Today we are interviewing Dan Reeves. Dan is a member of our community who regularly helps beginner preppers in our Questions and Answers section.
How long have you been prepping?
Since the late 80′s
Was there a specific event or reason that lead you to realize that you should begin prepping?
When I was 18, I moved from Long Island New York to Ft. Lauderdale Florida. I soon encountered my first hurricane. No power for a few days, long gas lines, empty grocery stores. I decided we needed to keep some backup supplies for when this happened again. Then in 92 Andrew hit, this just fueled my desire to “be prepared.” It was the norm to get hit with 3-4 hurricanes a year. After a while you get tired of running out of things, and having to search store to store for what you need.
Are you located in an Urban or country setting? Are you planning on bugging out or bugging in?
My Wife and 3 girls live in the country. I have 10 acres, and the house is situated on top of the hill. We have a 360-degree view of the surrounding land. We plan on bugging in; I don’t see the need to bug out at this time. The area we live in is far enough from large cities, and any major target areas that I feel we will be better off staying put. We also have good neighbors and friends locally, which will band together with if the need arises. We all have varied skills, and this is a good basis for self-sufficiency.
How did prepping change your lifestyle?
I don’t think prepping changed my lifestyle; it sort of was my philosophy since a little kid. My grandmother was a big influence in my upbringing; she grew up in the depression, started raising a family during WWII, etc. Back then the term “Prepper” didn’t exist; I was just being a good “Boy Scout.” Now I just do it on a larger scale.
Do you have a bunker or underground shelter?
Neither. But I do have a large house, and a good part of my basement is underground. It is my “cool dry place” for my stores.
In a SHTF situation do you plan on working with a group or independently?
Most definitely as a group, I have a few select friends that are preppers. We will band together if need be. I also have a few friends that are not into the prepper lifestyle, but will be part of my group because of what they can bring to the table when the chips are down. It’s kind of an unspoken invitation, they know they won’t be left on the wayside because they can’t, or choose not to prep. I even have friends in Florida who will work their way to me in Ohio, if it gets bad for them down there.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you made that beginner preppers should avoid?
I can’t say I have made any “big” mistakes. But I will say, you have to look at every situation from all sides and possibilities. Recently I picked up 2-5 lb bags of flour. I wrapped them in plastic wrap & sealed it with box tape, because I didn’t have the time to correctly store them right then. Saying to myself “this will keep the bugs out.” A few days later I went to pack them away, and the backs of both bags were chewed open & a bunch of flour was gone. I thought of bugs, but not mice. DUH. I have to say, I still laugh about it.
Are you married? If so please have your spouse answer this next question
What was your reaction when your spouse stated that they wanted to start prepping? Do you support his/her decision? How do you participate?
We have been together for 2 years, and married for one year as of 5/5/13. I have to say I was shocked when I found out that the guy I was seeing was a prepper. I absolutely do support his decision to be a prepper, because I have started to see things in a new light. He has taught me to always be prepared for any situation. We are soon starting a garden, and I am going to learn canning to store what we grow. I have also started to learn how to shoot, and am looking forward to getting my concealed weapons permit. You never know when you may have to defend yourself or family. Over a short time I have found that there is a lot to being a prepper, but I have also seen that I don’t have to learn it all at once. It’s an on going process, just take it one day at a time.
Do you have children? How do they feel about your preps? Do they participate? If so how? If they were hesitant at first how did you get them to come on-board?
Yes we have 3 girls. Mine are 13 and 10, Trudy’s is 6. The older 2 are totally into prepping, the youngest doesn’t really grasp the idea yet. I have started to teach the girls to shoot with my .22 rifle. They are looking forward to starting the garden too. They have overheard conversations my wife and I have had about the unstable government, and they see what I do to get ready when we have storms approaching. Over time they have learned that “prepping” is actually just the country lifestyle. They are always looking forward to finding out what cool plan I have next. They have come to see that things I have taught them over the years, actually pertain to prepping without them knowing. Fishing, shooting, gardening, starting bonfires, using hand tools, etc. It’s like the Girl Scouts, without the outfits and cookies.
Do you tell your friends and family that you are a ‘prepper’? How do they usually react?
It has only been a short time that I have called myself a prepper. I don’t advertise that I am, but I have begun to put little hints & tips on my Facebook timeline. My friends know I am always open to answer any questions they may have. I feel there is no sense of having knowledge, if you don’t share it. Since I have always been a prepper, without the “prepper label,” my friends and family aren’t surprised. I haven’t changed. People I meet usually say “you don’t seem like a prepper,” but they have a distorted view of what a true prepper really is, due to mainstream media and reality TV.
What if nothing happens? Would you consider all your prepping a waste of time and money?
Something can always happen. Storms happen, unemployment happens, there will always be people in need. Gaining knowledge is never a waste of time. Teaching people is never a waste of time. If I can’t rotate my food preps fast enough, and they come close to the expiration date, there is always a food pantry happy to get a couple cases of veggies or canned meats. As for a waste of money? I can always make more money, and if not… I have my preps to fall back on.
What advice would you give a newbie prepper?
Take it slow, even if you have money to burn. Read books on self-sufficiency, knowledge is more important than stuff. (Yes, a prepper said that.) Think about the things you would miss the most, if everything you have was gone. It’s amazing how important you think toilet paper is, when you are forced to use the yellow pages. (I have 60 rolls stored.) How do you keep an ADHD 6 year old occupied, and from driving you up the wall across the ceiling and down the other wall? Chose a weekend in each season, and live without electric. Come home on Friday, throw the main breaker, turn it back on Monday morning. If you live in the city, turn off the water and gas too. How do you cook, clean, wash, shower, heat & cool living quarters, store food? It’s like camping in the house. Ask questions, take notes, Excel is your best friend. I have a spreadsheet in my phone that has everything listed, so I can keep track. OH, The answer to occupying the 6 year old is a laptop or portable DVD player, their favorite shows and rechargeable batteries with an inverter to plug into your vehicle. Never overlook the simple solution, and be inventive.
What is one item that you believe most other preppers overlook?
I don’t really think it’s an item that is overlooked. Make sure you know how to use ALL of your gear. If you get something new, make it old. Use it and get used to it. Did you ever go camping with a new tent? How long did to take to set up the first time? How long did it take the next time? Don’t be in a survival situation, and find out that an important piece is missing. Make sure you start off with a 100% chance of survival from the beginning, because if the SHTF, the chips are already stacked against you.
Is there anything else you want to share with everyone?
Prepping is a personal thing; no 2 people do it the same. Some go high tech, some go low tech. Some go overboard, but not to them. Take your time and find your niche. Take a class, read books, experiment. Like I said, knowledge is more important than stuff, especially in the beginning.
Good Luck & God Bless…
I want to thank Dan for once again helping others in our community by doing this interview and sharing his story and advice with all of us!