In the early ’80s on a job for the State Department to reinforce U.S. embassies and consulates following the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings, Pense says he and other government contractors around the U.S. converged on CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia. The consortium of engineers traded notes and decided that the U.S. power grid was vulnerable. Inadequate, Pense says, compared to everything that’s been hung on it, and that was three decades ago. Three high-altitude electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) could take the whole thing down. Like New York City’s 1977 blackout, looting and pillaging would rule the streets, and that’s if they can get the lights back on quickly enough—if the power stays off for too long, order is lost forever. 

To manage that fear, Dugger said, he has seen two very different responses. “People know the only real answer is, Fix the problem,” he said. “It’s a reason most of them give a lot of money to good causes.” At the same time, though, they invest in the mechanics of escape. He recalled a dinner in New York City after 9/11 and the bursting of the dot-com bubble: “A group of centi-millionaires and a couple of billionaires were working through end-of-America scenarios and talking about what they’d do. Most said they’ll fire up their planes and take their families to Western ranches or homes in other countries.” One of the guests was skeptical, Dugger said. “He leaned forward and asked, ‘Are you taking your pilot’s family, too? And what about the maintenance guys? If revolutionaries are kicking in doors, how many of the people in your life will you have to take with you?’ The questioning continued. In the end, most agreed they couldn’t run.”
Bombs rain from the skies, alien ships descend with lasers ablaze, improbably proportioned, irradiated sea monsters tear through essential infrastructure. You'd think that running, screaming, and finding clean underwear would top the list of activities likely to improve your chances of living, followed closely by finding a sustainable food source and offering sexual favors to the person with the most impressive arsenal. Unless you were a prepper, in which case you'd be worrying more about the safety of your cigarette stockpile.

Religion, however, has everything to do with survivalism—there are things about your faith that affect the way you live, Fletch says, offering me an example. “Today, a great deal [on the menu] was the special you had,” he says. “Every one of the specials had pork in it. Well, depending on your belief system and where you’re coming from, Dan, you could’ve made several decisions about me.” He’s right; I could’ve thought he assumed the breakfast was on me, so he ordered the most expensive dish on the menu. And those assumptions, he says, can break up a group. “If 99 percent of the people in your group don’t eat pork, and you bring in some person eating a ham sandwich next to you, that’s going to cause some conflict.” 
To get it right, make a list of all your emergency gear, along with expiration dates where applicable. Next, go through the list marking all the "stays home" stuff - the supplies that are impractical to haul around or not particularly essential when evacuating. Make sure that all the tactical gear - such as flashlights, fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, and self-defense weapons - are in a logical and easily reached place. For the remaining "stay home" items, just find an unobtrusive location, stow them away, and write the spot down in your spreadsheet.

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.


This is a very interesting premise, but the episodes get tiresome as the format is increasingly repetitive. Also, some really obvious mistakes that the preppers make are sometimes ignored: shelves full of glass bottles at eye level (no lip on shelves) in preparation for a major earthquake? Also, the one issue preparation (climate change, economic collapse, Yellowstone blowing up, etc.) seems tunnel-visioned, but apparently the shows' writers need that statement as a justification for their script. The fact is that most of the preppers and the needed preparations that each makes are very much the same in the outcomes they're working toward.
Yishan Wong, an early Facebook employee, was the C.E.O. of Reddit from 2012 to 2014. He, too, had eye surgery for survival purposes, eliminating his dependence, as he put it, “on a nonsustainable external aid for perfect vision.” In an e-mail, Wong told me, “Most people just assume improbable events don’t happen, but technical people tend to view risk very mathematically.” He continued, “The tech preppers do not necessarily think a collapse is likely. They consider it a remote event, but one with a very severe downside, so, given how much money they have, spending a fraction of their net worth to hedge against this . . . is a logical thing to do.”
Once you’ve considered what you’re at risk for, we’re going to shelve that information for a bit.  The federal government provides some good starting points for considering how to protect yourself (you’ll want to do a lot of research later about how to be safe and survive that scenario).  We’re going to move on to a personal assessment of what you currently have.
Tools may include cutting tools such as saws, axes and hatchets; mechanical advantage aids such as a pry bar or wrecking bar, ropes, pulleys, or a 'come-a-long" hand-operated winch; construction tools such as pliers, chisels, a hammer, screwdrivers, a hand-operated twist drill, vise grip pliers, glue, nails, nuts, bolts, and screws; mechanical repair tools such as an arc welder, an oxy-acetylene torch, a propane torch with a spark lighter, a solder iron and flux, wrench set, a nut driver, a tap and die set, a socket set, and a fire extinguisher. As well, some survivalists bring barterable items such as fishing line, liquid soap, insect repellent, light bulbs, can openers, extra fuels, motor oil, and ammunition.
I would like to add something, not necessarily to the list, but more like “food for thought” ideas that could very well save you and your family’s life. Living in the South, you “will almost” grow up around some natural disasters, whether it be a hurricane or tornado, most of us here take “prepping” very serious..and we learn a lot from those disasters also (I.e. Hurricane Katrina). I grew up around great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, other relatives and friends, who have a garden, almost for the entire year. Learning to can and freeze food was as natural as brushing your teeth! During the summer, when school is out, we shelled peas, shuck corn(yeah say that fast!), canned beans and tomatoes, picked berries, smashed berries, and, on occasion, churned butter! I wish I had a dollar for every pea I shelled! I be richer than Midas! Knowing these “techniques” can make a huge difference in feeding your family for several months without electricity. There have been lots of times when we would get lunch or diner straight out of the garden, washed and prepped, cooked, and on the plate in a couple of hours. No storage. No refrigeration! Scraps of food went into the garden or compost. And you can cook this stuff straight over an open fire. Two words…”cast iron”…it is a very good investment…it is great to use anywhere…open fire or stove! You don’t have to wash cast iron(I know it does sound gross, but believe it or not, that is the “beauty” of cast iron)..you wipe it out and keep it seasoned. You can cook anything in cast iron, from biscuits…to a cake! People with cast iron can cook almost forever! I would view it as essential. Enough about the garden.
At first, the falling dust will be extremely radioactive and even short-term exposure might be lethal - so your best bet would be to seek shelter in the basement, or near the center of mass of any other building. This maximizes the mass between you and the outside world, shielding you from the gamma rays produced by whatever happens to settle on the roof and the outside walls. The density and volume of the shielding material matters more than anything else. It does not have to be lead; mattresses and bulky furniture should do.
"Disperse!" came the command from the helicopter hovering above us. Every exit point seemed blocked by clouds of tear gas or the loud kapow! of flash-bangs. Every explosion startled me; I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin. Rubber bullets were being shot at us from every direction by cops dressed in SWAT gear, as if this was a war, not a protest. Someone next to me fell to the ground grabbing his face. I saw he was bleeding and scared, and I dropped next to him, telling him he was going to be OK, that I was a medic. It was my first time treating a wound in the street during a fray. Looking down at my hands and seeing a stranger's blood on my gloves chilled me, but there wasn't time to feel anything. My legs moved on autopilot, going from person to person to check on them. "Do you need a medic?" I found myself shouting over the noise every time I heard a scream.
A three months+ disaster means a lot of bad things will happen. Since most people won’t last for more than 3 weeks without food, the ones that do probably have a lot of power: guns, ammo, food, communications, physical strength and so on. These people are going to be more dangerous, than your typical unarmed zombie begging for food, because they know exactly swhat they’re doing.
For Mike Mester, civil unrest is just around the corner and he aims to get everyone ready; Colorado computer programmer Preston White has collected over 11,200 types of seeds and plans for biosphere living in a Fukushima-irradiated future while friends Shane and others provide supportive help; Riley Cook spends his days working close to home and with the prepper society building underground structures.

Plastic Bottles: With a little bit of cellophane, you can turn a two liter bottle into a great way to store rice, beans, sugar, or other pourable items. You will just need to make sure it is clean and thoroughly dry. Wash out the inside with dish soap and hot water. Add a few drops of bleach and then rinse it out and set it out to dry. Check that it is truly PET plastic by checking for the small PET triangle on the bottom of the bottle. When you fill it, put in an oxygen absorber half way up to help improve the shelf life even further. Two liter bottles hold a fair amount of food and are not as heavy as a five gallon bucket, which can make them easier to handle.

Your run-of-the-mill shoe stank might not pose much of a survival threat, but trench foot certainly will; baking soda is great at absorbing the moisture that might otherwise literally cause your feet to rot off your legs. As for the health of your teeth -- it will be pretty hard to get through your day's rations of homemade jerky and hardtack without some high-quality chompers. And you certainly don't want to rely on that pesky fluoride that will "kill your brain over time" (um, what?).
To answer that question, I found myself in the Siloam Cafe in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, seated across from Martin Fletchall, a disabled veteran who says God called him and his family to the Ozarks from Montana. He prefers to be called Fletch. Fletch is in his 40s, wears a white beard, a camouflage hoodie and matching hat and orders toast, eggs and steak, which costs less than $4. He agreed to meet me after a few weeks of exchanging emails and vetting that I wasn’t actually a “social justice warrior.” 
“The answer is you probably could,” she said. Though research suggests it might cause a mild depletion of vitamin C and other antioxidant chemicals, she explained, freeze-drying fruits and vegetables doesn’t have any significant impact on their nutritional value; packaged as stand-alone ingredients, they can even make for a healthy alternative to more caloric snack foods.

This brings us to an interesting question: if the radioactivity decays so quickly, why aren't people moving back to Fukushima or Chernobyl? Well... spare for several small hotspots, the exclusion zones are safe to walk around, but it can be more dangerous to drink contaminated water or eat local wildlife or crops. Our body may end up using some of the longer-lived radioisotopes as biological building blocks - which would expose us to low-grade radiation, at an extremely close range, for the rest of our lives. While it is usually not a death sentence, this phenomena is bound to produce a measurable spike in mortality across any sufficiently large population. It is more humane and more socially acceptable to keep people out.
14. Canned Cheese – A little company in Australia, called Bega, makes a wonderful canned cheese that can for a LONG time! The manufacturer says that the shelf life is only 2 years, but canned goods if handled properly can last much longer than that. Here is one prepper who opened them after 13 years, and the cheese still tasted great! Grab some Bega for your next camping trip, and see how you like it, may make a nice addition to your long term food storage plan!
High-sugar energy bars. Grocery store brands have limited shelf life, but several prepper-targeted, Mylar-packed varieties can last 5-10 years. Such products are inexpensive (~300 kcal per dollar), convenient, and energy-dense (~2,000 kcal per pound). On the flip side, they are probably pretty nauseating as your primary food. Imagine living solely off Jelly Bellies for a week.
There is A LOT more!  But this will get you off the ground on your adventure in getting prepared!  We suggest you read about The Path of the Prepper and follow it.  Join the APN and become an active member of the community. You can safely ask questions there and very quickly get 30 different opinions on what you’re trying to figure out!  You’ll be able to make new friends who are just as interested in your new lifestyle.  Find out about your state networks and get active in them.  If you’re so inclined, start making a bit of money by writing about your experience!  Everyone loves to read articles written by people who are just getting started.
Now, chances are, if you follow the advice contained in this section, you will not feel an urge to ramp up spending the moment you hit the 6-month mark. So, keep going; with the initial rainy-day fund established and good fiscal habits in place, you can start treating the extra funds with more flexibility - for example, "borrowing" against them to self-finance larger purchases, or aiming to retire a bit earlier and a bit more comfortably than the government expects you to. And by the time your savings are sufficient to get you through a full year of unemployment, I bet that your outlook on life, work, and personal finance will change in an interesting way.
I can't claim to have good advice for people who are already in a tough spot: if your household earnings are well below median, you may simply have no disposable income to build a personal safety net. But for most other folks, the ability to prepare for the zero-income contingency is well within reach - and it would be unwise not to give it a go. Sure, even a lifetime of belt-tightening won't make the average middle-class family fabulously rich. But rainy-day funds work in a different way: their purpose is to get you through a rough spell, not to pay for a mansion or a fancy car. Since the amount needed is directly proportional to how much you currently make, it makes relatively little difference if your household brings in $70k or $140k a year. Either way, if you set aside 10% of every post-tax paycheck, you should have a 6-month financial safety net established within 3 years and a change.
Things must be simple and easy. You want to limit the number of important decisions you’ll have to make or things you’ll have to remember in a crisis. You should not have to remember where things are, put them together, worry about not having something important, or lose time while you do the work you should’ve done beforehand. You shouldn’t be thinking, “Well, wait, will I need the camping stove I have in the other bag?”

Kevin lives in eastern Washington and is prepping his family for a volcanic eruption using multiple bug-out vehicles. We also meet Captain Bill Simpson, who has built a bunker sailboat, made mostly of iron so that he could retreat out to sea in case of a massive solar flare which could send an energy wave, in the form of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) which could damage today's technology.


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?’ ”
If there was anything my freeze-dried food experiment taught me, it was how lucky I was to be able to walk down the street and buy a sandwich whenever I wanted to—but also how far I was from being self-reliant in the more quotidian sense. If freeze-dried meals are becoming increasingly popular in America, then maybe it’s because many of us realize that if something really bad happened, we wouldn’t know the first thing about surviving for a week on the ingredients lying around in our pantry. But as we continue to be bombarded by headlines foreshadowing epic floods, economic collapse, and nuclear escalation, there’s nothing wrong with finding a little peace of mind in a bag of dehydrated Chicken A La King.
There’s been a general increase in anxiety across the board among people in the U.S. over the past year according to an online poll from Psychiatry.org. About 2/5ths of all adults are more anxious now than they used to be. Of course, you don’t really need to turn to polls or research to have a gut feeling for this. The sheer amount of chaos since the start of 2017 has been steadily increasing. Following a highly divisive presidential election events have spiraled to a point that it can be hard to keep up: claims of fraud, and collusion from both major political parties; an endless parade of hiring and firing of high level officials in the White House and on Capitol Hill; mass shootings; rising tensions with North Korea, Russia, China and Iran; accusations (and confirmation) of sexual harassment of many once-respected individuals; ever-growing racial tensions; the impending end of net neutrality; the big data scandals.
And now, there are Democrats. Fear of the Trump administration is largely responsible for an urban and liberal renaissance within prepping; left-leaning Facebook groups and urban survivalism YouTube channels brim with freshly paranoid Americans who attend the same expos, talk the same shop and wipe with the same bulk supply of toilet paper as the conservatives who voted the other way. That said, I met no openly liberal preppers in Springfield. 
For some, it’s just “brogrammer” entertainment, a kind of real-world sci-fi, with gear; for others, like Huffman, it’s been a concern for years. “Ever since I saw the movie ‘Deep Impact,’ ” he said. The film, released in 1998, depicts a comet striking the Atlantic, and a race to escape the tsunami. “Everybody’s trying to get out, and they’re stuck in traffic. That scene happened to be filmed near my high school. Every time I drove through that stretch of road, I would think, I need to own a motorcycle because everybody else is screwed.”
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.
At the same time, it's not entirely crazy to worry that in some circumstances, the response may not come quickly enough; heck, the Department of Homeland Security says that for the first 72 hours after a disaster, you may be on your own and should have enough supplies to survive. The odds of ending up in a real pickle may be modest, but the stakes are extremely high - and compared to the complexity of preparing to some other contingencies, the cost of stockpiling some drinking water is practically nil. If nothing else, when a calamity strikes, you would have one less thing to worry about.

Because I couldn’t stop wondering what it would be like to actually live off the stuff, I placed an order for Wise’s Seven Day Emergency Food and Drink Supply, a shoebox-size assortment of breakfast foods, entrées, and dehydrated whey milk substitute, in addition to a few other options I’d discovered online. I wanted to know what an insurance policy tasted like.
15. 20 cans of Soup or Broth. The beauty of canned soups and canned broth is that they are a budget friendly.  Soups are an all-in-one meal solution. All you need is a can opener and a spoon and you have a meal ready to go.  For an extra satisfying meal, try using a can of soup as part of the cooking water for your rice.  Yummy! For a guide to making your own bone broth, see Donna’s guide here.
When walking around town, keep scanning your surroundings and be mindful of people around you. If your spidey senses are tingling, just bail: make a sharp turn and sprint away. Don't worry that some random dude closing up on you at night might be perplexed or offended by your move. Don't freeze up if somebody hollers or authoritatively barks an order at you - complying is a very powerful instinct, and some assailants know to exploit it.
Buy dry foods, canned goods and peanut butter, then use the oldest on a regular basis and rotate new stock into the pantry. Too many people buy foods that they will only eat when the SHTF and then since you’re not using it on a regular basis, it’s gone or going bad. If however you buy many of the foods you currently eat for SHTF planning then you can eat the oldest food and rotate new stock into your holdings as a routine part of your meals.
We have our core. They’ll buy. Cyber Monday is usually the big day for us, but it’s not as huge as you might think. It’s not like Amazon, you know what I mean? When the weekend is over, they’ll do over $10 billion or something. They’re so huge now! But yeah, there have always been ups and downs, business cycles. If we get a Democrat in 2020, business will pick up for us tremendously.
Coffee and Tea. I am a dedicated coffee drinker and hate the thought of a coffeeless existence! One pound vacuum sealed bricks are the most convenient way to store coffee, they stack well or can be kept in plastic totes efficiently. Tea is another good source of caffeine, and I love a cold glass of iced tea on a hot day. Remember that in a true crisis, you may have to maintain 24 hour watch, and caffeine is a big help in this.
I think the point of the quicky foods like the ravioli is actually good thinking. You may not have access to water right away, or run out. The other foods require water to cook. I have thought about that issue myself. what if you don’t want the whole neighborhood coming to your house when they smell the food. Precooked canned food can be eaten cold. No smells in the air to give you away. Think about that one. Please.
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.
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.’ ”
To answer that question, I found myself in the Siloam Cafe in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, seated across from Martin Fletchall, a disabled veteran who says God called him and his family to the Ozarks from Montana. He prefers to be called Fletch. Fletch is in his 40s, wears a white beard, a camouflage hoodie and matching hat and orders toast, eggs and steak, which costs less than $4. He agreed to meet me after a few weeks of exchanging emails and vetting that I wasn’t actually a “social justice warrior.” 

Folks without a car are at a marked disadvantage, but should still try to put together a 72-hour "bug out bag" - and ideally, keep it somewhere within a walking or biking distance of their home (say, at work or at a friend's place). It's best to keep it light; some cash, 2-4 quarts of water, a 3,600 kcal emergency ration, and a raincoat will be almost certainly more useful than a gun and a collection of throwing knives.
If you are trekking through the Yukon or trying to cross the Darien gap, you may find it necessary to wait weeks for help to reach you in a survival situation; but if you are just heading off to your local state park, emergency rescuers could probably reach you in a matter of hours. You’ll want to factor this consideration into your kit-building decisions. If you can expect to wait long periods before help will arrive, you’ll need more supplies than if you are heading out to an easily accessed area. Nevertheless, it is always wise to have the supplies to last longer than you think you’ll need them.
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