6 Odd Things Doomsday Preppers Stockpile (That Make Sense)
Modern-day survivalists aren't generally regarded as the most sane people on the planet. A quick look at any one of the disturbingly common and frighteningly thorough shopping lists they post online drives home the fact that anyone who self-identifies as a "prepper" most likely went off the deep end a long time ago. Sure, it's fine to keep a few extra cans of food and cases of water around for an emergency, but if you start adding body armor and butt paste to your stash, you might want to tell George Miller that it's time to see other people.
However, a closer look at these lists reveals some of the weirder things they suggest you hoard aren't as crazy as you think. Maybe this underground bunker full of tinfoil hats will come in handy after all. For example ...
Survivalists come in all shapes and sizes, including a subset that appears to believe that birthing a large army is an important step in securing their rightful place in the barren wastelands of tomorrow.
However, a few unintentional similarities to the Quiverfull movement doesn't mean that preppers can't still care about safe sex. Hunting, canning, and digging your own latrines does nothing to make the threat of an STD less real. After all, gonorrhea and genital warts are going to be a whole lot harder to treat without reliable access to medical care. And there must be at least a few survivalists out there rational enough not to want to endure the horrors of premodern pregnancy and birth unless absolutely necessary.
You're not worth it, punk!
Probably not a lot, but a few.
Why It's Not So Crazy
Actually, the real reason non-lubricated condoms are such a hot commodity has very little to do with protecting your nethers from disease and baby seeds and way more to do with surviving actual life-or-death scenarios. Sorry to get all those visions of doomsday prepper sex dancing in your head for no reason.
The survivalist hard-on (yep, and I'll do it again, too) for prophylactics untouched by chemical pleasure-enhancers is the result of drilling deep (told you) into the magical properties of our latex friends. According to our research, these flexible, durable, waterproof wonders will be as much of a deciding factor in your dystopian longevity as fire and can openers.
And the means to listen to all the CDs you've been burning for this very occasion.
Here are just a few choice gems from The Prepper Journal's 11 Ways A Condom Can Save Your Life: starting fires (they're great at protecting tinder from moisture), hunting for food (sexiest slingshot ever!), and transporting up to two liters of water (yes, rule 34 applies; no, we won't provide the link). They also make serviceable stand-ins for rubber gloves and can be used to protect the muzzle of your other essential survival tool (killing it right now).
As if that weren't useful enough, that list also doubles as a gaslighting manual for when your monogamous, pill-protected significant other inevitably questions you about your stash.
If I Am Legend, Dog Stars, The Flame In The Flood, and other media are to be believed, canine companions will be staples in our post-apocalyptic lifestyles. Dog preppers are no strangers to this mentality, providing a wealth of guides for picking the appropriate pooch for your "survival team."
But should we really base our future survival strategies on these works of fiction just because lovable pups tug at our heartstrings? It's much more likely that dogs will be a drain on human resources in the apocalypse. Or they'll eat us.
They'll goddamn eat us!
Or they'll infect us with rabies, a plague all too common and frightening in developing countries like Bali, even without the added complications of a global catastrophe.
I certainly don't want to have to deal with packs of free-roaming, rabies-laden beasts in addition to nuclear fallout and food shortages. Even if they do have cute booties and adorable little backpacks.
Why It's Not So Crazy
Hate to break it to you, but your dog probably has a better chance of making it through a total societal collapse than you do. A quick Internet search of "dog survives" lists everything from drowning to being shot, from bear attacks to war -- whereas the closest you've ever come to "surviving disaster" is getting your wisdom teeth pulled, and even then it was only with the help of a cadre of trained medical professionals and a carton of the strongest painkillers on Earth.
<3 <3 <3
Before they were pets, dogs were workers. They can carry their own supplies without complaint (already making them superior to most humans right now), sniff out food and water, and search for and bring down prey. Some breeds, such as huskies, have been specifically tailored to bust their butts on the barest of rations. Dogs also have a long and storied history of offensive and defensive combat use, making them perfectly suited to attack anyone who thinks they have more of a right to that sweet, sweet snack cake stockpile than you do. Which is to say, your four-legged pal is just a few training sessions and a kickass set of armor away from leading you to your rightful place as God Of The Ragged Desert/Water People.
People who carefully and painstakingly prepare for mass extinction don't exactly seem like the type of people who plan great parties. At least, with those vast collections of guns, ammo, and other terrifying armaments, I certainly hope not. Then again, I suppose everyone will need a drink or 10 to get through the inevitable horrors of forever navigating the "what's for dinner" question without Seamless or, you know, realizing that your urban-dwelling family members will probably never arise from the blasted pit of rubble where their apartments once stood.
This rock pile is your family now.
However, if some tales of survivalist stockpiling are to be believed, our nutty neighbors have enough of the social lubricant squirreled away to hold the most epic end-of-the-world-party of all time outside of Edgar Wright's social circle. It might not be practical, but who needs practical when you and everyone you know is doomed to die from radiation poisoning or cancer?
Why It's Not So Crazy
While it's a given that at least some of it will be consumed in the name of keeping the proverbial party going, there are a lot more important reasons that alcohol is going to be nearly essential to living after modern conveniences have sunk deep under the world-spanning deserts and dust clouds that will inevitably plague our future.
The stories of alcoholic beverages historically being safer to drink than unfermented ones are apocryphal at best; however, as any 17th-century sailor would tell you, the addition of some spirits to potable water that's been sitting around for too long will make it much more palatable. Liquor distillation was originally invented in part for medical purposes, and alcohol can be used as a solvent to dissolve medicinal herbs -- and also to knock out patients during good old-fashioned fallout-shelter surgery. High-proof alcohol can be used as an antiseptic, and it does a great job of cleaning wounds and preventing infection.
The uses for alcohol in a survival context aren't limited to things that benefit your health. If your hooch is high enough proof, you can light it on fire.
Thus instantly bypassing the tedious fire-starting methods you learned as a scout and wowing nearby members of your preferred gender with enough time left over for a much-needed scrub down before the snuggles commence.
And, of course, people aren't going to stop wanting to get drunk just because they can't pop over to the corner bodega for a six pack whenever the urge strikes. Portability and long shelf-life make liquor of all types a valuable trade good -- people will kill to get a taste of the delicious bottom-shelf leftovers from your local dive bar when their only other option is the equivalent of prison wine.
When was the last time you bought baking soda? Probably when you decided to try your hand at drunken cupcakes, like me and everyone else. If you're really old-fashioned, you might have a box moldering in your fridge instead of one of those newfangled deodorizers.
Unless you can shoot people with them, these are completely useless in an apocalyptic setting.
Based on this crude but honest assessment of the general public's affinity for the common bicarbonate, you'd be surprised by how much survivalists are into it (#2 on the list of "things for preppers to hoard"). They must expect some pretty serious hankerings for tasty leavened baked goods, or they have extensive phobias about the funkiness of their nuke survival backup plans.
We get that creature comforts will be ever more important as the things that used to make us happy slowly break and crumble around us. But do you really want to put a ton of effort into opening a bakery when everything is going to shit? And we hate to be the bearers of bad news, but no amount of odor elimination is going to stop the uncivilized world from smelling really, really bad.
Why It's Not So Crazy
Anyone with a frugal family member will have long ago memorized the litany of baking soda benefits. Brush your teeth with it! Get your dishes clean! Stop your feet from smelling like 10,000-year-old bog bodies!
Again, the reason we tend to look sideways at those who get a little too into prepping for an apocalypse is because of their smug optimism. People actually being realistic about a dangerous future would be better served joining the military or ingratiating themselves with high-level government officials than agonizing about a little mouth scuzz or foot fuzz, right?
Sorry to break it to you, but we're going to have to give this one to the conspiracy theorists.
"Ha! In your FACE, people who aren't insane!"
Your run-of-the-mill shoe stank might not pose much of a survival threat, but trench foot certainly will; baking soda is great at absorbing the moisture that might otherwise literally cause your feet to rot off your legs. As for the health of your teeth -- it will be pretty hard to get through your day's rations of homemade jerky and hardtack without some high-quality chompers. And you certainly don't want to rely on that pesky fluoride that will "kill your brain over time" (um, what?).
You probably get it by now, but we're going to keep rubbing your face in the facts, nonbeliever. A bit of body odor might seem like a minor inconvenience, but it gets a whole lot more important when sneaking up on an animal that hasn't spent the last millennia losing its survival instincts means the difference between feasting and starving. Finally, an accidental fire near your ammo stores that could easily have been extinguished with a dose of nonflammable powder will certainly put a damper on your plan to make it through the end times in one piece.
Bombs rain from the skies, alien ships descend with lasers ablaze, improbably proportioned, irradiated sea monsters tear through essential infrastructure. You'd think that running, screaming, and finding clean underwear would top the list of activities likely to improve your chances of living, followed closely by finding a sustainable food source and offering sexual favors to the person with the most impressive arsenal. Unless you were a prepper, in which case you'd be worrying more about the safety of your cigarette stockpile.
Your post-apocalyptic lungs aren't going to cancer themselves.
But those people are crazy, right? If you're a die-hard smoker that can't face your daily commute without a puff, let alone the end of life as we know it, it possibly makes sense to have a few extra cartons lying around. Otherwise your sanity would be better served by using that space to amass batteries and handheld game cartridges.
Why It's Not So Crazy
It turns out that when you're down to your last moldy hunk of bread and giardia-laced mud puddle, letting it all melt away in a cloud of smoke for a few precious moments can mean the difference between giving up and giving the rat (eating) race another go. If history has anything to say, it's more common than you think for people to happily give up MREs and gunlord harems in return for hastening their ends with carcinogens wrapped up in tidy paper packages. In traumatic situations like war, cancer sticks are often valued more highly than food. Even in the current (more or less) pre-apocalyptic global economy, cigarettes are one of the stable forms of currency.
It takes two keys to open this, and a bank official must be present at all times.
Cigarettes will also be hugely useful for starting fires and saving coals (as any fan of post-apocalyptic literature knows, this is of great importance). The filters can be used to clean water, although you'll need the patience of Stephen Baldwin to pull it off. If you do manage to live for longer than a few weeks without plumbing and Internet, you'll be able to protect your budding prepper garden by soaking cigarette butts in water and spraying the resulting chemical-laden tobacco juice on your produce. This is a technique already in use by people too impatient to wait for the apocalypse, though it is ironic and entertaining that they consider using cigarette-butt sludge a "natural" way to ward off pests.
Not everyone who stocks up on medical supplies is an addict. There are forums and articles throughout the online prepper universe that go into sometimes scary detail about how to procure everything from antibiotics to morphine, because surely it's more likely your "patients" will die from what's ailing them than from misused pharmaceuticals.
Some survivalists really do want to return to the good ol' days of saw blades, whiskey sedatives, and mouth rags as medical care.
These people really are crazy, huh?
Others are more pragmatic, preferring to face the end of the world with the shreds of dignity provided by modern sterilization and pain relief.
Of all the supplies they suggest you legally or illegally procure, epinephrine sounds like the biggest stretch. We don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but if you suffer from life-threatening allergic reactions and really think you're going to survive limited food sources and practically nonexistent medical care, we've got a mint-condition fallout shelter to sell you.
Why It's Not So Crazy
DIY home surgeons will be excited to know epinephrine can actually be used with lidocaine (a numbing agent) to restrict blood vessels for faster wound repair. (Note: Cracked in no way condones performing self-surgery.) When sanitization resources become limited, the speed with which a wound can heal will have a drastic impact on survival rates. The longer a wound stays open and bloody, the more likely you are to get infections. Infections have historically been some of the most deadly and difficult-to-treat medical conditions, and even today they are not always easily survivable.
Also, in case you didn't know, epinephrine is literally adrenaline. As in, the main hormone that triggers the fight or flight response, aka the "survival instinct," which evolved primarily to help our ancestors not get eaten.
It's also the active ingredient in Mountain Dew.
I'm not quite crazy enough to say that epinephrine will help you survive the inevitable zombie apocalypse (you can go here for that). I'm just suggesting in a roundabout way that if you happened to be in a situation where something was trying to eat you, the increased heart rate and blood flow to your muscles brought on by a well-timed dose might just save your life.
Read more about Emma's lifelong obsession with apocalypses in her first science fiction novel, Mechalarum. Then hop on Twitter for in-depth discussions about the desert scenes in Terminator 2 and preferred Furiosa cosplay techniques.
OK. Great. You've stockpiled for the end of the world, you quack. The chances of the world ending are smaller than ... holy crap, what the hell is a supervolcano? See why we're all doomed in 5 Ways The World Could End That You'd Never See Coming. And if that's not enough to get you to build your own bunker, check out 6 Tiny Mistakes That Almost Ended The World. Really, the planet almost ended due to a blown fuse? Come on humanity, let's get it together.
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