Luckily for the survivors, the highly radioactive isotopes present in the fallout are also very-short lived; the intensity of radiation will likely drop ten-fold within 6-8 hours, and will decrease a hundred-fold within two days. If you wait a week or two, it should be quite safe to venture out. Of course, it's still best to stay indoors for as long as possible, and when heading out, it's good to keep the trips short, to wear disposable coveralls ($11), and to take care not to track any residues into your home. But you don't need to lock yourself in an underground vault.
It used to be that dashcams were prohibitively expensive; but today, the prices start at $50, so it makes sense to give the devices a try. I can recommend Rexing V1 ($100), but there are countless other options to choose from. The bottom line is, if you own a car, it's probably the most affordable and meaningful liability insurance policy you can get.
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.
If you worry about releases from chemical plants or overturned ammonia tankers, 3M multi-gas cartridges ($17) and half facepieces ($12) may offer robust protection when sized and fitted properly. That said, in most cases, it's more important to develop a plan for sealing your home; walk around and take note of any crawl space inlets, bathroom and kitchen exhausts, chimneys, fireplaces, and any other gaps. In an emergency, you can cover them with trash bags and duct tape.
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.
In the end, ladders, cars, and space heaters are a much greater threat to your well-being than a gun-totting robber or an army of zombie marauders could ever be. So, gleaned from accident statistics, here are some of the familiar-sounding but crucial survival tips. It may sound unlikely, but if something appears on this list, it's responsible for quite a few gruesome deaths or injuries every year; take it to heart.
Just as importantly, our innate nutritional instincts can be badly misguided, too: for example, contrary to common wisdom, bananas are not really healthier than potatoes, and the bulk nutritional qualities of a glass of apple juice are pretty close to those of a can of Sprite. Heck, good ol' butter has fewer calories than olive or coconut oil, so a "healthy" bruschetta is not far off from a less-reputable southern delicacy: deep-fried butter on a stick. It gets better: a supposedly nutritious burrito from Chipotle easily packs four times as many calories as a greasy burger from McDonald's, while a loaded coffee at Starbucks is about the same as downing two hot dogs with a heaping side of mashed potatoes to boot. The end result is a truly abysmal track record for most weight loss regimes; the long-term success rate for people who try to slim down is estimated to be somewhere between 5 and 20%.
What else? Ah, right: the final piece of advice I have is to keep things uncomplicated. There are popular doomsday predictions that deal with cutting-edge particle physics, god-like computer hackers, vast government conspiracies, or extraterrestrial messages hidden in pop songs. I suppose we can't really rule that stuff out, but historical data suggests that there's a lot more merit in worrying about falling off a ladder or getting hit by a car.
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.)
Don’t overlook the importance of a solid financial foundation in prepping — it reduces your chances of emergencies happening in the first place and makes them much easier to handle when they do happen. Check out our money management basics for normal preppers, with tips for building an emergency “rainy day” fund and for how to change the way you save, budget, spend, and invest.
“One misconception about prepping is that you’re always thinking there’s going to be some kind of epic disaster,” she told me over the phone from Virginia. “The most common disaster that we prep for, or that happens to us, is a financial problem.” A longtime single mother, Luther said her interest in food storage grew out of a period of “abject poverty” following the 2008 recession. Lisa Bedford, a Texas-based writer who runs the site The Survival Mom, told me she got into disaster preparedness around the same time, when she wasn’t sure if her husband’s construction business would survive the downturn. (Bedford also works as an independent consultant for Thrive Life, meaning that she promotes their products online, and receives a commission on purchases from customers she refers to the company, as well as a discount on products she buys herself.)
If you have a spouse, walk them through your plans and make sure they can access the essential supplies and know how to use them in your absence. If you have children, give them the very basics as well. For example, in case of a fire, they should know the safest way out without having to wait for you; tell them how to react to home intrusions and medical emergencies, too.
Every year since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a magazine founded by members of the Manhattan Project, has gathered a group of Nobel laureates and other luminaries to update the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic gauge of our risk of wrecking civilization. In 1991, as the Cold War was ending, the scientists set the clock to its safest point ever—seventeen minutes to “midnight.”
At $40 for a case of 12, Soylent does a great job replacing solid meals with pre-mixed drinks that can extend your survival food stores by a few days. Each bottle is 400 calories and contains 20% of your daily nutritional needs. Drink five bottles and you’ve got a full day’s worth. They’re also vegan and nut- and lactose-free, with very clear nutritional info.
I set to work. My plan was to keep the fringe thinking to a minimum and just provide basic entry-level survival information: ways to purify and store water, what foods worked well for stockpiling, signaling and first aid techniques, methods of cooking without electricity, and so forth. I had no particular survival expertise, but I could regurgitate reliable reference materials as well as anyone else.
"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.