Assemble A First-Aid Kit

It’s one thing to keep a basic first-aid kit in your home, but do you know how to use the supplies? If not, take a first-aid class at the American Red Cross. It’s crucial to have the tools and the skills required to help those who are hurt. The ability to stem bleeding is especially crucial. “First responders take a long time to get into the areas where people are injured, so you might be the only one that can help your neighbor,” Tobler stresses.

Plan For Yourself And Your Pets

And don’t forget about your pets. “I consider them part of the family, so if you’re going to stock two weeks’ worth of food for yourself, you need to make sure you have at least two weeks’ worth for your dog,” Tobler insists. He also urges dog owners to have muzzles. “People say, ‘Well, my dog’s not a vicious dog.’ But when you put your dog in a chaotic situation, you’re trying to go to a shelter, or you’re trying to go somewhere else where the dog might react because he’s stressed, it’s important to have one. It is important to protect the people around you,” he says.
Have a crate or a carrying case for your cat easily accessible, and make sure all of your pets are tagged with IDs. “If your pet gets away from you, at least you have a chance of getting your animal back,” Tobler points out.

Heat Is A Necessity

Staying warm is a priority in many parts of the country this time of year, and if you have a house, Tobler says you ought to have a wood stove as a backup heat source. Apartment dwellers don’t have that option but will find temporary comfort in a good-quality sleeping bag for a night. But you can’t stay in a home with no heat for long, so you should have a relocation plan in place. “Talk to relatives and friends that don’t live right next to you. There is no sense in having an evacuation place that’s only half a mile away,” Tobler says. “You might want one 10 miles away, or you might want to go stay with a relative who lives in another state, especially if you get hit with a hurricane.”

Keep Your Cell Phone Charged

There is no reason why you can’t keep your cell phone juiced up even when you don’t have electricity. Tobler says there are lots of devices--ranging from hand cranked to solar--costing no more than $40 that will allow you to charge your phone so that you can use it when downed cell towers are working again.

Have Some Cash In Your Pocket

You’re going to need to have some cash given that ATMs can go down for days at a time, and businesses that are open oftentimes can’t process credit card transactions as we saw during Hurricane Sandy. “Having cash will go a long way,” Tobler says. “It’s best if it is in small bills like fives, tens, and twenties."

Think Ahead To The Cleanup

You might not necessarily list trash bags as an item you should have in case of a disaster, but they rank high on Tobler’s supply list. “Every time a disaster hits, there is major cleanup, and trash bags run out quickly," he reasons, "so heavy-duty trash bags are awesome to have around."

Businesses Must Prepare, Too

Individuals need to be ready for anything, but businesses, no matter what kind, also have to be able to cope with emergency situations. “Businesses need to have a plan, especially businesses that can help the community,” Tobler says. “If you run a restaurant or a small store, you need to get back up and running fast to get those supplies out there.”

Businesses Must Prepare, Too

More scenes from Doomsday Preppers

Businesses Must Prepare, Too

More scenes from Doomsday Preppers

Businesses Must Prepare, Too

More scenes from Doomsday Preppers

Businesses Must Prepare, Too

More scenes from Doomsday Preppers


Paranoid Or Prepared? What You Can Learn From Those Nutty "Doomsday Preppers"

NatGeo’s Doomsday Preppers may seem batpoop crazy to you, but post-Sandy, and in light of warnings that calamity may become more common, what can we learn from these extreme practitioners of paranoid prep? Executive producer Alan Madison talks about working with the show’s survivalists, and a survival consultant shares advice on how to be prepared for when disaster strikes.

Alan Madison’s wife recently asked him to stop buying beans.

"I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ " Madison recounts. "And she goes, ‘Every time you go to the supermarket you come back with a couple cans of beans. I don’t know if you’re doing it consciously, but you have to stop. We have three-thousand cans of beans.’ "

That’s a bit of an exaggeration, Madison says with a laugh. But he does admit that he was unconsciously stocking the pantry with lentils and garbanzos, and he knows full well it’s because he spends so much time with the survivalists—a.k.a. preppers—featured on Doomsday Preppers, now in its second season on the National Geographic Channel.

Madison is the executive producer of the series that takes viewers all across the country to meet folks who are digging foxholes and stocking up on everything from water to food to weapons in preparation for various doomsday scenarios, including terrorist attacks, economic collapse, and electromagnetic pulse (a sudden burst of electromagnetic radiation).

And while some people write off these hard-core preppers as paranoid wackos, there are likely a lot of residents of the New York City and New Jersey area who, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, wish they had been more prepared for what was to come.

Three preppers from Manhattan and Brooklyn are featured on the December 18 episode of Doomsday Preppers, and one of them—a woman who lives in Harlem—is actually shown prepping for a hurricane. She had experienced Hurricane Katrina firsthand and was worried about what would happen in Manhattan, particularly downtown, if there ever was a massive storm. "We filmed her months before Sandy, and she turned out to be entirely right about the affects of a hurricane on the city," Madison says.

Additional season two episodes find preppers gearing up for other natural disasters, including earthquakes, tornadoes and tsunamis.

Madison says that all of the show’s subjects have a desire to educate the audience, but he reminds them that he also has to make Doomsday Preppers fun to watch. "I explain to [the preppers] quite honestly that we’re looking for 50 percent education and 50 percent entertainment. We have to attract eyeballs and make an entertaining show," he says, noting, "The shoots are great fun besides being a lot of work."

Madison’s crews usually spend two or three days shooting with each prepper, following them around as they go about their daily routines. The pre-production process is lengthier and generally involves about a month of back and forth. By the end of that time, the producers know everything there is to know about the preppers, and the preppers understand what is expected from them.

The production crew also undergoes a thorough briefing before each shoot, including instruction on how to handle safety concerns. The potential threats are no joke given that preppers could have booby-trapped bunkers or be armed to the teeth.

State of Readiness

It’s safe to say that most of us likely don’t feel the need to build bunkers or carry guns, but there are a lot of people, especially those who weathered Sandy, who would like to be more prepared the next time disaster strikes.

But where do you even begin?

Army veteran David Tobler, co-owner of survival consultation company Practical Preppers and a consultant for Doomsday Preppers, says, "We tell people, prepare for everything. There are basic things you would need in any disaster. You’re going to need some water, you’re going to need some food, and you’re going to need a place to stay."

When it comes to water, the most obvious thing to do is stock up on bottled water, Tobler says, and if you know a storm is coming, fill your bathtub and sinks, too. If you live in the suburbs and have a pool, you can tap into it. "You might have thirty-thousand gallons of water that could potentially be a life-source for you with the proper 60-dollar filter," Tobler explains. "There are lots of water filters on the market now that do an excellent job."

You can also use bleach to purify questionable water, adding a few drops per quart, he adds.

As for food, beans seem to be the go-to food for most people stocking up in anticipation of an emergency, but Tobler recommends higher-calorie food like protein bars, canned meat, and canned tuna "that will give you a lot of bang for your buck."

While some experts say you will be fine with three days of food on hand, Tobler says you should stockpile much more. "Going off disasters like Katrina and the storm that just hit, you should have at least a two-week supply," according to Tobler. "That way, you can take care of yourself, and you’re not getting in a food line when other people could use it."

For more doomsday prep tips from Tobler, click through the slide show above.

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  • Christine Carlson

    Of course it is okay to prepare in case of a winter storm, tornado, etc. However, a plethora of doomsday paranoia stories have been passed around since the dawn of time. People have been doing this for centuries, every century there is at least one paranoia that a culture of people propigate whether political, religious, social or otherwise.

    Do you remember when people did this stuff in the 1950's like building shelters because they were afraid the atomic bomb. Remeber the 2000 Y2K bug paranoia - they were building shelters then thinking that the world would stop because of computers changing the date from 1999 to 2000.

    Unfortunately, in the 21st century, people are using this mass hysteria to make a profit from paranoid types.

    No amount of saving, planning, and prepping will prepare you for the end of the planet. Live life one day at a time and stop living in your phobia, it is unhealthy.

  • Meghan

    Rather than coming from a "doomsday" perspective, in my community we have taken action in a way where we are working to make a smaller carbon footprint by powering down for 1 week each summer.  We take a stay-cation, power down our electricity and energy usage for a week, and spend our time at neighbor's cooking food around the fire.  This is just the short story of it. 

    However, if ever something were to happen, we have a great network of neighbors who can work together.  We even run our 4th of July entertainment off of human powered bikes that we built during #powerdownweek in Riverwest.  If you are interested, check it out here:


  • Ben

    Think about all the natural disasters that have happened.Some we could see coming and others were a complete and total surprise.It's a matter of time before people rise up against the US government.Then what will you do?I know what I will do.