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Ever seen a show like Doomsday Preppers? Did you maybe think some of these people are more than a little extreme?

Yeah, me too.

Mostly, I think that because the scenarios they’re preparing for are highly unlikely, some nearing impossible, and some of them wouldn’t require the level of prepping that they do even if the scenario did happen. They sink their whole lives into preparing for a probability.

Anyways, I’m not a “doomsday prepper”–someone who prepares for the end of the world as we know it. But at the same time, I don’t think a little bit of preparedness is wrong or irresponsible.

I do trust that ultimately everything is in God’s hands. After all, Jesus said,

 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

–Matthew 6:31-34

I could have a two-year supply of food and still get killed in an earthquake. I could train rigorously to defend myself and still die of hypothermia in a natural disaster that left me trapped in the elements. So to a certain extent, I think that extreme prepping and putting too much reliance in prepping is not only a waste, but also perhaps not in keeping with living the sort of productive and God-fearing life I should be living.

On the other hand, I live in an area where there is a very real possibility of an 8.0-9.2 earthquake followed by a tsunami in my lifetime. A natural disaster that would dwarf the potential of the San Andreas fault, which has the potential to max out at only an 8.2. I can drive an hour in three different directions and find a volcano each way. If the earthquake and tsunami occurred, FEMA estimates that it would knock out the whole grid in Western Washington (including transportation in or out of the area) for days or even weeks, and that it could be a couple of years before things like drinking water and power in the area is fully restored.

In that light, being prepared for taking care of ourselves for at least a few weeks seems reasonable and responsible. This isn’t a scenario that has a one in a million chance of happening. This is something that has a very real chance of happening in the next 50 years, and is virtually guaranteed to happen within a few generations. Of course I could move, but every area has its potential disasters waiting to happen, from tornadoes to hurricanes to Yellow Stone–and unlike in Tornado ally or along the Gulf Coast, this disaster only hits Western Washington every 250 years or so. My house is well above the area that will be hit by the tsunami, as is virtually my whole town. If we can survive the earthquake and stay warm, hydrated, and fed until we can get out of the area while it’s rebuilt, or until utilities start being restored, then we’re good to go.

While counseling us not to worry, the Bible also admonishes us to provide for and protect our families and to steward our resources well.

Putting the two ideas together, I think it comes to this: a reasonable, responsible level of preparedness is smart, but putting a lot of worry into it and subsequently stewarding resources irresponsibly or becoming obsessed would be wrong.

I think that’s an idea that even the non-religious can get on board with.

That begs the question: What does responsible preparedness look like?

  • Water supply for at least three days, preferably more. Resources to filter water or otherwise make water drinkable are good too.
  • Food supply for at least three days, preferably more. This can look like things like flour, rice, and canned goods being stored, used before they go bad, and replaced as they’re used.
  • Keep first aid kits in your home and vehicles.
  • Making sure your home is as prepared for a disaster as possible. In this area where earthquakes are a threat, making sure a home is bolted to the foundation is a good idea.
  • Have an emergency plan–if you live in an area with tornadoes, learn what to do in case of tornadoes, for example. (Hint: get in a bathtub with a mattress pulled over top, in a storm cellar, or in an inner room with no windows.)
  • Have an emergency heat source available and a supply of any fuel that it needs. For instance, a wood burning stove and a wood pile.

Plantain, a common weed. Rubbing the juice out of its leaves onto a mosquito bite is the single most effective thing I’ve ever used for the itching.

For me, I also see practical skills that could be used temporarily or more permanently in a bad situation as very practical. In a “doomsday” situation, whatever it may be, many of those skills would be more useful to survival long-term than hoarding a ridiculous amount of supplies at one location. That is part of why I want to do things like garden, cook from scratch, and learn to make things myself instead of rely on purchases. After all, if you teach a man to fish, he can eat fish even after the canned tuna has run out.

Consider some skills that could be used in short- or long-term disaster scenarios:

  • Wilderness survival
  • Fire starting (without matches or lighters)
  • Self-defense
  • Firearm use
  • Food preservation
  • Food growing
  • From-scratch cooking
  • Water purification
  • Herbal and natural remedies made with local plants (and proper identification of those plants)
  • First aid
  • Hunting, tracking, and trapping
  • Knitting/crocheting/sewing/spinning
  • Tanning leather
  • Woodworking/building

I’m not where I’d like to be with this stuff. I haven’t even found out yet if my house is bolted to its foundation in case of a large earthquake. However, knowing what I want and need to do gives me goals and the ability to learn to get where I’d like to be.

What do you need to start doing? Would you survive for at least three days in a disaster?