Prepared? Or Paranoid?

Last week, I overheard a conversation between a shopkeeper and a customer. They acted as though they were somewhat familiar with one another as they were discussing the plans one of them had for the rest of the day. It went something like this:

“What are you doing later?”

“I’m working on my 72 hour kit.” (72 hour kit = bug out bag)

“Why would you do that?”

“I feel I should. I think it’s a good idea. Others say it’s a good idea too.”

“They‘re paranoid.”

I paraphrased their conversation, but it was not far from that. The doubter also made references to the “Doomsday Preppers” show and commented on how crazy he thought they were. Which brings us to the question…are preppers prepared…or paranoid?

Undoubtedly, there is some crazy stuff out there.

There is this:


And this:


But the majority of those who make any kind of preparations for potential emergencies, despite what the media would have you to believe, are not über-paranoid individuals wearing tin foil hats. They’re just everyday people who pay attention to statistics.

Here are a few worth mentioning:

According the Australian Red Cross in a 2014 report, disasters have killed 1.3 million people, affected 4.4 billion people and cost $1.9 trillion in damage over the course of the last 20 years.1

Of course, your chances of experiencing a natural or man-made disaster depend greatly on where you live. For example, in the U.S., one is most likely to experience a natural disaster if he or she lives in the Southeast. You don’t live in the Southeast, you say? Are you one to believe that nothing significant could happen to you? Well…you should know that there is at least a 15% chance of experiencing a natural disaster anywhere in the country. Moreover, the most disaster prone areas of the country have a statistical chance as high as 65%.2 Between 1900-2015, about 13.5 million people were directly affected as a result of designated natural disasters.3 The breakdown of the types of these events are illustrated below:

Statistic: Number of natural disasters in the United States from 1900 to 2015, by type | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Interestingly enough, according to, the U.S. is second in natural disasters only to China.3 This is also shown by this graphic on disasters in 2014:

Statistic: The ten countries with the most natural disasters by type of disaster in 2014 | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Of course, natural disasters are not the only events which one could possibly prepare for. Global health emergencies have often been in the news as of late, and man-made disasters such as wars and financial crises are all over the headlines as well. To quantify the risks of facing such events across the globe, both natural and man-made, the United Nations University publishes an annual WorldRiskReport which includes a risk index of the world’s nations.4 Currently, Vanuatu has the greatest risk factor rating at 36.72 while Qatar has the lowest risk factor rating placed at 0.08. In any case, one must realize that there is risk wherever one lives. Just because one lives in where he or she believes to be “a low risk area” does not guarantee that one will never experience a disaster. That guarantee does not exist…anywhere…for anyone.

The truth is…there will always be a chance of facing a disaster. It could be natural. It could be man-made. Preppers…even crazy ones…realize this. That is why we prepare. It is not because of some mythical fantasy or some crazed hallucination. It is because disasters have, do, and will always occur. We just want to be prepared for them. To close, I saw a quote from an anonymous forum poster from somewhere in the U.S. Northeast, “After [Hurricane] Sandy, nobody is teasing their prepper neighbors anymore.”5

So…will you prepare? Or will you be one of those who wish he or she had prepared when a disaster strikes?



  1. Here’s what I say – it takes so little time and not much money to be prepared. Regardless if there’s a major disaster, I’ve used my 72 hour bag many times when I’ve been in a pinch during travel and it’s made life so much easier. Being just a little prepared will make a disaster situation easier to handle. I never want to be one of those people that gets stuck and then kicks myself for not getting just a few things together. Too many crazy, life changing things have happened in my life that I never expected. AKA my fitness crazed father (also a retired Marine) drowned in a pool when he had a massive heart attack from undiagnosed heart disease and I, also looking perfectly healthy, lost a baby when I was 8 months pregnant, baffling the doctors and nurses. After living through those things, I’d rather do what I can with what I CAN control!

  2. Dawn, you are right! Disasters don’t always come in the form of big wide-spread ones. We can experience our own personal disasters as well. In fact, those are far more common. Another great argument why we should all prepare for the unexpected!

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