Barry Ames isn't certain what is going to happen, but he's not leaving the safety and survival of his family to chance. The mason from Delaware County is a "prepper." He has enough nonperishable food and water stocked to last a year. And a "bug-out" bag is packed with supplies should his family need to flee quickly to a safer spot.
Barry Ames isn't certain what is going to happen, but he's not leaving the safety and survival of his family to chance.
The mason from Delaware County is a "prepper."
He has enough nonperishable food and water stocked to last a year. And a "bug-out" bag is packed with supplies should his family need to flee quickly to a safer spot.
Ames, 32, hopes to buy some land and build a cabin in a remote area of Meigs County, along the Ohio River, to hunker down should the unthinkable occur. If it doesn't, he'll have a nice summer getaway.
"If you look throughout history, every big civilization has crashed at one point or another," he said. "I would be arrogant to think America would go on forever. Sooner or later, something is going to happen."
Amid worries over the economy, terrorism and natural disasters and the attached fears of civil unrest, prepping has become popular nationwide, including with some central Ohioans.
Area preppers dismiss as over the top the National Geographic Channel's Doomsday Preppers, a TV show featuring heavily armed extremists with bunkers who worry about terrorist smallpox attacks and other catastrophes. Prepping, they say, is more about self-reliance, about ensuring survival when government resources are overwhelmed and outside help is unavailable.
"We've seen a marked increase in people looking to prep for various reasons," said Steve Hacht, the owner of Survival Tactics in Reynoldsburg.
"It's always best to be prepared for whatever may come," he said. "It may be as simple as an ice storm; it could be as severe as a major tornado. It could be worse than that."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends that every household have a basic disaster-supplies kit that includes a three-day store of food and water. Most preppers think more is better. Think camping out - on steroids.
"Look at Sandy. If some of these people would have had a week's supply of food and water, they would have been fine," said Mike Miller, the owner of Prepper Discounters in North Linden.
Most preppers worry about "more reasonable things," such as natural disasters, but some fret about a cataclysmic financial collapse that could dry up supplies and force them to rely on, and defend, their emergency caches, Miller said. He is selling more prepping supplies, such as freeze-dried foods, to those who don't want to be caught unprepared.
Those who are serious about prepping network with others to learn skills that could help them survive disaster. Mick, a "40ish" Delaware County farmer who asked that his last name not be published, teaches other preppers how to plant and tend crops and how to raise and harvest poultry and livestock. He figures to "bug in" on his farm rather than "bug out" amid a disaster.
With Americans clustered in cities and cloaked in conven-ience, it's distressing how many are unprepared to fend for themselves, he said. "It's scary so many people don't have anything and don't know anything."
Brian Hardwick, 40, of Baltimore in Fairfield County, bills himself as a basic prepper. "I don't have an underground bunker or a large farm out in the middle of nowhere.
"My prepping is for localized disasters on a personal and practical level," said Hardwick, a retail security official and emergency-response volunteer. "You don't need to be a conspiracy theorist to be prepared."
Dave, 56, an electronics technician from the Easton area who also asked that his last name not be published, is more prepared, with a six-month supply of food and water-filtration equipment.
"I just consider it part of life," he said. "There's no extra sense of security, but it is a form of life insurance. You never know what is going to be out there."
Tom Kidwell, 54, a home-improvement-store worker from Clintonville, is a new prepper who has been stocking up for six months. "I believe something is going to happen sooner or later. Hopefully, things won't go bad and put people in panic mode," he said. "But I'm going to take care of my family."
The costs of prepping can range from cheap cans of vegetables (which later are eaten before they go bad, to be replaced with new stock) to freeze-dried entrees that can cost up to $12 for a family-size, one-meal pouch. Water-storage and purification supplies also run the gamut in terms of price.
Survival Tactics' Hacht and Prepper Discounters' Miller said there's another important part of the prepping equation - being prepared to defend your family and your stash of supplies.
"For most people I see, (firearms) do play a very large role," Hacht said. "Look at Katrina ... when resources are limited in availability, you're going to have people who have and people who don't.
"I'll do whatever it takes to make sure my daughter survives. Others have the exact same mode of thinking. Being able to defend my family and what we stored is paramount."