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Project Prepper, Part 14: On The Move

Those who’ve been following my “Project Prepper” series of posts know that I’ve been planning a move out of the city of Chicago to the northwest suburbs by late spring (eventual destination, Wisconsin).

Well, it’s late spring, and I’m moving.

The closing is scheduled for next week. It’s the same house I blogged about in an April 16 “Project Prepper” post.

I also mentioned then:

Some time ago I put together a “wish list” for what I’d like a Chicago-area property to have. This includes the potential for:

• An emergency water supply
• A food garden
• Effective layers of security
• Going “off the grid”

Oh, I almost forgot to mention a fenced-in yard for a guard or watch dog.

This suburban property definitely has the potential for all these things. Partial brick construction, spacious backyard, an area all ready set aside for gardening, and more.

By this time next week, my girlfriend and I should have closed on the new place. Can’t wait to get in there, get settled-in, and get to work on a number of different preparedness projects which I plan on discussing in upcoming “Project Prepper” posts.

In the meantime, I’m awaiting a couple of new products that are related to my emergency water supply. First, there’s the LifeStraw Portable Water Filter, a personal water filter that removes dangerous bacteria and protozoa. I ordered the LifeStraw- which filters over 264 gallons- from CampingSurvival.com for only $19.95, which includes shipping (ordering info here on CampingSurvival.com). Also, I’m waiting on a WaterBOB Emergency Drinking Water Storage device- a water containment system that holds up to 100 gallons of fresh drinking water in any standard bathtub in the event of an emergency or survival situation- from CampingSurvival.com as well (ordering info here on CampingSurvival.com- at present, they’re out of stock). I look forward to checking out these two devices and talking about them in a future “Project Prepper” post.

More soon…

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 12: House Hunting In The Chicago Suburbs

It’s been years since I’ve been this busy. As I mentioned the other week, in addition to having a family member in the hospital, house hunting is taking up a lot of my time these days. You may recall from a number of earlier “Project Prepper” posts that my girlfriend and I planned some time ago to move out of Chicago to the northwest suburbs by late spring.

The big picture looks to be “purgatory” in Illinois for a couple of more years before eventual “sanctuary” in southeastern Wisconsin.

(Editor’s note: Related posts here, here, and here)

Well, it’s spring now, and not only have we looked at a number of single-family residences out in the ‘burbs, but we’re now “under contract” to purchase one of these homes.

Ironically, the very first one we looked at.

After crunching the numbers, it made more sense for us to buy rather than rent. And while we would have liked to live as close to my girlfriend’s place of employment as possible, the situation is a lot like what I blogged about back in November:

Unfortunately, the prices of many homes within walking distance of my girlfriend’s place of employment are extremely high, and considering that this suburban residence may only be temporary for us, I’m not sure buying makes a whole lot of sense here. Because my girlfriend is open to incurring a small commute time, the purchase of a house in an adjoining suburb that has more affordable housing and lower property taxes might be a better option. Plus, should we move into the subdivision of that neighboring suburb that we’ve been looking at for some time now, my girlfriend would be very close by to several members of her immediate family. Renting hasn’t been ruled out either.

In a nutshell, the single-family residence we hope to close on in a month or so is in that neighboring suburb with the more affordable housing and lower property taxes. While not in the same subdivision as her family, we’re right next door.

But more about the house. At least as it relates to “Project Prepper.” Some time ago I put together a “wish list” for what I’d like a Chicago-area property to have. This includes the potential for:

• An emergency water supply
• A food garden
• Effective layers of security
• Going “off the grid”

Oh, I almost forgot to mention a fenced-in yard for a guard or watch dog.

This suburban property definitely has the potential for all these things. Partial brick construction, spacious backyard, an area all ready set aside for gardening, and more.

As such, I sure hope everything works out and I’ll be able to move into the official “Project Prepper” lab later this spring.

More soon.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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On TV: Doomsday Preppers, Episode 6

On Monday, I previewed episode number 6, “Nine Meals Away from Anarchy,” of the National Geographic Channel TV series Doomsday Preppers. This afternoon, I’ll be doing my review of the episode.

The show focused on three prepper groups this past Tuesday. In order of appearance:

Mike Mester and family, suburb of Atlanta, Georgia
“We’re preparing for civil unrest caused by a global economic collapse.”

Preston White, central Colorado
“Preston believes that a cloud of deadly radiation from Fukushima is heading towards the mainland United States and will soon contaminate food and water supplies.”

Riley Cook and family, Silverthorne, Colorado
“I’m preparing my family to survive a polar shift.”

Here are my thoughts about episode 6 of Doomsday Preppers, broken down by prepper group:

Mike Mester and family

Mike Mester is a contractor who lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, kids, and dogs. Prepping is a way of life for the entire family, so much so that they’ve been doing it for almost a decade. Mike warned:

The way the United States economy works today is not sustainable. We were once the greatest creditor in the world. Now, we are the greatest debtor. Where will all the money come from? Look at the news, look at the papers. Police departments cut. Fire departments cut. What will we do when there’s no one there?

According to the show:

Mike believes that as the global economy falters, the U.S. economy will fall deeper and deeper into debt. Banks will close. Power will go out. Basic services will grind to a halt.

Which led Mike to ask:

If the grocery shelves are empty, you’re only nine meals away from anarchy. What will happen then? Will you be prepared?

It’s revealed that oldest son Ryan is away at college 250 miles away. Mike declared:

My wife and I, our home is our family. That’s why we want to ensure that we get all our children home when things collapse. We will go to any extent to ensure their safety.

As a result, Ryan’s parents provided him with a “get home” bag full of supplies, including food and water, that will support him for 4 days. In case their son is unable to make it back to the Mester household by himself, his parents have a backup plan in place. Mike explained:

Heaven forbid our oldest boy can’t make it home. That’s why we have plans to retrieve him in 30 days.

From the show:

Mike believes that after an economic collapse, rioting will spread from urban centers in waves, with violence cresting in the first few weeks. So 30 days is a key timeframe for braving the road.

Mr. Mester suspects gasoline will be hard to come by in an economic collapse, so he stores 50 gallons of it out in his garage. He replenishes his stockpile every 3 months to keep the gas fresh. Viewers were also informed in the episode:

He is also teaching his son Kyle methods for stealing gasoline, if necessary.

Nice. How about:

He is also teaching his son Kyle methods for recovering gasoline from abandoned/disabled vehicles in a societal collapse.

It’s just not the humans who are prepping in the Mester household. Their two German Shepherd dogs, Storm and Thunder, both have bug-out bags and were later shown to be receiving training for protecting the home and family.

Putting his logistician background to good work, Mike has amassed and organized an impressive stockpile of food and water. It’s revealed 3 rooms of his 4,500 square-foot house are dedicated to food storage. He estimated they have 2 years of food for 10 people. Viewers are also informed:

Mike stores thousands of cans, sometimes for years past their expiration date. Expired food might not taste good, but Mike knows it could keep his family alive in a crisis.

Mike added:

There’s a difference between shelf life and life-sustaining. In Third World countries, they use rancid cooking oil. Certainly, it will not hurt you.

Another interesting bit of info provided about the Mester family’s preps was the alternative fuel source they were shown fabricating and stockpiling. They collect dead leaves in the fall and combine them with newspaper to create an alternative fuel source. The mixture is soaked in water for 5 days, the slurry is compressed to remove the liquid, and briquettes are formed and air-dried for a week to serve as emergency heating and cooking sources. Very nice.

Like a number of other suburban preppers, Mike and his family recognize the potential threats from living so close to a major American city should a SHTF situation arise- and are preparing accordingly. Mike said:

Security is an important part of the prepper’s lifestyle. If there’s an economic collapse, civil unrest will likely ensue the metropolitan areas, then spread out to the suburbs. Downtown Atlanta is only 45 miles away. We don’t know how fast that civil unrest will get to us, but we certainly will be prepared if it does.

The Mester family possesses a battery of home-defense firearms and a stockpile of ammunition, and trains monthly at the shooting range.

Mike left viewers with this thought:

If you think the government’s going to be there, are you going to sit back and wait for the cavalry? They may never come. So what are you going to do about it? Why don’t you start to prepare? Because it’s your personal responsibility.

In the “Expert Assessment” portion of the Mester segment, Practical Preppers LLC recommended:

You need to put your leadership skills to use in your community. Getting your neighbors aware of, and involved in your prepping, will only make your family more secure in a crisis situation.

Excellent advice. But I’d add, that depends on the neighbors. I’ve lived next to my share of wackjobs over the years. And here in Chicago, where a good number of the residents have bought into the notion of “cradle-to-grave” care and protection by the Nanny State, preppers/survivalists and firearm owners are looked upon with intense suspicion, if not disgust.

Finally, in the “Doomsday Preppers Update” portion, Mike Mester indicated that the family was planning to grow a 1,000 square foot garden in their backyard. Those who lived in Russia in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse will attest to how important a food garden is when society breaks down.

Preston White

Preston White is a web developer who lives in central Colorado. The recent disaster at the Fukushima power plant in Japan got him prepping. From the show:

Preston believes that a cloud of deadly radiation from Fukushima is heading towards the mainland United States and will soon contaminate food and water supplies.

White said:

People need to know Japan should be evacuated. California, Oregon, and Washington should be evacuated.

Convinced of this radioactive contamination, White makes putting together a seed bank a top priority. From the episode:

Believing that radioactive fallout from Japan will contaminate the American food chain, Preston is creating a seed bank, a store of fruit and vegetable seeds that can be used to grow radiation-free food in a post-apocalyptic world.

White has amassed so many seeds, he is shown displaying 11,000 different types for viewers. He explained:

A non-prepper might look at my supply and say, “Are you kidding me?” But if something happens- I win this game. People that aren’t prepared- they lose this game.

In the episode, Preston White worked with other preppers (Shane Anderson, Richard Dudas) to plant his seeds and create a radiation-free farm. A key component to the farm is the biosphere tent system, which acts as barrier to radioactive fallout while allowing enough light in to grow food year-round. In addition, these tents can be broken down/set up fast and easily transported should the situation call for it.

Besides growing food, these tents were also purchased so people can live in them. At this point in the episode, local Russell Preister brought in and demonstrated an HHO generator/home heater prototype that would hopefully provide energy, clean radiation-free water, and purified oxygen for the plant and human occupants. According to the show:

The HHO generator can turn water into highly-flammable gas by using electrolysis to separate water’s hydrogen and oxygen atoms. It can literally turn water into fire… HHO technology has become increasingly popular, with plans to build home generators readily available on the Internet.

Like the Mester family, White has a battery of home-defense firearms. He said:

If you’re a prepper, there’s 4 guns to have. You’ve got a 30-06 to kill a deer, shotgun, 22 rifle to protect your home, and a 9mm pistol. A sidearm for close contact. The guns I chose, I chose for defense.

Hope he meant to say that 22 rifle is a .223.

After learning a valuable lesson about violating operational security (OPSEC), White remarked:

I was faced with death. Decided I wasn’t going to be a victim. It changed my life the way I live tomorrow. I can affect my picture, and that’s what you do by prepping.

In the “Doomsday Preppers Update” portion of this segment, Preston said:

I’m hoping in the future to pick up a motor home and make it into a really good bug-out vehicle.

I always thought a mobile bug-out location was a neat idea. For those who can’t afford a fixed BOL, it might be worth investigating.

Riley Cook and family

Riley Cook is a welder living in Silverthorne, Colorado, with his wife and four kids. According to the show:

Riley believes that during his lifetime, there will be a catastrophic polar shift, a movement of the Earth’s North and South Poles along the Earth’s mantle. And this drastic geological change will unleash a litany of natural disasters.

The Cook family began seriously prepping 5 years ago. It was revealed they have already spent around $300,000 on prepping.

Prepping has become such an integral part of their lives, the Cook family’s welding shop recently became a disaster shelter building business. Because they construct customized underground bunkers, all sorts of features can be incorporated into a project. Even an incinerator to eliminate pesky intruders. Riley explained:

That’s what you get when you combine a prepper and a welder.

Getting back to the episode:

A bunker buried at a distant bug-out location is only effective if you can get to it. Riley expects that the catastrophic nature of a polar shift will cause severe fuel shortages. So he has used his expert welding skills to solve the problem of transportation. His latest prepping tool is a custom-made Cook original that he hopes will allow his family to carry supplies without needing a car or truck.

Riley designed and built a 100 lb. hand-crafted aluminum cart that allows him to haul almost 9 times his body weight by distributing loads like a horse and cart. In this case, Riley is the horse. It’s also water-tight and can float in a body of water. Pretty cool.

Not surprisingly, the Cook family has an underground survival shelter located at 11,200 feet in the Colorado mountains 10 miles from civilization. During the episode, Riley, his wife Sara(h?), and their kids are shown practicing bugging-out in severe weather up an unplowed, snow-covered mountain pass to the bunker. From the show:

Emergency preparedness experts suggest that you practice evacuating your home at least twice a year, and plot alternate routes in case roads become impassable.

Great advice.

The Cook family eventually made it to their “cabin,” and proceeded to hunker down for the remainder of their stay.

Overall, a really good episode. As I said in my preview earlier in the week, a lot of viewers can probably relate to the Mester family in the suburbs, the Cook family in the small town, and even Preston White out in central Colorado. And this week, a number of ideas (food gardens, HHO generators/home heaters, motor homes, etcetera) were introduced that might be worth looking into.

I wish these three 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.

And before I forget, have you seen the new Doomsday Preppers TV commercial yet? When I first heard it, I thought it sounded so similar to the beverage commercials from the late 70s/early 80s it had me wondering if the original crew hadn’t been hired to produce it…


“I’m a Prepper, You’re a Prepper”
YouTube Video

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Preview Of Doomsday Preppers, Episode 6

If you think the government’s going to be there, are you going to sit back and wait for the cavalry? They may never come. So what are you going to do about it? Why don’t you start to prepare? Because it’s your personal responsibility.

-Mike Mester, “doomsday prepper”

Last week, I received an e-mail about participating in part two of National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers Blog Carnival. By agreeing to take part in the event, I’d get a sneak peak of the next Doomsday Preppers episode airing on the National Geographic Channel on Tuesday, March 6. More importantly, I’d be able to provide Survival And Prosperity readers a preview of episode number 6, “Nine Meals Away from Anarchy.” I watched the show, which focused on three prepper groups. In order of appearance:

Mike Mester, a contractor living in suburban Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, kids, and dogs
“We’re preparing for civil unrest caused by a global economic collapse.”

Preston White, a web developer living in central Colorado
“Preston believes that a cloud of deadly radiation from Fukushima is heading towards the mainland United States and will soon contaminate food and water supplies.”

Riley Cook, a welder living in Silverthorne, Colorado, with his wife and four kids
“I’m preparing my family to survive a polar shift.”

Now, because this post in only a preview, I can’t give up too much information. However, I think those that are interested in preparedness and who are following the television series will really enjoy this installment of Doomsday Preppers. How so? Well, I’ve learned that preppers come from all walks of life here in the United States. As such, plenty of viewers will relate to the Mester family and their situation in the suburbs, the Cook family and small-town living, and Preston White, the mild-mannered, techno-geek prepper. Personally, I can identify with all three parties. I grew up more or less in the Chicago suburbs, a lot of it in a town writer Ernest Hemingway once supposedly-described as consisting of “broad lawns and narrow minds.” I’ve also spent a good deal of my time throughout the years in a small town in southeastern Wisconsin that’s generally succeeded in not being overrun by throngs of vacationers from northern Illinois. Finally, with the word “eccentric” having been used to describe me before, coupled with my ongoing interest in computers from an early age (borrowed my uncle’s TI-99 back in 1983, picked up an Apple IIc in 1984, and never looked back), I think I understand where White is coming from.

I think viewers that are prepping or are interested in it will also appreciate episode 6 of Doomsday Preppers because many topics will probably hit close to home. Sorry, but no umbilical cords being handed out in this installment. From the Mester family section:

• How to retrieve family members during a SHTF situation who are located a long distance away from the household
• Prepping for pets, particularly dogs
• What to do with expired food
• A cheap, alternative heating and cooking source
• Preparing for civil unrest that might spill into the suburbs from the city in a major crisis

From Preston White’s section:

• A personal seed bank
• Tents to grow food year-round and for living- in a radioactive environment
• An HHO generator and home heater
• A home defense firearm battery
• A graphic lesson about maintaining operational security, or OPSEC

From the Cook family section:

• Underground shelters
• An alternative form of transportation
• Bugging-out in severe conditions

Now, the Cook family is prepping because they fear a polar shift is coming. You may recall that in episode 4 the O’Brien family had the same concern. From that episode:

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.

I feel it’s important to point out, once again, that what I think the O’Brien and Cook families are really concerned about is not a magnetic pole shift, but what’s known as “true polar wander,” or the solid-body rotation of the Earth with respect to its spin axis, causing the geographic (not just the magnetic) 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.

Overall, I think you’ll really get into episode 6 of Doomsday Preppers. Like I said, many viewers should be able to identify with the featured preppers and topics. I thought this episode covered the most interesting material to date- although I leave it up to you to decide on Fukushima. While I liked learning about the Mester family’s suburban stronghold and the Cook family’s mountain retreat, I thought the HHO generator/heater that Preston White and his friends were playing around with was way too cool. Then again, that’s the techno-geek in me coming out.

Tune into Doomsday Preppers episode 6, “Nine Meals Away from Anarchy,” on Tuesday night, March 6, on the National Geographic Channel.

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Survival And Prosperity
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Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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