Some Beloit residents prepare for the worst
BELOIT The Preppers are alive and well in Beloit.
There could be gas masks, personal water filtration systems and "bug-out bags" in a garage or secret stash near you. Beloit's preppers range from very moderate to what some would consider beyond extremely prepared. While moderate prepper Craig Spires believes in a 30 percent chance of a disaster, a prepper who goes by the name Dan believes there is a 100 percent chance of either economic collapse or natural disaster.
Moderate Craig Spires has been "prepping" since 2010. He said it started out as a natural outgrowth of his hardcore camping and kayaking interests.
"We had to be self-sustaining for weeks at a time in northern Wisconsin. A lot of equipment came from doing that," he told the Beloit Daily News.
Later, when he was laid off from General Motors, he started cultivating other survival abilities.
"What started it was preparing food. Food had to stretch between paychecks, so I would store it up. Pretty soon it evolved to freeze-dried foods," Spires said.
Spires, who is an avid hunter along with his wife and son, said he became a gunsmith to learn how to repair guns for other hunters and started networking with survival-minded people.
He considers himself a very moderate prepper, and tries not to alarm his family. He said his wife will pick up food to store when she goes grocery shopping and the family is slowly increasing their pantry.
"There's enough for the three of us, at least three months or maybe longer," Spires said.
Spires's behavior has been the talk of some of his friends, although they all know where they are going if there is an emergency.
"Most of them want to come over whenever anything happens. They know they can get fed and protected anytime," he said.
Although he considers himself moderate, he has thought out elaborate strategies in the case of emergency. Because preppers typically believe in multiple layers of back-up plans, he's learned to operate black powder guns in the event there is a government crackdown on ammunition. He and his family all have "bug-out bags," or bags containing survival items, to last 72 hours, to take on the run.
Spires said he learned most of his strategies in a book titled "Strategic Relocation" also known as the Prepper's Bible. It defines how to get away, but stay close enough to society to survive. Because he fears the government would confiscate guns and weapons, he's already decided he would avoid military checkpoints.
Although some Preppers have elaborate gardens and means to be self-sustaining at home, Spires has plans to travel seven hours north to his hunting grounds if disaster strikes for a long period. His family would take lightweight freeze dried foods, bottled water filtration systems, machetes, bleach for purifying water, clothing, solar and propane cooking systems and more, which is easily accessible and could fit in three backpacks and a few large pails.
Another Beloiter named Dan, who preferred not to give his last name, has a bug-out trailer which can be loaded with gas masks, solar panels, seeds to grow crops, ammunition, garden tools, water purification equipment, propane fuel, guns and rope.
"I try to foresee any situation," Dan said.
Dan doesn't consider himself a worrier — quite the opposite. He feels he could easily transition to any challenge life threw at him.
"I'm enjoying the life I have today. It's not that I quit living, I'm preparing if something bad does happen," he said.
However, he said he's saddened that others don't realize that such threats exist.
"The most important thing is three days of food and water and most people don't even have that," he said. "Americans will spend 10 hours a week watching TV, but won't spend one hour a week studying what's happening or preparing."
Between escalating natural disasters, American's growing debt and impending solar flares which could shut down the electrical grid, Dan believes something catastrophic will happen within the next two years.
Although Dan admits he's extreme, he said prepping doesn't have to be that expensive or difficult. People can start with a few 5-gallon buckets of rice and a bottle of vitamins to stash away.
"You can live and be healthy on very little. It's not the collapse you have to worry about, it's the civil unrest. See how people act on Black Friday for cheap stuff? Can you imagine if it's food and they are hungry?" he asked.