Disrupted access to water, food, energy, or transportation. Substantial and prolonged outages happen everywhere; many of us will experience at least one at some point in our lives. A week without electricity may be just inconvenient and scary, especially in a high-rise or in a seedy neighborhood; but even a single hot day without potable water is universally bad news.

These days, when North Korea tests a bomb, Hall can expect an uptick of phone inquiries about space in the Survival Condo Project. But he points to a deeper source of demand. “Seventy per cent of the country doesn’t like the direction that things are going,” he said. After dinner, Hall and Menosky gave me a tour. The complex is a tall cylinder that resembles a corncob. Some levels are dedicated to private apartments and others offer shared amenities: a seventy-five-foot-long pool, a rock-climbing wall, an Astro-Turf “pet park,” a classroom with a line of Mac desktops, a gym, a movie theatre, and a library. It felt compact but not claustrophobic. We visited an armory packed with guns and ammo in case of an attack by non-members, and then a bare-walled room with a toilet. “We can lock people up and give them an adult time-out,” he said. In general, the rules are set by a condo association, which can vote to amend them. During a crisis, a “life-or-death situation,” Hall said, each adult would be required to work for four hours a day, and would not be allowed to leave without permission. “There’s controlled access in and out, and it’s governed by the board,” he said.

Partly that’s because here (northern moor and heath) ‘living off the land’ is an almost impossibility (SERE trains us how to ‘survive’ in similar places, but crucially only until escape or rescue, but even then that isn’t ‘living’ it’s ‘existing’). I’d guess from (saw and camo) you’re in an arboreal forest area. Life is ‘possible’ there (I’ve spent many a summer in northern Norway/Sweden (I have Sami friends) with nothing but a rifle, knife, axe, saw, fire-starter, water-bottle and tin mug, tarp and the clothes on my back … but that isn’t in winter, and it isn’t when thousands of others may be doing the same thing. Surviving with only what you can carry in, even in a large vehicle, is a short term option at best, I think. (Remember, even Grizzly Adams nearly, would have, died without help and a store to get supplies from).
Sure, the lightbulb needs changing and that office chair is really close, but it would take you only 15 seconds more to bring a more sturdy stool from another room, so don't take chances if you don't have to. Similarly, having someone hold a wobbly ladder for you or securing it with some rope can be a minor hurdle - but it's gonna be much less of a hurdle than dealing with a compound fracture or a dent in your skull.
Weather-appropriate clothing. A well-maintained stash of warm clothes, including waterproof ponchos and rain boots. In a pinch, you can also use metallized Mylar blankets ($0.80 a piece): tie them with some tape to make improvised rainproof, windproof, or thermally insulating clothing and hats, shoe liners, and more. The blankets cost very little and take up virtually no room, so I strongly suggest keeping some in your car. If you're stranded in an inhospitable place, they could save your life.
...what do I need to bring? How much can you realistically take with you when leaving by car, by bike, or on foot? What are the most important items, and will you be able to grab them quickly enough? To simplify things, would it make sense to maintain a small cache of supplies in the trunk of your car or at a friend's place - and if yes, what should be in that box?

And I have bought various pantry sized cans of sauces to increase flavor and nutrition. Alfredo sauce, tomato sauce, mild hot sauce, and Italian seasoning mix come to mind immediately. Since those cans are so well sealed, I don’t bother putting them in the buckets. I also have some #10 cans of cheese sauce powder (think boxed Mac and cheese) since I couldn’t find it in a pantry can, but I store lots of ziplock freezer bags (both quart and gallon sizes) and can use my silica packs to keep it fresher – hopefully long enough to use it up. Cheese sauce over pasta, rice or broccoli will be a nice change of taste when things get boring.
Tim Chang, a forty-four-year-old managing director at Mayfield Fund, a venture-capital firm, told me, “There’s a bunch of us in the Valley. We meet up and have these financial-hacking dinners and talk about backup plans people are doing. It runs the gamut from a lot of people stocking up on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, to figuring out how to get second passports if they need it, to having vacation homes in other countries that could be escape havens.” He said, “I’ll be candid: I’m stockpiling now on real estate to generate passive income but also to have havens to go to.” He and his wife, who is in technology, keep a set of bags packed for themselves and their four-year-old daughter. He told me, “I kind of have this terror scenario: ‘Oh, my God, if there is a civil war or a giant earthquake that cleaves off part of California, we want to be ready.’ ”
For folks who want to focus on the most plausible risks, I suggest stockpiling dry survival rations to last around 2-3 weeks; seven 3,600 kcal packets per person should do the trick. That may sound like a lot, but keep in mind that it may take a while for stores to reopen after an earthquake or a flood - so it's not a bad plan to play it safe. And while eating ration bars for a week sounds bland, you may be in no mood for home cooking when you have to fix a collapsed roof and the utilities are cut off.
In addition, the kits may contain typical individual "survival kit" items, such as nylon tarps, extra clothes and coats, blankets, sleeping bags, matches or other fire starting equipment, a compass and maps, flashlights, toilet paper, soap, a pocket knife and bowie knife, a fishing kit, a portable camping stove, a power inverter, backpack, paper and pencil, a signaling mirror, whistle, cable saw, bleach, insect repellent, magnifying glass, rope and nylon cord, pulleys, and a pistol and ammunition.
Semi-automatic pistols. Typically capable of firing somewhere around 6-17 rounds from a removable magazine; reloading is very fast, provided that you carry another magazine with you. Their user interface is relatively complex, and some knowledge is needed to deal with potential misfires, jams, or to avoid negligent discharges - although the probability of any such issues is generally very low. (It's wise to avoid discount ammo and magazines.)
Partly that’s because here (northern moor and heath) ‘living off the land’ is an almost impossibility (SERE trains us how to ‘survive’ in similar places, but crucially only until escape or rescue, but even then that isn’t ‘living’ it’s ‘existing’). I’d guess from (saw and camo) you’re in an arboreal forest area. Life is ‘possible’ there (I’ve spent many a summer in northern Norway/Sweden (I have Sami friends) with nothing but a rifle, knife, axe, saw, fire-starter, water-bottle and tin mug, tarp and the clothes on my back … but that isn’t in winter, and it isn’t when thousands of others may be doing the same thing. Surviving with only what you can carry in, even in a large vehicle, is a short term option at best, I think. (Remember, even Grizzly Adams nearly, would have, died without help and a store to get supplies from).

Generally speaking, the more outdoor experience you have, the fewer items you’ll need in your survival kit. Those who are quite skilled at starting campfires may not need to bring matches and emergency tinder; as a simple fire starter will suffice. Similarly, experienced outdoor enthusiasts may elect to bring items like garbage bags, rather than ponchos, as they can be used for a variety of different purposes, which outdoor novices are unlikely to have mastered.


Finally, when prepping for food, meticulously keep an eye out for coupons. This may mean that you purchase dozens of beans one week and tons of rice the next. However, if you set yourself a budget of $10/mo and max this out as much as you can, you will soon see your food supplies growing. That would be $120 worth of seeds, food, and canned goods that you could have at the end of the year. We’ve said it a number of times already, but preparing even a little bit at a time is better than nothing at all.
Business for Hardened Structures, an engineering firm based in Virginia Beach, is up roughly 40% since 2005, co-owner Brian Camden says. Some of his clients buy gold and silver and other precious metals as a hedge against a possible collapse of the currency, and they want to be able to protect it and their families, he says. So his company designs ways to build underground bunkers, strengthen walls and improve security systems on homes.
A tarp. For actual survival, a generic blue tarp from Lowe’s isn’t going to cut it. I’m looking for something that is specially designed to help you survive in winter, like [the Xenon winter tarp, $140 and the Old Man Winter by Wilderness Logistics, $160]. They can be used as a tent, as ground cover, to catch rainwater, to patch holes, for a trap, and even to drag back heavy animals.

Start your breakfast with high-quality protein powder and insoluble dietary fibers (about 20-30 grams each; you can mix them together in a cup of cold water). There is fairly clear evidence that fiber and protein can increase satiety and reduce cravings thoroughout the day. Sure, it's not "natural", but it beats making implausible resolutions to organize your life around low-calorie, fiber-rich meals - especially if you don't like veggies or don't usually cook your food.

The No. 1 emergency that most people are going to face is a financial problem, and that isn’t necessarily gonna be the collapse of the American economy. It’s more likely that someone in your family will lose their job, or you’ll have a huge medical expense that you weren’t expecting and can’t pay for. I’m a single parent. About 10 years ago, I lost my job. The fact that my pantry had enough food for several months meant I was able to use my savings and my unemployment payment to keep my mortgage paid.
One major upside of freeze-dried food is its convenience. Since all its water content has been removed—via a process that involves exposing food to subzero temperatures, while removing the resulting water vapor with a vacuum—it’s easier than canned goods to transport on the fly. To “cook” Wise Company’s six-grain Apple Cinnamon Cereal, you just boil three and a half cups of water, dump in the powdery contents of the bag (minus the oxygen absorber), and cover the pot for 12 to 15 minutes.
Of course, for the will to be executed, it needs to be found. It makes sense to keep one copy in an intuitive location in your home, because that's where people will be looking for it first; but if there's a fire or a flood, that copy may be lost. So, make another witnessed or notarized copy and give it to the executor or to a close family member who doesn't live with you. Some folks don't recommend creating multiple legally binding copies of the same will, since it may cause some confusion, but from a disaster preparedness perspective, it's a smart call.
Now, many "true" preppers would tell you to keep mum about your plans, so that in an emergency, you don't have to fend off armies of freeloaders begging for a slice of your meager supplies - or worse yet, trying to take them by force. I think that this attitude is short-sighted; sure, it makes sense not to broadcast your plans to the entire world, and there is no conceivable benefit to posting Facebook selfies with your stash of freeze-dried food or with a pile of cash. But the clear value of convincing some of your friends to start prepping greatly outweighs the distant possibility that one of them will attempt to raid your home the moment the power goes out.
To manage that fear, Dugger said, he has seen two very different responses. “People know the only real answer is, Fix the problem,” he said. “It’s a reason most of them give a lot of money to good causes.” At the same time, though, they invest in the mechanics of escape. He recalled a dinner in New York City after 9/11 and the bursting of the dot-com bubble: “A group of centi-millionaires and a couple of billionaires were working through end-of-America scenarios and talking about what they’d do. Most said they’ll fire up their planes and take their families to Western ranches or homes in other countries.” One of the guests was skeptical, Dugger said. “He leaned forward and asked, ‘Are you taking your pilot’s family, too? And what about the maintenance guys? If revolutionaries are kicking in doors, how many of the people in your life will you have to take with you?’ The questioning continued. In the end, most agreed they couldn’t run.”
In an ideal world, you’d bring along duplicates for every item in your survival kit. This way, if one breaks, you’ve got a back up at the ready. “Two is one, and one is none,” as the saying goes. But in the real world, your outdoor activities will place weight and space restrictions on the size of your survival kit. You can’t very well bring multiple knives, several flashlights and two pairs of pliers if you are trying to go ultralight camping in the Sierra Nevadas.
Built for the Kill (2001–04) Taboo (2002–13) Explorations (2003–04) Be the Creature (2003–04) Seven Deadly Arts with Akshay Kumar (2004) Interpol Investigates (2004–05) Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan (2004–11) Megastructures (2004–11) Naked Science (2004–11) In the Womb (2005–10) Hunter Hunted (2005–08) Is It Real? (2005–07) Extraterrestrial (2005) Paranormal? (2005) I Didn't Know That (2006) Ultimate Factories (2006–13) Wild (2006–12) Prehistoric Predators (2007–09) Trapped (2007) Critical Situation (2007–08) Lockdown (2007) DogTown (2008–10) Big, Bigger, Biggest (2008–11) Planet Mechanics (2008) Perilous Journeys (2008–13) World's Toughest Fixes (2008–10) Rescue Ink Unleashed (2009) Alaska State Troopers (2009–15)

Gale, you’re right about the bug eggs. I know it’s a little skeevy to think about but *nearly all* grain products (whole wheat berries, biscuit mix, pasta, cornmeal, anything) already have bug eggs in them. That’s what the dry ice is for; it helps stave off rancidity and it also prevents (ew) hatching! Or you can freeze the items for a week and then store long-term, but that’s a lot more trouble than it sounds like and doesn’t help prolong shelf life.
Many hardcore preppers spend their time fantasizing about heroic survival in the endless, pristine wilderness, equipped with nothing more than a bug out bag, a trusty rifle, and their own iron will. But even in far more realistic situations, being able to set up a camp can be a valuable skill. During mass evacuations, there is always a good chance of being stuck on a congested highway for a day or two, or reaching your destination only to find out that all the hotels and motels are full. The benefits are clear for some small-scale emergencies, too: if backed-up sewage makes your home uninhabitable for a while, setting up a tent in a friend's backyard can be much cheaper than staying in a hotel for several weeks.
That said, when we look beyond the dogma, the underlying facts paint an an incredibly nuanced picture of the right to bear arms - putting into question many of the deeply-held and seemingly common-sense beliefs. For example, despite the striking ubiquity of legally owned firearms in the United States - about one per every resident - the country actually enjoys lower per-capita rates of suicide, robbery, assault, or rape, compared to some of its esteemed European peers. This simple fact deals a serious blow to the creed that more guns translate to more crime.

During his 45th Infantry Division, Pense taught field wiring, instructing G.I.s on setting poles and stringing wires to rig together a communications network from scratch. After the war, he was an electronics engineer in the private sector, sometimes on military contracts, learning the frailty of the nation’s power grid firsthand. On one government contract, he witnessed a nuclear warhead knock out power in Hawaii after detonating high above the Pacific.
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With the rules internalized, you are extremely unlikely to cause unintentional harm. Keep practicing at least twice a month until you get good, and then go to the range at least several times a year. Try to use practice ammo with lead-free primers and clean bullets (e.g., RUAG Copper Matrix, Magtech Clean Range, Winchester Super Clean, Federal Ballisticlean, Remington Disintegrator, Federal American Eagle TMJ, Federal Power-Shok Copper) and avoid tracking lead residues from indoor ranges back home - especially if you have small kids. Always wear hearing and eye protection, too.
One school of thought popular in the prepper community is to convert some of your savings into commodity metals: copper, tin, silver, platinum, palladium, and the likes. All of them are easy to store, last indefinitely, and will certainly hold value far better than a fiat currency in free fall. On the flip side, you may still need to accept substantial loss: an economic collapse will disrupt industrial demand, causing the prices of many such commodities to slump.
protect the food – by separating the food into sealed smaller bags it protects them from the air and contaminates each time I open the bucket to get food out.  I’ve noticed that the bulk popcorn gets less fluffy and a little crunchier over the years as there is more air in the bucket as the popcorn gets lower.  When I buy new popcorn I will seal it in smaller bags to keep it fresher longer.

The reëlection of Barack Obama was a boon for the prepping industry. Conservative devotees, who accused Obama of stoking racial tensions, restricting gun rights, and expanding the national debt, loaded up on the types of freeze-dried cottage cheese and beef stroganoff promoted by commentators like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. A network of “readiness” trade shows attracted conventioneers with classes on suturing (practiced on a pig trotter) and photo opportunities with survivalist stars from the TV show “Naked and Afraid.”

The Emergency Essentials Premier bucket is the best short term emergency food product for most people. The $380 three-bucket option covers two people for 15-18 days at a very healthy 2,700-2,275 calories per day. One person can cover two weeks for only a single $130 bucket if you stretch the 27,330 total calories an extra day or two at 1,900 calories per day.


Folks without a car are at a marked disadvantage, but should still try to put together a 72-hour "bug out bag" - and ideally, keep it somewhere within a walking or biking distance of their home (say, at work or at a friend's place). It's best to keep it light; some cash, 2-4 quarts of water, a 3,600 kcal emergency ration, and a raincoat will be almost certainly more useful than a gun and a collection of throwing knives.
Be in this for the long haul. Effortlessly losing 1-2 lbs per week while slowly developing better habits is far more meaningful than starving yourself for a month to get immediate but short-lived results. Get an accurate bathroom scale, take daily measurements first thing in the morning, calculate key milestones, and put it all in a spreadsheet to keep yourself honest and motivated. It will probably take 6-9 months to get the outcome you want; daily or weekly weight fluctuations are almost completely meaningless, but you should be seeing a consistent and predictable biweekly drop.
That said, when we look beyond the dogma, the underlying facts paint an an incredibly nuanced picture of the right to bear arms - putting into question many of the deeply-held and seemingly common-sense beliefs. For example, despite the striking ubiquity of legally owned firearms in the United States - about one per every resident - the country actually enjoys lower per-capita rates of suicide, robbery, assault, or rape, compared to some of its esteemed European peers. This simple fact deals a serious blow to the creed that more guns translate to more crime.
Handguns. This category encompasses a wide selection of small, lower-powered firearms that can be easily carried without attracting attention. Most have a fairly modest stopping power, so-so ballistics, and require quite a bit of practice to accurately hit anything more than 10 yards away. A telling statistic is that in shootouts, the police have a hit rate somewhere between 10% and 30%; contrary to what some gun control supporters claim, an average policeman does not get that much practice, and probably trains less than your typical gun enthusiast - but these numbers are still something to keep in mind.
Stocking a survival kit is a very personal procedure. Your life may depend on your choices at some point, so you’ll want to ponder the potential disasters you may face and do your best to assemble the items that will help you survive. But, if you start with the items listed above, add in those which will address your personal needs and carry them in a sensible container, you’ll likely keep yourself alive and return home with a great story.

Communication: Radio is still the best way to get emergency info. Unfortunately we’ve had a lot of bad experiences with the $20 to $70 “emergency radios” commonly available on Amazon. Poor reception, awful durability, bloated with unneeded features, etc. So we’re not going to make a recommendation until we’ve done a full product review, but if you’re looking anyway, Kaito and Eton are the two most common brands.
Out of all of these foods, kidney beans are certainly the cheapest. Rice is especially affordable when you buy it in bulk from wholesale stores. Peanut butter isn’t cheap per-se, but the calorie per teaspoon value means it will last a long time, which means the upfront cost of a large jar soon balances out in a survival situation. Flour is great for experienced preppers as it has dozens of cooking uses.
I find surplus ammo cans to be a good storage container with a little work. The large 81mm mortar cans are even capable of holding firearms (Broken down). Most of the cans I get might need some TLC, but making sure the gasket is still intact and usable is a must. I bead blast them to remove any outside and inside rust or corrosion, then repaint them using appliance epoxy (much harder to chip and peel than regular enamel paint).I use several coats (minimum of 3). Depending upon the intended use, I will line the can with 1/2″ closed cell foam. Using a metal can for a Faraday requires some additional work. The top has to be integral to the body. That requires copper tape over the gasket and a ground wire between the can body and lid. I have one can filled with dried rice and beans, that’s been in the ground for 6 years now. I dig it up once a year to check it and it remains bug free and intact still. Metal has one big advantage over the plastic as it is rodent proof. Some very good tips and advice in this column.
Some products are no different than a normal box of mac and cheese: you boil water in a pot, mix the packaged product into the pot, turn the heat to a simmer, cook, and serve. Others are as simple as pouring boiling water in the pouch and waiting a few minutes. In some cases, the water doesn’t even need to be hot (although flavor and texture is better if it is).
There are millions of people in the United States alone that consider themselves preppers. Preppers are those who actively prepare for all types of emergencies from natural disasters to civil unrest. They often acquire items such as emergency medical supplies, food and water, and more. While not everyone prepares for disasters as some preppers do, anyone can put together a survival kits that could help them in times of need. For those who are new to prepping, there are many articles and resources available on topics ranging from food to self defense, and more. The resources below will help those interested in prepping get started.

Even though I have a good start on my food pantry, it is always a good idea to look at others ideas. I had not thought of bulk pancake mix. I am a single person and got a great deal on Bisquick shake and pour ($1.00 each) I bought 2 dozen! I don’t really care for pancakes on a regular basis but once in a while… That all being said, I did purchase a vacuum sealer and have made good use of it. I also have a large dehydrator and visit the farmers market often for goodies to dehydrate and seal. When I have purchased these 20 items, I am then on to other needs such as shelter, etc. I have a lot of camping gear but not a good tent if I should have to vacate. Thank you Gaye – keep up the good work.


There are other ways to absorb the anxieties of our time. “If I had a billion dollars, I wouldn’t buy a bunker,” Elli Kaplan, the C.E.O. of the digital health startup Neurotrack, told me. “I would reinvest in civil society and civil innovation. My view is you figure out even smarter ways to make sure that something terrible doesn’t happen.” Kaplan, who worked in the White House under Bill Clinton, was appalled by Trump’s victory, but said that it galvanized her in a different way: “Even in my deepest fear, I say, ‘Our union is stronger than this.’ ”
If you live in a hot and humid environment, you have to store the food a little differently. I live in Florida, and I recommend sealing 1 lbs to 5 lbs in mylar bags and storing those in sealed 5 gallon buckets. It creates a double barrier and smaller bag sizes if you have to open them in an emergency. It might seem more expensive, but it is better than losing everything to water or humidity. It also makes great barter material in a shtf situation.

Paracord: It’s so handy that many preppers wear a bracelet made of braided paracord that can be pulled apart and used as a normal 20-foot line in an emergency. Some bracelets are just the paracord, others have tools like a compass or whistle built in. If you don’t want to wear it on your wrist, you can tie it to your purse or bag as an accessory. We don’t yet have a specific favorite here, so just shop around.


“I started saying, ‘Well, wait a minute, what does the government know that we don’t know?’ ” Hall said. In 2008, he paid three hundred thousand dollars for the silo and finished construction in December, 2012, at a cost of nearly twenty million dollars. He created twelve private apartments: full-floor units were advertised at three million dollars; a half-floor was half the price. He has sold every unit, except one for himself, he said.

Every survival kit and emergency preparedness plan should include emergency blankets and lights. Mylar blankets effectively reflect body heat, and can keep you warm throughout a cold night. Their extreme lightweight and compact size make them an ideal part of a survival kit. To ensure you have adequate light in the event of a power failure, chemical snap lights are a convenient solution that doesn’t rely on batteries. Many snap lights last for 12 hours or more, and have a five year shelf life, so you know they’ll be there for you when you need them.
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