Adam Hadhazy is a contributing writer for Live Science and Space.com. He often writes about physics, psychology, animal behavior and story topics in general that explore the blurring line between today's science fiction and tomorrow's science fact. Adam has a Master of Arts degree from the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston College. When not squeezing in reruns of Star Trek, Adam likes hurling a Frisbee or dining on spicy food. You can check out more of his work at www.adamhadhazy.com.
And why shouldn’t they? National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers doesn’t exactly help viewers understand the plight of the average prepper, the one without 60 guns, scuba diving equipment, a bunker and an armored personnel carrier. “I knew going into it that they would try to sensationalize a lot of stuff,” says Allen, a Springfield, Missouri survivalist who refused to divulge his last name; he appeared on the show in 2012 showing off his aquaponics setup. “If Doomsday Preppers had shown typical preppers on a typical day, it would’ve been pretty boring.”
In his book Dancing at Armageddon: Survivalism and Chaos in Modern Times, Mitchell, the sociology professor, develops a working theory of survivalism as a response to living in a society where every object we could possibly need is already taken care of for us. “The shelves are full, and the channels are full,” Richard tells me over the phone. “This is a response to a culture that has stripped away from us our sense of efficacy, our capacity to craft culture.”
I recommend that the very first step you take when prepping is to evaluate the most likely risks specific to your geographical area and your personal domestic situation. Most, if not all, city, county and state governments will have emergency management websites that will help you sort through the most likely disasters to occur in your area. Take advantage of these public resources.
If I’m bugging out, I want a lightweight stove such as an Esbit, alcohol or fuel tab is adequate to boil water, not a large wood burner stove as I don’t need the extra weight in my BOB or GHB. JIf really needed I can build a rocket stove using empty cans and a metal hole punch or my leatherman tool. If I’m bugging in I have a BBQ or two I can use with charcoal, or wood.
The stories of alcoholic beverages historically being safer to drink than unfermented ones are apocryphal at best; however, as any 17th-century sailor would tell you, the addition of some spirits to potable water that's been sitting around for too long will make it much more palatable. Liquor distillation was originally invented in part for medical purposes, and alcohol can be used as a solvent to dissolve medicinal herbs -- and also to knock out patients during good old-fashioned fallout-shelter surgery. High-proof alcohol can be used as an antiseptic, and it does a great job of cleaning wounds and preventing infection.
However, if some tales of survivalist stockpiling are to be believed, our nutty neighbors have enough of the social lubricant squirreled away to hold the most epic end-of-the-world-party of all time outside of Edgar Wright's social circle. It might not be practical, but who needs practical when you and everyone you know is doomed to die from radiation poisoning or cancer?
In his professional opinion, the next big development in prepping will be the arrival of entrepreneurial capitalists, and this made me think of Fabian Illanes and Roman Zrazhevskiy, two men in their 20s I met at the show-and-tell. Former classmates at George H. Hewlett High School on Long Island, Mr. Illanes and Mr. Zrazhevskiy have been prepping since their teens and recently created Readytogosurvival.com, a Prepper Web site that sells prepacked bug-out bags with paramilitary names like the Tactical Traveler ($439.99) and the Covert Defender ($629.99). They told me that they had been visiting Prepper meetings across the New York region in order “to discover their customers.”
This 54” hickory survival staff is a multi-tool that can lend its carrier a super-tough silhouette while hiking desolate apocalyptic landscapes. With six lightweight stainless steel tool head attachments, the bearer is prepared for anything: it’s a fishing spear/frog gig, hunting spear, axe, saw blade, slingshot, and shovel. The staff breaks down to two pieces for portability in a pack or camping roll, and the set also includes a compass attachment, a rubber grip, and an allen key for changing the heads.
Modern-day survivalists aren't generally regarded as the most sane people on the planet. A quick look at any one of the disturbingly common and frighteningly thorough shopping lists they post online drives home the fact that anyone who self-identifies as a "prepper" most likely went off the deep end a long time ago. Sure, it's fine to keep a few extra cans of food and cases of water around for an emergency, but if you start adding body armor and butt paste to your stash, you might want to tell George Miller that it's time to see other people.
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.
I find generators that can be transported easily to be a way better idea than just regular generators – don’t know why and let me know if you agree/disagree in the comments. Thanks to the fact that generators have been around for a long time (unlike solar panels I mean), you can get some great products for what’s, in my opinion, a perfectly reasonable cost. And while I’d prefer to have a solar generator like the one listed at #6, something like this is much more affordable, and gas is easy to get, so I will likely end up with a portable gas generator first.
Of all the supplies they suggest you legally or illegally procure, epinephrine sounds like the biggest stretch. We don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but if you suffer from life-threatening allergic reactions and really think you're going to survive limited food sources and practically nonexistent medical care, we've got a mint-condition fallout shelter to sell you.
2- Listening to these people is an exercise in restraint. They are largely uninformed and base their life-decisions on anecdotal information they glean from the internet and other like-minded people as equally ignorant. They lack the imagination to redirect their energy and efforts to endeavors that could benefit society. Their apocalyptic view of the world is unsupported by real-world events, think Katrina, Sandy, and Fukushima, and provides them with a platform that simply reinforces a mistaken belief that all Americans adhere to or support this behavior.
The format is fairly standard for a "reality documentary". It does go with the more extreme folks rather than the more common folks who are just putting some things aside for rougher times. But that's OK, in most of the cases. I found many of the people to be pretty ingenious in how they've approached what they perceive to be The End Of The World As We Know It. Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong. A few might even be slightly over the top (well, there are a few that I think put a step ladder on the top and went from there...) But they have what they consider to be valid reasons for doing what they're doing, so who am I to argue?
With can foods, there seems to always be either a lot of fat, sodium or just a tonne of preservatives in the foods. I live quite an active and healthy lifestyle and I generally eat quite healthy, so the reason I bought a dehydrator is so that I can take my own fruits, vegetables and my own cooked meals and dehydrate them for a later date. This works well for me as I find I am being a bit more frugal by taking my own easily made meals and snacks to work, outdoors and even having them when I am too lazy to cook at home. That, and anyone else in the family that enjoys snacks seems to like it as well.
Staying at home might not be an option for long, especially in an urban area with lots of mouths to feed and dwindling supplies. A bunker is ideal, and at the very least should be partly belowground, fortified and well-provisioned. Barring that, a cave or a cabin somewhere away from populated areas will do. As a modicum of reduced exposure, a small, foldable tent or plastic tarp might not be a bad investment.