Threats and Risks

People often diss preppers, particularly the media (it makes better headlines). We’re seen as paranoid, hoarding, paramilitary wierdos. So, let’s just have a think about this.

Everyday reasons to prep:

Winter – happens regularly, invariably brings interesting driving challenges, occasionally floods, snowdrifts, blocked roads, disruptions to supplies in shops. Winter storms often cause minor and occasionally major power-cuts, meaning thousands of people at a time have no heating, lighting or cooking facilities, sometimes for days on end.

Summer – not usually a major problem up here but heatwaves down south certainly merit a bit of thinking ahead to deal with droughts, hosepipe bans and crop damage leading to food having to be imported from elsewhere at increased cost.

At any time of the year, the UK sits in the most common track for Atlantic weather so hurricanes that slam the USA often end up as gales here a few weeks later, again bringing the risks of flooding, powercuts and driving hazards.

Some slightly less generalised reasons to prep:

At the moment, on a wider front, we have an uncertain political future, with the referendum next week determining whether Scotland remains part of the UK or becomes an independent nation, with all the challenges and difficulties new nations have to face.

Beyond the UK, there are tensions and economic sanctions in play between the US/EU and Russia at the moment, over the Ukraine. India and Pakistan are being hit by severe monsoon flooding, West Africa is in the grip of an uncontained (uncontainable? WHO seems nervous!) Ebola virus pandemic that’s still spreading into new countries and increasing its impact on affected countries at an unprecedented, exponential rate. The Middle East is in an even worse state of uproar than usual, thanks to renewed Israel/Palastinian tensions and the Islamic State’s brutal violence. Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano is erupting – beautiful, but potentially could bring weather disruption to northern Europe for a few years if she stages a major caldera eruption as well as the current fissure eruption. The sun has recently released a fairly sizeable flare and coronal mass ejection that is expected to impact the Earth over the weekend, causing geomagnetic storms.

To break down the threats from the above list – economic sanctions could lead to increased fuel prices (gas shortages in Europe due to Russia shutting the taps), India/Pakistan may need to appeal for international aid (taxes possibly affected to pay for said aid), Ebola is devastating the economies of West Africa due to lost harvests and closed borders, requiring assistance in the form of medical supplies, food and medical personnel/facilities from the UK military (and many other countries) and there’s always the risk of it jumping out of Africa and spreading into other countries of the world. The Middle Eastern situation raises the chance of terrorist attacks in the UK. Bardarbunga may cause hard winters and crop failures, leading to increased food prices and possible food shortages. Solar flares interfere with radio transmissions, disrupt sat-nav signals and can cause problems for aircraft – a big enough flare could cause problems on the ground, as Canada discovered in 1989 when a geomagnetic storm knocked out the electrical grid across Quebec in just 90 seconds.

And behind, below and above it all, there’s global climate change, which over the course of my lifetime and my daughter’s lifetime, will change what we can eat, where we can live and what we can do in massive, fundamental ways.

When you actually think about things like this, then the insanity doesn’t lie in having a few things tucked away ‘in case’, it’s in thinking you don’t need to have that buffer against the world’s risks at all.

If there’s one thing that we’ve seen over the past few years, it’s that you can’t rely on your government to look after you when things get tough. They haven’t the ability. I read the rules for the gun club yesterday (they came in the post) and they started out by stressing that responsibility for safety lies with the individual. It’s primarily my job to keep me safe – and after that, to keep every other member safe too.

Taking responsibility for my own safety, and that of my family, is the fundamental bottom line of prepping. Preppers are the sane, responsible ones. We all hope never to have to use our preps – but when the roads are icy, having winter tyres helps keep us out of the ditch, and when jobs are lost, a stash of tins in the cupboard keeps the family from hunger while we find a new job. If Bardarbunga goes bardarboom, having dustmasks, goggles, covered waterbutts and a filter fine enough to clean ash from our drinking water could help ensure our continued health.

One of the frequent responses from the unprepped to the prepped when the subject comes up is ‘oh, I’ll just come over to yours if things get bad!’

Don’t. I’ve prepped for me and mine. I haven’t prepped for my neighbours, nor the rest of the village. Why should I? I’ve taken responsibility for me and mine…. it’s up to each of us to do that, not try and freeload on a few responsible people because we can’t be bothered. A second’s thought makes it abundantly clear that the supplies carefully laid in to look after continued survival for 3 people for a month will last only 2 weeks if 3 more turn up, and only 1 week if another 6 again arrive on the doorstep. There’s 700 people in my village – I couldn’t even give them all a single square meal, and then we all starve together. Far less useful than a chocolate teapot, which apparently can hold together for all of 2 minutes while the tea brews.

So…. are we paranoid hoarders or are non-preppers complacent and irresponsible?

PS – ‘paramilitary’? Doesn’t fit with the ‘grey man’ philosophy of prepping. Paramilitary is obvious and obvious is dumb, it just tells the freeloaders where to go when things get tough. Smart preppers stay under the radar, hard to spot.

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