Forums and Facebook groups are littered with the same fundamental questions asked over and over again, but they often give incomplete, conflicting, or even dangerous answers. Then we’d read a blog where the author did some quick googling and cranked out a post just to get some traffic. Or we’d have to dig through crazy propaganda and extreme political opinions in the hopes of finding good advice. It drove us mad — we just wanted the facts and straightforward answers!

For folks interested in getting a nice, compact Geiger counter, Radex One ($120) is pretty hard to beat; it is tiny, inexpensive, and can be hooked up to a PC to continuously monitor the environment (and send e-mail or SMS alerts). The one caveat is that similarly to many other low-cost units, this device maxes out at 1 mSv/h - enough to know that something is very wrong, but not enough to tell if you're going to receive a life-threatening dose in an hour or somewhere within the next six months. In other words, some of the more hardcore preppers may want to invest in a more capable unit, such as ADM-300 (which goes all the way to 100 Sv/h) or RAD-60R (3 Sv/h). Decommissioned military and civilian devices in excellent working condition can be found on eBay for around $200.
In addition to assorted tools and hygiene supplies, your car kit should probably include a high-visibility vest ($7); if your vehicle gives up life, it's better to be visible when trying to revive it or walking to get help. I'm less convinced about the benefits of carrying flares or flare guns; while they can be useful in serious emergencies, they also pose some fire risk.

A service interruption or a fuel crisis that takes your cooktop out of service for a week or two is the other hardship perhaps worth worrying about. It's not just about eating well: in an emergency, the ability to boil water is one of the best methods of making it safe to drink. While the owners of rural homes with 500 gallon propane tanks may have little to worry about, the rest of us would not be having fun. For those who cook using municipal natural gas, a simple backup is a small, countertop electric burner, costing about $15. Conversely, for people with electric ranges, a portable camping stove ($13) and a handful of dirt-cheap 1 lb propane tanks ($4 at any hardware store) can be a safe, no-hassle choice. A pound of propane can boil around 12 gallons of water; the entire setup is also very easy to put in a backpack if you ever need to leave - so it's basically worth getting either way.
Car electricity runs on direct current, but almost everything else is alternating current. What you need: an inverter. Some cars have them built in, but you can get one at a store for less than $40. Use the clamps to attach the inverter directly to the terminals on your car battery. Let the car run at idle and you have 110-volt AC power for as long as you have gas. With a 300-watt inverter, you'll have enough amps to run a laptop or even a television.
Before you even think about self-medicating or treating wounds, you should get a reasonably systematic understanding of emergency medicine. I recommend getting "Wilderness Medicine: Beyond First Aid" ($10): it is accessible, focuses on situations where diagnostic and treatment facilities are limited, and goes well beyond the basics. Just as importantly, it avoids weird spiritual, homeopathic, or naturopathic claims that often creep up in prepper books.

"Mini survival kits" or "Altoids tin" survival kits are small kits that contain a few basic survival tools. These kits often include a small compass, waterproof matches, minimum fishing tackle, large plastic bag, small candle, jigsaw blade, craft knife or scalpel blade, and/or a safety pin/s. Pre-packaged survival kits may also include instructions in survival techniques, including fire-starting or first aid methods. In addition, parachute cord can be wrapped around the tin. The parachute cord can be used for setting up an emergency shelter or snaring small animals. They are designed to fit within a container roughly the size of a mint tin.


OK. Great. You've stockpiled for the end of the world, you quack. The chances of the world ending are smaller than ... holy crap, what the hell is a supervolcano? See why we're all doomed in 5 Ways The World Could End That You'd Never See Coming. And if that's not enough to get you to build your own bunker, check out 6 Tiny Mistakes That Almost Ended The World. Really, the planet almost ended due to a blown fuse? Come on humanity, let's get it together.
Curt Rankin—a Lebanon entrepreneur with the demeanor and looks of Mike Huckabee before he got fat—bought Gardening Revolution in December. In his 50s, Rankin is a kid relishing in his father’s approval as Pense, inside the Strafford cabin, explains why Rankin seemed like the best candidate to keep the company going. The prodigal son is already reworking the website and devising marketing schemes to maintain the momentum, and Pense now teaches missionaries, who will take his raised-bed system across the globe.
Before they were pets, dogs were workers. They can carry their own supplies without complaint (already making them superior to most humans right now), sniff out food and water, and search for and bring down prey. Some breeds, such as huskies, have been specifically tailored to bust their butts on the barest of rations. Dogs also have a long and storied history of offensive and defensive combat use, making them perfectly suited to attack anyone who thinks they have more of a right to that sweet, sweet snack cake stockpile than you do. Which is to say, your four-legged pal is just a few training sessions and a kickass set of armor away from leading you to your rightful place as God Of The Ragged Desert/Water People.
Effective preparedness can be simple, but it has to be rooted in an honest and systematic review of the risks you are likely to face. Plenty of excited newcomers begin by shopping for ballistic vests and night vision goggles; they would be better served by grabbing a fire extinguisher, some bottled water, and then putting the rest of their money in a rainy-day fund.

The aforementioned short list aside, there are other substances that may treat conditions such as anaphylaxis (epinephrine), or diseases such as tuberculosis and leprosy (isoniazid), uncomplicated appendicitis (levofloxacin), cholera and anthrax (doxycycline), malaria (artemisinin), typhoid fever, skin infections, and MRSA (TMP/SMX), systemic fungal infections (fluconazole), intestinal parasites (albendazole), and so on. In many places, you could legitimately stockpile them without prescription, and some prepper guides will encourage you to do so; but if you are truly concerned about such emergencies, be very aware of the difficulty of properly diagnosing unfamiliar diseases, and the serious health problems that many of these products may cause.
I spent most of the $500 on these food storage items:  brown rice, white rice, pasta noodles, pinto beans, black beans, potato flakes, popcorn, buckwheat hot cereal, oats, cornmeal, flour, salt, and sugar.  The rest of the money I used on freeze-dried meat & veggies.  I also used some of the money to buy 5-gallon buckets to store the food in and 5-gallon water containers.
Last spring, as the Presidential campaign exposed increasingly toxic divisions in America, Antonio García Martínez, a forty-year-old former Facebook product manager living in San Francisco, bought five wooded acres on an island in the Pacific Northwest and brought in generators, solar panels, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. “When society loses a healthy founding myth, it descends into chaos,” he told me. The author of “Chaos Monkeys,” an acerbic Silicon Valley memoir, García Martínez wanted a refuge that would be far from cities but not entirely isolated. “All these dudes think that one guy alone could somehow withstand the roving mob,” he said. “No, you’re going to need to form a local militia. You just need so many things to actually ride out the apocalypse.” Once he started telling peers in the Bay Area about his “little island project,” they came “out of the woodwork” to describe their own preparations, he said. “I think people who are particularly attuned to the levers by which society actually works understand that we are skating on really thin cultural ice right now.”

Before you even think about self-medicating or treating wounds, you should get a reasonably systematic understanding of emergency medicine. I recommend getting "Wilderness Medicine: Beyond First Aid" ($10): it is accessible, focuses on situations where diagnostic and treatment facilities are limited, and goes well beyond the basics. Just as importantly, it avoids weird spiritual, homeopathic, or naturopathic claims that often creep up in prepper books.
So, if you have children, a stay-at-home spouse, or any other people who may be dependent on you, it makes sense to write a will. Even if you don't have much of an estate to dispose of, your will can provide instructions for the custody of minor kids, potentially shielding them from abusive relatives or from foster care. This can be particularly important for expats, whose closest surviving family members may be in another country, difficult for the court to pinpoint or communicate with.
In trying times, people always come together and find strength in local communities. Even if you don't expect it, you will almost certainly be able to count on the kindness of strangers. But your odds can be greatly improved by getting to know your neighbors ahead of the time, by cultivating trust and mutual respect, and by getting a sense of each others' toolkits and skills. In a grim situation, being on good terms with a doctor or a veterinarian can quite literally save your life. And heck, some rural communities in the US even maintain communal stashes of emergency supplies!
Revealingly, however, many doomsday preppers’ fears are not based on speculative, sci-fi-style catastrophes but on disasters that have already happened. “Watch a documentary about Katrina. Look at something about Sandy, years afterwards. Look at Puerto Rico right now,” Scott Bounds, a member of N.Y.C. Preppers, says. “You have to realize that people are not going to come take care of you. You really have to be able to take care of yourself.”
He thinks that mainstream news organizations are biased, and he subscribes to theories that he knows some find implausible. He surmised that “there is a deliberate move by the people in Congress to dumb America down.” Why would Congress do that? I asked. “They don’t want people to be smart to see what’s going on in politics,” he said. He told me he had read a prediction that forty per cent of Congress will be arrested, because of a scheme involving the Panama Papers, the Catholic Church, and the Clinton Foundation. “They’ve been working on this investigation for twenty years,” he said. I asked him if he really believed that. “At first, you hear this stuff and go, Yeah, right,” he said. But he wasn’t ruling it out.
Cigarettes will also be hugely useful for starting fires and saving coals (as any fan of post-apocalyptic literature knows, this is of great importance). The filters can be used to clean water, although you'll need the patience of Stephen Baldwin to pull it off. If you do manage to live for longer than a few weeks without plumbing and Internet, you'll be able to protect your budding prepper garden by soaking cigarette butts in water and spraying the resulting chemical-laden tobacco juice on your produce. This is a technique already in use by people too impatient to wait for the apocalypse, though it is ironic and entertaining that they consider using cigarette-butt sludge a "natural" way to ward off pests.
The conundrum of owning stock is that it serves as a hedge against inflation only in an otherwise viable economy. At the first sight of serious economic trouble, the premiums paid on corporate stocks take a nosedive and not recover for months or years; in a genuine downturn, the intrinsic value of many companies will also shrink. Since a downturn is probably the time when you will need your rainy-day money the most, it's important to play it safe. Putting somewhere around 30-40% of your emergency stash into the stock market may be a good call. Going all in is a very risky bet, since in an economic crisis, it's not rare to see stock indices plunge 50%.
3) the best part? many of them have something that is not advertised on the Internet: 20-lb paper bags of both red and white hard wheat at an amazing price! No, you can’t #10-can them and they can’t ship them, but if you live in a reasonable drive or a friend is going near one, it’s definitely worth a little effort. Again, call ahead and make sure before going.
I don’t have high blood pressure, but am extremely salt sensitive. If I eat a Chinese meal (which I love!), I have to remember to take a couple of potassium tablets afterward, or I will puff up and look like I’ve been on a bender for the last two days! Swollen eyelids, fingers and even toes. Something not working well with my kidneys? Maybe. Hasn’t shown up in any blood work, and the potassium does the trick. So, we have to figure our own bodies out. Let’s be glad we all don’t have to fool around to do that! Good health is a blessing.

I think the point of the quicky foods like the ravioli is actually good thinking. You may not have access to water right away, or run out. The other foods require water to cook. I have thought about that issue myself. what if you don’t want the whole neighborhood coming to your house when they smell the food. Precooked canned food can be eaten cold. No smells in the air to give you away. Think about that one. Please.


Precious Metals – Investigate this for yourself, but I find the arguments and historical track records against fiat currency and the current rumblings of Government wanting to take care of your investments for you very compelling. Gold is easier to transport with the high cost to weight, but you might have problems cashing a gold coin for a tank of gas. Silver is where I have chosen to invest in precious metals.
While all plastic will eventually leach into the food product, if you cycle what you are storing out at least every six months, it should not be a problem. Plastic containers are great because they do not break as easily as glass, are cheap, and are reusable. If the plastic containers you are using are clear, it is best to store them in a dark closet or room so the light will not degrade your food storage.
Heat: Emergency blankets made out of a metallic Mylar material are small and handy, and can double as ground cover or tarps for shelter. We like this pack of six Mylatech XL blankets. For a great bonus option, we love this indoor heater that uses the same small propane tanks as the camping stoves. Avoid cheaper ones that aren’t safe for indoor use — two weeks after first publishing this guide, a neighboring tent in our campground caught on fire because of a cheap propane heater that tipped over while a family slept inside.
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).
Of course, there is no use in worrying about the hypotheticals if we're not going to actually tackle the risks. But it pays to be smart about it, too: when it comes to emergency preparedness, the right mindset can matter a lot more than a small fortune spent on ninja gear and canned cheese. So, before going on a shopping spree, let's talk about several simple, everyday principles that can shield you from harm.
You can figure 25-30 years storage life for hard red wheat, stored at 60 degrees in a 55 gallon drum, using 1 pound of dry ice to drive out the oxygen (wait 24hrs for the dry ice to “melt” before sealing the drum). 400 pounds of wheat per drum equals 400 man-days of calories, and costs you about $100. Fill 3-4 barrels. It’s Cheap insurance. Add a barrel of Winter Rye for variety. Add a barrel of oats. Then a couple barrels of WHITE rice, and 2-3 barrels of pinto beans. (You need the beans to balance what’s missing from the grains. The beans may be harder to rehydrate after 10-12 years without a pressure cooker, but then you just grind up the dried beans, and bake them in your bread.) For around $1000, you can be prepared to feed your family for close to a decade, if you also garden, keep chickens, and have fruit trees and bushes. Honey is way too expensive to store on a dollar/calorie basis, but consider bee keeping. A drum takes up LESS than 2’X2’. And they stack nicely, at 33” tall. In a 2’X10′ strip along a basement wall, you can have 10 barrels with 4000 pounds of food. Hang a peg board in front of it, and you’ve got very useful space. If you can’t spare that much space in your basement, to protect the lives of your family, think Venezuela .
In some parts of the world, extreme heat can be far more dangerous than cold. When AC is not an option, it's usually possible to avoid trouble by staying in the shade, drinking a lot, and limiting physical activity. If it gets really nasty, the best way to cool yourself is to wet your clothing and hair, then stand in front of a running fan. You have a bigger problem if you happen to be stranded in a broken down car somewhere in the middle of a desert - but carrying some water and several other supplies in your trunk should help a great deal. More about that soon.
"The depth of information that is covered in this book is incredible as is the unique way that the author makes us really think about ideas, situations and resources that are mostly overlooked in the usual short-term survival planning resources. ...This book belongs in the hands of anyone who is concerned with a long-term disruption in society as we know it today. It's practical, common sense approach makes it a valuable asset to all those who wish to not only be prepared, but for those who want to thrive." -- George Romano, Simpler Times Homestead (SimplerTimesHomestead.blogpost.com)

Canned meat, veggies, or fruit. Storage life in excess of 20 years (regardless of "best by" dates). Tasty, relatively cheap (~200-300 kcal per dollar), and the choice is pretty broad. Fruits, veggies, and soups are not very energy-dense (~200 kcal per pound), making them impractical for hiking or bugging out; on the flip side, the syrup may provide some additional hydration. Meats fare much better, tipping the scales at around 1,500 kcal per pound. Canned foods are a good option for longer-term planning, provided that you have enough shelf space.

Shelter: You can make basic shelters with cordage and a tarp. Tarps are very useful in a range of situations. Try this Ozark Trail 8’x10’ camo and green tarp. We need to do more research before determining whether hammocks or tents are better for most people, so sign up for our email newsletter to stay updated if you’re interested in a more dedicated BOB shelter. In the meantime, we love these Kammock Roo hammocks that are about the size of a melon. (For a cordage recommendation, see “Tools,” below.)

Fletch runs the YouTube channel OzarksTactical Homesteading, the description of which reads, “Liberty-minded, faith-based, pro-Second Amendment, pro–home school.” He posts videos on prepping and reviews tactical gear from his property somewhere in northwest Arkansas. Occasionally, Fletch records rants in the car. The mainstream media and Walmart door greeters—the “door gestapo”—are recent targets of his iPhone manifesto. He’s gained more than 5,000 subscribers since launching the channel in 2011. 

I use a big Swiss Army knife and multi tool and knife. I would add, spoon, fork, small stove, pot, isobutane, light tent, sleeping bag+pad, compass and if in mountains an altimeter and paper maps of where you think you are going to be. Instead of flashlight and candles, a headlamp with spare batteries. Raincoat, hat, gloves, food, Grayl water purifyer instead of tablets……all together about 30 lbs of weight. Fits into a 50 liter backpack. Just sharing my experience. It always depends what the purpose of the emergency bag is.
“I’m actually responsible, indirectly, for the end of the meetups,” Dr. Shealy tells me inside his Springfield clinic off Chestnut Expressway, and not just because he thinks the earth is more than 6,000 years old. (Andrew: says you can’t trust anyone who believes that.) He sports a red crewneck, navy blue sweatpants, a stretchy metal watch and rectangular glasses. The 85-year-old—he’s more energetic than most people half his age—specializes in holistic medicine; the first thing he asks me is my birthday, and do I know what my astrological sign means. On my way out, he asks if he can hug me, and when I oblige, a toothy grin pulls wide the spritely doctor’s cheeks. “I believe it’s an important part of human contact,” he says. 

Pense just sold his company, Gardening Revolution. For 20 years he shipped the proprietary iron, zinc, manganese, copper, sulfur and boron soil blend. Each bed costs $800, after you buy the cinder blocks and mat. On his best year, he shipped $580,000-worth of them. The magazine John Deere Homestead featured him. He’s taught classes on raised-bed gardening and survival in his cabin ever since. “The record on tomatoes is 274 pounds for one plant. Think about that,” Pense says. “That’s a lot of ’maters for one plant.” More than the ’maters, he’s proud of teaching people younger than him to grow their own food. 


When I got into bed that night, I noticed I was feeling a little off. Though I’d technically consumed enough calories, my stomach was still gnawing with hunger, and when I woke up the next morning, I felt energyless. I phoned Dr. Lisa Young, a New York–based nutritionist and adjunct professor at NYU, with a question: Is it really possible to live off freeze-dried food?


Typically, survival kits are designed to help you get through a situation in which help cannot be secured. However, if you equip yourself with a satellite phone you can contact help from anywhere on the planet. In other situations, a pre-paid cell phone or two-way radio (be sure to find out the frequency the local ranger station or emergency responders use) may be all that you need to contact help when you need it most.
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