Survival instinct: Why we rush the grocery store before the storm

Storm panic at the store

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- Rushing to the store to stock up- many of us have this response we when hear the news of a big storm coming. We see it every season- people flock to the grocery stores last minute and clear out the shelves.

More often than not, people buy too many supplies or items they don't actually need. So, why do we do this? Well, as one Portland psychologist explained, news of big events, like storms, trigger a survival instinct in our brains that has been there since humans first came to be.

"The hunter/gatherer hind brain having to do with survival," explained Dr. Rosemary McCullough about what part of the brain kicks in. "And then the parts of our brain called the limbic system, which is the flight or fight part of your brain, is driven to survival also. And it's the part of our brain that drives us to avoid fear, it's also the part of our brain that drives us to eat."

Doctor McCullough also said that we can be influenced by what we see other people are buying at the store as well. This is called the herd effect. However, many tried and true Mainers said at this point in the season they're as prepared as can be.

"Basically keep the average stuff that we have in the house. Don't really need any extras. I feel like we're living in Maine and this is to be expected," said Jim Contant while shopping at Portland's Food Co-op on Monday.

"I don't really think it's a big concern, it's march, we're going to warm right back up. And we're here every storm no matter what," said Galen Ricci, a grocery shopper. 

NEWS CENTER has a list of preparations trusted emergency agencies say you should make time for before and during the storm. 

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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