On TV: Doomsday Preppers, Episode 4

Getting back on track with my reviews, on Tuesday, February 21, episode 4 of the new National Geographic Channel TV series Doomsday Preppers aired. In “It’s All Gonna Hit The Fan,” three prepper groups were assessed. In order of appearance:

Martin and Sarah Colvill, “mobile preppers”
“I’m preparing to survive the next great depression caused by a worldwide economic collapse”

Donna Nash and family, Alpine, Utah
“I am preparing for a worldwide pandemic”

Kevin O’Brien and family, formerly of Jacksonville, Florida; now somewhere in the Tennessee mountains
“Kevin believes that a 2012 polar shift will cause the earth to move on its axis, resulting in an onslaught of natural disasters… and since Florida is a low-lying coastal peninsula, Kevin believes that his home state will be completely devastated by a polar shift.”

Here are my thoughts about episode 4 of Doomsday Preppers, broken down by prepper group:

Martin and Sarah Colvill

Martin Colvill is a retired police officer who is now a big-rig trucker. After they lost their home to foreclosure, Martin and his wife Sarah, who is battling cancer, live in their truck. As stated above, Martin fears a U.S. economic collapse and the turmoil associated with it, such as hyperinflation. He anticipates delivery trucks having problems making deliveries in such a scenario. Colvill said:

My long term goal is to help America become the nation that it should be again. And the biggest way I can do that is to make a delivery in a safe and timely manner. If I can help other drivers survive, then our nation will be able to rebuild itself. With truckers, we have a chance.

The Colvills prep in the 53 square foot sleeper cabin of their truck. The couple has amassed a 4 to 6 month food supply, which includes dehydrated food. Along with dehydrated food, freeze-dried food is very popular in the prepper/survivalist communities. What’s the difference between the two? Well, from what I understand, dehydrated. or dried food, is made by slowly removing the water from the food through the use of heat. Freeze-dried food is a fresh or cooked food item that’s been frozen- then had the water removed. Each process has it pluses and minuses, so research is recommended before going out and buying food in these forms. One of the advertisers I partner with, Nitro-Pak Preparedness Center (see sidebar ad), offers both dehydrated and freeze-dried foods.

In addition to what they have stored on the truck, the Colvills also have a network of supply caches all over the country. For those readers that have or are planning to acquire a place of refuge, or “bug-out location,” in the event they need to flee from a catastrophe, having hidden stashes of supplies pre-positioned along primary and alternate routes to a BOL is something worth exploring.

When TSHTF, the couple plans on driving to a “safe zone.” However, one of their concerns is not having enough fuel for the truck. Martin said that they do have the ability to siphon fuel, should it come to that. Siphons are inexpensive, and might be a worthy addition to one’s preps.

During those times when they’re not on the road, Martin wants to camouflage the truck. In the episode, the prepper is shown purchasing camouflage netting from an outfitter to spread over his rig. However, once back at the truck he realizes he’s going to need a lot more of it to complete the job. Camouflage nets- and by extension, camo tarps- can be used for a variety of tasks, in both good times and bad. They’re also worth looking into.

In a societal collapse, Colvill fears the bad guys might try to seize his rig and its contents. The retired law enforcement officer pointed out:

Something that most people don’t think about- modern prisons use electronic locks. When the grid goes down, electricity is no longer around, prisons around the nation will suddenly open up. All of a sudden you’re going to have a flood of angry men and women, and they’re going to come flooding out.

The Colvills are subsequently shown training to deal with potential truck hijackers.

At a time when prisons across the county suffer from overcrowding and government budgets keep tightening, the temptation exists to release portions of the prison population back into the general populace before their term is served to completion. California and Illinois come to mind here. From the Los Angeles Times on December 10, 2011:

The early release of inmates in some parts of California is accelerating as officials at county jails struggle to accommodate state prisoners flowing into their facilities…

And from The Herald-News, a Chicago Sun-Times publication serving Will County, Illinois, communities, this appeared on their website yesterday:

The governor also plans to close a super-maximum security prison in downstate Tamms; a second youth-detention center; and six secure halfway houses, the latter of which could result in the early release of as many as 1,000 inmates into the general public, the state government’s largest employee union predicted Tuesday…

Martin Colvill left viewers with something worth thinking about. He said:

A lot of it is left up to us- what choices we make. When I see someone in need, or someone being bullied, I will step in and say, “NO.” And if it means taking a risk, there are those of us that are willing to do that. All that evil needs to propagate is for good men to do nothing.

In the “The Odds” portion of the segment, the show says:

While hyperinflation and severe depressions have occurred in major economies of the past, economists do not believe the United States is currently at risk of such disasters.

Other “doomsday preppers” concerned about hyperinflation include Dennis Evers in episode 2 and Pat and Lynette Brabble in episode 3. As I said in my last review:

Some of the same people who predicted the 2008 global economic crisis are warning that the nation is heading for hyperinflation. Recent examples of such rapid inflation include Argentina a decade ago and Zimbabwe.

As well-known investor Jim Rogers pointed out recently, the Federal Reserve has the printing press going at full-speed these days. And some real smart people who were way ahead of the pack when it came to identifying the housing bubble, the economic crisis, and the “Great Recession” think the United States will eventually opt to print its way out of its massive debt obligations. “Would you like some fries with that $1,000 Big Mac?” That’s what it might come to.

By the way, these same parties also don’t discount the likelihood of a severe depression taking place either. The fact is, most economists and other financial types didn’t see the recent financial carnage coming until it pretty much sat on their faces. Therefore, take what they have to say with a grain of salt.

Donna Nash and family

Donna Nash is prepping for a worldwide pandemic. From the show:

The World Health Organization believes that a devastating influenza pandemic is almost inevitable. Even conservative estimates suggest as many as 100 million people worldwide may be infected, and millions will die.

On Tuesday, the U.S. News & World Report website ran the following:

A paper published Tuesday by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control suggests a new swine flu virus has the potential to cause an outbreak.

The A(H3N2)v swine flu strain that has infected at least 18 Americans since Sept. 2010 has shown the potential for human-to-human transmission. According to the paper, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the H3N2 strains “resemble viruses with pandemic potential.” Terrence Tumpey, one of the authors of the study, says the current seasonal flu vaccine won’t protect against this swine flu strain…

In 2009, we were given a glimpse of how devastating pandemics could be with the spread of H1N1 influenza.

Getting back to the episode, Donna is shown stockpiling supplies and putting together pandemic survival kits. She said she plans on helping immediate neighbors, and footage is shot of her visiting some of them with her kits. I wonder if she gives these away, or charges/asks for donations for them. A little research revealed that the “Pandemic Lady,” as the show called her, is also the owner of Ark Ready, a company which sells preparedness products. Like Tim Ralston in episode 3, Donna is a “prepper entrepreneur.” I have to point out that the “About” section of Ark Ready’s website really grabbed my attention. It says:

As a girl, Ark Ready Founder and Chief Evangelist Donna Nash recalls her mother handing her a canister of mace and telling her to have a nice evening. Nine boyfriends and 16 canisters later, Donna was committed to the importance of preparedness…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

By the sound of it, I’m guessing those canisters weren’t disposed of because they were past their expiration dates.

Like a number of other “doomsday preppers,” the Nash family realizes the importance of training. In the episode, Donna and her family members are shown conducting a family pandemic drill where they donned their pandemic protection supplies as fast as they could and mustered on the front lawn. The neighbor’s quizzical look was classic.

Another priceless moment was when Donna’s daughter-in-law showed up late to the drill and was quarantined- along with her child- in a room adjacent to the home’s dining area. As the rest of the family sat down to share a meal, the young mother and child could only look on behind transparent plastic sheeting.

Kevin O’Brien and family

Kevin O’Brien, his wife Amie, and their kids are relocating from Jacksonville, Florida, to the mountains of Tennessee because they’re concerned about a coming pole shift which results in Florida becoming submerged underwater. To be clear, what the O’Briens fear isn’t a magnetic pole shift, but rather true polar wander, which is a solid-body rotation of the Earth with respect to its spin axis, causing the geographic locations of the North and South Poles to change, or “wander.” Some theorize that rapid TPW could lead to scores of natural disasters taking place across the world over a small period of time.

After years of research and planning, the O’Brien family are shown moving to their new home in Tennessee: 130 acres located on geologically-stable rock at an elevation of 1,800 feet. Kevin said:

Our land is secure and defendable, there’s a forest and timber there for firewood, we can grow own vegetables there. There’s a source of water. We can raise our own livestock there.

On the design of their future residence, Kevin added:

We’d like to build a really solid home, probably out of reinforced concrete. Bullet-proof, water-proof, fire-proof, earthquake-proof, and ultimately, pole shift-proof.

The O’Briens intend to utilize alternative energy at their new homestead, including solar panels and large black plastic barrels filled with water for passive solar heating. Interesting.

Kevin O’Brien brought an assortment of firearms and 5,000 rounds of ammunition to Tennessee for protecting the retreat and its inhabitants. 5,000 rounds might sound like an awful lot of ammo to some. However, well-known survival blogger and author James Wesley, Rawles recommends 2,000 rounds per battle rifle, 500 per hunting rifle, 800 per primary handgun, 2,000 per .22 rimfire, and 500 per riot gun in his 2009 book How to Survive the End of the World as We Know Iticon. And those are minimum recommendations.

In “The Odds” portion of this segment, the show said:

There is some scientific evidence that a true pole shift occurred 800 million years ago when the earth’s land masses formed a super-continent. But scientists believe that because our continents are now separated, such an event is almost geologically-impossible.

What they might be referring to is a study in which the magnetic composition of ancient sediments found in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard was analyzed by Dr. Adam Maloof of Princeton University. From an accompanying news release dated August 25, 2006:

“If a true polar wander event has occurred in our planet’s history, it’s likely been when the continents formed a single mass on one side of the Earth,” he said. “We don’t expect there to be another event in the foreseeable future, though. The Earth’s surface is pretty well balanced today.”

Another good episode. More ideas worth looking into. Again, I wish all these prepper groups success in their endeavors.

New episodes of Doomsday Preppers air on the National Geographic Channel Tuesday nights at 9 PM Eastern/Pacific Time. For more information, go to the Nat Geo Channel website here.

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