Using shorthand to talk about specialized topics in communities is nothing new. Plenty of people are of the opinion that prepper acronyms just muddy up communication and cause a headache for newcomers. They argue that it drives people away from prepping and puts preppers in a bad light. Others insist that it establishes a sense of community, and improves communication flow with abbreviations. Whether you are an avid survival acronym user or prefer to use plain English, knowing what they mean can come in handy when dealing with preppers. Here is our comprehensive list of prepping and survival acronyms:
ALICE: All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment – a gear attachment system used by the military found on older packs. Still preferred by some, although it is less popular than the MOLLE system.
BOB: Bug Out Bag
BOL: Bug Out Location – an alternate location from your home where you plan to retreat when trigger events occur.
BOV: Bug Out Vehicle – a vehicle equipped for and used for getting to a BOL, or living on the move.
CAT: Combat Application Tourniquet – a fast application tourniquet that is included in many survival first aid kits.
CB: Citizen Band (Radio) – a short distance amateur radio communication band. CB radios are often included in BOVs.
CBRN: Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, Nuclear – unconventional types of WMDs.
CCW: Carrying a Concealed Weapon
CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – a federal agency that prevents the spread of infectious diseases and pathogens.
CERT: Community Emergency Response Team – local Citizens Corps groups trained by FEMA to assist with local and regional disasters.
CME: Coronal Mass Ejection – a naturally occurring solar flare with the potential to create an EMP event by bombarding the atmosphere with magnetic field lines.
DHS: Department of Homeland Security – a cabinet of the federal government created after the September 11th attacks charged with protecting the country from asymmetric threats.
DIY: Do It Yourself
DoD: Department of Defense – a branch of the federal government that runs national security and the US Armed Forces.
EDC: Everyday Carry
EMP: Electromagnetic Pulse – a short burst of electromagnetic energy that can disrupt and damage unprotected electronics. Nuclear blasts can cause EMPs.
EOTW: End of the World
EROL: Excessive Rule of Law – the opposite of the better known WROL, this describes a police state where laws are plentiful and fully enforced to the point of infringing on basic rights. While WROL can be triggered by an event, EROL is usually more gradual. EROL, however, can occur when the governing body reacts to an event.
ETA: Estimated Time of Arrival
FIFO: First in, First Out – a method of inventory management, used often in food storage, to cycle all inventory. Think of this method as working like a garden hose.
FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Agency – a federal agency that plans for, mitigates, and responds to federal emergencies. They coordinate with the DoD, DHS, CDC, and CERT teams when needed.
FUBAR: F’d up Beyond All Recognition – a military carryover term for bad situations.
GHB: Get Home Bag
GOOD: Get Out of Dodge – a saying originating from Westerns adopted to mean escaping from populated areas. GOOD bags are similar to BOBs, but are designed with urban scenarios in mind with extra weaponry and urban tools.
GPS: Global Positioning System – a satellite driven navigation system used by GPS receivers and many smart phones.
HAM: not actually an acronym, but it is slang for amateur radio operators.
ICE: In Case of Emergency – an acronym label used to identify who people wish to be contacted in case of emergency.
IFAK: Individual First Aid Kit – a small, portable first aid kit first used by the military.
INCH: I’m Never Coming Home – a long term kit meant to sustain wilderness survival indefinitely.
ISIS: Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – terrorists.
LEO: Law Enforcement Officer – local law enforcement and military law enforcement.
LIFO: Last In, First Out – another inventory management system that does not work so well for food storage. Think of this method as working like an AR-15 magazine.
LTS: Long Term Survival
MOLLE: Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment – pronounced “Molly”, a web lacing found on current military and tactical packs and vests for attaching gear.
MRE: Meal Ready to Eat – a prepackaged meal used extensively by the military.
NBC: Nuclear, Biological, Chemical
NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – a federal agency that tracks weather events, including space weather and wildfires.
NINJA: No Income, No Job or Assets – a derogatory term used to describe those totally dependent on society to survive.
NVGs: Night Vision Goggles
OPSEC: Operational Security – a military term used to describe protecting valuable and critical information.
OTC: Over the Counter – besides being used to describe over the counter medication, it is used to describe easily obtainable supplies.
PMA: Positive Mental Attitude – a type of mindset or mantra that focuses on the importance of being positive in stressful situations.
SHTF: Shit Hits the Fan – when used by a prepper this describes an emergency, disaster, or situation where society could possibly collapse. The severity has since been watered down by over-use and now often describes simply unfortunate situations.
SIP: Shelter in Place
SNAFU: Situation Normal- All F’d Up – another military crossover acronym not to be confused with SHTF or FUBAR. SNAFU simply means you acknowledge that everything is normal, and that is normally messed up.
SOL: Shit out of Luck
SOP: Standard Operating Procedure – a military rooted acronym used often when developing plans, or relaying plans to others.
SOS: Save Our Ship – a recognizable signal for help, it is extremely recognizable when communicated with Morse code.
TEOTWAWKI: The End of the World as We Know It – not necessarily the end of the world, but the end of society as we currently recognize it. The acronym usually labels the event that occurred to cause the societal collapse.
TLA: Three Letter Acronym – a tongue in cheek reference used in communities where there are possibly too many acronyms.
TP: Toilet Paper
WMD: Weapon of Mass Destruction – a CBRN or conventional weapon that can kill or harm a significant portion of the population.
WROL: Without Rule of Law – anarchy, civil disobedience, societal collapse, or non-enforcement are all WROL scenarios where laws do not exist, are ignored, or are simply not enforced.
YOYO: You’re On Your Own – a prepper acronym name for how employees, soldiers, and police will inevitably abandon their station or mission to fend for themselves and families in a bad enough scenario.
The Final Word
Are there too many prepper acronyms in our community? Probably. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Keeping up the dialogue no matter how far we steer away from layman terms is important. Let us know any prepper or survival acronyms we may have missed in the comments below. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.