hot tubs

On TV: Doomsday Preppers, Episode 8

I finally got the chance to watch episode number 8 of the National Geographic Channel TV series Doomsday Preppers.

The show focused on three groups of preppers Tuesday night, March 27. In order of appearance:

Bruce Beach, rural Ontario, Canada
Bruce and his family have built a massive underground shelter in anticipation of an inevitable nuclear war. “We are not about survival. We are about reconstruction.”

Jeremy and Kelly, outside Salt Lake City, Utah
“I’m preparing for the collapse of society due to peak oil”

Bradford Frank, San Diego, California
“I’m preparing for a worldwide pandemic that will end life as we know it”

Here are my thoughts about episode 8 of Doomsday Preppers, broken down by prepper group:

Bruce Beach

Bruce Beach is a retired scientist who thinks the world as we know it will end by nuclear destruction. According to Bruce:

This is going to be a universal catastrophe. It’s that sudden. I don’t think there’s going to be a two-minute warning. There’s a distinct possibility that mankind can destroy itself. I think nuclear war is inevitable. In a catastrophe this size, 80 percent of the population will die during the first 2 years. The things that will kill them are social disruption, plagues, lack of food, lack of heat, exposure. It’s a random sort of thing as to who’s going to be saved and who isn’t.

Thinking this will be our fate, Bruce has been preparing for decades now to rescue humanity. From the show:

To save mankind from apocalyptic destruction, Bruce has taken it upon himself to build a haven for humanity. A unique place to sit out the end of the world.

Bruce and his wife Jean have constructed a 10,000 square-foot shelter that’s been designed to survive a nuclear war. Built in 1985, it’s intended to be an “underground orphanage.” Bruce explained:

Save the children. That’s a basic human characteristic. They’re our hope for the continuation of life for building a new and better world.

According to the show:

Bruce’s protected safe house is constructed from building blocks that many kids would consider familiar surroundings: 42 recycled school buses, linked together and buried under 18 inches of concrete and 14 feet of earth…

School buses can support over one-and-a-half times their weight, and can cost as little as $300 second-hand, making them a prepper favorite for bug-out vehicles, and even safe mobile homes…

It’s been estimated that if a global nuclear war occurred, up to a billion lives would be at risk in the months and years following.

Bruce revealed:

We can have 500 people in here, but have to have a number of people to watch over the children.

The underground shelter complex is named Ark 2- in honor of Noah’s Ark.

The extended Beach family contributes to the upgrade and maintenance of the facility.

Although Ark 2 is located in southern Ontario, Canada, Bruce pointed out that an attack on missile bases in the central U.S. could bring significant fallout to their area. Should this or a nearby nuclear blast be reported, the Beach family plans to head to the underground bunker, and start taking in young refugees.

And what about the children’s parents/guardians or any others who come to the shelter but are turned away? Ark 2 staffers plan on giving them “Go Away Kits,” packs that will help people live outside of the bunker. These kits includes radiation detectors.

According to the episode:

Bruce expects refugees would have to stay inside the Ark for weeks, maybe months, to avoid the worst of the radiation outside.

As such, his family has spent 30 years stockpiling “tons of food” to feed the inhabitants.

Now the show pointed out:

One of the hazards of living underground for an extended period, is making sure you have enough air to breathe. At full capacity, and without proper air circulation, Bruce’s 10,000 foot shelter would run out of oxygen in approximately half a day. So Bruce has devised a rather unusual, and cost effective, air circulation system. This strong line of garbage bags can distribute 300 cubic feet of air from the outside vents to different locations in the shelter.

They didn’t say if Ark 2 has nuclear/biological/chemical (NBC) filters for these vents. I would hope so, in order to prevent radioactive fallout from entering and contaminating the facility’s air supply.

It’s not just the Beach family who are involved with the complex. It was revealed that a network of Ark 2 preppers exists all around the United States.

These days, Bruce is busy working on an off-grid communication system, which he hopes to distribute to key members in the local community so that Ark 2 can have a link to the outside world, especially as it concerns information about supplies, radiation levels, and security when TSHTF. From the episode:

The secondary effect of a nuclear detonation is an EMP, a wave of electromagnetic energy powerful enough to bring down the grid. So they are building a ham radio system, widely used by preppers, because it relies only on naturally-existing radio waves to transmit messages, and can work independently from the electrical grid.

According to the show, a 1.4 megaton bomb detonated 250 miles above Kansas would destroy most of the electronics in the United States.

As the segment drew to a close, Bruce Beach left viewers with this:

The Ark is about our service to humanity. And whether or not I pass the Ark on to the grandchildren is irrelevant. What is important is that I pass on to my grandchildren is a dedication of service to humanity. So that’s what my life is about. What my legacy will be, I have no idea.

Jeremy and Kelly

Jeremy (no last name given) is the owner of a digital media company. He and his wife Kelly have a 1-year-old son, Zander. The young family are preparing for peak oil- and what it could mean for our society. From the show:

The term peak oil refers to the eventual decline in the supply of oil reserves. If oil becomes harder to get, the price will increase past the point where people can afford to buy it. The U.S. alone consumes 20 million barrels of oil every day, and global demand is projected to grow by a quarter by 2030.

Jeremy talked about his concerns with peak oil:

I think drastic changes could happen literally in a matter of a couple of years from now. All it takes is for the demand for oil to outstrip the supply, and we’ve been on the razor’s edge of that for a really long time. My worst case scenario is that oil exporting countries stop exporting, and gas pumps start running dry around America. Then that just has a cascading effect across our entire society. People won’t be able to go to work. And if you can’t go to work, then infrastructure starts to fail…

Once infrastructure starts to fail, we could eventually even see the grid go down. And if the grid goes down, society as we know it will be very, very changed.

Kelly recalled something that might sound familiar to a number of preppers:

My first reaction to my husband’s desire to start prepping was a little scared. I actually walked away, and was like, trying to ignore him, because I didn’t want to admit it. It took me about a year to finally come to terms with the idea of prepping.

Jeremy said this about his prepping:

I like to think of myself as a fairly-balanced person. And I don’t think this is an obsession. It’s just a precaution.

To deal with potential water shortages, Jeremy and Kelly look to their 450 gallon hot tub. From the show:

Jeremy and Kelly are able to ration their hot tub water by using the drainage tube. This allows them to preserve a precious resource. Having clean water is essential to survival. So in a grid-down situation, it is imperative to have a water purification system. The 450 gallons in the hot tub could hydrate Jeremy, Kelly, and Zander for about 8 months.

Jeremy is also concerned about infections and disease. He noted:

One of the concerns in the post-collapse world is the lack of access to medical facilities, antibiotics, things like that.

According to the episode:

80 percent of the active ingredients used in American drugs are made overseas. And without the fuel to ship them, emergency treatment would be in short supply. So Jeremy is leaving nothing to chance.

The Utah prepper revealed:

It turns out that the antibiotics used for fish tanks is actually the same antibiotics as are prescribed for humans, so you can actually get human antibiotics at a pet store.

The show added:

Common antibiotics like amoxicillin are marketed under different names for aquatic use. Fish antibiotics are a favorite among preppers to stockpile, because they are widely available without a prescription or pharmacist.

I’ve come across material on the web for and against the substitution of fish antibiotics for human antibiotics. Since you’re only talking about your health here, it would probably be wise to research this very carefully before heading down to the local pet store to pick up some fish antibiotics.

The show returned to the topic of peak oil. From the episode:

Experts disagree as to when we will reach the peak of oil production. Some estimate it will peak as soon as 2035. Jeremy believes it already has.

Remember, “peak oil” doesn’t necessarily mean the Earth is running out of crude oil. Rather, it refers to the maximum rate of the production of crude oil.

Speaking of oil, Jeremy and Kelly have in their possession a bug-out vehicle known as “The Beast.” It’s a military surplus M35 2 1/2 ton cargo truck that Jeremy bought for $3,500. Due to the size of the vehicle, it serves as the family’s transportation and shelter in a SHTF situation. Best of all, it’s has multi-fuel capability, meaning it can be run on regular gas, diesel, kerosene, jet fuel, and used motor oil.

Jeremy is shown collecting used motor oil for “The Beast.” His goal is to stockpile 1,000-1,500 gallons of it.

Near the end of the segment, the family practiced a bug-out drill. During the exercise, Jeremy taught Kelly how to drive the “deuce-and-a-half.” Telling her to “man-handle” it on rough terrain, she “woman-handles” the truck instead, and lets out a priceless roar.

Bradford Frank

Bradford Frank is a psychiatrist who lives in sunny San Diego, California, with his wife Narin and daughter Alexandria. He’s concerned a pandemic will bring about TEOTWAWKI . Bradford said:

Sometimes people refer to me as Doctor Doom. I think that most people would look at me and say, “He’s a nut case. He a psychiatrist, he’s obviously crazy.” And that’s the reason I don’t talk to a lot of people about prepping. I went to Yale and studied infectious diseases. And, that’s where I started to get interested in influenza, and in particular, bird flu.

Bradford added:

Super influenza- a super bug- is not a completely new event.

From the episode:

He believes a new, extremely-contagious form of bird flu will transmit to humans, then spread through the population like wildfire.

The World Health Organization considers 100 million infections a conservative estimates for a global pandemic.

Bradford predicted:

People would become hysterical, there would be chaos throughout the world. It’s not a question if it’s going to occur again. It’s only a question of when.

As a physician, the California prepper has easier access to medicine than most others. He explained:

I am able to obtain antibiotics and other medications because I am a physician. I actually buy these in large quantities. So we have all these medicines. It’s a little bit hard to know what to do with the antibiotics if you’re not a doctor.

The show added:

After a pandemic, Bradford believes hospitals will become hot zones for infection. So he’s stockpiling antibiotics to ensure his family never needs to leave the house for medical care.

Bradford’s wife, Narin, is concerned her spouse is wasting money on preparedness gear and supplies. She revealed:

I told him you like to think all negative things. And scary things. And nothing’s going to happen.

Despite her objections, Bradford stockpiles food, including 1,000 lbs. of rice. From the episode:

Bradford considers rice the perfect prepper food, because it’s inexpensive, contains protein, and has a long shelf-life.

The Franks’ daughter, Alexandria, seems a bit more understanding of her father’s efforts. She said:

I don’t really know how I feel about my dad being so concerned about bird flu. He lets it go to his head too much sometimes, and I feel he can be a little neurotic. But, it’s good that we have a little back up plan.

The show revealed the family has enough food stashed away to last a year.

Viewers were provided some insight into Narin’s stance on preparedness. Narin is from Cambodia, and all her primary relatives were killed by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. At 19, she escaped from one of their prison camps, and did whatever was required to survive.

Could talk of prepping be bringing back bad memories? She said:

I don’t need a lot of food. And I don’t need a lot of medicine. I know how to survive in a different way.

Maybe so. But not needing a lot of food or medicine doesn’t mean squat should an easily-communicable and lethal strain of influenza arrive at your door. And should its appearance result in societal collapse, Narin must remember she’s no longer 19 as well.

Bradford is concerned that the infected will target doctors’ homes in search of medicine. Subsequently, he replaced his home’s sliding doors with quarter-inch thick sheets of ballistic glass, which repels projectiles and bullets. And according to the show:

Some glass manufacturers are making “one-way” bullet proof glass, allowing for return fire at the exterior threat

Interesting. Will have to look into that one.

Because the potential exists for infection via his neighbors, Bradford secured an isolated bug-out location- a gem mine 2.5 hours from San Diego. He pointed out:

The number one protection in a global pandemic is being away from other people who may be infectious.

The prepper also revealed just how driven he is to survive this and other life-threatening scenarios. Bradford said:

I have just a very powerful survival instinct that would propel me to continue to scratch and claw my way forward.

Getting back to the cave, the underground shelter brought back bad memories for Narin. During her flight from the Khmer Rouge, she was forced to hide in one for 2 months.

As such, it might not work for the Frank family.

Plus, in the “Expert Assessment” portion of segment, Practical Preppers LLC offered up the following:

However, if you ultimately choose to bug-out to an isolated location, we do not suggest a cave. A cave is susceptible to moisture, which would destroy your food stores.

In the “Doomsday Preppers Update,” viewers were informed that Bradford was carjacked at gunpoint while on vacation. He said:

Things turned out well, and the perpetrators are behind bars. But I actually hope that this experience is a positive one for my family in helping them understand that bad things can happen even when you least expect them.

Overall, another good episode of Doomsday Preppers. More interesting ideas to explore. Plus, I liked the additional focus on spouses and family members in this installment. I have a feeling there’s a lot more Narins out there than Jeans or Kellys when it comes to embracing prepping and the advantages it gives the individual/family should a SHTF event take place. But that’s not meant to take away anything from Mrs. Frank, who, as a survivor of the Cambodian “killing fields,” is obviously one tough, resilient woman. However, based on her experience “living” in “Democratic” Kampuchea, one might think she’d be more open to being prepared for those unexpected life-threatening situations that come along every once in a while, like a murderous regime seizing power or global pandemic, for example.

Anyway, I wish these preppers 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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Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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