The primary purchasers of the product are water treatment plants. Pool owners are just discovering it, but most aren’t seeing the advantage of having a non-degrading bleach supply. Once they start figuring out the savings from buying calcium hypochloride, and the retail price comes closer to the cost of pool chlorine, calcium hypochloride will become a hot seller.
But of the many women I spoke to for this story, none view their lifestyle as non-collaborative. For Andrea Chymiy, a family doctor who lives on an island several miles from mainland Washington and runs a blog called Lefty Prepper Mom, learning about emergency preparedness and writing about prepping is part of a wider commitment to community service: providing others with the emergency first-aid skills and food storage know-how to fend for themselves in the event of an earthquake or other natural calamity.
I only recently got a cabin stove after a recommendation from another prepper as a way to cook without power or gas. Sure, it’s pretty easy to make a fireplace outdoors with bricks and place a grate over the top, but fire stoves are an innovative tool to regulate cooking temperature, boil water and cook meals indoors. Because of their enclosed design and external chimney, you can fix one indoors with a chimney leading to the outside and have an off-grid cooking platform indoors.
If the men on the blog Doomsday Preppers seem inordinately preoccupied with some distant future in which everything falls apart, he explains, it’s because that imagined scenario represents a moment when they get to feel like they’re actually useful. “I’ve got a chainsaw and a pickup truck and a little cabin in the woods and I can get my assault weapon out and I can be important,” he explains of the mindset. “I’m not really useful until something goes wrong.”
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A portable, 2.6 pound stove fueled by naturally occurring scraps sure would come in handy after society breaks down. Voila: the BioLite Camp Stove. Feed it biomass like twigs, pinecones, or wood pellets, and the resulting smokeless fire from this portable grill can get a pot of water boiling in under five minutes. It also generates enough electricity to charge a mobile phone or other gadgets with a USB port. Included is a USB-charged FlexLight, a light with bendable stem that can be positioned to illuminate the cook surface.
Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers will allow you to preserve many staple grains — rice, beans, and flour — for 30-plus years. Titan Survivorcord is a paracord that includes fishing line, snare wire, and a strand of jute twine infused with wax, for fire-starting. The Inergy Kodiak power generator is one of the most advanced lithium power generators on the market.
Comparable to the SOL, this does the trick for less money. It is a bit heavier than the SOL (which I also have) but it does the same thing. I have this one in a get home bag and I feel comfortable that it will not fail when needed. One tip, keep your head outside of the bag if at all possible. The moisture in your breath will condensate and cause wetness in the bag.
Speaking of making mistakes here’s one of mine. One of the first things I ‘put back’ (as my Mom use to say in the fall before my Dad was out of work due to bad weather at the quarry), was a couple of extra bottles of vegetable oil. Well, other stuff got in front of them on the shelf and pretty soon they were 3 or 4 years old. Yes, they were rancid when I opened them. Taught me a good lesson on keeping track of what you have and using it before it goes bad. They are marked ‘not to eat’ and are now used to fuel some lanterns outside when we have cookouts.
Onto a folding table came a breathtaking array of disaster swag: compasses and iodine pills, hand-cranked radios and solar-powered flashlights, magnesium fire-starters and a fully charged Kindle with digital road maps of the tristate region. Many of the items on display went far beyond the “10 Basic Pillars of Bug-Out Gear” that Jason Charles, the network’s leader, had passed out in advance through the Internet. A good number were tweaked to fit their owners’ needs and interests. A locksmith in the group had a lock-picking set. A vegetarian had a stash of homemade dehydrated lentils. One man had a condom designed to serve as an emergency canteen; another had a rat trap — to catch and eat the rats.
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.
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.”
One newsletter deemed by some to be one of the most important on survivalism and survivalist retreats in the 1970s was the Personal Survival ("P.S.") Letter (circa 1977–1982). Published by Mel Tappan, who also authored the books Survival Guns and Tappan on Survival. The newsletter included columns from Tappan himself as well as notable survivalists such as Jeff Cooper, Al J Venter, Bruce D. Clayton, Nancy Mack Tappan, J.B. Wood (author of several gunsmithing books), Karl Hess, Janet Groene (travel author), Dean Ing, Reginald Bretnor, and C.G. Cobb (author of Bad Times Primer). The majority of the newsletter revolved around selecting, constructing, and logistically equipping survival retreats. Following Tappan's death in 1980, Karl Hess took over publishing the newsletter, eventually renaming it Survival Tomorrow.
One of the first things to go in any disaster, or even just on a stormy night, is the power. Every standard family household has go-to flashlights and candles, as blackouts are an occurrence in every corner of the world (some areas more than others, of course). But for preppers, the answer to that problem is a generator. The only question is, will it be electricity or fuel-based?
The federal government is concerned, too. An October 2017 House hearing on the EMP threat noted that The Great Northeast Blackout of 2003 plunged 50 million Americans into darkness for a day, contributed to 11 deaths, and cost the country $6 billion, all because a powerline near Cleveland zapped a tree branch that damaged 0.00001 percent of the grid. In 2012, a high-voltage powerline failure caused the world’s biggest blackout, plunging 670 million Indians into darkness.
The reason the vacuum sealing system’s up on this list is because I feel food has a much longer “shelf life” so to speak when its vacuum sealed before being thrown in the freezer. Used to have a lot of power outages when we lived in Toronto, and each time our food would thaw out a little it’d taste worse and worse – except for the one vacuum sealed slab of meat we got from a neighbour which I think withstood 2-3 power outages (one which lasted 4-5 days) and tasted as though it was vacuum packed the day before. I’ve also heard of people vacuum packing rice into smaller one-serving portions, and have always thought that a great idea for cases you might want to throw a bunch into a pack and go, or just generally extend the shelf life of your food/prevent rats and mice from getting into things. Necessary? No. Definitely still something I want, though.
Finelli’s not from around here; an adopted Midwestern politeness hardly masks direct, fast-thinking, faster-talking East Coast roots, although he won’t tell me where he’s from exactly. He’s guarded like that. He won’t say where he went to college, only that he graduated from a prestigious undergraduate program and then got an MBA; nor will he say where he worked after, only that he started a company on the West Coast to manufacture satellite communications receivers before a Japanese competitor threatened to kill him. He will say he knows the moon landing was faked. In 1982, he moved back east from California and began designing computer systems for a Fortune 100 credit card company.
“I’m actually responsible, indirectly, for the end of the meetups,” Dr. Shealy tells me inside his Springfield clinic off Chestnut Expressway, and not just because he thinks the earth is more than 6,000 years old. (Andrew: says you can’t trust anyone who believes that.) He sports a red crewneck, navy blue sweatpants, a stretchy metal watch and rectangular glasses. The 85-year-old—he’s more energetic than most people half his age—specializes in holistic medicine; the first thing he asks me is my birthday, and do I know what my astrological sign means. On my way out, he asks if he can hug me, and when I oblige, a toothy grin pulls wide the spritely doctor’s cheeks. “I believe it’s an important part of human contact,” he says.
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.
During the dinner rush, the Pizza Hut on Glenstone Avenue is a kinetic juxtaposition: fast-moving people behind the counter, slow-moving people in front of it. Carbohydrate osmosis, I assumed. Earlier that afternoon in the Starbucks down the road, Randall told me Andrew:’s meetup group might be here. He’d been hosting meetups in the gymnasium of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Belview Avenue, but the church disinvited the preppers after clergy leader and RN Janis Hall witnessed Andrew: deliver a scathing diatribe against modern medicine. But here, judging by the veterans’ hats, overalls and waistband cell phone holsters crowding the salad bar, I knew I was in the right place.
I need to organize my food in a similar manner. I started prepping about a year or so ago, but it took months of talk and giving my wife articles to read, but I finally got her on board with buying a couple of extra cans/items each time she went shopping. I now have an overflowing panty that is disorganized. I’m sure I have items approaching their “best buy” date. Part of my “problem” is the size of our pantry area…too easy to cram things in and forget about them or forget where they got placed. We have an adequate 3-month supply, but nothing yet for long-term storage…that seems hard to get figured out (what to store, where to store, quantity to store, “best” storage method, etc.).
Jennifer didn’t get into prepping with a hurricane like Maria in mind. Her own personal SHTF moment — the calamity that spurred her to start stockpiling and growing food in the first place — was one that most people can relate to: the sudden closure of the law firm where she’d worked for several years. “We were down to only one income, so I said, ‘I have to really do something to help us get through this,’” Jennifer recalls.
People who are not part of survivalist groups or apolitically oriented religious groups also make preparations for emergencies. This can include (depending on the location) preparing for earthquakes, floods, power outages, blizzards, avalanches, wildfires, terrorist attacks, nuclear power plant accidents, hazardous material spills, tornadoes, and hurricanes. These preparations can be as simple as following Red Cross and U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommendations by keeping a first aid kit, shovel, and extra clothes in the car, or by maintaining a small kit of emergency supplies, containing emergency food, water, a space blanket, and other essentials.
As with everything in life, don’t take prepping to the excess. Hoarding is not the same as prepping and the accumulation of useless or marginally useful items can take up every spare corner of your home or apartment. Although it is wise to keep extra on hand for barter purposes. be realistic about your ability to prep for the long term while maintaining a clutter free home enviroment.
If you spend enough time on the survivalist internet, you’ll stumble upon a number of woman-run blogs specializing in a softer side of prepping, one that combines aspects of survivalism, healthy eating, and home economics. They have names like Survival Mom, Apartment Prepper, and Organic Prepper and can boast Facebook and Pinterest followings in the tens and hundreds of thousands. Together with a number of online forums and private Facebook groups, they form the basis of a loose-knit community with a shared interest in a constellation of traditional and contemporary domestic practices, including long-term and short-term food storage, growing and preserving food, frugal grocery shopping, family first aid, and basic self-defense. It’s a community found primarily online, but it also includes the occasional in-person trade expo or foraging class. For Jennifer and other mothers who partake in this feminine strain of survivalism, being prepared is more than a means of shoring up for some unseen future disaster. It’s a form of self-empowerment in the present.
Because I cook a lot, I use an AeroGarden Harvest Elite to keep my herbs growing in the kitchen all year round. Sure, I can pop the herbs in a temperature-regulated greenhouse outdoors, but when it’s in the kitchen growing at a rapid rate, I can’t resist using them. I chose this specific AeroGarden unit as it is a simple stainless steel design and provides what I need. There are much more expensive versions of the AeroGarden but I don’t need the functions they provide. That, and it’s only for herbs, outdoors I prefer to grow a more yearly stable edible crop of various goods.
She started searching for ways to make the family’s grocery budget stretch further — including using their sizeable plot of land to grow the majority of the produce they consumed. “I started using the coupons and the store discounts, and it made a huge effect in our budget,” she says. “And with the money I saved, I invested in a rain catcher — a water system — and that helped us put the water bill down.” Today, she sells eggs and home-baked goods for extra cash and teaches private classes on how to build what she calls “survival items,” including the aforementioned rain-catching system and solar ovens.
According to Hobel, shelter is your first priority. Lay down cardboard and other materials to insulate yourself from the ground. (Even in summer, the ground can have temperatures that lead to hypothermic conditions.) Use tarps, blankets, pillows—whatever you can find—to build the shelter on that layer. It should be as low to the ground as possible, and you shouldn’t be able to sit up when you’re inside, Hobel says. Other than the airflow you need to breathe, block all openings to keep cold air from coming in. It’s a matter of conserving heat. A lot of people don’t realize that their bodies are heat sources, Hobel says. You’re almost 100 degrees. Trap that heat around you instead of letting it rise in a tall shelter, and you won’t need a fire to stay warm.
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.”
I know it’s not an incredibly expensive product, but a food dehydrator has been on my prepper wishlist for a long time. They’re so convenient, especially when you have ones with so many racks like the Excalibur on hand. Yes, you can dehydrate foods without one, but it’s not as easy to do, and thus for me, makes it much less likely I’ll actually bother to do it. Major wishlist item here.