'Doomsday Preppers': Important lessons learned from Season 1

Weapons, booze, plant knowledge are key to survival after a disaster

Yahoo Contributor Network

While watching coverage of East Coast residents preparing for Hurricane Sandy, it is impossible not to think of "Doomsday Preppers," the oddly compelling National Geographic Channel reality show. Images showing empty supermarket shelves and service stations without fuel are consistent with what the real-life preppers have predicted in the series.

In addition to stockpiling food and water, here are other useful insights and information documented by the Nat Geo cameras:

  • "You are the best person to make your own survival kit": Urban survivalist Christopher Nyerges says that preppers know their own needs and the terrain they will be traveling during a disaster. Instead of relying on manufacturers, the survivalist advocates choosing the materials for your own survival packs. In his personal kit, Nyerges carries salad dressing to perk up dinners of wild greens.

Plant knowledge is crucial to survival: As Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games" learned, knowledge of wild plants can mean the difference between living and dying. Nyerges pointed out, for instance, that the bark of the willow tree contains salicylic acid that makes an effective pain killer. Hand warmers can keep your food supply safe: In anticipation of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), David Sarti uses iron oxide hand warmers to keep his food supply safe. Filled with fine iron filings, these hand warmers absorb oxygen and help eliminate mold and pests from food stores. A Faraday cage should protect delicate electronics: To keep his communication equipment safe from an EMP, Sarti uses a Faraday cage. Named after researcher Michael Faraday, the cage is constructed from conductive materials that allow electromagnetic waves to flow around it instead of penetrating the contents.

A mineral oil coating will keep eggs fresh for months: Kellene Bishop, a self-proclaimed gourmet prepper, demonstrated a simple way to keep eggs fresh for months. Coating the eggs with mineral oil mimics the way that freshly laid eggs leave a hen's body. Once coated, Bishop recommends storing them in a cool, dry place.

Shipping containers are a relatively inexpensive survivalist tool: Some preppers advocate the use of the giant metal boxes used to transport goods by rail or boat. While the Nat Geo cameras were rolling, Tim Ralston shopped for a used shipping container to convert into a survival habitat for family and friends. The show quotes the cost of one container at approximately $2,500 USD.

Stock up on booze: Prepper Pat Brabble would definitely applaud Hurricane Sandy shoppers who were shown on TV stocking up on liquor ahead of the storm. Though Brabble and his wife don't drink, "Doomsday Preppers" points out that vodka can reduce irritations caused by poison ivy and jellyfish stings. Liquor also is a useful bartering tool, and as Brabble demonstrated, a full bottle makes a Molotov cocktail that's perfect for home defense.

Practice your escape plan: Megan Hurwitt of Houston keeps her small apartment stocked with food and other supplies. To make sure that her escape plan is effective, Hurwitt strapped on her INCH ("I'm not coming home") pack and made the trek to her hidden vehicle. The hike proved to be a bit challenging for the in-shape prepper, though.

Season 2 of "Doomsday Preppers" premieres 11/13 at 8 PM ET on the National Geographic Channel.

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