We’ve all seen episodes of Doomsday Preppers, the reality TV show, which showcases very extreme cases of individuals or families that are preparing for a major threat to our world as we know it.
These families and at least three million more across the country are preparing to either bug in or in many cases bug out when SHTF. In this article, we’ll give you the rundown about Doomsday Prepping and what you need to know.
Table of Contents
What Exactly Are We Afraid Of?
There are a wide variety of reasons that people become preppers. Their fears run the gamut from devastation resulting from natural disasters to robots or invading aliens taking over the world.
Many preppers fear a domino effect that will be ignited by one event that then causes several other events in rapid succession leading to utter chaos and devastation.
There are also different levels of prepping. Some people prepare only to survive short-term minor events such as a flood or wildfire which would require leaving their home for a period of several hours or days.
Other preppers take prepping to a more extreme level and are arming themselves, building underground bunkers, and stockpiling food and water to survive a devastating event that will change our world as we know it.
What is a Doomsday Prepper?
Before we get into actually preparing for a doomsday scenario, it might be illuminating to answer the question of just who a doomsday prepper is.
Is a “doomsday prepper” just another appellation for a regular prepper, or a survivalist, something a mundane member of the public uses to describe people who have made self-sufficiency and personal readiness a lifestyle?
Or does it properly describe somebody who has exceeded the typical efforts of lesser preppers?
Although one might argue the case for this, that the term doomsday prepper is just a long-hand version of the term prepper, you and I both likely already know someone who is a genuine preparer for a coming apocalypse.
These are people who through sincere fear or a fascination bordering on the macabre have become convinced of the notion that they will not be one of the faceless, countless multitudes who perish in a genuinely cataclysmic event or sequence of events.
The material and educational preparations that you and I have taken probably look like small potatoes compared to the typical endeavors of a sincere doomsday prepper.
Elaborate underground bunkers, ultra remote fortified compounds, mountains and mountains of provisions, gear and sustainment capability, everything from complete food ecosystems to power generation.
Preparing for doomsday entails so, so much more than getting ready for a couple of weeks without power and services. These preppers know that, are preparing to survive (if not thrive) on a blasted, silenced Earth and have acted accordingly.
Can One Really Prepare for Doomsday?
The notion of preparing to survive an apocalyptic scenario, doomsday, of course begs the question if it is in fact possible to survive an event that is, by definition, the end of the world as we know it.
This is not a glib or humorous thing; it deserves careful thought and investigation. The first thing we must do is determine what qualifies as doomsday proper.
The natural disasters we face today, from the most lethal tsunami to the most powerful hurricane and the most raging flood are not doomsday scenarios. Not even close, not even a fraction of a fraction of the destructive might and import these cataclysms can bring to bear!
Though they might spell “The End”, with a capital ‘E’, for several towns and perhaps even an entire city, affecting hundreds of thousands or millions of lives, these mundane and comparatively common disasters do not qualify as doomsday events.
I would argue that a true doomsday event is one where, simply, casualties are at the instant and throughout the aftermath nothing short of mind boggling, and the resulting conditions are virtually unsurvivable for what survivors that do remain.
Among those that do subsist, they will be facing a complete, stem-to-stern restructuring of human life, and overall human society on Earth.
Certainly fantastical doomsday scenarios are popular stuff in fiction, both on the silver screen and in print, but they are not necessarily fiction by nature.
Plenty of bad stuff has happened to humankind and the globe in the past. From asteroid strikes to cataclysmic pandemics, the big one might be closing in on us even now. What would be required to survive such an event?
Well, frankly most will not survive at all. Or at least, the people that are in the direct path, near the epicenter, or otherwise close to the “bullseye” will not survive, or survive for any meaningful length of time.
After all, they’re called apocalypse events for a reason! Many events worthy of the title will then damage Earth’s biosphere badly enough that prolonged human existence will be tenuous if it is possible at all.
What would that look like?
Well, how about the complete alteration or destruction of Earth’s atmosphere, massively, dynamically changed weather, near total crop die off, near total loss of livestock herds, monumental disruption of wild ecosystems, poisoning of water supplies, and so on and so forth.
For all of our technical capability humans require access to raw resources in great abundance in order to survive at our current numbers.
The resources themselves or the access to them will be completely obliterated or gravely disrupted in any apocalyptic scenario, making long-term survival, again, tenuous at best.
For this reason, a true doomsday prepper would be prepared with their own protected sort of “micro ecology”, able to grow what food they needed, sustain and replenish the nutrients in the soil, harvest water from a variety of methods and purify it, and much more.
It is almost an exercise in not only building a human-sized terrarium that will sustain you and your group or family for an indefinite period of time but also hardening the thin, glass shell of that terrarium against the impact of a 2,000 lb bunker busting bomb.
In short, it is only theoretically possible, and luck will always play a part. Nonetheless, in the remainder of this article, we will be reviewing a variety of legitimate doomsday scenarios and how one can theoretically survive them, if at all.
The Most Devastating Doomsday Disasters
Helioseismology is the study of the currents beneath the surface of the sun. Helioseismic detectors aboard the Solar Dynamics Observatory, allowed researchers at Stanford University to detect magnetic bundles and predict their emergence as sun spots several days later.
This video better explains what a solar flare is:
Gamma Ray Burst
- In event of “penetrating” hit, death is certain if not shielded on “dark” side of earth, opposite the impact.
- Survival in the aftermath would entail dealing with dramatic loss of the ozone layer, as well as total societal collapse on a global scale, at least on the affected side of Earth.
- Total sustainment systems must be in place, and completely independent of any item that relies on global supply chain for distribution.
- Specialist preps for dealing with ozone layer depletion and subsequent intensification of ultraviolet radiation from the sun must be well understood and in place long before the event happens.
An intense flash of light that momentarily eclipses anything else in the sky but then disappears. This is what you might see if you were able to see gamma ray bursts.
Astrophysicists believe the gamma ray bursts are caused when two collapsed stars merge together. The Earth would initially be shielded by its own atmosphere but the radiation exposure would devastate the ozone with nitrogen oxides.
If Earth’s atmosphere is inadequate for shielding then surface life could be bombarded with cosmically powerful radiation.
We all know that without our ozone layer, humans would be subjected to devastating damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
- Surviving an earthquake is a matter of knowing what steps to take immediately while the quake is underway in order to improve your position as much as possible. Get beneath a sturdy table or shelf, cover your head and hang on for dear life.
- If you are driving when a mega quake hits stop the car, put it in park and assume the brace position. Do not try to get out of the car while the quake is underway.
- Once the shaking stops, you must get to safer ground as quickly as possible. Get out of damaged buildings as soon as possible and to make for open ground that has no overhead hazards.
- Depend on all utilities and civic systems, including roads, being completely impassable or out of action in the aftermath of a mega-quake. Again long-term sustainment systems will be the key to survival until such time society recovers, if it recovers.
Over two centuries ago, on December 16, 1811, history documented an earthquake of 7.7 magnitudes that hit the New Madrid fault line.
The New Madrid fault line borders areas of Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois. In 1811, the shocks of this quake were felt as far away as New York city, but the area was sparsely populated and there were few deaths.
If an earthquake of that same magnitude were to hit the New Madrid fault line today, it would have a much more serious impact on the 15 million people currently living in the quake zone.
It’s estimated nearly 2 million people would be forced to immediately seek shelter and over 7 million additional people would be displaced in the several weeks following the quake.
- For any major asteroid impact loss of life near ground zero will be total, with lethality and casualties gradually tapering off farther from the impact site.
- Although they produce no subsequent radiation, the blast effect of an asteroid impact can meet or dramatically exceed the largest of nuclear weapons.
- Long-term survival will be dependent on surviving the initial blast and then reaching a suitable bug-out location that is already well stocked and provisioned.
- Any major asteroid impact will be a global event. A nuclear winter-type scenario, caused by dust, dirt and fine debris being pushed high into the atmosphere, is overwhelmingly likely. The subsequent ecological disaster will result in massive crop and animal die-offs.
Asteroids are minor planets and/or rocky remnants of planets that are mainly found in the Asteroid belt. These are quite far away from our planet Earth, however, they can break away and travel, and they have in the past fallen toward Earth.
Many preppers fear that an asteroid large enough to result in widespread damage to an entire region or even our entire planet is only a matter of time.
- So much of modern life is entirely dependent on minute and incredibly delicate systems of commerce, that the total loss of those systems will result in near global bedlam.
- Hyperinflation, devaluation or abandonment of fiat currency, and every kind of material shortage imaginable will set the civilized world against itself in a global economic collapse. In a frenzy of desperation, people will do whatever it takes to get what they need to survive.
- To survive such a scenario you must be prepared to get as far away from major population centers as conceivable and have your own community or large “tribe” able to work the land and provide what you need as well as repulse external threats.
- Attempting to survive as a loan individual, single-family unit or very small group is foolhardy. The solution is not something you’ll be able to whip together in a couple of weeks or a few months. Bonds of real community must be built now.
Even preppers who might be preparing for a catastrophic natural disaster or chaos resulting from World War III know that the economy itself is in danger of collapsing.
Even without any additional catastrophic event, the collapse of the economy as we know it is inevitable. Learn more about prepping for an economic collapse here.
- The notion that an ever-increasing population on Earth can completely outstrip even augmented production of natural resources is within the realm of possibility.
- If pollution of air, land and water resources is not corrected a variety of untenable scenarios might result.
- In order to be prepared for such an event you must have a massive quantity of non-perishable food, advanced water purification equipment in heavy-duty fixed site operation as well as portable air scrubbing systems.
- Depending on the specific context of the event entire regions could be rendered effectively uninhabitable.
The actions and behavior of our human population growth and progress are wreaking havoc on our ecosystem. We already know that primitive peoples, using spears and bow and arrow hunting methods caused the extinction of about half of the large body mammals that lived in the world.
The modern man uses guns and more effective hunting methods which mean our destruction of the mammals is happening at an even faster rate. Couple this with land clearing and the chemicals we are introducing to the environment and over 30,000 types of animals disappear annually due to human activity.
- A variety of biotech-related mega-disasters could prove to be a roulette wheel of peril for doomsday preppers, and effectively preparing for some of them could prove impossible.
- A biological threat resulting from genetic engineering gone awry, or the release of a “designer” bioweapon can be reasonably defeated using nothing more than proper PPE and religious adherence to decontamination protocols. Surviving the second- and third-order effects might prove far more difficult.
- A nanobot outbreak or supercell assimilator “plague”, the so called “gray goo” scenario could eventually prove completely undefeatable by conventional means and methods of protection.
- It is hard to anticipate just what direction a catastrophe deriving from a biotech breakthrough gone awry could take, but whatever form it takes it will dependably affect major population centers the worst and quicker. A remote bug-out location might be your best bet here.
There are a wide variety of biotechnical advances that have the potential to devastate our planet. Many preppers are concerned about this type of devastation which is why they have turned to homesteading and monitoring what goes into their bodies.
Biotechnology is the science of tapping into the cellular and biomolecular processes to develop things that better the planet and our lives. A few of these advances that have occurred over the last half a century, but come with the potential to get out of control and devastate humanity as well, include:
- GMO crops
- Engineered microbes
- Gene therapy
- Bioengineered mutations of diseases such as H5N1 bird flu that could inadvertently be released into the population
Artificial Intelligence Takeover
- Out of all the near fictional doomsday scenarios, a rogue or hostile AI that turns against its creators is a shockingly likely possibility.
- A hostile AI without the ability to execute on its intentions is no threat at all, but as human enterprise becomes increasingly automated, networked and handed over to the oversight of software this scenario will only increase in both likelihood and severity.
- A hostile AI does not need access to nuclear weapons or an army of killbots to hurt you: Strategic disabling of everything from power grids to air traffic control and even automated production of medicines could result in untold thousands or millions of deaths.
- That being said, the military and even law enforcement are taking strides each day in giving various battlefield and civil robots kill authority. What happens when those robots are no longer obeying human commands?
- Preparing for an AI-directed toppling of society is one thing, and can be accomplished using the specifics for other disasters listed here. Preparing to fight for your life against an army of automated weapons in a machine war? You are on your own!
The path of progress has led us to create increasingly intelligent machines, first automated and more recently, actual artificially intelligent. These machines are actually capable of intelligent thought and critical thinking.
As alluded to in the video above, there then becomes the potential for these artificial beings to decide that humans are less valuable and/or a target for extinction at some point in the future.
It’s a theory straight out of the cinema, closely resembling the movie “I, Robot”, starring Will Smith.
- An EMP event is statistically probably the most likely of the genuine doomsday scenarios, even though it is likely to be the least deadly at the instance.
- EMP resulting from natural phenomena, nuclear weapon detonation or specialty weapons that generate them will completely destroy or disable anything that uses a circuit board or electrical power inside the affected area.
- This will result in a technological rollback, but also a cascading failure of every critical system that is not hardened against EMP.
- You should prepare for an EMP event by brushing up on analog solutions and replacements for modern electronic and digital contrivances. Anything you or your family relies on that would be affected by an EMP must be shielded or otherwise protected by a Faraday cage if it cannot be hardened.
- Subsequent preparation should revolve around preparing for a total societal collapse, per above.
A stream or wave of electromagnetic pulse or current is called an EMP or Electromagnetic pulse. An EMP can also be caused by a nuclear explosion which sends out a wave of electromagnetic radiation called an NEMP or nuclear EMP.
The fear of an impending EMP or NEMP event is the main reason that preppers are pulling together their bug out bags and planning to either bug in or bug out, depending on their location in relation to where the EMP occurs. A good number of preppers fear that an EMP is a likely scenario for people living today.
More on the topic of EMPs:
- What Will and Won’t Survive an EMP
- 8 Ways to Get Around After an EMP
- The Day The Electronics Died: What Happens After An EMP
Global Nuclear War/World War III
- A global nuclear exchange is among the most likely of all doomsday scenarios, if not the most likely. Nuclear disarmament treaties have reduced the stockpiles of nuclear armed nations, but enough strategic weapons exist to scour the earth clean of life many times over.
- Surviving repeated, strategic nuclear strikes at anything beyond extreme range from the blast it’s going to be impossible except in the most fantastically fortified or deep, subterranean shelters.
- Long-term survival will be made extraordinarily challenging owing to a frankly unthinkable amount of fallout and a years or decades long global nuclear winter.
- Survival might boil down to alternative methods of producing food and water, such as hydroponically grown vegetables and daylight spectrum lighting that is securely housed underground, or in a fortified structure that is not exposed to outside hazards.
- Even near-term survival will be completely dependent on CBRN personal protective equipment, anti radiation medication, radiation detection equipment and more specialized gear.
- This is one scenario where survival will be virtually impossible if you live in or near a major population center or near a strategic target.
The events occurring around the world today are leading us toward a global world war with China, Russia, and the U.S.
We already know that the media’s main purpose now is to either downplay or exaggerate actual events that are occurring, and to keep citizens distracted from what is really occurring in the world.
China and Russia have begun making agreements that will put them at direct odds with the United States in the coming conflict.
- There’s a substantial amount of evidence that suggests supervolcano eruptions in the distant past resulted in devastation and massive climate swings across entire regions of the globe.
- A supervolcano erupts with cataclysmic force reaching a considerable distance away from the caldera itself. Boiling, corrosive gas emissions are incredibly deadly and will make surviving in the aftermath difficult or impossible.
- Surviving a supervolcano eruption is a matter of reaching minimum safe distance as soon as you have any warning that an eruption is likely. These are regional catastrophes with global consequences, so you’ll need to get very far away, very quickly.
- You will need some specialized gear to have any chance of survival, particularly respirators, and preferably self-contained breathing apparatus. Volcanoes of this magnitude will produce so much dangerous contamination and such a short period of time that typical respirators will be quickly overwhelmed.
Rumor has it that should the Yellowstone caldera erupt, it would cover two thirds of the United States in ash. Others say the odds are very small, and we shouldn’t worry about it.
Learn more about what would happen if it erupt here:
When God decides to wipe the world clean of life in the end times, your time has come – there is no way out!
Every religion has its prophecy which heralds the coming of events that signal the ushering of a new, more morally pure world. This kind of apocalyptic divine intervention has been predicted as far back as Egyptian mythology.
Whether you follow the Book of Revelation, Book of Daniel, or are awaiting the arrival of the third son of Zoroaster, many believe that the signs of this Apocalyptic event have already begun.
- While somewhat declining in popularity in recent years, a theoretical zombie apocalypse has long captured the imaginations of the wider populous, and preppers in particular.
- However, a zombie apocalypse is not simply a product of an overactive imagination. Though not technically zombies, the end result might little differ. Nature furnishes us many examples of what hostile microorganisms, be they fungal, virological or insectile, can do when it comes to dominating the wills of other life. It is far from out of the question that even now such an organism could exist that might potentially hijack mammalian life, including humans.
- Certain viruses like rabies are well understood, and hideous afflictions, resulting in psychosis, then slavering madness and an inability to act rationally. While ultimately fatal, it is possible that a mutation of rabies or a similar virus could result in a person so afflicted having a longer lifespan than usual while under its effects. If such a virus were to become highly transmissible, or even airborne, we might be dealing with a legitimate “zombie” apocalypse scenario.
- Surviving any of these scenarios will depend on having a bulletproof escape plan to get away from the mass of humanity, and enough supplies, equipment and know-how to self-sustain for a very long time. Weapons and the skills to use them will be paramount, particularly rapid fire ranged weapons like firearms. When the people affected by any zombifying disease or agent are beyond all hope of recall or reason you’ll have no choice but to put them down if you want to survive.
The so-called Zombie Apocalypse many believe will be caused by either the latest “Flaka” drug or something similar.
Or for some preppers, it simply refers to a catastrophic economic collapse or another disaster that creates starving, desperate people who will roam the land in hordes looking for food, water, and other basic needs.
More on the topic of a zombie apocalypse:
Other Disasters that Could Devastate Earth
- Rogue black holes with a gravitational pull so strong it could swallow everything
- volcanic eruptions similar in magnitude to when the Laki volcano in Iceland erupted in 1783.
- a global pandemic caused by the spread of bird flu, SARS, or another disease.
Is There Any Merit to These Fears?
Many people may find it difficult to take some of these threats seriously because well let’s face it, some of the best survival movies and TV shows and especially Doomsday prepper reality shows, have dramatized many of these scenarios to the point of no return.
But for those who are aware that a piece of a comet, some two-hundred feet in width, actually hit the Earth in 1908, and destroyed over seven-hundred square miles of woods in Siberia, things get a little closer to home.
For those who know how many asteroids are in the sky and that it would only take an asteroid five-foot in width to create devastation resulting in a major extinction similar to that of the dinosaurs, prepping becomes a bit more crucial.
For preppers who have been paying attention to global warming changes and the effects of GMO and other biotech processes on our food supply, the dangers are real and learning to plant a survival garden doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.
If you are brave enough to look closely and do some thorough research, what you find out may just spur you to join the prepper movement to protect yourself and your family.
For anyone who can see the signs that our world population is multiplying in a way that isn’t sustainable, creating a survival war plan and which foods to hoard, seems like the most logical thing to do. Most preppers are not taking things to extreme like those families showcased on Doomsday Prepper reality shows.
But they are doing what they can to be prepared to feed themselves and their families and to protect what they have from others who may not have prepared as well.
Okay, So What is Prepping All About?
It’s a known fact that people fear what they do not understand. Many people do not understand much about prepping.
The media and powers that be play into the fear people have by showcasing the most extreme example of preppers. Because of this, there’s a tendency to believe that all preppers are crazy.
But prepping is by no means a new trend. There have always been individuals and groups of people who worried about impending disasters and did what they could do to be prepared.
In fact, many areas have entire Emergency Management Response Teams that are specifically designed to educate, inform, and prepare people on how to react during a widespread emergency.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is an agency at the federal level charged with providing the best resources and support to the people of the United States, not just during disasters, but before and after such an event as well.
Many of those people who were adults or children during the Great Depression era have a tendency to live frugally, to ferret out free food, or to “save that piece of foil to re-use later”.
My father and my uncle were always trying to save a buck or save something for a rainy day. If you were in the hospital and didn’t eat your applesauce or drink that little mini can of ginger ale, my uncle would tuck it in his pocket “just in case I get hungry later” or “I’ll save this for lunch tomorrow”.
The number of preppers throughout the United States is estimated at around 3 million. I would wager that the number of people who are preparing for a future uncertainty is much higher. Many of them may not even identify themselves as preppers.
Why do we worry about retirement accounts, fire or flood insurance, or car insurance? Because we anticipate something in the future may upset our daily life and we want to be ready for it.
There are many people who take extra precautions to prepare for a flood, fire, or tornado to come their way. Though not on a doomsday level, that is a form of prepping.
So, are Doomsday Preppers just crazy? Obviously some of them, yes, have taken prepping to extreme measures. But the majority of “preppers” are just people who are concerned about the impact of future events on their ability to survive.
They have taken it upon themselves to prepare in the best way they can to protect themselves and their families and in some cases, their neighbors as well.
So maybe it’s not the preppers who are crazy. Perhaps the crazy ones are those individuals who either cannot see the major changes that have occurred in the world or worse those that can see some signs of what could happen but just aren’t motivated to do anything about it.
If everyone in our world knew more about how to respond and how to prepare for hurricanes , wildfires, and earthquakes, lives would be saved.
If more people were prepared to handle personal emergencies and trauma such as car accidents, heat waves, accidental drowning, and snake bites or had a plan when it became necessary to evacuate their home, even for a short time, lives would be saved.
If more people grew their own food, knew how to preserve and can it for use when money got tight later in the year, fewer people would be stressed out and unhappy when times get tough.
For some people, prepping is simply about knowing they have done what they can to be ready for whatever life may throw at them. It’s about knowing they can do their best to protect themselves and their family.
It’s about not being dependent on or waiting around for the government to show up to rescue you like people had to do following Hurricane Katrina
Deep down, prepping isn’t crazy at all. It’s about survival, independence, and freedom for yourself and for your family.
Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart.
For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared for whatever may come along. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of nine grandsons and one granddaughter, is learning everything she can about preparedness, basic survival, and self-sufficient homesteading. She is passionate about sharing that knowledge so that others can be increasingly prepared to protect their families.