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Scott D. Pierce: Utah family preps for 'Doomsday' TV show

Published November 13, 2012 1:48 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Kara Southwick wasn't immediately sure she wanted to appear on "Doomsday Preppers."

"Sometimes it's crazy. That was my reservation," said Southwick, whose West Jordan family is profiled in the season premiere of the National Geographic Channel show on Tuesday at 7 and 9 p.m.

"There's an episode where they filter their urine and then drink it in champagne glasses — that is crazy," Southwick laughed. "I would never do that."

Her husband, Braxton, had pretty much set it up before telling her. And their kids — Braxton Jr., 20; Jayden, 18; Treston, 17; Taja, 17; Colton, 16; and Rylee, 13 — were all on board.

"We did have a meeting and asked them if they wanted to do it," Kara Southwick said. "And their big thing was — 'If we get to be on TV, sure!' "

The Southwicks will be part of National Geographic's most popular show, even though they don't drink filtered urine, build underground bunkers or practice armed shoot-outs, like others who have appeared on the show.

The Braxtons are basically the family down the street who have carried the idea of having a year's supply of food beyond the norm.

"We are Mormon, and it is a tenet of the Mormon religion that you should be self-reliant and have a year's supply of food storage," Kara Southwick said. "We started off small, and then we just made it bigger."

A lot bigger. The amount of food and supplies they store is amazing. They've got fuel, including 1,000 pounds of coal buried under the garden, charcoal, propane and diesel.

"We prep a lot, and we do take it to the extreme," said Braxton Jr.

But to the logical extreme, his father insisted.

"It doesn't consume our lives," said Braxton Southwick. "Maybe once, twice a month we will get together and, as a family activity, we will go over our emergency plan."

Each family member has a bug-out bag, filled with food and clothes to survive for three days. Each has an assigned role if disaster strikes — from survival expert to nurse assistant to farming to hunting.

Yes, they do have and train with guns, which are "all at home in a safe," Braxton Southwick said. "As a father, I'm provider and a protector of my family, and I chose guns as protecting my family."'

They're prepared if a natural disaster like an earthquake hits. They're prepared with suits and masks if there's a chemical disaster of some sort.

And, yes, that's going to look a little crazy to some people. Which is part of what makes "Doomsday Preppers" popular.

"It's about entertainment, too," Kara Southwick said. "If they edit it to make us look crazy, our friends and family know who we are. So we'll just have a big laugh about it."

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.