The thing about disaster preparedness is that it’s hard to stop. I mean, 3AM-5AM still serves up dreadful scenarios every morning, and I usually need a couple cups of coffee to determine whether stockpiling camping gear, Tamiflu, lipstick, and nylons are the next logical steps or merely the ravings of Panic Town. But for now, at least, we’re set. Except for the chocolate.
“That’s a major problem,” says Gene Louis, a New Jersey expat who attended his first meetup in 2013 after moving to Springfield to begin ventures in real estate brokerage and digital marketing. Plus, Jersey is expensive, and he doesn’t like the fact that its residents don’t pump their own gas. “You don’t know what people are going to define as a threat, don’t know what people at survival meetings are going to talk about,” he says. “You can’t prepare for 100 percent of what’s on that list—well, you’d need to be Donald Trump to afford to.”
3. The water will slowly filter through the charcoal and drip out of the cap. Put a bandanna or another cloth over the hole to filter out any bits of charcoal. (If you’re experiencing intestinal distress—and you very well might be, since your body goes into different kinds of shock in these situations—eat a little bit of the charcoal. It’ll help bind you back up.)
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.
Label everything with the date of purchase. Sharpie pens were created for this purpose. However you choose to keep track, rotate your stored food items the best you can without getting paranoid about it. Many of the “use by” and “best by” dates on canned and packaged goods are put there by the manufacturer but relate more to taste and texture than actual spoilage. See the next item.
Survivalists maintain their group identity by using specialized terminology not generally understood outside their circles. They often use military acronyms such as OPSEC and SOP, as well as terminology common among adherents to gun culture or the peak oil scenario. They also use terms that are unique to their own survivalist groups; common acronyms include:
In the wake of these insights, I called a family friend in Ohio, himself half-a-Prepper, and he advised me to purchase a quantity of Silver Eagle coins as an inflation hedge, which I did. Not long after came the hundred-dollar, home-delivered month’s supply of freeze-dried food — in the standard and the vegetarian options — from Costco.com. I bought my wife, which is to say, myself, John Seymour’s homesteading classic, “The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It.” I began the conversation about acquiring a gun.
It seemed important to know if this all-encompassing negativity was histrionic or appropriate — that is, if the hard-core Preppers I had met were crazy or were, in fact, on to something. Just before the show-and-tell, I came across a news report about Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, whom Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had recently named to lead a commission investigating how ready the state was for another Hurricane Sandy-like emergency. I arranged an interview, figuring that he, if anyone, could answer my question.
As for food, she said that she thinks she would be able to get local produce if shipping were disrupted, but admitted that she had became concerned at the end of last year, when Brexit negotiations were stalling. So she started buying extra cans and more dried food and fruit — items with a long shelf life — when she went shopping every two weeks. Then she added pet food (both her cat and her dog require special diets), and bought seeds to grow fruit and vegetables in the garden.
The survivalist hard-on (yep, and I'll do it again, too) for prophylactics untouched by chemical pleasure-enhancers is the result of drilling deep (told you) into the magical properties of our latex friends. According to our research, these flexible, durable, waterproof wonders will be as much of a deciding factor in your dystopian longevity as fire and can openers.
Radiation detection alarms and monitors to to keep you aware of the slightest exposure to radition, helping your chances to avoid overexposure. Gas masks and escape masks to keep you safe in the event of biological, chemical and nuclear emergencies as well as protection from fire and gases. Advanced radiation water bottles and filter straws to filter out all radiological contaminates from exposed water supplies.
Another best practice is to store a variety of foods in a single bucket. So, for example, instead of creating a bucket filled with a single food type, create a bucket that include a variety of foods plus appropriate condiments. If you are ever forced to use your food storage, you can pull a single bucket with everything you need to get by instead of riffling through a dozen or more buckets to gather what you need for meal-preparation.
When speaking to preppers like Jennifer, Luther, and Nygaard, it can be hard to separate the more practical aspects of the lifestyle from the enjoyment that comes from doing things yourself instead of paying someone to do them. When I point out that running a small-scale farm and caring for two kids seems like an awful lot of work to do on top of a full-time job, Nygaard demures. “Yeah, it is. But I choose it. I choose to spend it like this because there are things that give me pleasure. I enjoy canning. I love seeing my work on the shelf. You grew that, and you canned it, and you get a source of pride from that.”
For my stockpile, I use several Aqua-Tainers with categorical labels marked on them for drinking water, hygiene water (dishes and showering), toilet water and garden water. My priority is obviously drinking water, but any dishwater I have I reuse as toilet water. While it might seem overkill, keeping an eye on your stockpiles is good practice to get an idea of how much your daily consumption rate is, and where you can find ways to re-use or use less water.
Using a compound crossbow in hunting was something I had done well before getting into prepping. Because of my local laws, owning a crossbow or an air rifle is much easier than having a real firearm. I have had tried a number of different crossbows and have stuck with the CenterPoint Sniper Crossbow because of its great 4x32mm scope, its 370 feet-per-second speed, adjustable stock and a very easy drawback.
Richard Mitchell Jr., professor emeritus of sociology at Oregon State University, is probably America’s greatest academic authority on prepping. He says modern-day survivalism as we know it is a relatively recent phenomenon, born out of the U.S. real estate boom of the late 1960s and early ’70s and the concurrent rise of guns-and-ammo magazines. Together, he says, these developments gave rise to a baby-boomer fantasy: moving to your second home in the country and learning to protect yourself in the great outdoors.
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Whether Ancestral Puebloans had any preppers among them is unknown. But Kohler points out that in one fundamental way their response to disaster echoes our own: “People are really reliant on each other. It’s not just one household, one family against the climate, against the world. It’s communities, societies working together that will make for our persistence or our failure to persist.”
Firearms instructor and survivalist Colonel Jeff Cooper wrote on hardening retreats against small arms fire. In an article titled "Notes on Tactical Residential Architecture" in Issue #30 of P.S. Letter (April, 1982), Cooper suggested using the "Vauban Principle", whereby projecting bastion corners would prevent miscreants from being able to approach a retreat's exterior walls in any blind spots. Corners with this simplified implementation of a Vauban Star are now called "Cooper Corners" by James Wesley Rawles, in honor of Jeff Cooper. Depending on the size of the group needing shelter, design elements of traditional European castle architecture, as well as Chinese Fujian Tulou and Mexican walled courtyard houses have been suggested for survival retreats.
Even if the world goes permanently off-grid, you can maintain a modicum of civilization by making tea or a boiled egg, or even that beverage that once kept everything going, coffee. It also makes questionable water safer to drink. Constructed like a Thermos with a heavy duty glass vacuum tube inside, it can heat 16 ounces of water to a rolling boil in 20-49 minutes any time there is direct sunlight, all while the outside remains safe to touch.
Most of us have quite good shelter already available to us. If you live in a cold climate you have to be concerned about winter and freezing temperatures if you don't have a fireplace and wood available. If things ever really became bad I would setup a tent inside of my house and burn candles inside of the tent. For most of the continental United States that would keep the temperature inside of the tent above freezing. If you combine that with a zero degree or better sleeping bag you will survive much better than just about anyone around you. It's much easier to achieve this level of heating independence than finding a way of powering your generator for weeks. A little known fact is that most generators recommend changing their oil every 40 hours of use. Storing fuel to keep a generator working is daunting but the oil requirements are almost always forgotten.
Pense just sold his company, Gardening Revolution. For 20 years he shipped the proprietary iron, zinc, manganese, copper, sulfur and boron soil blend. Each bed costs $800, after you buy the cinder blocks and mat. On his best year, he shipped $580,000-worth of them. The magazine John Deere Homestead featured him. He’s taught classes on raised-bed gardening and survival in his cabin ever since. “The record on tomatoes is 274 pounds for one plant. Think about that,” Pense says. “That’s a lot of ’maters for one plant.” More than the ’maters, he’s proud of teaching people younger than him to grow their own food.
Five backpacks, which I got at the Good Will, because I am a frugal paranoiac. These are our go bags, one for each person for our family, plus an extra for my husband to keep at work. In his work go bag I also put a blanket, another billion-hour candle, and, in case he has to sleep at work, a comic novel. Something lighthearted, because if he’s sleeping at work I know he’s going to be freaking the fuck out. I considered The Road but decided that was unkind.
This is a box of supplies that we have packed into a bin. It is already to go, and has the basic items needed when camping out like lanterns (solar) bug spray, plates and silverware, small propane bottles, camping stove, coffee pot, fishing gear, extra coats, blankets, clothing, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, etc. This bin would be invaluable to grab because it is already ready to go.
For Erica Nygaard, an Iowa-based mother of four who started storing and growing her own food after a divorce 11 years ago, the desire to prepare for the future stems directly from the vulnerability one can feel as a single mom. “When you become a single parent, that weight really hits you: I am completely responsible [for my children,] no matter what. No matter what happens, these four people have to be taken care of.”
On a humid day in early August, I traveled to Wild Abundance, a homesteading and primitive-skills school in the rolling green hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Founded by Natalie Bogwalker in 2012, the facility in Weaverville, North Carolina, offers courses in gardening, foraging, herbalism, tiny house construction, hide tanning, and any number of practices that might come in handy when living alone in the wilderness. It’s also a functional homestead with a sprawling vegetable garden and a series of charming hobbit-like outbuildings fanned out across a wooded hillside.
Although he had a cold when we met at his office in Harlem, Dr. Redlener was a soothing presence — bearded, erudite and open to the notion that ordinary people have a central role in emergency preparedness. The government, he told me, reacted decisively after 9/11, establishing the Department of Homeland Security, so why shouldn’t everyday citizens react?
This type of prepper prides himself on how prepared he is for any apocalyptic event. He finds it hard to keep his mouth shut about his food preparation, water supply, and his self-sustaining environment that he built as a whole. The problem with this is if a disaster does happen, those ill-equipped groups will surely come for these religious preppers first.
Lastly, this list is primarily for Sheltering in Place and the requirements/resources the average person would be able to lay their hands on. This doesn’t take more extreme climates into consideration but should still provide a base regardless of where you live. For other lists you can check out our Resources page. For something more specific to the Bug Out Bag checklist, click here. Also this list is going to be missing the specifics of the amounts because each family or individual is different. So without further ado, here we go.
Later that day, the 69-year-old Janet Randall also confesses to sabotaging the group. She was at the first meetup, and between clanks and frothy whirs from the espresso machine at the Starbucks on Glenstone Avenue, I learn how Brutus got rid of Caesar. From Randall’s, Dr. Shealy’s, Allen’s, and Louis’ accounts, here’s what happened: One day last year, during Finelli’s pneumonia hiatus, Dr. Shealy brought in a spiritual healer, as he had for years without complaint.
Lastly, there are no “EXPERT” preppers that I know of! Just as there should be no one directing, suggesting or quantifying anyone’s efforts toward being ultimately prepared. We are all in different stages with any of the attributes required to be our best, not someone else’s best. There are just way to many factors that have to go into the equation for one person to know it all. I learned a long time ago to never point out a problem without recommending a solution. I feel survival training through this venue is best served by not casting doubt, mistrust and pointing out scary gaps in plans being worked on. Instead, Train skills, knowledge and attitudes. The “How Tos”, “Where to Find Useful Info” and just the considerations of the attitudes. Let the individual prepper decide how it fits into their specific plan.
The truck was owned by a group called the Zombie Squad, which was started in June of 2003 by a group of six American Red Cross volunteers trying to appeal to a younger demographic, Huddleston discovered. Today there are Zombie Squad chapters all over the country. They consult on Hollywood movies. And they run an online forum at zombiehunters.org to answer questions about everything from self-sufficient living to firearms.
If an alternate location is not practical, consider storing items at various locations around your home. Not everything needs to be on shelves in the basement. Spread things out so that if the basement gets flooded, you still have dry items in the upstairs bedroom. Use your imagination and don’t forget to do the very best you can to package everything so it is resistant to moisture and pests.
Personal defense items – such as rifles and heavy firearms – are going to be increasinly hard to manage the farther you move from steady supplies. Ironically, it’s firearms that help acquire more food, provide personal protection, and deter others from attacking. In a SHTF scenario, heavy armament is only good within fortified areas. If you want to stay highly mobile, switch down to a .22LR polymer rifle such as the Savage survival rifle or similar. Lightweight, collapsible, and perfect for hunting game. Loaded with subsonic rounds, it can also be a lot more efficient than heading off a target with a loud 30-06.