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Prepper speaks against stigma that all survivalists are nuts
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Prepper speaks against stigma that all survivalists are nuts

Freddie Wooten stands in front of the storm shelter he built at his own expense in Henager, Ala., following the 2011 tornado. When deadly twisters chewed through the Midwest and South in 2011, thousands of people in the killers' paths had nowhere to hide. Now many of those families are taking an unusual extra step to be ready next time: adding tornado shelters to their homes. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

A self-described “prepper” says while many stories of
preppers and survivalists in the media make the practice
seem nuts, it’s really just about being responsible.

“For me, I feel like being prepared for a natural disaster
primarily is just being responsible,” said Jason Pedwell,
a manager in a legal services company from Sammamish, who
admits he falls under the title “prepper,” but said he
doesn’t often advertise it.

“I think primarily that is because there is such a stigma
that goes along with the term “prepper” or the term
“survivalist,” said Pedwell in a discussion on 97.3 KIRO FM’s Bill Radke Treatment.
“Every time you hear about survivalists on the air, all
you’re hearing about is a guy like the guy in North Bend
recently who killed his whole family. I’m thinking to
myself, that guy is not a survivalist, you should be
calling him an insane person.”

As for the people that extend an extreme amount of time
and resources to preparing for disasters, he said to each
their own, but that’s not his way.

“I don’t think that preparing for a nuclear attack, or a
terrorist attack, or the entire collapse of civilization
is something people can realistically do without
dedicating their lives to it,” said Pedwell. “Look, I want
to live. I want to continue having a normal life, going in
and making my boss happy, getting the promotion at work,
and having kids and spending time with my family.”

But he does take preparing seriously. He said the
importance really hit him watching the devastation in
Japan.

“I think if there’s any place in the world that was well
prepared, even perhaps more prepared than we are here,
it’s Japan. They have a strong infrastructure, and this
place, they had cities wiped off the map. Seventeen-
thousand people died, a million and a half people were
displaced for months without food and water. Fortunately,
the world sort of rallied together and supported that
effort,” said Pedwell.

He fears if something like that were to happen here, we’d
be in the same boat.

97.3 KIRO FM Reporter Chris Sullivan said he observed how
quickly things can go downhill during a disaster working
as a reporter on the ground in New Orleans after Katrina.

“When society breaks down, you don’t have an ATM, you
don’t have the things that you need or expect,” said
Sullivan. “It devolves in a hurry. The whole area was
black, dark. No electricity. No communications at all.
Phone lines down, electricity gone. Basically two things
talked around New Orleans, a gun and cash.”

Pedwell thinks it’s up to individuals to take some
measures to ensure that their families survive in these
disastrous situations.

“I believe that you prepare to live,” said Pedwell, making
the distinction. “I don’t believe that you live to
prepare.”

He said he doesn’t have a bunker or anything, and most of
his disaster preparations are about food, water, and a
backup plan.

“One of the first things I recommend anybody does is
stockpile water for at least two weeks for your family.
The general guideline is two gallons per person, per day.
That’s one gallon for drinking and cooking, and one gallon
for sanitation.”

For food supplies he said he doesn’t go into the super-
preserved emergency food stocks, but rather just
stockpiles things his family likes and uses regularly.

“What I recommend is buy things that you’re going to eat
and rotate out regularly that won’t perish. Canned chili
is a great example. I love chili so we have a few racks of
chili,” said Pedwell. “You eat it regularly then when
supplies run low, you go and replenish it.”

His family also has a vacation cabin that they’ve set up
as a place to flee to in an emergency situation.

“We go there for vacations, but we know we’ve got a place
to go that’s far enough out of the way that if something
major were to happen around here, such as a major
earthquake, we’d have a place to go.”

Another major element of preparation for him is what he
calls “MacGyver skills” or skills to use resources around
you, say water from your water heater if your water source
runs dry.

“A great way to do this is get involved in your local CERT
(Community Emergency Response Teams) program, $25 and your
local emergency organization will train you in all sorts
of emergency preparedness skills in the course of eight
weeks.”

He said getting prepared is always a work in progress. For
those interested in getting started, he recommends the
King County Office of Emergency Management as a place with
a lot of resources to help get prepared.

Listen to full conversation on The Bill Radke Treatment:

The Bill Radke Treatment can heard on
97.3 KIRO FM on Saturday at 6 a.m. and noon, Sunday at 2
p.m., and anytime ON
DEMAND
at MyNorthwest.com.

By JAMIE GRISWOLD, MyNorthwest.com Editor

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