Are Emergency Managers Preppers?

Are Emergency Managers Preppers? Are they better prepared than most other citizens? These were just two questions I recently asked a discussion board with well over 1,000 Emergency Managers. I also asked how many of them are prepared at home and work? Are their families prepared with food, water, medical supplies, generators and knowledge of what they would need to do in case of emergency? How many had a plan B? Do they have one? and Are they a Prepper?

In addition to these questions I also asked if they had more than a week, month, or year of supplies? FEMA and many state emergency management agencies recommend everyone should have at least 72 hours (3-days) of supplies to get them by until help arrives. However, California, Oregon and Washington state have increased their recommendations to 14-days because of the potential threat of a severe earthquake. The longer duration of supplies means the longer you are able to survive before government can get help to you.

We believe that 14-days of supplies is the minimum one should plan for, 30-days is better still. When thinking of how many days worth of supplies you would need, consider some of the events that our nation has endured since hurricane Katrina. There have been many and government can only work so fast and do so much. We must be prepared to survive on our own for prolonged periods until government, or somebody, can get help to us. In some of the most extreme cases for weeks and months.

A Plan B?

A plan B is an alternate location to weather the event in case you are not able to stay or remain at home (sheltering in place). The possibility of changing locations should be planned beforehand and coordinated with friends or family in a location that will not be affected by the event in your area. Those living on the coasts should have a plan B inland far enough to not be affected by the same storm system.

I also snuck in a question about whether they have a Get Home Bag (GHB)? A GHB is a backpack loaded with the basic essentials of food, water and/or water filter (like a LifeStraw or Sawyer water filter), a map and compass, and a change of clothing, shoes and socks that would enable you to get home from work or wherever you may be should something serious happen while away. The contents of a GHB may vary depending on distance from home, climate, time of year, etc. What is you have to walk home? This should be part of your planning also. It is always a good idea to have something in the trunk and at work to assist you in getting home again.

What is a prepper?

What exactly is a “Prepper”? According to the Google Dictionary, “a prepper is a person who believes a catastrophic disaster or emergency is likely to occur in the future and makes active preparations for it, typically stockpiling food, ammunition, and other supplies. There’s no agreement among preppers about what disaster is most imminent.” This definition is a bit too negative and not very descriptive of the many fine people who have made preparedness a lifestyle for themselves and their families.

This definition from Emergency Management Degree Program Guide has more insight into what a prepper is. “A prepper is anyone with a sense of responsibility to take care of their family during a difficult or catastrophic time. Preppers are ready for anything that comes their way, including natural disasters and other uncontrollable events. They can easily survive longer than non-preppers because they possess the skills and knowledge necessary to do so. They believe it is their duty to protect their families should their normal lives be disrupted

Emergency Managers

The emergency management field is a specialty profession with a deep level of commitment to their communities. Many Emergency Managers (EM’s) do the best they can do with the limited funding and resources they are given. Far too many EM’s work with very small budgets and, often times, by themselves or in a two man operation. Their workload is usually filled with required tasks and planning many weeks in advance.

To understand the EM’s job, one must consider that they are given the task that nobody else in government wants to think about – preparing for natural and man-made disasters. They work to ensure that procedures for continuity of government (CoG) and continuity of operations (COOP) (of the government) are trained and exercised. They also work with various disaster relief organizations as part of the Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD), like the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Team Rubicon, Christ In Action, etc., to coordinate these organizations’ efforts in a crisis with those of the local government.


The respondents’ answers were somewhat revealing and ranged from “No,” to a cryptic discussion of being well prepared. One dear lady, like many dedicated public servants, said that she would probably be at work and would be there for the duration of the event. She has some supplies at work, but not much. She intimated that she has arrangements with a friend to care for her pet should anything like this happen. There were a few emergency managers who are like the auto mechanic whose car is in disrepair because he is always working on other peoples’ cars; they just haven’t got their supplies together the way they feel is adequate.

There were a few derogatory comments about “preppers” and not wanting to be associated with that “group”. Apparently, they saw this as the media has falsely portrayed preppers as the tinfoil hat crowd, conspiracy theorists, and believing in apocalyptic scenarios. This is very unfortunate, as the media has done preparedness a disservice creating such a negative stereotype. The negativity generated by the media has made it more difficult to convince John and Mary Smith to be better prepared for emergencies at home and away. The truth is, most preppers are just average Americans of all social, economic and ethnic demographics who understand the self-reliant lifestyle of our grandparents makes a lot of sense. They also realize that government is not always available to help out during a disaster, and the best way to ensure their survival is to be prepared to help themselves and their neighbors.

But there was a more revealing silver lining in the personal responses to me. Some, those who are willing to speak about it in a more closely guarded environment, have their personal preparedness well taken care of, even a plan B, and plan C. This is good to know, as few of us have the opportunity to speak candidly with our local officials who have such an important role in our safety as a community. Now we know that there are many in this field who are serious about being personally prepared for emergencies and walk the talk.

Our own first responders

Anyone who watches the geopolitical news around the world knows that we live in very perilous times and we must be prepared just in case something tragic happens. The former FEMA Administrator, Brock Long, stated that “we are our own first responders.” Think about that. This means we need to be ready to assist our families, neighbors and communities in emergencies. If we aren’t prepared, then who can we help?

Our friend, Michael Mabee, author of The Civil Defense Book, says on the issue of being a prepper – “If you have a generator and more than 72 hours-worth of food and worry about a black-out, you are a prepper. If you worry that nobody might come and save you in an emergency, you are a prepper.

So, honestly, many emergency managers are “preppers” but just don’t realize it.

Now, let me ask you, “are you a prepper?” If not, why not? If so, good for you. Let me know in the comments below.

Remember to be safe, be informed and be prepared! Until next time, may God bless you.

Posted in Features and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .