One Flew Over the Prepper’s Nest
“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” – John. F. Kennedy
In an iconic scene from the classic movie Tremors, Burt and Heather Gummer – crude Hollywood caricatures of the prepper persona – successfully defend themselves against a massive underground worm-like monster. That particular Graboid clearly chose the wrong prepper bunker to burrow into.
Prepper is a somewhat derogatory term used to describe someone for whom independence and self-sufficiency are key priorities. In popular culture, preppers are routinely depicted as paranoid, anti-social, and even as potential domestic terrorists. I’m a prepper, and I can assure you I’m none of those things. Okay, maybe I’m a little paranoid.
As I explained in my recent appearance on The Grant Williams Podcast, I think a lot about preparedness, especially considering the new risks of shortages due to the ongoing collapse of just-in-time supply chains. Thoughtful preparedness can be viewed as both an insurance policy against unexpected emergencies and as a useful hedge against inflation. It is also a decently interesting hobby, as long as you don’t go too far down the internet rabbit hole.
That interview with Grant triggered a wave of emails from readers curious to hear more on this topic specifically. A quite colorful recount from a reader caught short-handed inspired us to scratch out an introductory lesson.
“On the Grant Williams Podcast you mentioned that you are a passionate prepper and that you had a lengthy discussion with Demetri Kofinas about it. Will this conversation be made public or where would you point an interested person to? Somebody living in London, trying to understand how to mitigate potential upcoming risks/shortages.
Fun story to add here. We recently (second lockdown) had a massive pipe burst that was supplying 10-15 postcodes in London. In the afternoon the water only slowed down and I didn't feel the urgent need to buy water for us and our 5-month-old child at the time. After finishing work (home office) the water stopped completely. Drinking water was not that big of an issue for us yet but the toilet. I had to go out to get some water. All the shops around us had sold out of water. The only available water I could find was strawberry flavoured... Well. That was the first time in my life that I flushed my toilet with strawberry water!”
Without further ado…
I think of my house as a factory. The products of my factory are the health, well-being, and comfort of my loved ones. For most home factories, the four main inputs are goods and services, water, electricity, and natural gas. The two main waste outputs are garbage and sewage. My personal preparedness plan involves modeling my response to losing any of these inputs or outputs for various lengths of time. In the most extreme scenario, I believe I could guide my family through losing all six for at least 30 days, however uncomfortably. I figure if things get that bad, 30 days is about as long as I’d like to stick around anyway.
Under the category of goods and services falls food, medicines, hygiene supplies, and all manner of maintenance and repair work needed to keep a home functioning properly. What if Amazon stopped delivering? What if your pharmacy closed indefinitely? The plumber didn’t answer the phone?
Most people think prepping just involves storing hundreds of pounds of dried goods in mylar bags. I have nothing against that, but there are more practical approaches. The simplest is to just double the working capital of your pantry, medicine cabinet, and other consumables versus what you normally carry today. That alone will bridge you through most emergencies. The “set it and forget it” food trade is to head over to Mountain House and drop a few grand on six months’ worth of freeze-dried meals. It isn’t the cheapest solution, but with a 30-year shelf life and surprisingly good taste and texture, they are the official Chicken Approved™ freeze-dried food supplier of Doomberg.
Losing running water is a tough one to prepare for, especially given the dire consequences this would have across multiple dimensions of modern living. As a good rule of thumb, you need at least one gallon of water per person in your household per day just for hydration and cooking needs. Select how many days you’d like to prepare for, which of your kids you’d like to save, and store that much.
In the Western World, we’ve grown accustomed to using far more water than that, and the stress of the taps going dry would be severe. The Prepper Pro™ move is to identify local sources of reasonably pure fresh water and stock up on water filters. At Doomberg, we recommend Zerowater filters. Brita is for rookies.
What is your plan if the electricity goes out? The standard answer is to own at least one generator. These are in short supply lately, especially the whole-house variety. If you can find one, it’s best get a dual fuel variant that can run on both gasoline and propane gas. If you can find two, even better. While everyone else is distracted in long lines at the gas station, you can sneak over to Lowes and load up on propane tanks. The Champion Dual Fuel line of generator gets a full Five Chickens™ rating from the Doomberg team.
How would you heat your home if the natural gas stopped flowing? What would you do if your city stopped picking up the garbage indefinitely? If the toilets didn’t flush? There are answers to these questions, and if you’ve made it this far you might be inspired to fire up the Google machine and embark on your own journey of self-sufficiency.
We have become conditioned to delegate the operation of our home factories to others. We have traded away system redundance in return for perceived efficiency, almost by default. In one sense, this is a marker of progress in our society – we no longer must live the agrarian lifestyle to get by. But there’s a difference between no longer having to and no longer being able to do something as critical as keeping yourself alive when the brown stuff hits the rotating blades. By adopting the just-in-time delivery mindset for our home factories, we’ve essentially sold short our future critical needs. We assume we’ll be able to cover in an orderly fashion as we always have, regardless of which Graboid announces its presence.
If the margin call of life hits, are you prepared to survive the short squeeze that would inevitably follow?
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