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.”
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Pense tells me this sitting beside the fireplace that heats the furnace-less cabin, necessary in the damp 40-degree weather. He wears a Realtree camouflage jacket, circular wire-framed glasses, gray slacks and black leather shoes. A sign above the fireplace reads: “Invest in precious metals. Buy lead.” Carved in a split log on the mantel is, “A country boy can survive.” The guttered roof deposits 30,000 gallons of Ozarks rainwater into storage tanks outside each year. It’s a prepper’s paradise.
Jim’s book is broken up into 12 chapters, each covering a different subject. Things like water, food, medicine, hygiene and security are all in their own section with extensive information about how to manage each situation. A really cool thing Jim does (that I’ve never seen in such an informative book before) is he starts each chapter with a fictional entry from a journal or diary written during the weeks that follow an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) strike in the United States to help illustrate what life may truly be like in the wake of a disaster. I love that, because it truly immerses you into a situation that helps you to better understand what you’re reading.
The communications equipment may include a multi-band receiver/scanner, a citizens band (CB) radio, portable "walkie-talkies" with rechargeable batteries, and a portable battery-powered television. The power supplies may include a diesel or gasoline generator with a one-month fuel supply, an auto battery and charger, extension cord, flashlights, rechargeable batteries (with recharger), an electric multi meter, and a test light. Defense items include a revolver, semi-automatic pistol, rifle, shotgun, ammunition, mace or pepper spray, and a large knife such as a KA-BAR or a bowie knife.
Of all the supplies they suggest you legally or illegally procure, epinephrine sounds like the biggest stretch. We don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but if you suffer from life-threatening allergic reactions and really think you're going to survive limited food sources and practically nonexistent medical care, we've got a mint-condition fallout shelter to sell you.
The next obvious step, but one that causes people a fair amount of headache, is actually finding coupons. Although it may seem hard and it will require a little bit of work, there are countless ways for you to do this. First, the classic way is to clip them from the weekly paper. Coupons usually appear in inserts in the Sunday edition of the newspaper. In order to amass enough to really make a difference, most couponing preppers will order at least a few copies of various Sunday papers. This gives you quantity and diversity of coupons. If you are looking to save money, you also can find extra copies of newspapers in dumpsters and at grocery stores. Just go in late on a Sunday night and ask for whatever they have left over from that day. Many stores will give them to you for free, or for a reduced rate.
Steve Huffman, the thirty-three-year-old co-founder and C.E.O. of Reddit, which is valued at six hundred million dollars, was nearsighted until November, 2015, when he arranged to have laser eye surgery. He underwent the procedure not for the sake of convenience or appearance but, rather, for a reason he doesn’t usually talk much about: he hopes that it will improve his odds of surviving a disaster, whether natural or man-made. “If the world ends—and not even if the world ends, but if we have trouble—getting contacts or glasses is going to be a huge pain in the ass,” he told me recently. “Without them, I’m fucked.”
Now, when it comes to fitness per se, I firmly believe that there is no need to go overboard; good health is far more important than Rambo skills. While getting buff may be a fun pastime for some young folks, there are very few emergencies that would force you to run 30 miles or climb a 20 foot wall. Being able to walk or bike for several hours is likely good enough to deal with all practical scenarios we talked about thus far.
If you have a daytime job or go to school, there is a good chance that the event you are preparing for could unfold while you are at that location - or somewhere on the way. Do you need a special plan to handle this possibility? Can you get back home easily? Do you need water, food, money, or clothes to make that trip? How likely is it that you would be hurt or stranded somewhere?
Another insidious distraction is the desire to immediately figure out how to respond to all the scenarios we end up dreaming of. Let's save that for later; by prematurely focusing on the second half of the problem, we may end up glossing over some of the less tractable scenarios - or make haphazard assumptions that will cloud our judgment in other ways.
There are several other water purification techniques, including iodine, various types of filters, or even ridiculously expensive desalination systems. The recent Flint water crisis highlights the value of permanently installed and well-maintained RO units. But for short-term survival, my take is that most of the filtration systems targeted at preppers increase costs without offering clear-cut benefits. And really, don't overthink it: if the choice is between dehydration and drinking straight from a scummy pond, drink from the pond.
I asked Hoffman to estimate what share of fellow Silicon Valley billionaires have acquired some level of “apocalypse insurance,” in the form of a hideaway in the U.S. or abroad. “I would guess fifty-plus per cent,” he said, “but that’s parallel with the decision to buy a vacation home. Human motivation is complex, and I think people can say, ‘I now have a safety blanket for this thing that scares me.’ ” The fears vary, but many worry that, as artificial intelligence takes away a growing share of jobs, there will be a backlash against Silicon Valley, America’s second-highest concentration of wealth. (Southwestern Connecticut is first.) “I’ve heard this theme from a bunch of people,” Hoffman said. “Is the country going to turn against the wealthy? Is it going to turn against technological innovation? Is it going to turn into civil disorder?”
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.
Medical is another critical group of items that should be well-stocked for the average and serious prepper alike. The most important thing about this is the individual needs of yourself and your family. Special antibiotics, diabetic medicine, hearts meds etc.. will vary from family to family. Aside from the basics be sure to understand your family’s special needs as well.
The value of such a step extends beyond the mere task of shielding you from glacial shifts in the job market: if a major disaster suddenly cripples the local economy, there may be no more jobs for insurance claims adjusters or account executives, but carpentry or metalworking skills could be in high demand for the coming year or two. You can never predict it exactly, but the more you can do, the better you can cope with whatever adventures come your way.
Regardless of where you live or your family situation, become a community with others. Even if your community consists of only two or three persons, these few people will serve as your support group and sounding board for the tactical decisions you will make when things get tough. In addition, you need at least one other person to watch your back as you will watch theirs.
The irony of this didn’t escape me: While I’d been drawn to freeze-dried food as a convenient way of preparing for a cataclysm that may never come, there I was, toiling away for hours in the kitchen to prepare a dish I’d be eating that night and the next day. It was the most fortifying meal I’d eaten all week, and a minor achievement: Thanks to the premeasured portions and easy-to-follow instructions, I’d learned how to make a chicken pot pie from scratch.
For experienced preppers like Daisy Luther, founder of the blog The Organic Prepper and the online survival goods store Preppers Market, ready-to-go freeze-dried meals are more of a last line of defense than anything else. Though she insists these products “have their place,” her version of long-term food storage sounds more like a way of life, a process of slowly building up a pantry that will enable her to feed her family as healthfully and economically as possible. Sometimes that means stocking up on the freeze-dried stuff, or buying whatever’s on sale at the supermarket; but it’s also about living in sync with the seasons, growing food in her own garden and using timetested home preservation methods—like canning and dehydrating—to ensure she always has food on hand.
Braxton and Kara Southwick from Utah offer a tour of a declassified bunker. They will star in the upcoming National Geographic Channel show 'Doomsday Preppers,' featuring Americans stockpiling for the end of the world. NGC conducted an online survey with 1,040 people to find out how they would spend their final days. Here are some of the results. By Tim Loehrke, USA TODAY
For a while they became my primary source of income, and every single time I was hired by a company that catered to the survivalist market, not a traditional publisher. Each time, the company's name would be listed instead of an author. There are thousands of prepping guides available on Amazon right now— 2,849 in the "Survival and Preparedness" category alone and 4,214 matches for the keyword "prepper" across categories—and only a small percentage are produced by dedicated book publishers. Companies that sell survivalist products and services produce the lion's share, and on any given day, if you peek at freelancing sites like Upwork, you'll see at least a couple of ghostwriting projects dedicated to survivalism being advertised.
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.
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.’ ”
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.
As Huffman, of Reddit, observed, our technologies have made us more alert to risk, but have also made us more panicky; they facilitate the tribal temptation to cocoon, to seclude ourselves from opponents, and to fortify ourselves against our fears, instead of attacking the sources of them. Justin Kan, the technology investor who had made a halfhearted effort to stock up on food, recalled a recent phone call from a friend at a hedge fund. “He was telling me we should buy land in New Zealand as a backup. He’s, like, ‘What’s the percentage chance that Trump is actually a fascist dictator? Maybe it’s low, but the expected value of having an escape hatch is pretty high.’ ”
Civilians such as forestry workers, surveyors, or bush pilots, who work in remote locations or in regions with extreme climate conditions may also be equipped with survival kits. Disaster supplies are also kept on hand by those who live in areas prone to earthquakes or other natural disasters. For the average citizen to practice disaster preparedness, some towns will have survival stores to keep survival supplies in stock.