Jason Charles, a 39-year-old firefighter who lives in Manhattan, started prepping in 2010 after he read William Forstchen’s “One Second After.” Set in post-apocalyptic North Carolina, the book chronicles a man’s efforts to keep his family alive.
Charles immediately started amassing thousands of dollars worth of supplies — from canned goods to knives to first-aid kits — and wilderness skills, so he would be ready if a disaster hit the city.
“There was one part [in the book] when he says, ‘I should have gotten more. I should have gotten more food,’ and it got me thinking, I never want that to happen to my kids,” Charles, who has a wife and three kids, tells Business Insider.
Two years later, he became the president of the New York City Preppers Network, the local chapter of a national organisation that promotes self-reliance in case a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or other unforeseen catastrophe strikes.
Charles took us inside his Harlem apartment and storage unit, where he keeps his gear.
After seven years of prepping, Charles says he has bought about $20,000 worth of supplies. He keeps half of it inside his bedroom and half in what he calls his 'end-of-the-world closet.'
In the closet, Charles keeps three vests and one bullet-proof breast plate that weighs about 20 pounds. The pockets can store things like first-aid supplies and food.
If Charles and his family ever had to evacuate the city in a flash, they would grab one of these military-grade 'bug-out bags' that are already packed with everything they need -- from food to wool blankets to tarps for shelter.
To cook a meal, they could use this small steel stove. Once a fire is ignited in the middle, food can be placed on top to heat it up.
Charles says it's too difficult and costly to obtain a firearm permit in NYC, so instead, he has 100 knives. Here's one that cost $300. It's the most expensive piece of equipment he owns.
... as well as survivalist handbooks and magazines that cover everything from the best essential oils to how to carve utensils from wood.
In 2013, Charles started renting a 100-square-foot storage unit in the Bronx to hold two water-filtration systems ...
... and two gas masks to defend against airborne chemicals (Charles bought the pair for him and his wife before their kids were born).
Charles expects the prepping movement to become even more mainstream in the coming years because of increasing distrust in (and fear of) the government.
Many Americans start prepping because they have a specific fear -- whether that's a hurricane that destroys their home, a widespread power outage, or another world war, he says. But after years of mastering survival skills and collecting gear, Charles has learned to not be afraid of anything. 'We're ready for anything and all of it,' he says.
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