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.
During a prolonged blackout, keeping flashlights, radios, and cell phones running can become a challenge of its own. The most cost-effective approach is to stick to devices that can take regular AA, AAA, or PP3 (9V) batteries; modern alkaline cells have very long shelf lives (10 years), can be bought cheaply in bulk, and will do the trick for almost all portable electronics you can think of. Of course, modern power-hungry smartphones are a notable exception to this rule. For that, you can always try solar chargers ($50) - they work well, but are a bit fragile and may not perform too amazingly in wooded areas or on overcast days. You can also go for hand-crank generators ($30, labor-intensive) or AA power banks ($15, mixed reviews). But ultimately, also allow for the possibility of not being able to call others for a while.
No one can remember every single detail about every single subject. As practiced and skilled as you may be, there will always be a situation where you either forgot or just plain do not know. Build up a survival library. Binders full of paper are good but so are electronic readers and tablets that can easily be powered using inexpensive solar chargers.
“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.
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Ugh, what a bummer! Your $250,000 underground compound was ready and rarin’ to go, a nuclear bomb was detonated and caused an EMP just like you said it would, but you didn’t get to say “I told you so,” because you died along with all of the idiotic unprepared. Just bad luck you weren’t near your EMP-safe bunker when this happened. You’re there 22 hours of the day, what are the odds? Hey world, I’d like a mulligan please!
Chances are that you have these foods in your kitchen right now, and you already intersperse them into your menus on a daily basis. I like to have at least – at least – a one month’s supply of these first layer foods. Having a supply that will see your family through at least a month means that a short-term emergency will hardly be noticeable to your family and that they’ll experience very little difference in the way they normally eat.
When it comes to transmittable diseases, your best bet is avoiding exposure: if there's something really nasty making rounds in your community, stay home - or at the very least, avoid public transport and other crowds. With that in mind, N95 masks ($2 a piece) probably provide adequate protection against most airborne diseases. The other major transmission vector is hand contact, so don't touch other people, avoid public-use surfaces, wear gloves, and resist the instinct to touch your face without first washing or disinfecting your hands. We subconsciously touch our faces a lot more frequently than we suspect.
But unless someone starts asking me personal questions, I simply ignore everyone at the store and don’t ask them if they are prepping…I already know the answer. People will know, and there’s not a lot you can do about it. If asked, I simply say, I’ve been reading about emergencies happening with greater frequency around the globe and say that “I’m not going to get caught without at least some food and water” when it happens here. They don’t need to know I’m prepping for a month-long, six-month-long, or year-long, or multi-year-long event. We don’t keep all our food in our pantry and I’ve told my relations that what we have (be it beans or bullets) is no one else’s business–so keep your yap shut
So, here's another unorthodox prescription for building a comprehensive preparedness plan: develop useful and marketable secondary skills. A simple and enjoyable way of doing so is to pick a hobby you can get passionate about - and then work hard, be very honest about your own mistakes and shortcomings, and try to get better at it every week. You shouldn't seek immediate profits, since progressing from a hobby to a paid occupation inevitably takes away some of the fun; but try to gravitate toward pursuits that could conceivably morph into viable career choices within a decade or so. If you have a family, help your spouse and children pursue thoughtful hobbies of their own, too.
If the group became indifferent to Finelli’s leadership prior to his ouster, he became just as frustrated with their complacency. Preppers began ignoring his strict no cell phone rule. Few took concrete steps to be more prepared over the years, he says. He’d set out to develop independent thinkers, not apathetic disciples. “I mentioned to the group that at some point, Vinny may not be available,” Finelli says. “So be prepared at a moment’s notice.” That’s why he feels like he failed: He left the preppers unprepared.
Keep your firearms in a quick-access safe if you have young children or expect people with kids to visit you every now and then. A safe is also a good way to deter opportunistic theft; a clever hiding place will also do, but criminals often have the same ideas as you and know where to look. Be smart about picking the right safe and placing it sensibly: you don't want to have to walk to the other end of the house, or to fiddle with keys or rotary dials, when every second counts. Electronic combination or biometric safes are usually pretty good, unless you go for the bargain bin (don't).
We have our wheat, rice, oatmeal, sugar, beans, etc. in 5 gallon FOOD GRADE buckets. Make sure they are food grade. Our local Winco grocery store sells them. We make sure at least one bucket of each thing has a gamma seal lid on it. If you take the regular lids off and on and off and on they will eventually break then you have a bucket. The gamma seal lids have a screw on/off lid. Never stack buckets with gamma seal lids more than two high. Regular lids can be stacked three high. I know people who stored wheat in 55 gallon drums then found out they had to move. HUGE MISTAKE. We disinfect the buckets with apple cider vinegar then let them air dry before putting food in. We’ve been doing this for 40 years.
Hall, in his late fifties, is barrel-chested and talkative. He studied business and computers at the Florida Institute of Technology and went on to specialize in networks and data centers for Northrop Grumman, Harris Corporation, and other defense contractors. He now goes back and forth between the Kansas silo and a home in the Denver suburbs, where his wife, a paralegal, lives with their twelve-year-old son.
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.
On the opposite side of the country, similar awkward conversations have been unfolding in some financial circles. Robert H. Dugger worked as a lobbyist for the financial industry before he became a partner at the global hedge fund Tudor Investment Corporation, in 1993. After seventeen years, he retired to focus on philanthropy and his investments. “Anyone who’s in this community knows people who are worried that America is heading toward something like the Russian Revolution,” he told me recently.
Freeze-dried dinners. Popular with hikers. Extremely lightweight (up to 2,500 kcal per pound) and surprisingly tasty. The most reputable brand is Mountain House. Fairly expensive on a calorie basis (100-150 kcal per $1), but you get a choice of raspberry crumble, chicken with dumplings, bacon and eggs, and everything in between. Storage life in excess of 15 years. The drawback is that they need some boiling water to reconstitute (cold water will also work, but not make a tasty meal).
Peanut oil AND peanuts go rancid fairly quickly. I found out the hard way one year trying to store it in bulk. I had to throw all I stored (in white buckets with oxygen absorbers) out. The only way I found it keeps is if I buy peanut butter in jars – and then the shelf life is still limited. Even among freeze dried companies they recommend using up the PB powder within five years while everything else is rated at 20. If you want an oil with a proven shelf life get either coconut oil or olive oil. All the rest will go bad and ultimately make you sick.
Well, that's the bare minimum - but if you have a garage, a basement, or other unused storage space, I would actually recommend going a bit further and grabbing one or two 5 gallon cans ($18) per every household member. Although multi-week water outages are very unlikely, this simply gives you a more comfortable safety margin: if something goes awfully wrong and it becomes clear that help is not coming any time soon, you will still have time to look for alternatives or evacuate. A reserve also puts you in a better situation if it's unusually hot or if you have any urgent hygiene needs. The cans are very easy to use: wash them with a small amount of regular, non-scented laundry bleach, rinse, and fill up with tap water. Rotate the contents every 2-4 years or so.
When I visited Johnson, not long ago, at his office on Park Avenue South, he described himself as an accidental student of civic anxiety. He grew up outside Detroit, in Grosse Pointe Park, the son of a doctor, and he watched his father’s generation experience the fracturing of Detroit. “What I’m seeing now in New York City is sort of like old music coming back,” he said. “These are friends of mine. I used to live in Belle Haven, in Greenwich, Connecticut. Louis Bacon, Paul Tudor Jones, and Ray Dalio”—hedge-fund managers—“were all within fifty yards of me. From my own career, I would just talk to people. More and more were saying, ‘You’ve got to have a private plane. You have to assure that the pilot’s family will be taken care of, too. They have to be on the plane.’ ”
Per #17: Consider 25 pounds of sugar, even if like me, you don’t use it; it can become like money because so many have a sweet tooth for it. Next: at least the same amount of salt. (I buy sea salt for the iodine within and it’s a mineral all animals need in their diets so it too, can be used like $$. Third: black peppercorns, in past history this was used as money everywhere along the spice routes. Why? Because they have a very very long shelf life without losing potency. Then buy a pepper grinder, coffee/spice grinder and/or a mortar and pestle.
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.