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
Prepping is more about planning, knowledge, and skills than actually purchasing a lot of useless gadgets. I walked away from the consumer lifestyle many years ago and now live on an off-grid homestead. That said, there are always items that preparedness-minded people, like myself, keep their eyes open for. We are always looking for good deals on all things canning, such as jars, lids, pressure canners, and water bath canners. Or perhaps a higher-ticket item, such as a food dehydrator.
You might also check if there is a local cash and carry…that’s a business which sells wholesale to other business/restaurants. You can buy bulk there for almost wholesale prices. They will have bulk items of many things in addition to other items like paper plates, napkins and you get the idea. If you can find a place which sells bulk, then ask your favorite store to special order. Who knows, you might get it cheaper that way. BTW: Gaye, next time you’re on the mainland near Mt. Vernon, check out WINCO for those bulk items.
Advertising your wealth aside, another sure way to invite burglars is to make it seem that your house is unoccupied: packages piling up in front, an overflowing mailbox, an empty driveway, all lights turned off at night. Asking a neighbor to park a car in your driveway, putting some lights on a multi-cycle timer ($8), and having someone pick up your mail, are just several examples of low-cost solutions that are worth trying out whenever going on a longer trip.
In theory, a person's natural right to self-defense is broadly recognized in much of the western world - but in practice, different societies look at it in very different ways. Today, in much of Europe, the very notion that one private citizen could lawfully harm another human being is met with suspicion and distaste; the control over life and death is more willingly delegated to the agents of the state.
Judging by that rationale—“people are not going to take care of you”—the impulse to prep is as much a response to governmental failings as it is to apocalyptic fantasies. During Hurricane Harvey, Houston residents relied on the “Cajun Navy”—generous volunteers with boats—to evacuate them. After Hurricane Maria, a Harvard study found that the Trump Administration’s neglect of Puerto Rico caused four thousand six hundred and sixty-five deaths, many because of interruptions to medical care. And, this week, as historic fires engulfed huge areas of California, the President accused the state of “gross mismanagement of the forests.” Charles, outlining his vision of a doomsday scenario, says, “It’s when law enforcement stops going to work, that’s when the breakdown begins. Now you’re talking about a free-for-all, every-man-for-themselves kind of deal.” Whether or not the apocalypse comes, it seems like that breakdown is already under way.
My two cents worth here. Go with 5 gallon buckets. Many purchased from the local donut shop at $1.25. My variation on Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers — a chunk of dry ice, about 3×4 inches. With this on the bottom of the bucket and little piece of paper towel over it, pour in rice or beans or wheat or corn or a mixture of things. Put the lid on, but do not snap it tight. Wait a few minutes until the bottom of the bucket is not real cold and snap the lid on. Dry ice, which is CO2, forces out the air in the bucket. I recently opened rice and a mixed container which had been sealed five years ago. Everything was fine. Obviously we did eight or 10 of these buckets at once. Got dry ice from the local grocery store. Be sure to wear gloves when handling it.
Alas, most of the popular diets make this task awfully hard: they force their followers to abandon a lifetime of dietary habits, taste preferences, and eating schedules - and stuff themselves full of kale, turnips, quinoa, acai berry, or whatever else happens to be this week's "fat-fighting superfood". To add insult to injury, most of the nutrition fads are not actually backed by real, reproducible science; suffice to say that in the 70s, table sugar was widely touted as a dieting aid. Even today, weight loss advice tends to revolve around robustly debunked concepts - say, the existence negative calorie foods, the alleged superiority of low-carb but high-fat diets, the evils of HFCS and aspartame, or the significance of eating meals on a particular schedule thoroughout the day.
Of course, some "doomsday" preppers worry about even more exotic, post-apocalyptic scenarios mentioned in section 2.3, basically aiming for indefinite self-sufficiency. I don't think it's a particularly sound concern, but if the prospect of a civilizational collapse keeps you up at night, my best advice is to move to a rural community where you could farm, fish, or hunt. Some urban survivalists fantasize about trapping local squirrels, pigeons, or raccoons - but they would run out of food very fast. Small urban and suburban gardens are usually difficult to maintain and don't produce enough to feed a family, too.
There is also a more utilitarian way of looking at it. From an individualistic, survival-focused point of view, the social costs (real or imagined) are basically moot: if you live in a place where guns are readily available to criminals, it's hard to think of a violent confrontation where not owning a firearm would put you at an advantage. There is a body of fairly compelling research showing that defensive gun uses happen in the US at a rate of somewhere between 500,000 and 1,500,000 times a year, with almost all confrontations resolved without firing a single shot. The inherent dangers of owning a firearm are often overstated by gun control advocates, too: unintentional injury or death due to having a gun at home is surprisingly rare.
In the end, it’s a good thing to have multiple tools or ways to accomplish something. Most preppers take a “two is one, one is none” approach with backups and redundancies. Following this guide is an efficient way to have those backups. Rather than having three med kits in your basement collecting dust, each one is serving a purpose at all times by being ready in your home, bug out bag, and get home bag.
Where are you going to keep this emergency food? You don't need tons of extra space, but you do need some, ideally in cool, dry place where moisture and pests can't readily get into it. Walk around and check your most-used cupboards, closets, and storage areas. What's in there right now? How much of it do you actually use? Chances are, you have a lot of extra kitchen and home supplies lying around that could find a better home somewhere less readily accessible, like the basement.
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.
Add any extras for your situation: For example, here’s our guide on prepping with food allergies and how to store EpiPens without power. Also consider special needs for pregnant women, small children, pets, people with disabilities or significant medical issues, etc. If you have poor eyesight, always have a pair of backup glasses and contacts in your emergency supplies.
Handheld FRS/GMRS radios. Many preppers obsess about long-distance communications, but in a typical emergency, chatting with people 100 miles away is not a priority. In contrast, a hand-held two-way radio can be very useful for keeping in touch with your friends and family during any prolonged outage. Again, pick a device that accepts the kind of batteries you can stockpile cheaply. Expect a range of 2-3 miles in rural regions, and less than a mile in highly urbanized areas - no matter what the manufacturer claims. With all that in mind, Olympia R500 ($55) is a good choice.
Doug Huffman is prepared, teaching techniques for surviving a second depression based upon America's massive debts.; Dianne and Greg Rogers, dedicated parents in Canada, are concerned with future events affecting their home-life; Ed and Dianna Peden ("still living in the 60's"), of Topeka, Kansas are preparing to survive fully underground in their decommissioned Atlas missile silo when doomsday arrives.
Many of these foods are simple meals that require you to add water and heat (such as MRE's, or Meals Ready to Eat). However, if you buy individual bulk ingredients you can create more of a gourmet pantry which allows you a much greater range of meals to prepare—powdered eggs, spices, all sorts of flours, honey, etc. These foods are not only great for food storage but also for camping trips, especially if your camp kitchen is serving a large crowd.
One of that era's icons remains — a massive underground bunker designed to protect all 535 members of Congress and their aides against nuclear war. Dug into the Allegheny Mountains at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., it once had 75,000 gallons of water, a power system, medical and food services, 30-ton blast doors, art of the last days of Pompeii and a mural of Washington scenery that was capable of changing leaves on the trees, depending on the season.
Huffman, who lives in San Francisco, has large blue eyes, thick, sandy hair, and an air of restless curiosity; at the University of Virginia, he was a competitive ballroom dancer, who hacked his roommate’s Web site as a prank. He is less focussed on a specific threat—a quake on the San Andreas, a pandemic, a dirty bomb—than he is on the aftermath, “the temporary collapse of our government and structures,” as he puts it. “I own a couple of motorcycles. I have a bunch of guns and ammo. Food. I figure that, with that, I can hole up in my house for some amount of time.”
I called a Silicon Valley sage, Stewart Brand, the author and entrepreneur whom Steve Jobs credited as an inspiration. In the sixties and seventies, Brand’s “Whole Earth Catalog” attracted a cult following, with its mixture of hippie and techie advice. (The motto: “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.”) Brand told me that he explored survivalism in the seventies, but not for long. “Generally, I find the idea that ‘Oh, my God, the world’s all going to fall apart’ strange,” he said.
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?’ ”
Edible landscaping provides another potentially important supplement to your storage foods. Instead of planting ornamental trees, plant fruit trees. Instead of ordinary shrubs, plant blueberry bushes. Fruiting vines, blackberries, and things of this nature are great to have around in the best of times, they can be life savers in the worst of times.
Over the years, Huffman has become increasingly concerned about basic American political stability and the risk of large-scale unrest. He said, “Some sort of institutional collapse, then you just lose shipping—that sort of stuff.” (Prepper blogs call such a scenario W.R.O.L., “without rule of law.”) Huffman has come to believe that contemporary life rests on a fragile consensus. “I think, to some degree, we all collectively take it on faith that our country works, that our currency is valuable, the peaceful transfer of power—that all of these things that we hold dear work because we believe they work. While I do believe they’re quite resilient, and we’ve been through a lot, certainly we’re going to go through a lot more.”
Don't just keep that stuff in your home; it's actually more important to have such a kit in your car (ideally in the center console) and carry something equivalent when biking, hiking, climbing, hunting, or engaging into other injury-prone sports. There are some lightweight ready-made kits ($19) that may do the trick, although making your own is always a better choice.
Doug owns a rock hauling business in Tennessee and plans to bug-in with his family in his underground bunker. Doug, whose line of work has earned him the nickname "Rockman", also plans to use a hillside full of boulders as a defense to ward off potential threats. He is also stockpiling coins minted before the 1970s because of their higher silver content, which makes them useful for bartering. Jeff Flaningham is a single, Wisconsin native, who is looking for woman who will live with him in his decommissioned SM-65 Atlas missile silo located in rural central Kansas in the event of a catastrophic event. During the program, Jeff goes on dates with three women he has met through an online dating service. He then arranges a second date with one of them, Stephanie, to go visit his missile silo.
So, here's your homework: make a list of all the major threats discussed in this guide, alongside with any other contingencies you worry about. For each and every one of them, draft a detailed, step-by-step preparedness and response plan that sounds right to you, and that you can see yourself actually putting into action. Don't obsess over getting all the details right; we'll try to refine your choices in section 4, and even then, it may take several iterations to settle on an approach you are really happy with. For now, simply list all the noteworthy dangers, jot down some initial answers to the following questions, and see where that takes you.
People who carefully and painstakingly prepare for mass extinction don't exactly seem like the type of people who plan great parties. At least, with those vast collections of guns, ammo, and other terrifying armaments, I certainly hope not. Then again, I suppose everyone will need a drink or 10 to get through the inevitable horrors of forever navigating the "what's for dinner" question without Seamless or, you know, realizing that your urban-dwelling family members will probably never arise from the blasted pit of rubble where their apartments once stood.
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.
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.
Historically, our fascination with the End has flourished at moments of political insecurity and rapid technological change. “In the late nineteenth century, there were all sorts of utopian novels, and each was coupled with a dystopian novel,” Richard White, a historian at Stanford University, told me. Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward,” published in 1888, depicted a socialist paradise in the year 2000, and became a sensation, inspiring “Bellamy Clubs” around the country. Conversely, Jack London, in 1908, published “The Iron Heel,” imagining an America under a fascist oligarchy in which “nine-tenths of one per cent” hold “seventy per cent of the total wealth.”
Good article! A few years ago, a medical condition for someone in my family required that I learn how to cook without high fat dairy, no corn products, no fish, and very low sodium. That means almost no packaged or processed foods, no fast food, almost no snack foods, no packaged flavor packets, no bottled flavorings…well you get the idea. Now I visit Costco a couple times a year for rice, beans, pasta, and meat. I grow almost all the vegetables we eat year round. Our grocery bills have gone way down. And now I actually know how to cook almost anything from scratch ingredients that I always have on hand in bulk. The foods many preppers stock up, are foods I never have in my house so I wouldn’t miss them if they suddenly became unavailable. In hind sight I’ve learned that “stuff” isn’t as important as skills. Trust me, cooking is a skill.
By and large, all of my clients seemed like nice, normal people, at least via e-mail and on the phone—I never met a single one in person. But in the end, the longer we worked together, the more comfortable the clients tended to become in expressing their more extreme opinions, as if they'd been holding them in. Often, professional decorum (and with it, sometimes basic grammar and spelling) degraded as time went on.
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!
Check out our full review of the best emergency water storage containers and tips on how to store water. We recommend that you have the two weeks of water ready, sitting in containers. Don’t depend on finding and filtering water, or filling your bathtub, for this two-week period. It’s very likely you’ll have access to portable water filters and other water treatment methods because of your bug out bags, but think of those as a bonus backup.
Pepper spray. An excellent, temporarily incapacitating weapon - very difficult to resist and capable of buying you just enough time to escape. Works quickly and reliably at distances up to perhaps 10 feet; can also stop some animal attacks. Usually not heavily regulated, making it easy to obtain and carry even in places that frown upon other forms of armed self-defense (but check the laws). Pepper spray becomes less effective in strong wind; there is also some risk of blowback, but this is mitigated in narrow-stream products, such as Sabre Pepper Gel ($18).
This is in response to the person who suggested reading The Hot Zone. Alec or Alex. I have read it and now I’m suddenly seeing the information go mainstream. The 4 levels of biocontainment are mentioned on TV, such as in the show Blindspot. Even the phrase Hot Zone is used on TV. And the various hemorrhagic fevers are mentioned. None of it is explained which makes me feel like I’m in the cool group who read the book and knows the terms. Yes, fellow readers, this IS my idea of fun.
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.’ ”
This past September, Wise Company’s products proved lifesaving in a very urgent sense: Strapped for rations following the double whammy of Harvey in Texas and Irma in South Florida, FEMA placed an order for 2 million servings of food to relieve Maria’s victims in Puerto Rico. On a typical day, though, its selection of 72-hour, one-week, and one-month survival kits, packaged in boxes that can easily fit under a bed, seems more geared toward everyday Americans looking to prepare for the unknown.
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