8 Reasons Why People Refuse to Prep

I’m always fascinated to hear the many reasons why people don’t prep. In our neighborhood, my wife learned from a friend that a mutual acquaintance was planning on coming over to our house in the case of a dire emergency. My wife has met this woman exactly once. So why doesn’t she prep herself? Apparently, she’s just too busy.

Too busy to look out for her own family but not too busy to make the calculated decision that she, her strong, young husband, and their 3 kids will drive a few blocks to our house and, basically, steal from us.

So what other reasons do people have for not prepping? Well, in no particular order, here’s what I came up with:

Sheer stupidity

Yep. In a world filled with vapid video games, celebrity worship, and a shallow understanding of how anything works, anything at all, there are people who have simply never considered doing something today to prepare for tomorrow. They’re the same ones who couldn’t handle a $500 emergency and have to run to the store hours before a hurricane hits to buy milk, bread, and eggs. We know them as “French toast people.”

Their IQs are probably adequate for getting through the mild ups and downs at life, but when thrown a curve ball of any magnitude, their choice is to sit back and wait to be taken care of.


“It can’t happen to me.” “It’s never happened here.” We’ve all heard these sad refrains and can only pity the people who believe them. If all emergencies came with a 1-month warning, they wouldn’t be emergencies, would they? No matter your income, education, status, or title, sooner or later bad things will happen to you, but, for now, it’s easier to remain in denail than actually think about those scary scenarios and prepare for them.


We know from basic human psychology that when the human brain is confronted with something terrifying, it sends 1 of 3 signals to the body: freeze, flee, or fight. For Americans who have never had to deal with much out of the ordinary, thinking about a nuclear war, an economic collapse, or a geography-changing earthquake causes them to often freeze. Acknowledging potential and possible scenarios like these is too difficult and they remain frozen in their inaction.

People in this category would do well to read Gavin De Becker’s best-seller, The Gift of Fear, and understand that very often, fear makes us do some pretty smart things, and that includes prepping.

Peer pressure

Now here’s a weird one but I’ve seen it in my wife’s family. Back in the days of Doomsday Preppers, I heard some of them make fun of the preppers depicted in the show and then laugh at a couple of relatives who had thought of prepping themselves. Those folks backed down, as in, “Well, I guess it is kind of silly, huh?” when facing ridicule. Hard to imagine that mature adults, with kids, mortgages, jobs, and other responsibilities would back down, but they did.


I’ve heard it said that TEOTWAWKI has a date. You just don’t know what it is, yet. That dire medical diagnosis, news of a loved ones death, the loss of a job, a Category 5 hurricane, “the storm of the century”, they will all happen at some point. We just don’t have the ability to peer into the future to know exactly what will happen and when. So, most people procrastinate. They’re busy, money is short, the spouse isn’t on board, or maybe they just aren’t all that worried, but for whatever reason, they don’t prep because they’re rather put it off for another month, anothery year.

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Normalcy bias

Normalcy bias differs a bit from denial because denial is a conscious choice. Normalcy bias is a little trick our brains play on us. It’s a survival mechanism that causes us to believe that everything will be okay. The Survival Mom writes about witnessing a tragic traffic accident and, to her eyes, seeing a scarecrow fly through the air. In fact, that scarecrow was a human being who had been jettisoned from the car’s window, but her brain insisted, “It’s a scarecrow. Humans don’t fly, silly!”

Our brains for survival and normalcy bias is one way it prepares us for the most traumatic life events. So, for those who insist that really, really bad things will never happen may just be suffering from normalcy bias.

Sense of superiority

If your above average intelligence, wealth, and overall superiority naturally places you in a lofty position, high above the riff-raff, then you probably also scoff at the idea of stocking up on cans of beans. After all, you know best and those dummkopfs on Doomsday Preppers are just a bunch of redneck hillbillies. What could they possibly know that you don’t? Right?

I know people with this attitude, and maybe you do, too. It seems to be a combination of arrogance and denial, a dangerous blending of 2 potentially lethal beliefs. You quickly learn to not even try to reason with these people. After all, if you had their bank balance and degree from a fancy university, you, too, would realize your own invincibility. You poor sap.

Life’s overwhelming burdens

I don’t have much patience with people in the previous categories, but this one, well, I’ve been there — burdened down with a stressful job, behind in paying taxes, rowdy and loud kids, a wife always behind in household chores while trying to keep a smile on her face.

Sometimes life just seems to keep you under its heavy boot and the last thing you need to hear is, “Hey, you’d better start prepping for the end of the world, man.”

Where will the money come from? Where will I get the time when I’m already working 50 hours a week, plus some weekends? On top of everything else, the last thing I need is to start worrying about an economic collapse, a civil war, nuclear bombs going off — I just want to take a nap and maybe escape for a while in front of the TV.

I understand and sympathize. I really do.

In the past 9 years, my wife and I have gone through some of these mindsets, or excuses, depending on your point of view. A lot of preppers do but since we understand the need to be ready for when the S really does hit the fan, we eventually get back on our prepper feet and keep going, a little at a time.

With others, though, I don’t nag or even talk anymore about prepping. I don’t want my friends to start avoiding me and in the case of co-workers and family members, I need to maintain a positive relationship with them. They know where to find me if/when they change their mindset about being prepared.

Have I covered all the reasons people avoid prepping or have I missed one?

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30 thoughts on “8 Reasons Why People Refuse to Prep”

  1. Noah:
    Nice summary. The only one I would add is those that see prepping only from a doomsday scenario and think we are all going to die anyway. Preparedness is a mindset. Chances of a total breakdown are slim, but most of us will face some sort of emergency. Blizzards are our main concern but others may face hurricanes, floods or tornadoes. Not to mention very few have lifelong job security.

  2. My dad thinks I’m nuts. “Why did you buy more corn? We already have a case of it.” My way of thinking is this….I lost my job once. I was there 9 years and then *poof* I got fired. Then I got my current job. Not my idea of good work but it is a paycheck. Should I lose my job or be out for illness (or his illness since i take care of his house etc.) I want to know where my next meal will come from. I want to know that I can go at least a month or two without needing to buy groceries. With winter coming up, blizzards are a possibility. I may not survive a Nuclear winter but for now…I’m doing ok. Each week I buy a few cans of this, or a few of that…not much but a little at a time.

  3. What most people don’t realize, that prepping is a way of life. We don’t go around wearing tin hats wanting something to happen. If you’re living beyond your means ( which is a big % of us), or trying to keep up with the jones. You will have a rude awakening when something happens. As the saying goes, “better to be safe than sorry”.

    1. We prep because after prez 44 got in office we had no work for many months, and I had to sell my horse very sad. We got down to not much in pantry was horrible

  4. Hey Noah,
    A variation on your “Sense of Superiority” category that I’ve seen a lot of is Statist Pride. These are folks at work who have very much drunk the Koolaid that The State has all the answers and will take care of everything. They, being good-and-loyal subjects of their nanny state, cannot prep. To do so, would be to admit that their Dear Leaders might not have all the answers. To prep is to distrust: almost treason.

    — Mic

  5. I started prepping years ago and stopped. Figured people will come in and kill you for your things that you have anyways. Why prep? Constant food going out of date. I think we should learn what to eat off of nature. Made a bug out bag a few years ago and people have been walking away with the stuff as they need it more than I do I guess. Too many thieves in this world.

    1. If I got gotten lazy about prepping, too, my family would have been devastated by Harvey. So far, no one has come to kill us for our food. I think you were just looking for an excuse.

    2. So be ready to defend yourself and your stash. I tend to believe this to an extent, that’s why I also ‘hoard’ knowledge of foraging, they can’t take that away from me.

    3. If your preps are going out of date then you are wasting money. You are supposed to rotate your preps. You do this by incorporating them into your daily meals. That way they get used up and replenished so nothing gets too old.

      How are people walking away with your bug out bag stuff? Why isn’t your stuff secure?

  6. This may fall into some categories you have mentioned, but a large percentage of people have no clue of about the past or present. They have no desire to know what is happening around them.

  7. For our family prepping is a lifestyle…..we garden….can…dehydrate….and make our meals from scratch….we could go off grid at a moments notice and save a ton of money because we buy in season and in bulk…..has enables us to build a nice deck and pool this year…..plus we eat healthier and live happier….

    1. “we could go off grid at a moments notice and save a ton of money because we buy in season and in bulk”

      Then why don’t you? Why spend more than you need if you don’t have to? You lost me there…

  8. My husband and I have been prepping now for around 9 years. Our prepping goes be on long & short term food, it is much-much more. you have to think outside the box knowing “everything” you will need for survival. We tried to get our siblings involved and they fit into the categories in this post. We now have come to the conclusion to just keep our mouth shout and keep doing what we feel needs to be done. For all new beginners who feel they want to start to do something but have no clue where to start, there are many great sites to help you get started, just google “BEGINNER PREPPERS, AND HOW TO GET STARTED IN PREPPING.”

  9. Pingback: 8 Reasons Why People Refuse to Prep – Preparedness AdvicePreparedness Advice | SHTF Prepper

  10. I have had conversations with a few friends that refused to prep because they insisted that God would protect them. I try to explain to these people that God allows bad things to happen to good people every day. Part of being a Christian is using the tools and resources that God gives you wisely.

    1. That reminds me of a joke. A man was drowning in the sea. A small boat came by and offered to rescue him. He said “No. God will save me.” The Coast Guard came by and he waved them off saying “God will save me.” Then a helicopter came flew over and threw him a rope. He swam away shouting “God will save me!” The man drowned. When he met God he asked why He didn’t save him. God said “I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what did you want?”
      God’s provisions should not be ignored.

  11. I always have had plenty enough to always be able to survive a 3 day blizzard. A couple years ago I got a generator, and then I wired my house so that I can just plug the generator into the house when the power goes out. (note to self: need more gas storage). Never had a bug out bag before, so I made one this summer. It has food, shelter, and the ability to get water for my wife and myself for a week. It’s a work in progress.

    1. Also consider retrofitting your generator for propane & natural gas; get what is called a “tri-fuel” kit.

      I installed one on my Honda EU2000i, and it’s been fantastic! Storing propane is much easier, and safer than gasoline.

  12. A few of my friends have read the book 1 second after and they say they don’t want to live in a world like that. And if that time comes they’ll just kill themselves.

    1. I have a friend who says that too. She said she would just wait on the front porch with the rest of the family and wait to get shot, or swept out in the flood, or what ever the disaster, shtf, maybe. Crazy I think. I would at least TRY to survive..

  13. It all depends on where you prep to go. Should you descend into an underground bunker, that could be the worse decision, and the last one you might ever make. A nuclear explosion, let’s say in the vicinity of the Yellowstone caldera. The explosion caused the side effect of the massive caldera to violently erupt! You are safe in your underground bunker, or so you think. While you are watching your favourite DVD/bluray movie lava and/or ash buries your entrance hatch. By the time you are ready to come out you finally realize that you are sealed inside your own tomb! Did you really survive anything? This is just one example, if the time comes for me to “bug out” o will simply retreat into the vast wilderness of Alaska or Yukon. I can hunt, fish, survive indefinitely out there. To trap myself in some shelter, not knowing what is happening above or around me, is more foolish than not being prepared at all.

  14. One thing I see reading through the comments is lazy, or perhaps becoming complacent. “I have been prepping for “X” years and haven’t had an issue, so I just haven’t been doing it much lately”. Disasters happen when you least expect them and when you are the least prepared. For some, it isn’t a disaster, because they are prepared.

  15. You missed one. This comes to me when talk to my sis about my preper plan in progress. She said me that God is coming soon and lift the ones in the clouds and they never needs anything else. She only needs to preper her soul for this day.

  16. I work in Cyber Security and see the spectrum of very human responses to risk assessment. The seven stages of grieving happen. The following is a plausible example. Sir, if we do not fix this, we could be liable for 195 million US Dollars. Presently we cannot even partially control this without spending at least 200,000 dollars. Without this, we would have to bet to stupidity of computer hackers as our only defense.

    At this point various parts of corporate leadership, IT leadership and middle managers experience a response that looks like the seven stages of grief: Shock and Disbelief, Denial, Guilt, Anger and Barganing, Depression-loneliness-reflection, Reconstruction-working through it, Acceptance. “You have got it wrong.” “The risk is not real.” “How dare you come in here and tell us this.” “If we just installed Antivirus on all our systems this would go away.” “Were are we going to get the money to fix this?” “Is this only happening to us, what about other firms?” “So every firm across the USA that uses JAVA is experiencing the same thing?” “What is the plan to fix this look like?” “Yes, we own this risk, but it is not going to get fixed in a day.” “I can think of other good things I would have done with $200,000 for this business, but I see we have to.”

    I think the same thing happens with every form of Risk Management.


  17. It’s just a well-stocked pantry. It has a few extras of things we consume and use regularly. I keep track of what is used from the pantry, and things taken out of the freezer, and make the shopping list every week using that information. It all started when, 27 years ago, we lived out in the country and there was this big flood. I mean, really, really big. It started raining in April and didn’t quit until September. One trip home from work actually required a detour adding up to an extra 80 miles. I decided then that it was not smart to have only a few days’ worth of groceries and supplies in the house, when we had a perfectly good pantry space under the stairs, just by the entrance to the kitchen. This is nothing more than adult behavior, making sure the household is well provisioned for the type of emergency most likely to occur in our region. I don’t talk about it.

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