Birthday Candles, Birdcalls, And Doomsday Closets -- How NYC Preppers Get Ready For Disaster

Prepping has gotten a bit of a bad rap lately. What began as a group of people wisely preparing for a worst case scenario type of disaster has been sensationalized through TV shows like National Geographic’s
Doomsday Preppers.

Business Insider spoke with two renowned New York City preppers to see how they prepare for a disaster and to find out what they think local residents should do to prepare for another storm like Hurricane Sandy or another power outage that could leave the city in the dark for days or weeks at a time.

Anton Edwards is an expert in emergency preparedness and the Executive Director of the International Preparedness Network. Jason Charles is a NYC fireman, author, and guest on National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers. He teaches preparedness classes in New York City.

Together they showed us what they had in their “Bugout Bags” and what they think residents can do to prepare themselves for the unthinkable.

Anton Edwards is expert in the field of emergency preparedness and has been on the Discovery Channel's 'Catch Me if You Can' and 'How Will the World End'.

Aton picked us up with his friend Barry to show us how they're preparing for a worst case scenario.

When we arrive at the Brooklyn Ambulance Corps -- the headquarters for a group of volunteer EMTs -- Aton and Barry head inside to lay out their gear.

They haul several smaller bags from a couple larger ones, explaining as they go.

Aton is laying his gear out when he says, 'People make excuses and say, 'I can't carry that.'' He continues, 'Not True.'

Anton points out that during his 25-mile 'Escape From New York' walk last year an 82-year-old woman made the entire walk on her own. She might have carried a 'bugout' (BoB) bag like this. A BoB is the bag you'd prepare ahead of time for an emergency for when you have to get out quick.

Regardless of how long the list of supplies of items people have in their Bugout bags, Anton says to start with 'Stuff you can fill up with water.' Like the clear bladder in front of him.

In addition to water storage, both men carry respirators to protect against environmental contamination in New York's urban environment.

Filters for the masks can sit in storage for over four years.

Zip ties are a must for all sorts of situations.

And a tool used for shutting down gas lines could be particularly useful for a group trying to get out of NYC.

Getting out of the city will require cutting down fences and overcoming untold obstacles.

Anton says when people ask him how much they need to carry, he asks them: 'How much comfort do you want?'

There is a fine line between comfort and practicality. Aton picks up his binoculars, and says: 'You gotta have optics.'

And the ability to make fire. Barry shows how cotton balls coated with vaseline are perfect to get a fire started.

He has had this cotton in there for years.

Using a piece of steel and a shard of flint rock, Barry sends a cascade of sparks onto the cotton until it catches fire.

Once the basics like fire, water and light are covered, the what's left is a matter of taste and comfort.

Spices for cooking.

Heating pads to keep hands and feet warm.

And all manner of first aid items and medicinal products will be of value if they can be carried.

Trick birthday candles are a great thing to have since they just don't blow out.

This birdcall is perfect, Barry says, for communication with friends and not giving up a location to strangers.

Bi-focals or reading glasses are important.

But both Barry and Anton stress one thing is more important than any other.

A second pair of glasses. Redundancy is crucial because things will get lost and replacing them will often be impossible.

Barry says that if there were a real event he'd only carry his gear wrapped in a plastic hefty bag so as to better disguise it.

Both Barry and Anton agree that it's best to hide what they have and if they can't protect something, it isn't theirs to begin with.

Way up in the West Bronx, New York City fireman and prepper Jason Charles gets his family ready for an emergency.

Jason also teaches a Sunday morning preparedness class at a local church.

At home, Jason and his wife and kids are preparing for an emergency from their small tenement apartment.

'My kids call this my doomsday closet,' Jason says.'I had to Shanghai the space from my wife.'

In addition to the food, water containers, 6 propane cans and a bladder for the tub to provide a backup water source -- Jason has military meals, as well.

900 meals-ready-to-eat (MREs) are stashed under a bed in his kids' room. 'I definitely went a little MRE crazy,' he says, with a laugh.

Though she wasn't enthusiastic about giving up space to prepping storage, Jason's wife has come to appreciate the planning ahead.

Jason says keeping preparations and supplies hidden is important and that storing food out in the open is the best way to not draw attention to it.

Being robbed is a major concern, and Jason generally keeps this gear out of sight.

Preppers talk about a radiation leak from the Indian Point Nuclear Energy Plant north of NYC, or a tsunami from the Madrid Fault as possible concerns.

But it is events like Hurricane Sandy that bring people out on a Sunday morning. 'Storms like Sandy will happen again,' Jason tells the class back at the church. 'The only question is, will you be ready?'

Preparing to lose everything is easier for some than for others

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