He ushered me through, and, in the darkness, I could see the outline of a vast concrete dome, with a metal blast door partly ajar. I was greeted by Larry Hall, the C.E.O. of the Survival Condo Project, a fifteen-story luxury apartment complex built in an underground Atlas missile silo. The facility housed a nuclear warhead from 1961 to 1965, when it was decommissioned. At a site conceived for the Soviet nuclear threat, Hall has erected a defense against the fears of a new era. “It’s true relaxation for the ultra-wealthy,” he said. “They can come out here, they know there are armed guards outside. The kids can run around.”
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.
You should have two weeks’ worth of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare survival food in your home — no good prep is complete without it. If you want to skip the DIY labor and just buy something off the shelf, we spent 180+ hours reviewing over $2,000 worth of the most popular products. After testing 11 options from 7 companies, the best choice for most people is the new Emergency Essentials Premier bucket. Three of which cover two people for more than two weeks for $379.
Of course, everybody has some non-perishable food around the house, but it's much better to create a dedicated stash: this way, you can count on the supplies always being at hand, and you can stockpile something more nutritious than stale crackers, a suspect bottle of olive oil, and a rusty can of tomato sauce. With a well thought-out stockpile of ready-made food, it's also a lot easier to hit the road.
But in 1961 John F. Kennedy encouraged “every citizen” to help build fallout shelters, saying, in a televised address, “I know you would not want to do less.” In 1976, tapping into fear of inflation and the Arab oil embargo, a far-right publisher named Kurt Saxon launched The Survivor, an influential newsletter that celebrated forgotten pioneer skills. (Saxon claimed to have coined the term “survivalist.”) The growing literature on decline and self-protection included “How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years,” a 1979 best-seller, which advised collecting gold in the form of South African Krugerrands. The “doom boom,” as it became known, expanded under Ronald Reagan. The sociologist Richard G. Mitchell, Jr., a professor emeritus at Oregon State University, who spent twelve years studying survivalism, said, “During the Reagan era, we heard, for the first time in my life, and I’m seventy-four years old, from the highest authorities in the land that government has failed you, the collective institutional ways of solving problems and understanding society are no good. People said, ‘O.K., it’s flawed. What do I do now?’ ”
Before my trip, I had wondered if I was going to be spending more time in luxury bunkers. But Peter Campbell, the managing director of Triple Star Management, a New Zealand construction firm, told me that, by and large, once his American clients arrive, they decide that underground shelters are gratuitous. “It’s not like you need to build a bunker under your front lawn, because you’re several thousand miles away from the White House,” he said. Americans have other requests. “Definitely, helipads are a big one,” he said. “You can fly a private jet into Queenstown or a private jet into Wanaka, and then you can grab a helicopter and it can take you and land you at your property.” American clients have also sought strategic advice. “They’re asking, ‘Where in New Zealand is not going to be long-term affected by rising sea levels?’ ”
That doesn’t mean that some companies aren’t marketing freeze-dried food as an innovation. After eating the Wise Company meals for three days, I switched to Thrive Life’s Simple Plate program, a Blue Apron–esque service that teaches you how to cook from the company’s store of freeze-dried ingredients, which customers can also get mailed to them in recurring shipments. Unlike Wise Company, Thrive Life’s website makes no mention of emergency preparedness, instead emphasizing the sorts of qualities, like saving money and avoiding waste, that might have appealed to Lydia Maria Child in her time: “These foods won’t spoil in a few days... You won’t be thawing, degreasing, or cutting raw meat. You won’t be chopping veggies or washing and peeling fruit.” I reached out to Thrive Life’s founders to hear more about their rationale for marketing freeze-dried food for everyday use, but didn’t hear back.
Somewhat counterintuitively, saving money is not just about cutting down expenses; seeing a higher balance on a checking account tends to instinctively make us less frugal, too. To counter this trend, I found it helpful to set up a small, daily transfer to a savings account, in an amount that blends in with daily purchases - say, $10 or so. This method takes much less planning and mental discipline than trying to make one big deposit every month. And hey - when you are comfortable with $10, you can painlessly test the limits by gently ramping the amount up.
I also found that I absolutely detest the rating system that Practical Preppers apply at the end of every segment. Not because they may or may not be right about aspects of that individual's preparedness, but becuase they fit that rating into a "box". Many preppers have to think outside the box, due to circumstances, finances, whatever, but the rating system seems to ignore that. In a few cases, even I found it insulting. I know they carried it over into season 2, but I'm hoping that if there is a season 3 that either gets changed or dropped entirely.
Biking on public roads? Wear a helmet and bright-colored clothing, stay well clear of the doors of parked vehicles, move in a straight line instead of weaning in and out of the traffic, and watch for cars trying to make right turns. Scan for cross traffic at intersections and signal all turns. Don't run red lights - it's not worth the seconds shaved off your commute. Don't ride without holding the handlebars; it makes you look very hip, but when you do that, a single rock or an unnoticed pothole can throw you right under the wheels of a passing bus.
Boxed evacuation essentials. Camping and survival supplies to get you through at least one week, in case you need to leave home and can't be sure about finding a hospitable location right away. The gear should be boxed or bagged to make it easy to load into your vehicle. Include some amount of water and food, and make sure that the entire kit actually fits into the car. For many US cars, 56 quart storage totes ($19) work very well.
For those who are worried about less likely, longer-term contingencies - or who want to limit their future grocery expenses in case of a financial shortfall - a more varied stockpile to cover 3-4 months is a reasonable choice. At that timescale, it's still smart to begin with some number of hassle-free survival rations, but it is important complement them with a more palatable menu: freeze-dried or canned meals, MREs, or cheap home-made food. Crisco aside, some of the nutritious and easily stored staples include Mylar-bagged, oxygen-scavenged white rice, white flour, dried beans and grains, instant mashed potatoes and oatmeal, pasta, sugar, honey, powdered milk, salt, spices, and so forth; when stored properly, all of them can last 5 years or more. Freeze-dried or garden-grown fruit and veggies can add some flavor to your post-disaster cooking, too. Heck, you can even buy supposedly tasty butter, chicken breast, canned bacon, and bread-like crackers with 10+ year shelf life (although they are not cheap).
Since then, the direction has been inauspicious. In January, 2016, after increasing military tensions between Russia and NATO, and the Earth’s warmest year on record, the Bulletin set the clock at three minutes to midnight, the same level it held at the height of the Cold War. In November, after Trump’s election, the panel convened once more to conduct its annual confidential discussion. If it chooses to move the clock forward by one minute, that will signal a level of alarm not witnessed since 1953, after America’s first test of the hydrogen bomb. (The result will be released January 26th.)
Monitor what your family eats for a week and use that as a guideline for getting started. The advantage of doing this is you will learn what your family likes so that you can shop accordingly. You would be surprised at how many people can’t remember what they ate yesterday let alone a week ago. Try to write everything down so that you don’t have to rely upon your memory.
You may be tempted to go for the most lightweight and highest-powered handgun you can find, but you would have to cope with punishing recoil and potentially blinding muzzle flash, so it's not always a good call. In home defense situations, 9mm pistols and .38 Special+P revolvers are probably the sweet spot. There are countless models to choose from, but the bottom line is that you can't go particularly wrong with Glock, Beretta, SIG Sauer, Ruger, Smith & Wesson, CZ, Heckler & Koch, or Springfield Armory.
Do you need to secure any supplies or make other arrangements to prepare for this scenario? If you need to stockpile items, do you have enough room? How long would these supplies last in an emergency, and how often would you need to replace them in storage? Are there any additional steps that you want to take to be in a better place a month, a year, or five years from now? Make a detailed list and tally the costs.
It pays to be prepared for nasty spills or sanitation emergencies. In addition to some of the tools discussed in earlier chapters, a good starting point is a large box of 13 gallon trash bags ($10-$30), another box of thick, 42 gallon contractor bags ($30), a set of disposable vinyl gloves ($4) plus a pair of tough PVC or nitrile ones ($11), some rubbing alcohol ($6), and a bottle of regular laundry bleach ($3). Rubbing alcohol is an excellent solvent and a rapid-evaporating disinfectant; bleach is a potent, long-lasting biocide and a great odor neutralizer. Oh - as noted earlier, an absorbent sock-style barrier may be useful for containing particularly nasty spills, too.
The helicopter eased down onto a lawn beside a putting green. The new luxury community will have three thousand acres of dunes and forestland, and seven miles of coastline, for just a hundred and twenty-five homes. As we toured the site in a Land Rover, he emphasized the seclusion: “From the outside, you won’t see anything. That’s better for the public and better for us, for privacy.”
When Kafrina hit a few years ago, it was unbelievable to see the number of people who decided to ride out the storm instead of evacuating. As the “reliality” of the destruction of Katrina was sinking in on TV, what was so horrifying was watching all these “hundreds” of people without water! And nowhere to get it! They were completely cut off from civilization! As the next couple of days passed on, and still, no relief in sight, I watched in horror the actions do these people desperate for water! I wanted so badly to reach through my TV and hand them a bottle of water, but could not do that! I never felt so helpless in my entire life. And they were killing each over in an effort to get to water! With all the technology, with all the electricity, with all of our knowledge, we could not get a bottle of water to these people, and some died on the side of the road in desperation to get to water! I have never forgot how quick a people can destroy theirselves over they lack of water, and also for their lack of taking other precautions to keep themselves alive!
If you need some inspiration, perhaps the most iconic and time-tested semi-auto design is the 1911; it was originally a pretty bulky and heavy all-steel firearm, but many manufacturers now make lighter, scaled-down variants that are OK for carrying around. Alternatives include a growing number of more lightweight, polymer-frame guns, such as Glock 43, M&P Shield, or SIG P365. For revolvers, Ruger LCR and Smith & Wesson 642 are probably two very reasonable picks to haul around. Some very futuristic if a tad more expensive revolvers are made by Chiappa, too. Whatever you do, avoid Taurus.
At least in theory, the recipe for surviving civilizational collapse is simple: you need to get away from other people and become self-sufficient. It's fairly clear that deprived of their industrial backbone, most of our cities and suburbs wouldn't be able to support even a tiny fraction of their current population densities - and would become horrid death traps. Living off the grid shields you from all but the worst doomsday events.
Catastrophes do occur with regularity—think Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Sandy, to name a few—and when they do, there's much to be said for having your own preparations in place as opposed to relying completely on government intervention and large-scale relief efforts. People do fall through the cracks, and working out ways to take your fate into your own hands is a useful exercise in self-reliance.
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.
Vehicular accidents are depressingly common; while defensive driving can limit your risk, the possibility of injuring another person or causing property damage never really goes away. When you are involved in a car wreck in unclear circumstances, or when your statements do not match the words of another driver, video evidence may be the best way to escape criminal charges or to resolve civil claims.
Resources abound. With a modest amount of computer knowledge, you can Google around the internet to find all sorts of emergency food and food storage advice. Be an informed consumer. Learn about the foods that store well and also about pre-packaged meals that only require a bit of hot water to create a good-tasting and satisfying food experience.
Try to identify the aspects of your plan that are most likely to go wrong, and come up with viable alternatives. Take a hard look at any new problems you are creating, too: for example, if you want to store gas in your garage, it will probably help in an evacuation, but will also increase the odds of accidentally starting a serious fire. Or, consider a far more prosaic case: if you are planning to stockpile batteries or bottles of insect repellent, you should make sure they can't leak and spoil other, more vital supplies nearby.
Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with the items on the checklist below. Most of the items are inexpensive and easy to find, and any one of them could save your life. Headed to the store? Download a printable version to take with you. Once you take a look at the basic items, consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for pets, or seniors.