Preppers don’t have a great public image. The word often conjures up doomsday-obsessed extremists in a well-armed bunker or walled compound. But anthropologist Chad Huddleston says they’re a largely misunderstood group and that we could all learn a few things from them.
Huddleston has been studying preppers for a decade and even became one himself. He recently wrote about all this in the magazine Sapiens.
“The basic stereotype of preppers being doomsday preppers first and foremost is mostly incorrect. The idea that they're waiting for some apocalyptic event certainly is a little overblown,” Huddleston said.
Preppers are more concerned with local events, like fires, storms and power outages. In fact, many admit that you can’t prepare for an apocalyptic event or large societal breakdown so their energy goes into preparing the correct gear and learning the proper skills. “So that they can become their own first responders,” he said.
Preppers became popular because of shows like the “Doomsday Preppers” on Nat Geo, but according to Huddleston, the idea of preparing for the worst has been around for a long time. Cultures around the world have been telling stories about survival and how to get through certain conditions for many, many years.
“They're awesome lessons and so you tell them the same year after year and they become a body of knowledge.” Huddleston said.
That body of knowledge turns into skills and a kind of education about how to thrive in unfavorable conditions. Having the proper tools plays a large role, but according to Huddleston, “Gear is one thing but in my research what I found is that it's really about your attitude. It's an adaptive attitude to adverse conditions,” he said.
Other things that preppers do include: having a 3-day bag at the ready; having a first aid kit and truly knowing how to use what is in that first aid kit; and having copies of your driver's license, house information, car information and insurance information in a safe place.
"Those kinds of very simple lessons are the biggest thing," Huddleston said.
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