Get good with your religion. Face it, the whole thing to doomsday is that most people will die, if not all. You are not the focal character in a book or movie, so you’re as likely to die as anyone, just from bad luck. No matter how good your shelter, if you are at Ground Zero for the bomb or the meteor, it’s all over. Adjust.
Next, try to avoid natural disaster areas. Yes, that’s me laughing like the Wicked Witch of the East. It’s not easy to find areas that are not subject to —
• earthquake (remember the New Madrid quake or the Helena, Montana quake: these are hard to get away from),
— let alone supervolcanoes or snap glaciation, and nowhere is safe from comets and asteroids. But really, living in some place that goes to the sandbags every few years is not my idea of a good place anyway.
Mind you, you have to have a job or two in the place. If you just have to live in a disaster-prone area, you can practice prepping for doomsday by prepping for the more likely disaster every few years. Don’t live in Tornado Alley without a reinforced storm cellar. It’s your first level of doomsday shelter, right?
Check in with Mormon preparedness. Members of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints are supposed to at all times be ready to sit out a year without an income, let alone mere natural disasters. They store food, lighting, medicines, and other supplies. They have worked out to a fare-thee-well what you need, what you can make do on, and how to store it (DIY nitrogen packing, say). They have lots of books and a fair number of websites (look up “Provident Living”). They may buy dried peas from feed stores and keep it under the bed, but they’ll manage even on a tight budget. At one time in their history, they had the limit up to 7 years of supplies, but now some are suggesting a cut-back to 3 months.
Learn your survival skills now. Just for example, I can garden, preserve, and cook from scratch on a fire of coals. My DH can hunt, clean, and butcher game, make buckskin, fix motorcycles (told you we’d throw in with the biker gang). He can weld and do carpenter and plumbing work. We both know how to spin, weave, and sew, and have medical training. Not only could we make it on this, we’re valuable to other people so that they would protect us, rather than our having to make our way alone in a savage land. And we’re not even preppers! But you can see where we think some of these people are off in la-la land. You can’t just start trying to do this stuff afterward, when there is no margin for failure.
Some of the skills I don’t see touched on would be the reversions necessary for a world without high tech: how to build and operate a radio, if you can find parts; making electrical generating systems; how to navigate with map and compass, becaue the GPS will be a blank screen when the satellites go down; how to fix mechanical clocks when the quartz ones finally quit; medicine without electronics.
Some of the skills they ought to be acquiring can be used to build a better and less expensive shelter by doing their own carpentry to set up forms and pour a reinforced concrete one. If properly water-proofed, I’d take it over the tin cans. I know, they’re all freaked out that mere concrete can collapse while their welded steel won’t. Concrete won’t rust (no one can afford a stainless steel shelter), can be built to be earthquake proof, and resists temperature changes. That is, it’s warmer in winter and cooler in summer. I wasn’t seeing lot of insulation on the tin cans. If you bury a shelter deeply, the earth around it supports it.
I’ve seen clever earth-sheltered (mostly buried) houses framed with large drainage culverts. I’d look into that, as a cylinder on its side is all arch and very strong. There are both concrete culverts, and metal culverts sprayed with concrete that can be used. The effect would be very smial. The under-arch is pure storage area under the floor boards.
For the same money, I think they could have a sprawling concrete ranch house underground rather than the steel studio apartment. For two years with four people, everyone needs a (small) space of their own: private bedrooms are almost always skipped in favour of bunk-beds barracks, though by putting storage under and between beds, there’s no need to waste space in giving privacy. I don’t just mean you take a bed and put a few boxes under it. I mean you put the bed up on a 4′ cabinet, and you put narrow closets between.
All these preppers have young children or grandchildren — that’s who they’re doing it for, supposedly. I do not see them buying clothes and shoes ahead for the kids putting on two years of growth. I know, they’d have to constantly keep buying ahead. They’d buy for the 8 and 10 year-old, then have to buy for a 9 and 11 yo, a 10 and 12 yo, until they were buying for college kids. What would they do with it? They might consider thinking about more than their family, and of the now rather than the extraordinary maybe never future, and give it to a shelter for abused women and children. They often have nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Oh, but that’s wasting money, buying clothes they themselves will never use, I hear them thinking. Not if you’re serious about this doomsday stuff. If it’s just a kind of doomsday re-enactor game you’re playing, okay. I think that’s what many of them are really doing. Though buying ahead might be just the extra touch to win the one-upsmanship with another prepper. They also might consider that they might have more children to look after, with time.
It’s that way with everything, actually: you have to keep investing time and money, replacing. You can’t just load up the water tanks and leave them for 5 or 10 years until doomsday gets scheduled, nor the gasoline, nor most of the food. You have to constantly replenish or replace. Anyone who cans (and some of the wives do) knows you have to not store so much you can’t eat it before it ages out. Meat, frozen or canned, has to be rotated out and eaten in a year. This includes MREs: the eterna-packing of a certain RPG has not been brought onto the shelves. Only extremely dried (and maybe smoked, too) food can be stored long term, if you have dry enough storage.
The liquids in the tanks evaporate, or go bad. This has to be checked. If you have a remote redoubt, you need to at least treat it as the cabin at the lake and go up there several times a year to do a detailed inspection and — I would suggest — get familiar with the area at different seasons, including what’s growing that’s edible. No one promised doomsday would be scheduled before it gets cold and you could come out the next spring to plant. Building a cabin that hides the main hatch would be an excellent investment, in both secrecy and practice at living primitive in the area. Make sure you learn where and how to set up an out-house now, while you can still get an expert to site it for you and someone else to dig the holes.
The ones with the guns should not be concentrating on the latest military arms, at least not exclusively. While they should be learning to reload ammunition, and keeping supplies for that, if the emergency lasts more than a couple of years they need to have black powder firearms and know how to make gunpowder when the Pyrodex runs out, and how to cast bullets, and where to scavenge the lead.
To tell you the truth, given all these prepper scenarios, the one that scares me takes place about two years after the destruction of civilization as we know it. Whatever else has gone on, that’s when the preppers come out of their holes, crazy from isolation and threat of hunger, armed to the teeth with the last military weapons, and with a mentality that calls other survivors “goblins” or “zombies.” (I heard them calling anyone outside their group this more than once: demonization to make it okay to gun them down.) That’s when the rest of us are going to need to be ready.