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When it’s Breaking News, it’s Too Late to Prepare

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This message is for the complacent, the procrastinator, and simply the unsuspecting.

“Be prepared.” A Boy Scouts motto. And that of many others including the preparedness-minded among us.

The thing is, there are so many people and families who are not prepared (adequately or at all). Why is that?

In other words, most people scramble to get what they need only AFTER the ‘breaking news’, so to speak.

The shocking reality one day might be that “it’s too late when it’s already breaking news”.

That’s when grocery store shelves will get thin, or empty if it’s really bad.

When breaking news is such that people get virtually slapped upside the head with the reality of disaster (whatever it may be), that’s when you’ll see lines out the door. Lines at gas stations. Lines at the checkout. Emptying shelves. Panic.

Why don’t People Prepare until After it’s Breaking News?

It’s never ‘that’ bad…

Because whatever it is, it won’t be bad enough to have had to prepare ahead of time in any unusual way.

That, in my opinion, is the #1 reason.

And you know what? You can get away with that for many ‘typical’ scenarios that might disrupt life these days. Hey, if you have a few days food and supplies, you’re probably good for lots of situations.

However that’s not the primary reason that most preparedness-minded people ‘prep’. Although it surely is a great idea to have, say, a week’s worth of supplies – or two, many of us get prepared for bigger, badder, scenarios.

I can always get what I need, somewhere…

“I’ll be able to run down to the store, even after it happens, to get what I need.” If they don’t have any more bread and milk at my store, I’ll just drive over to the next neighborhood Publix or Walmart and get it.

If I can get in my car and drive, there will always be access to supplies somewhere out there within reach. Right?

And you know what? That’s pretty much true in today’s modern world. Though many don’t grasp the ‘just in time’ distribution / supply chain.

People ‘Assume’.

Most everyone just assumes that ‘stuff’, supplies, food, whatever, will always be readily (or near readily) available.

That assumption may prove disastrous for them “if” we ever experience a truly devastating set of circumstances that disrupt or disable supply chains.

Safety Nets will always be there

We all know that governments (federal, state, and even local) in some areas can be especially ‘giving’ when it comes to safety nets when people are in need.

Those systems are abused, some very badly, but it has implanted a mindset of never ending or always available ‘help’. Food, supplies, even money. So why should they prepare?

People may also figure that they will rely on family or friends if things get bad. Or maybe they’ll head over to Uncle Joe’s place out in the country (they know he’s some sort of ‘prepper’).

Why oh Why do people not prepare?

That is the question. I’ve tossed out some of my opinion for your consumption. Any other thoughts?

Continue reading: Preparedness Beyond Just Short Term – Think “Local”

Be Prepared. Not Fearful. Not Scared.


  1. “Breaking News” is the tease that stations use to keep you from changing channel
    Don’t mean it is really new–

    1. Exactly. I don’t know how many times on foxnews there would be ‘Breaking News’ in the morning and at 10 pm, a headline would flash and say ‘Breaking News’ and it’s the same article from the morning. A person might expect something new but nope same-ol-same-ol.

  2. a lot of folks will cite lack of funds as an reason not to prepare. Most often though, those folks seem to have funds for odd things which take priority. —- smokes/luxury goods/holidays/fancy meals out/etc

    1. This is true. I used to work for a lady who always moaned about how she didn’t have much money and wouldn’t even purchase a couple of extra cans of something when it was on sale.

      She did regale me with descriptions of the nice restaurants she and her mom treated themselves at, and the theater and trips they would take. Oh, and the work I did for her was grooming her dogs. She was a very nice person, but kind of clueless about some things.

  3. What I’ve been told is “I don’t want to live my life like that always thinking of the bad”, of course the “cost” as already mentioned where toys come first and it’s work. It’s not easy, it’s a lifestyle that requires effort. THAT is something people aren’t known for anymore.
    When you talk to people about it, which I quit doing, it becomes again the easy route of “I’m coming to your house”. Again the opportunistic laziness of people shines through.

    1. Matt, you described my children both in their 40s seems they haven’t learned by my example. You are right on.

      1. My oldest boy, 30 years old, is beginning to show promise. He won’t call himself a prepper but he hunts, has a garden, keeps a deep freeze full and an extra propane tank. My youngest boy, 26 years old, is still sowing his wild oats. I have hopes that he will settle down soon.

  4. “My kids eat so much I can’t get ahead.” Use 12, buy 24.
    “I’m going to pay down some debt first,” says the boat in the driveway.
    “Why? I’m coming to your house.”
    “That would never happen here.”

    1. Lauren, My answers to those you have listed…
      #1.”my kids eat so much”….cook filling meals on a menu, No fast food or short order cooking for each member. Buy food for 10 extra meals first month.Rotate those into food supply in pace of regular meals use money saved to add 20 complete meals the next month. #2″pay down debt first” sell the boat, pay it off…,use overage to pay for food insurance. Rice, Beans, pancakes,dry cereal, hot cereal,canned or powdered milk,tea, coffee, vitamin c fortified drink, eggs,,( dry or dehydrate own) honey, syrup, peanut butter, olive oil, coconut oil , mayonnaise, spaghetti sauce/pasta of 3-4 kinds…,flour/wheat and learn to use it.start with enough to make 40 days..breakfast lunch and dinner . eat that food for 30 days and take money saved and add 60 more days of different menu items Your family will eat.
      #3 ” I’m coming to your house” Fine here is the list of things I require for you to come to our property… you are to bring. Give them a full years camping supplies, personal care items to include diapers and feeding formula, for babies and elderly, power supply…, , dry food, and supplies to secure fresh vegetables and meats. and necessities to bring for each person. including a minimum of one years medications.Plus and extensive first aide kit and OTC’s be sure to list 40 cans of vegetables, and 30 cans/of fruit per month per person..Make the list as burdensome as possible. They will say.. that is a lot…. or similar. Tell them… you know it, but you would want to come to my house without preparations..Just who am I supposed to not feed in MY family so YOU can eat? #4 not happen here? really? is that not what the poor people in Venezuela thought too.?

    2. “My kids eat so much I can’t get ahead.” Use 12, buy 24.
      — That’s what I’ve done for the past eight years, now at space limits, feels good to pull back to 1:1

      “I’m going to pay down some debt first,” says the boat in the driveway.
      — The way you write, I think I love you.

      “Why? I’m coming to your house.”
      — Yeah, no. People with that mentality get weeded out pretty quickly.

      “That would never happen here.”
      — Two life threatening disasters in my lifetime says otherwise. To each their own.

  5. Yes, they don’t want to think about it or take any responsibility for their own welfare. Many say they don’t want to live in a world like that (if things come crashing down). I guess that same person hasn’t considered what it will feel like to slowly starve in a world like that without any food. Or, even more horrible, watch their children starve. But those same people do purchase car and home insurance – just in case. Stacking B, B, and B is a positive that allows you to enjoy life.

    1. DAMed,
      Yep… MANY times here I have read people post here saying they prep not just in hopes of surviving, but just in case they DO survive.

  6. I agree with Tango’s statement that the “breaking news” ,right after this announcement ,is often a teaser to keep people on channel. Most folks don ‘t think far enough ahead to survive anything. Thank goodness we don’t have TV to be a distraction in our lives.
    No one is responsible for us but ourselves, no one .

    1. Tommyboy is spot on along with lazy, oblivious and have no concept of self-reliance because they depend on the government, Red Cross or someone to take care of them.

      1. Not understanding that the Red Cross will eventually run out of ‘stuff’ and those ‘someone elses’ will say “ENOUGH”! “NO MAS”!!!

  7. People don’t prepare because “we don’t believe in conspiracy theories. Just put on your tin foil hat, please.”

    Almost all people who don’t prepare could easily do so. But they don’t need to because “the government will take care of us.”

    Even the Mormon emergency officer in our town once told me, “If something happens, come to the Senior Center. We have enough supplies stored to feed the whole town for 4 days. After that FEMA will be here.” That from someone whose religion teaches them to have a year of food stored.

  8. In simple terms the reason why people don’t prepare is a condition called The normalcy bias, or normality bias, it’s a belief people hold when considering the possibility of a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the likelihood of a disaster and its possible effects, because people believe that things will always function the way things normally have functioned.

  9. It is funny how the masses don’t want to listen to you and how they are more concerned with this weekends activities that will show up on Facebook. Or what new toy they want like another Jeep when they have had four that year already or the latest side by side like their friend just bought.

    I told a young guy a couple of weeks ago that is in a not so secure job in the factory and has a family new house and cars that there is another recession coming.

    He looked at me and said well I having heard anything about it in the news and that I have been telling him and the others about a recession all year.

    I explained to him that when the news tells you that we are in a recession, it means we have been in a recession for over 6 months. And that there are key indicators that show a slow down in the economy and that most of them are already negative.

    He looked at me and actually said “oh well” and walked away. Most of the other in my department that made it through the last recession have asked me to tell them when the next one is coming. And I have told them that they need to start moving their money around in their 401K funds to more secure locations and to save, and only one of them out of the thirty or so people have listened.

    I watch them buy their $1500 bicycles and their new big boy toys that cost thousands, and we prep. I cannot wait to hear all the whining when the next one happens. What is the old saying you can lead a horse to water but you cant make him drink.

    I don’t try anymore I like to sit back and listen to them tell stories of the money they spend and overtime they need to work to pay for these items.

    1. Bender,

      I recommend you leave it alone. One guy listened to you, he would have eventually sought your advice anyway. As for the rest who scoffed and dismissed… what do you suppose will be their mindset when they suddenly and brutally realize that you were right? Then as poverty sets in, guess what remedy the group will vote for.

    2. Bender , There is another part to the saying that i grew up with.. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. However, you can salt his oats.! Think of it as” salting his oats” when the young man who will not listen has to get a second or third job …of course part time to pay for the toys.

  10. A few I’ve heard:
    “If things were so bad that the stores were all closed my house would probably be flattened, so having supplies wouldn’t do me any good anyway.” (People thinking only of massive earthquakes and no other scenario)

    “We hardly ever eat canned or packaged food, when I do buy it we never eat it, so keeping food like that is really a waste of money for us.”

    “We have food on hand – we’re good” – with a fridge full of sodas and salad dressings and a cupboard full of cereal and snack foods.

    “We would be screwed if there was a REAL disaster – but really, what are the odds something that bad would happen, and wouldn’t we all be screwed?”

    “Keeping emergency supplies- like food and water – that’s a Mormon thing, right? Yeah, I don’t do that.”

    “I don’t have the _______ (fill in the blank with: space, time, money, etc…)”

    “You are probably right, it would be a good idea to have a few things we keep on hand for emergencies… I’ll have to give that some thought.”

    So, I’ve stopped trying. I am gray. No one would look at us and think we are any more prepared than anyone else. The one friend who I convinced to at least keep a small supply of food and water (since they have no family on the West Coast) told me that she’s getting kind of tired of keeping “earthquake supplies” since they take up space, and nothing has happened since she started keeping a few things on hand. She’s now decided that other than maybe some water, they probably will let their supplies dwindle since nothing is going to happen, anyway.

    People seem to think “bad” things only happen in the movies – or only happen in other parts of the country, or only happen to someone else. Normalcy bias – big time.

    1. SGC, Tell your friend to research how the people fared after Katrina.Ask her If she thinks she will have enough to wait a week while supplies are gathered and shipped in.. when the big one hits… Cascadia event is being warned as pending to the north and quake areas of southern west coast is a real possibility.

      Tell her “no need in coming to my house, I will not have anything/ will not be here… have made other plans” Do not elaborate further. I had to tell someone that who can , but will not .It did get person to have a 4-6 week buffer…between that and “unexpected 5 guests for 8 weeks”…LOL

      Sometimes people need to be reminded it may be a personal shtf . not regional. Loosing a job, income, sudden escalation of prices, health setbacks- all can become shft events.

  11. Last week I opened a parcel of goods from The manufacture date of the carton was printed on the inner flap, it was made 3 days earlier. Shipping took 2 days. Ponder it.

    That box was literally hot off the press, inked, stamped, cut and folded. It was bundled, staged off a dock, transported to a fulfillment center, stacked on a line, filled with goods and shipped out within 24 hours.

    Basic observations like that scare the hell out of me. All it would take is a ripple… just a pebble in the machinery to cause chaos and shortages. Imagine of a real disaster struck.

    Grocery prices in general are squirming their way up every week, in very creative ways. If the 9 oz box is $3.99, how, exactly, am I getting a deal on the 2 pound box for $15.99?

    I don’t really worry about other people, or what they think. Really, there aren’t that many who have ever done anything for me, so I don’t bother to evangelize about preparedness and deal with all the scorn that invites. Just do my thing, avoid drawing unwanted attention, live a good life and take comfort that I can, as I always have, take care of myself.

  12. I’ve been living near the coast for 30+ years. Been through several hurricanes. I’m constantly amazed at the numbers of people who will watch the hurricane coming right at us for days and people do nothing until we’re in a hurricane warning (less than 24 hours before hitting). Then they’re running to the store – “oh my gosh! All the bread and milk are gone”, “there’s no more plywood”, “could you believe the lines at the gas stations?”…

    I never run last minute to the grocery store, hardware store or gas station. I’m at home enjoying a glass of something, with the windows boarded up, grilling something wonderful for dinner before the rain hits.

    And to those people who say, “you should be evacuating!” I evacuate when I need to. It’s not always necessary and most of the times more dangerous than staying. Especially if you’re prepared as much as possible.

    1. oops, forgot to add. My opinion about people who will do nothing to prepare in order to take care of themselves, is that they are lazy, self-absorbed, stupid people.

  13. To paraphrase Tip O’Neill, all disasters are local. Often the response is not.

    FEMA has a huge cadre of on-call staff. When there’s a hurricane, earthquake, or wildfire they respond to, they call up their reserve staff and start pouring folks into an area. Trucks load up the gear, tents, supplies all over the country and start rolling. Red Cross, other orgs do too. Governors call up their National Guard. Mayors and their emergency planning committees have already designated parking lots to receive this assistance. Power companies, firefighters, pipe fitters are donated from all over to help with recovery. What a great nation we live in. We just have to hang on until help arrives.

    We also prepare because one day disaster might not be local. If the country takes a hit of one sort or another, quite possible that no one will be coming from another area to help out. Hard to wrap one’s mind around that without practice, and not many who lived through the Depression and the Dust Bowl are still with us.

    I can’t feed the neighborhood but I can feed my family.

    1. @Anony Mee

      “I can’t feed the neighborhood but I can feed my family.”

      And that’s the hard part, but what can you do. Everyone has their own personal responsibility to be prepared. It’s nice to be able to help others, but not always possible.

  14. Want “Breaking News” you can have on you all the time?

    Get a digital police scanner or a scanner app for your area.

    This way you can listen all the time and if needed be packing up or actually be moving (as in bugging-out) away from problems and still be informed.

    1. Our guys encrypt everything. I listen for sirens and air support helos launching out of two nearby airports. If I see them headed my way on a converging vector, it’s time to either git or hide.

  15. It is ridiculous isn’t it.
    The convenience of running to the what ever store to get what we need. We’ve grown accustomed to it. The idea has been ingrained into our modern living. They will have it.
    Sure they will. Examples:

    Days/weeks of extreme heat. No box fans no air conditioning units of any kind.

    Severe snow storm expected or has already hit.
    No snow shovels, snow blowers to be found.

    Days of a power failure. Good luck finding any type of a generator unit.

    Then there are the runs on gasoline and food that are caused by any out of the usual circumstance.

    1. Ohh
      And try to find a sump pump when heavy rains and/or the spring thaw with heavy rain hits.

      1. joe c….once I lived in a city which was flooded.

        Those whose basements weren’t actually flooded, had problems with water rising up through the floor.

        Sump pump was needed. Ran around to many stores to get one, all sold out. Finally, found one which still had the display model.

        Asked the clerk to undo the bolts holding it so I could purchase. He was outraged–didn’t I realise it was the display model? they needed it to display. (maybe he wanted it at end of shift).

        Anyway I hunted down the manager and pointed out that having a display model when there were none to be purchased, might just end with lots of angry customers, and could I buy it?

        Yes, surely, he said. And he gave me a discount for being a display model. (the clerk was pissed when the manager came with me and told him to detach it for me).

        1. Jane Foxe
          That is funny, but on the other hand, not so much.
          I need to buy an additional pump for my basement, plus a back up, at the ready.
          I’ve salvaged many for additional parts.
          I’ve spent thousands for a free fall drainage that runs across my field, but occasionally the pumps will have to work for the overflow. But not like it was prior. What a relief in worries.
          A home owner’s work is never done

          Where ya been???

          1. joe c…yes, “not so much”….I NOW have one installed, and a back up. Lucky Lesson Learned.

    2. Joe – I do work for an overseas conglomerate that moves about 200,000 generators a year in North and Central America. 90% of them are consumer grade units, half of those are the “cheapest” versions. Here is the emergency behavior arc in most of entitled ‘murka.

      7-10 days out we are watching storm track projections and negotiating expedited LTL and direct service into the storm area.

      2-5 days out every chain auto parts and hardware store is packed to the rafters with emergency generators.

      0-5 days out – Dead silence, as we ramp up our call center and bring the emergency overflow center online.

      Zero hour – As the outer bands lash ashore there is a wild, frenzied stampede of semi-human forms clawing over each other in a brutal contest that makes Black Friday shoppers look like amateurs.

      0 to +2 days – We are overwhelmed with loud, obnoxious, screaming entitlement morons who either can’t or won’t read instructions. They howl that the big storm is upon them, haven’t we heard, they implore… (Yes, idiot. We were preparing two weeks ago, that’s way you have a generator in your stupid hands right now). As the eye of the hurricane passes over, they scream they are without power now, babies are suffering … many of them threaten to sue us because we cannot successfully teach them, over the phone, how to start a small engine for the first time in their lives.

      +4 days – The storm has passed, most are spared, but inconvenienced. Then another line forms at all the auto parts and hardware places. now we have hundred’s, perhaps thousands of ethically flexible morons DEMANDING a cash refund on the generator they either didn’t need, or no longer need; no filled with gasoline and oil, covered in soot and mud. This goes on for about a month.

      That is an up-to-date reality of things.

      1. tmcgyver, I totally believe it! Thanks for the real-world report. People are at certain times, well, amazing… that’s putting it nicely.

        1. Over the past month someone managed to move about 40 containers of gensets into Venezuela. We field a few dozen online inquiries a day from VZ people. By and large they are the most gracious, thankful people I’ve ever dealt with. They say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and frequently even: “God bless you”. Oddly, they don’t try to threaten us with lawyers and bad Amazon reviews either.

          So there is always the other side of collapse to look forward to; after the ghettos of all types have been culled and only the fittest remain.

          1. It is a cycle, isn’t it… And most of us know where in the cycle we’re currently at. Which is why some of us prepare. (or part of the reason at least)

  16. I think you are giving people too much credit Ken. I believe most don’t prep because the concept just doesn’t even cross their minds. It’s not that they think it will be ok they just don’t think about it at all.

  17. Mentioning Evacuation in a Time of Crisis:

    I migrated to South Florida over 50 years ago, and have lived here since.

    Every time a Hurricane threatens, it’s the same old story.

    With at least a week’s worth of Warnings, when it appears that it’s about to strike this area, the same things always happens.

    Besides the stores being jam packed and running out of all the necessary needed items, even worse, there are always those who choose to Evacuate.

    Total insanity. The roads all head North, are clogged with traffic, all stores and gas stations along the route are emptied, all places to stay are already full to capacity, and there they are – stuck somewhere far from home, stranded on some highway.

    The definition of Insanity – Trying the same old thing over and over and expecting a different result.

    Happens every time.

  18. Panic now or panic later?

    The best time to panic is now, while there is room for preparation; timewise, moneywise (maybe) or figuring out ways to make do.

    Then you can be more at ease during stressful times while others are panicking: topping off rather then blowing your top in unfocused panic!

  19. Some people sense the train coming, while it is still far off and unseen. Some are taken by surprise when the train suddenly looms up upon them.

    Just think of any disaster as “Evolution In Action,” as natural selection, selects.

    If one ignores Reality, one shall be removed by it, in turn.

    Personally, I prep to survive in comfort for only a few months, six at most. I am certain there is no need to extend beyond this, as I shall be long dead before I ever face shortages of any kind.

    An army of one is easily vanquished.

    Besides, what is the point of surviving past the point where the coffee runs out?

    1. Yeah, after the coffee runs out forget about hunting for survival. All animals will be quickly out of the area from hearing the constant grumbling due to going through caffeine withdrawals. Sounds like a bad way to go. Starve to death while in a bad mood from no coffee. Ohhh the humanity! Hehe

  20. “Breaking News” announcement as a final confirmation to a SHTF that has been circulating the prepper “channels for days, weeks and even months – OK …

    if it’s your first clue that something is cooking – I wish you luck because it’s likely you’re as ill-prepared as you are oblivious & naive …

    Either bugging in or out – you want to have shields up and phazers fully charged when the balloon pops – anything you can safely get accomplished on top of your already completed stores & plans >>>> all the better …

  21. It’s all about time preference. There’s a test given to children – you can have a cookie now, or two cookies in 10 minutes. A surprising number of children grab that cookie now, then whine when more cookies are handed out later.

    Prepping is the adult version, putting resources away for what may happen, versus instant gratification. Like most things, it’s a combination of nurture and nature.

    You will find most criminals on the instant gratification side. “If I rob/mug/steal, I will have money NOW.” When you can’t see past next week and don’t have a strong moral code…

    The generation that went through the Depression are all but gone, since that time the grasshoppers have been protected from their folly. Us ants are denigrated and laughed at, after all, it hasn’t happened in a lifetime. Still, winter is coming. We must prepare.

    1. I wonder how many of those kids would do the same thing when confronted with the same scenario later? What is it, about 10% of the population that can learn from experience?

  22. I have to say, I disagree with many of the comments stating that people who don’t prepare are lazy.

    Some may be, but I think in general it’s more that they haven’t yet experienced a hardship which makes them realize the value and importance of being prepared.

    For many it’s just something they hear about on the radio, or see on TV that happens to other people some place else.

    Fear is a powerful motivator, but for those who’ve never experienced such a disaster, what reason do they have to fear?

      1. If prepping was mandated by law, the situation would be different. Most of these people WOULDN’T have car insurance if the law didn’t say they have to.

    1. I agree with you Yolo. Having not experienced hardship, there’s little or no motivation to be prepared. And you’re right, fear is a powerful motivator. We live in a cushy modern world (and I’m not complaining). I appreciate modern advancements that have helped our lives. However the more we rely on it all, the more we’re reliant on it all (logical). It’s dangerous to assume that things will always be ‘cushy’.

  23. Watched Deep Impact (again) the other day. Noticed when the breaking news happened the President announced that there would be no hoarding. Thought that seemed pretty realistic. So . . . it’s preparedness until the news breaks. After that they’ll get you for hoarding. Makes sense to stock up now, no matter what we’re prepping for.

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