Bob Kay, a nutritional scientist in Southern California, is prepping for environmental destruction due to massive earthquakes; politician Joshua Wander is preparing for a terrorist attack, teaching others about prepping and stocking up kosher foods (matzos and mre's); Ryan Croft is prepping for a global financial crisis by cultivating alternative food sources like spirulina and earthworms.
Auckland is a thirteen-hour flight from San Francisco. I arrived in early December, the beginning of New Zealand’s summer: blue skies, mid-seventies, no humidity. Top to bottom, the island chain runs roughly the distance between Maine and Florida, with half the population of New York City. Sheep outnumber people seven to one. In global rankings, New Zealand is in the top ten for democracy, clean government, and security. (Its last encounter with terrorism was in 1985, when French spies bombed a Greenpeace ship.) In a recent World Bank report, New Zealand had supplanted Singapore as the best country in the world to do business.
Not all of these hobbies can be turned into well-paying gigs unless you truly excel at them - but they are guaranteed to be challenging, meaningful, and fun. The Internet gives you ample opportunities to learn from others, compare notes, and get feedback on your work - all without prematurely subjecting yourself to the pressures of the commercial marketplace.
Ben had some good ideas. Hiking in the back mountains of Cape Town can sometimes be tricky as being off the beaten track it is not often you will see anyone. I suggest flares to light up the night sky to attract overhead planes. Also a really powerful long range torch (flashlight) is a must as it will also light up a huge part of the mountain and this will ensure one’s safety. Condoms! Yes but it is not what you think – condoms come in handy to waterproof bandages or protect and prevent irritating blisters. Also handy to keep items like your cell phone waterproof. Chapstick – great for soothing burns and bites and takes the itchiness away. Spare socks.
However, I submit that disaster preparedness is not inherently a fool's game and that the kind of prepper described I just described is not the definitive picture. The Red Cross, for example, sells bug-out bags, a staple of any prepper's gear. How crazy is it to follow the Red Cross's preparedness advice? Not very. And so much about doomsday prepping is about just having a plan, something most people don't have.
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.
Josh came to the U.S. in 1991 from Puerto Rico with his parents. They lived in Baltimore for a while and moved south into Calvert County when Josh was in elementary school. “Being around people here is what really got me into the whole idea of survival, you know? Learning to hunt and fish and live with the land instead of just going to a corner store for everything,” he says. Josh married a few years ago, and the couple just had their first child in 2017, a few months after Trump took office. He began to take the idea of preparing for the worst very seriously at that time, and began learning about prepping from Scott.
At seventy-seven, living on a tugboat in Sausalito, Brand is less impressed by signs of fragility than by examples of resilience. In the past decade, the world survived, without violence, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression; Ebola, without cataclysm; and, in Japan, a tsunami and nuclear meltdown, after which the country has persevered. He sees risks in escapism. As Americans withdraw into smaller circles of experience, we jeopardize the “larger circle of empathy,” he said, the search for solutions to shared problems. “The easy question is, How do I protect me and mine? The more interesting question is, What if civilization actually manages continuity as well as it has managed it for the past few centuries? What do we do if it just keeps on chugging?”
In addition to assorted tools and hygiene supplies, your car kit should probably include a high-visibility vest ($7); if your vehicle gives up life, it's better to be visible when trying to revive it or walking to get help. I'm less convinced about the benefits of carrying flares or flare guns; while they can be useful in serious emergencies, they also pose some fire risk.
And it's not all about dying, too: a nasty toothache or a debilitating allergy can make it very difficult to stay productive and alert. With all that in mind, my list of essential and easily available prepper medicines includes ibuprofen ($10, pain relief), cetirizine ($15, allergy management), amoxicillin ($15, broad-spectrum antibiotic), loperamide ($10, anti-diarrheal), meclizine ($7, prevents vomiting), miconazole nitrate ($10, treats fungal skin infections), bacitracin ointment ($5, bacterial skin infections), topical lidocaine ($20, anesthetic), and hydrocortisone cream ($6, anti-itch). For disinfecting your hands and cleaning wounds, benzalkonium chloride wipes ($4) can work pretty well; for burns, many people swear by hydrogel dressings ($5) or hydrogel creams ($13), too. Finally, for treating severe dehydration, try oral rehydration packs ($30).
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.
It's no wonder that all this vivid imagery keeps many preppers preoccupied with civilization-ending events. Some of their worries are based on patently absurd or exaggerated science; some are valid, but rather unlikely to materialize within the span of our lives; and many others boil down to interesting but somewhat idle speculation, devoid of quantifiable risk or historical precedent.
Catastrophes do occur with regularity—think Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Sandy, to name a few—and when they do, there's much to be said for having your own preparations in place as opposed to relying completely on government intervention and large-scale relief efforts. People do fall through the cracks, and working out ways to take your fate into your own hands is a useful exercise in self-reliance.
Scott owns a nice bit of property in the county, over thirty acres, mostly wooded, on which he does some of his own hunting. He had an underground shelter installed somewhere on his land about 8 years ago, a choice that was precipitated by the economic downturn that coincided with Obama’s first term in office. It’s a rather large eight-person, three month shelter, that only his and Josh’s family know about. Even though it was a large investment for him, Scott believes a nuclear or biological threat is less likely that something more along the lines of an EMP strike or total economic collapse. Because of that, much of the shelter acts as secure storage space for a cache of items that would prove valuable in such a scenario: medicine, ammunition, shelf-stable food and common toiletries that will rapidly become luxury items in a post-apocalyptic world. Scott doesn’t think precious metals or cash will be much use if there is no economy to use them in.
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