10 things you didn't know about 'Doomsday Preppers'
Are you prepared for the end of the world? No? Well, most people aren't -- unless they're preppers. To kick off the second season of the NatGeo show "Doomsday Preppers" (Tues. Nov. 13, 9:00 p.m. ET), I sat down with some preppers -- Jay and Holly Blevins, Braxton and Kara Southwick and professional prepper (and show advisor) Scott Hunt -- to find out what keeps them up at night (not as much as you'd think). "There are a lot of grasshoppers jumping around, tweeting, Facebooking, all sorts of things, and the ants are planning, storing and doing just fine," Hunt explained. Here are ten things you may not have known about some seemingly normal families who just may have a lot more dehydrated stew in their possession than you do.
1. They know you think they're crazy, but they're still worried about you.
Even though Hunt is a former engineer who runs his own business helping people prep and actually works for "Doomsday Preppers" as a consultant, he knows plenty of people think preppers like him are nuts. "The biggest misconception people have about preppers is that they make up scenarios and they're just crazy people, but I think preppers have normal families, normal jobs," Hunt said. Even though the general public may be dismissive of preppers, he says most of them just want to share what they know. "You hear this sheepdog analogy. There are people who just want to take care of other people. A lot of preppers are like that…They feel responsible to tell people you need to store this in case a Hurricane Sandy comes through and you need to bug out if it's coming directly for you. You have to have a plan, and most people don't have a plan. They're dependent on the system working, they're dependent upon the electricity always being there. Things will go back to normal, but in the meantime there's a lot of pain and suffering that didn't need to be there."
2. They got into doomsday prepping for totally sane reasons.
The events of 9/11 came up in conversation more than once, and who didn't start thinking of worst case scenarios after that horrific event? "We're right outside of Washington, D.C., and I was definitely affected by it," said Holly Blevins. "I was very scared and I was very hurt for the people were hurting. After that, my husband and I said, we need to have a plan. My husband was in the sheriff's office, so because he was a police officer we had a certain level of protection, but we didn't really have a plan if there was a terrorist attack."
Jay Blevins, who was a deputy sheriff and part of the S.W.A.T. team, admits his work may have also motivated him to create a plan B. "I've been a first responder to robberies, rapes, homicides… I've seen what human beings are capable of. Unfortunately, evil exists."
3. Some preppers have a sense of humor.
While some preppers on the show are deadly serious, the Southwicks sometimes seemed more like a sitcom family, with dad Braxton urging his six kids to go through a drill while mom Kara rolled her eyes. "That's me, 'oh, silly Braxton,' rolling my eyes. That's why we don't do prep all the time. But all the kids are like that. We're all really sarcastic and we really like to make fun of Braxton. Everybody's always rolling their eyes. You've got that many teenagers, there's gonna be some sarcasm."
Kara might have had more reason to roll her eyes than the rest of the family, given that she resisted the idea of going on the show for months. "I was very reluctant," she admitted. "I have a pretty professional career in finance, so I have clients and I don't want them to say I'm not working with you anymore, you're crazy." But after seeing the segment, she admits she thinks it turned out "really well" and she'd even consider the Southwicks getting their own show. "We talk about it ourselves. We think we'd be great, of course, but no one's asked us."
4. Preppers probably sleep better than you do.
While Holly Blevins admits that prepping is "a lot of work," she can also rest easy knowing that she's ready for almost anything -- not something a lot of parents can say. "I love to go down to my storage room in the basement and go look at all this food," she said. "With [Superstorm] Sandy, they were saying on the news that grocery stores may not have food soon. I sleep better at night knowing my kids will have food."
5. They don't claim to know what's going to happen, even if it seems that way.
The way "Doomsday Preppers" is structured, each prepper is presented as having a specific idea of what they believe is going to happen -- nuclear warheads will be dropped, weapons-grade small pox will be released, economic instability will create a breakdown in society. But even though most preppers think some scenarios are more likely than others, Holly Blevins admitted, "I don't think it will be any one thing. It could be a hurricane or a terrorist attack or an economic collapse. It could be any of those things. You don't know what tomorrow holds."
6. They were willing to go on TV to teach you a lesson.
"I watched the show," Braxton Southwick said. "I even watched the pilot. And one guy did something I learned from, and I thought wow, I want somebody to learn from me. I want to help people. I don't want them to think I'm crazy. You remember the Colorado fires last year? First thing I tell everybody is get a bug-out bag. Three days of food and water plus clothes. Just a backpack. Emergency tents are this big. But during those fires, the cops were going around and saying you have three minutes grab what you want and come out. And people were coming out with their computers. The bug-out bag, you know you're taken care of for three days with food and water and clothes, and zip drives with all that. I just want people to learn something like that."
7. A prepper isn't a survivalist or vice versa.
While the terms can be interchangeable, the show mostly defines preppers as people who work with others to put a survival plan into action (though there are some exceptions). "I honestly think it depends on who you talk to," said Jay Blevins. "What most people call prepping, I think is the knowledge, the skills, the preparations and supplies, and the network that a person needs to survive in abnormal circumstances. When I think of a survivalist, I think of someone who wants to be self-reliant and is off on his own."
8. Preppers are kinda green.
Given that many preppers grow their own vegetables, install solar power (for when the lights go off) and find ways to recycle and purify limited water supplies, there's a sizable intersection of interests between preppers and environmentalists. "Preppers, because of what they do, do a lot of conservation," Hunt said. "They're concerned about their water supply, their food supply, and they believe in locally grown food that tends to be organic. They're concerned with preserving their local resources, clean water, clean air, good food. I don't want to say it's a green movement, but a lot of what they do is a complement to the green movement. Using solar energy, alternative ways of generating electricity, it's very green."
9. Preppers watch "Revolution."
While it may seem like a good way for a prepper to up his or her anxiety level, even people who are prepared for the end of the world as we know it can find the entertainment value in a show about, well, the end of the world as we know it. Holly Blevins said, "That's a good show!"
10. They don't relish the idea of eating squirrels. Yet.
Even though the Southwick men know how to hunt and have access to a wide array of more conventional game near their "bug out" cabin, Kara admits that she doesn't relish the idea of having to trap animals herself. "I don't really want to eat squirrel," she admitted. "But I can set a little snare, I guess."
"I haven't had them, but I know a lot of people who say squirrel is really good," countered her husband.
"Maybe if I'm starving it's really good," Kara shot back. Good answer.