Ready, Prep, Go
By: J.M. Stender
Cosmic collisions, nuclear meltdowns, killer contagions—all could end life as we know it. Regardless of the scenario, a flood of concern about potential disasters is turning into revenue streams for survival products suppliers.
Major events such as Hurricane Sandy, 9/11 and Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis have spawned businesses—and profits—related to preparedness. “We did a year’s worth of sales in two-and-a-half weeks” following the Japan disaster, says Paul Faust, co-founder of 1-800-PREPARE, an emergency products company. Another uptick in business occurred after superstorm Sandy. “This woke a lot of people up” to preparedness, he says.
While you may not know exactly which calamitous event could occur, you are guaranteed to find a wide array of survival essentials available for purchase.
Your apocalyptic abode could be a crude shelter or a suite in an elaborate underground community.
More than 1.8 million YouTube viewers have gleaned DIY tips for converting a standard shipping container into a backyard bunker at cost of roughly $12,500. For $50,000 per person, more upscale accommodations are available from Terra Vivos. Founder Robert Vicino says his underground lodgings will provide food, water, clothing, fuel and furnishings for up to 1,000 people for a year. Plans also include wine cellars, hydroponic gardens and medical facilities. The shelters are designed to withstand pandemics, asteroid collisions, nuclear blasts, biological weapons and even temporary submersion in water. “Vivos becomes a modern-day fortress where our members are safe,” Vicino says. The company has received 25,000 applications for 6,000 planned spaces. Three facilities are currently underway, one each in Colorado, Indiana and Nebraska.
Foods boasting a 30-year shelf life are available to stock apocalyptic pantries. One food supplier, Auguson Farms, touts delivering “delicious peace of mind” through its long-lasting freeze-dried produce, dry bakery and dairy mixes, and flavored meat substitutes. A 30-day emergency kit for one person costs $99, while a four-person, one-year supply retails for $3,745.
When Michael Pritchard, creator of the Lifesaver bottle, demonstrates his portable water filtration product, he pours a murky brew of scummy pond water, sewage run-off, decayed plants and rabbit feces into his bottle. A few pumps of the device activate the nano-filtration process and out comes sterile drinking water. The $189 Lifesaver 6000 processes 6,000 liters of water.
Weapons top the shopping lists of many people preparing for catastrophe. The Gerber Apocalypse Kit may bring to mind tiny containers of super-fortified peas. Wrong. Instead, $349 buys a pack of lethal-looking knives, machetes and hatchets from Oregon-based Gerber, a manufacturer of knives and outdoor gear. The company’s website claims the kit will help mere mortals effectively battle zombies…or cut branches.
Perhaps the most powerful tool for preparing for cataclysmic events is something money can’t buy—basic planning. “Start thinking about preparedness,” says Faust. “That’s even more important than getting supplies.” Although it’s a tough lesson, he hopes the Sandy disaster spurs readiness action: “Use this to think about ‘what I’m going to do next time,’ because I guarantee there’s going to be a next time.”