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Survivalists' concerns and preparations have changed over the years. During the 1970s, fears were economic collapse, hyperinflation, and famine. Preparations included food storage and survival retreats in the country which could be farmed. Some survivalists stockpiled precious metals and barterable goods (such as common-caliber ammunition) because they assumed that paper currency would become worthless. During the early 1980s, nuclear war became a common fear, and some survivalists constructed fallout shelters.
Hate to break it to you, but your dog probably has a better chance of making it through a total societal collapse than you do. A quick Internet search of "dog survives" lists everything from drowning to being shot, from bear attacks to war -- whereas the closest you've ever come to "surviving disaster" is getting your wisdom teeth pulled, and even then it was only with the help of a cadre of trained medical professionals and a carton of the strongest painkillers on Earth.
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This obviously means you’ll have to balance your use of redundant items with your carrying capacity. However, you can address both of these competing forces by trying to bring along items that serve multiple purposes. This way, you aren’t really bringing items that are duplicates of each other, but you still benefit from having some backup options. For example, duct tape is often included to repair clothing or camping gear, but you can also use it as a band-aid in a pinch. Safety pins are another good multi-purpose supply, as they can be used for clothing repairs, bent into fishhooks or used to sew up a wound if need be.
Typically, survival kits are designed to help you get through a situation in which help cannot be secured. However, if you equip yourself with a satellite phone you can contact help from anywhere on the planet. In other situations, a pre-paid cell phone or two-way radio (be sure to find out the frequency the local ranger station or emergency responders use) may be all that you need to contact help when you need it most.
If you are trekking through the Yukon or trying to cross the Darien gap, you may find it necessary to wait weeks for help to reach you in a survival situation; but if you are just heading off to your local state park, emergency rescuers could probably reach you in a matter of hours. You’ll want to factor this consideration into your kit-building decisions. If you can expect to wait long periods before help will arrive, you’ll need more supplies than if you are heading out to an easily accessed area. Nevertheless, it is always wise to have the supplies to last longer than you think you’ll need them.
The increased inflation rate in the 1960s, the US monetary devaluation, the continued concern over a possible nuclear exchange between the US and the Soviet Union, and perceived increasing vulnerability of urban centers to supply shortages and other systems failures caused a number of primarily conservative and libertarian thinkers to promote individual preparations. Harry Browne began offering seminars on how to survive a monetary collapse in 1967, with Don Stephens (an architect) providing input on how to build and equip a remote survival retreat. He gave a copy of his original Retreater's Bibliography to each seminar participant.
During a catastrophe, there may be an extended period of time where you need to sustain yourself. For these situations, we offer 3-day personal survivor kits, as well as larger kits for families. Kits are ready to go when emergencies strike and are filled with the supplies you need for fire-starting, tending to medical situations, and ensuring you can get the nutrition you need when food or clean water is not accessible. Our prepacked emergency survival kits are perfect for storing in your car, basement, closet, or cabin to ensure you always have access to life-saving supplies.
Here are just a few choice gems from The Prepper Journal's 11 Ways A Condom Can Save Your Life: starting fires (they're great at protecting tinder from moisture), hunting for food (sexiest slingshot ever!), and transporting up to two liters of water (yes, rule 34 applies; no, we won't provide the link). They also make serviceable stand-ins for rubber gloves and can be used to protect the muzzle of your other essential survival tool (killing it right now).
Tinder: This fire-starting source consists of dry material. The dry material you can use to ignite the fire from a spark you create. If the tinder is not perfectly dry however, your fire starting efforts will come to naught. Tinder sources include tree resin, bark, dry grass, dried leaves, and paper. Lint from the drier also proves an outstanding fire starter, as does steel wool.
There are two scenarios everyone—prepper or not—should count on: losing power and being stranded in your car. I’m a big believer in backup power. I keep an emergency power supply plugged into an outlet in my apartment; it has a trickle charger so I can forget about it until my block goes dark. In my car, I keep extra blankets, a LifeStraw portable water filter, lighters, and Millennium energy bars. It’s not the Four Seasons, but at least my family will be able to survive 48 hours in our Honda Pilot. One thing to consider: You need to be with your gear when a disaster strikes. When Sandy hit in 2012, our whole family was in Connecticut while all my gear was in Manhattan. My wife had a good laugh. These days, my everyday bag is a waterproof Showers Pass backpack where I stash a small set of screwdrivers, multitool, glass breaker, three flashlights that use the same type of batteries, and a spool of Kevlar thread, all sorted in plastic bags. There’s a spoon and fork in there, too, because if I have to eat an MRE for dinner, I might as well look civilized while I do it.—Wylie Dufresne, Michelin-starred Chef, Owner Of Du’s Donuts, Prepper