Forums and Facebook groups are littered with the same fundamental questions asked over and over again, but they often give incomplete, conflicting, or even dangerous answers. Then we’d read a blog where the author did some quick googling and cranked out a post just to get some traffic. Or we’d have to dig through crazy propaganda and extreme political opinions in the hopes of finding good advice. It drove us mad — we just wanted the facts and straightforward answers!
Many hardcore preppers spend their time fantasizing about heroic survival in the endless, pristine wilderness, equipped with nothing more than a bug out bag, a trusty rifle, and their own iron will. But even in far more realistic situations, being able to set up a camp can be a valuable skill. During mass evacuations, there is always a good chance of being stuck on a congested highway for a day or two, or reaching your destination only to find out that all the hotels and motels are full. The benefits are clear for some small-scale emergencies, too: if backed-up sewage makes your home uninhabitable for a while, setting up a tent in a friend's backyard can be much cheaper than staying in a hotel for several weeks.

“And carnal nature said, ‘I’ve got eight shots, they’re not by their weapons, I’m going to kill every damn one of them.’ And then I saw the women. Hollow-faced, it looked like you had draped skeletons with cloth. Horrible, and the children were the same way. Far, far worse than anything I had ever imagined. I could see it, I could smell it, I could taste it, I could feel it. It was real. It’s going to be an experience you don’t want to go through.”—A dream Len Pense had, circa Fall 2017.  
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.’ ”
While I’m a big fan of mylar bags and 5 gallon buckets, since my family is just two folks (unless extended family make it to the house in an event), I package things up in 1 gallon mylar bags before placing into the buckets. Allows me to open less food at once to the elements. Sure, I have gamma lids to apply afterwards, and the mylar bags I use have ziplock style tops for resealing, but the less I open to the elements at once the better it will last. To further extend shelf life of opened bags, I have a large supply of small silica gel packs that I can toss a few into open dry good bags. Once I finish the bags I can reuse the packs by gently heating in my Sun Oven.
If you can afford to spend more than $50 / week…. DON’T. You’re gonna make a lot of mistakes in the beginning so, the more your read, the less likely you are to buy overpriced food, guns and gear. Sure, you have to buy stuff but knowing which stuff to buy and having the right skills is much more important. Ideally, you should make a budget and then stick to it.
In fact, the influx had begun well before Trump’s victory. In the first ten months of 2016, foreigners bought nearly fourteen hundred square miles of land in New Zealand, more than quadruple what they bought in the same period the previous year, according to the government. American buyers were second only to Australians. The U.S. government does not keep a tally of Americans who own second or third homes overseas. Much as Switzerland once drew Americans with the promise of secrecy, and Uruguay tempted them with private banks, New Zealand offers security and distance. In the past six years, nearly a thousand foreigners have acquired residency there under programs that mandate certain types of investment of at least a million dollars.

For an hour and 50 minutes, we talk a lot about liberty. The world according to Fletch hinges on the rhetorical question, “Is this going to give me more liberty, or less liberty?” He also assures me that his survivalist group isn’t just white guys running around in the woods with guns. “In my sphere of influence, there are Asians, there are blacks, Native Americans; a person’s race has absolutely nothing to do with anything,” Fletch says.

Barbara – I know what you mean. It is easy to become both overwhelmed and disorganized at the same time. The nice thing about the list of 20 items is that you can purchase them all at once or one item a week. Then you can set them aside and at least for the short term, consider your food shopping done and move on to the gear or the next major task on your preparedness to-do list.

If you’re one who needs to make some adjustments, that’s okay. Look at these suggestions and add the things you’re missing. It’s easy to take a basic storage and add the essentials to make it livable, but it needs to be done. As I did the research for my cookbook I wanted to include recipes that gave help to families no matter what they had stored. As I put the material together it was fascinating to discover what the pioneers ate is the type of things we store. But if you have stored only the 4 basics, there’s very, very little you can do with it. By adding even just a few things it greatly increases your options, and the prospect of your family surviving on it. As I studied how the pioneers lived and ate, my whole feeling for food changed. I realized our storage is what most of the world has always lived on. If it’s put together the right way we’ll be returning to good basic living with a few goodies thrown in.

Now, there are some dangers to life and limb that we simply can't predict or prevent: the occasional falling piano, the murderous roommate, the untimely stroke. Then there are the risks we take willingly, accepting the inherent and unavoidable trade-offs of our hobbies or jobs: the possibility of being snatched by a giant squid while snorkeling off the coast of California, or the near-certainty of lung fibrosis from toiling in a sugar mine. These are the things we can't or don't want to give up - and that's perfectly fine.
He points to the cash registers over his left shoulder. “I’ll bet you there’s not one thing you bought today that didn’t use electricity in the transaction,” he says. Before Y2K, Finelli says he owned a small computer manufacturing company and personally upgraded 8,000 operating systems so the dates would roll over from 1999 to 2000. “Because they wouldn’t,” he says. “There was a defect. I know that computer systems are frail because I built them.” He says a widespread power outage would cripple us—no electricity, no trading debt portfolios, no buying wholesale taquitos on credit. 

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.”
Mountain House, Wise Food, My Patriot Supply, and Ready Store need to get better in this regard. In some cases, we had to call a company and dig deeper than reasonable in order to find out calorie content — or we had to look at individual nutritional labels to reverse engineer the math. In other cases they called something a “1-month bucket” but that was based on silly calorie numbers.
One thing that lots of folks don’t consider is that no matter how many supplies you have, they’re not going to last forever – at some point, you’ll need to supplement your supplies with food you can grow or acquire. This means things like gardening, raising livestock, hunting, and foraging.   For this, section, not only do you need to stock up on seeds and gardening supplies, but you need to practice these skills right now when you have a grocery store as a backup.
Freeze-dried food is nothing new. As early as the 13th century, the ancient Quechua and Aymara people of Bolivia and Peru pioneered a form of the process by exposing potatoes to the freezing temperatures of the Andes overnight, then drying them in the sun. In 1937, Nestlé used industrial technology to create the world’s first freeze-dried coffee, and in the 60s and 70s, the US military shipped freeze-dried food rations to the troops in Vietnam.
As a matter of practicality, don't worry too much about your existing mortgages or student loans: they are difficult to repay early, tend to have very low interest, and confer special tax benefits. But use your initial savings to pay off credit card balances, and do it quick. Be careful with new obligations, too. Unless you already have a very generous safety net, a home loan that eats up more than 15% of your paycheck over the course of 30 years is a very risky deal; and going over 30% is almost certainly dumb, at least as far as financial continuity planning goes.
While media coverage has often focused on a certain gun-toting, masculine segment of the subculture, both women described being drawn to prepping as a form of female self-empowerment. As Bedford sees it, finding yourself unprepared in the midst of a crisis can be a “terrible feeling of weakness” for a mother. “It makes sense to be empowered and trained and have the right supplies—and in this case, to have extra food on hand—because as a mom in particular, your family just relies on you,” she said.
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.

Again, the reason we tend to look sideways at those who get a little too into prepping for an apocalypse is because of their smug optimism. People actually being realistic about a dangerous future would be better served joining the military or ingratiating themselves with high-level government officials than agonizing about a little mouth scuzz or foot fuzz, right?
I don’t have high blood pressure, but am extremely salt sensitive. If I eat a Chinese meal (which I love!), I have to remember to take a couple of potassium tablets afterward, or I will puff up and look like I’ve been on a bender for the last two days! Swollen eyelids, fingers and even toes. Something not working well with my kidneys? Maybe. Hasn’t shown up in any blood work, and the potassium does the trick. So, we have to figure our own bodies out. Let’s be glad we all don’t have to fool around to do that! Good health is a blessing.
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.

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.
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