an exercise for my kids so they can experience a real life situation. They’re going to be attacked by an unknown enemy. Their mission is to defend themselves and to defend this castle.

Basically, they worked on patrolling and defending from within the castle, learning how to use the protection it provides to their advantage.

The episode started off with the family- minus their father- patrolling the castle grounds with paintball equipment. Ghillie suit-clad Brent Sr., along with another individual, ambushed the “patrol” and cut the kids down one-by-one. Dad confided:

My kids failed miserably. I’m not going to be around forever. I need to know that they’ll be able to protect themselves.

Enter Mike Moore, a retired Army Ranger First Sergeant. Brent Sr. said:

All of our prepping will have been wasted if marauders can come and take over this castle. I have brought in Sergeant Mike to teach battle and weapons tactics so my kids can better defend the castle.

Michael and Linsdey were shown training with “Sergeant Mike,” while Brent Sr., Brent II, Ashley, and Dawn-Marie looked for a source of fresh water on the property, the other focus of this episode. Brent Sr. shared:

We definitely have plenty of water here. Only one problem. We have to figure out how to get it up 600 feet to the castle. And we’ve got to make sure it’s pure.

Lindsey’s and Michael’s training didn’t go so smooth. The middle daughter self-admittedly floundered while providing cover fire for Michael as the two attacked Sergeant Mike in the castle. Michael confided:

I can’t defend this castle all by myself. But at the same time, it’s not like I can really depend on my brother or my sisters in an end of days attack situation. Survival. This is life and death, and they need to realize that.

Brent Sr. brought in Scott Hunt, a fellow prepper and water expert, to help tackle the water problem. Hunt, who featured in the Doomsday Preppers pilot (reviewed here) and assesses preparations of other “doomsday preppers” on the popular show via his company, Practical Preppers, helped the family construct a solar power gravity collection system for the family. This system “consists of an earthen dam at the head of a mountain spring that collects water and feeds a series of filters that clean out dirt and bacteria. The water is driven through the system by a pump that is powered by solar panels situated on the castle perimeter.”

As Scott and a number of family members pieced together the new water system, tempers flared as Dawn-Marie and Ashley insisted on fabricating a zipline to haul down the gravel and clay for the project rather than carrying the material down the hill. While the concept may have been good, implementing it took too long. Brent Sr. revealed:

I was so frustrated with these kids. Not only are we losing daylight, but I’ve reached my absolute limit.

Frustration followed the family home that day, leading Brent II to draw up a “family constitution,” rules of conduct family members would agree to abide by, and which Dawn-Marie initially didn’t sign.

The next day, Sergeant Mike trained Brent II and Dawn-Marie on weapons, while Brent Sr. took Michael and Lindsey along with him to work with Scott on the new water system. After adjusting a solar panel, water started flowing way up at the castle. Brent Sr. explained:

When the End Time comes, our solar pump system will produce hundreds of gallons of clean water every day.

Nicely done Scott.


“Doomsday Water”
YouTube Video

The episode ended with a simulated night assault on the castle using paintball guns again. Being informed of the attack beforehand, the family was assigned the task of defending the castle. Twin Michael didn’t like Brent II being appointed team leader beforehand for that night’s exercise, and after the family failed to hold the castle, the two got into a shoving match, with Brent Sr. having to step in and keep them apart.

Some thoughts about “Water From a Stone”:

I thought the use of paintball guns for weapons training was a good idea, considering the castle sits on all that land and a lot of that instruction can take place outdoors. Still, I wonder how easy it is to get yellow paint off castle stone. Brent Sr. said in the episode:

Paintball might seem like a game, but it’s really an effective way to learn tactical techniques, teamwork, and strategy.

I like the fact that outside experts were brought in to help with the family’s weapons training and water system. While there’s a lot to be said for taking care of such things in-house, as a viewer, I was interested in seeing how the “pros” tackled such challenges. Take Scott Hunt’s solar power gravity collection system for the water on the castle property. Would the family have come up with the same solution without outside help?

While “Water From a Stone” provided viewers some food for thought, the “reality” TV aspect was ratcheted up quite a bit in this episode- to my disappointment.

I’m curious- do any readers who watch the show actually like the drama?

Anyway, as Brent Sr. acknowledged at the end of “Water From a Stone,” the family continues to make progress on the castle, which is good.

For more information about Doomsday Castle, visit the National Geographic Channel website here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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