Transcript: Podship Earth Episode 48: PREPPING

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Welcome to Podship Earth. This is your host, Jared Blumenfeld. When the storm takes out the power lines, or an earthquake ruptures water pipes, or a mud slide blocks the road leaving your town, or a wildfire is moving towards your house, what the hell do you do? To find out the answer, I went in search of a prepper. Preppers are those who believe that catastrophic disaster or emergency is likely to occur in the future and they're making active preparations to be able to live through it. I meet up with Alexander Black, an urban prepper living in the heart of Los Angeles. I start by asking Alexander what it means to be a prepper.

ALEXANDER BLACK: Well, the word prepper brings up for people a very fringe type vision of a person who's a bit of a crackpot perhaps. In my case, I'm also a gearhead, a high-tech kind of guy who loves to see what I can use that will put me in a survival type ability when we get our big earthquake, when we get some sort of a disaster, an emergency. Particularly just the power goes out and I can take care of myself, my home, my family, my friends, perhaps my neighbors. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, power is a big one. 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Power is the first one. Power is right off the bat because the minute the power goes out, everything changes. And the question is, is that a further out power outage? In other words, did the cell towers go out? 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Everything is powered. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: First thing is people expect it to come back on and they start to just wait and they just figure it's just going to be a matter of time and it's an inconvenience. And all of a sudden, they're going to start to maybe get some information that says it's not coming for 24 hours.  My first thought is, do not open the fridge. You've got stuff in there that's refrigerated, it's going to go bad. Don't use the phone, don't do anything. A matter of fact, your own calorie use. This is where I instantly go as a prepper. So, this is what the word prepper for me means. It’s resources. I'm going to use this word SHTF.  Preppers have certain words. Words like Bug Out, go bag, SHTF.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: What does SHTF mean?

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: It means shit hits the fan. So, when the shit hits the fan, this is where you get these really rural countryside preppers in America and other places who are preparing for what they make think of is the end of the world or everything else. Anything else. And they've got stuff that's going to get them through it, but they're also thinking about social issues and they're going to have a gun, then they're going to have self-defense in mind and they're going to think people are going come looting their home and take their children or their animals.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Yeah, but that’s not you? 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Uh, well actually, I grew up on a farm and I actually grew up taking out some small wildlife, particularly a couple of pieces of roadkill that my mother came up with. And I actually got taught at age 10 to skin a squirrel. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Okay, but let's stick on power. Literally my kids think it's the end of the world when the wifi goes out. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Exactly. So that's two things. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I mean we've become less resilient because we've become reliant on these things that we think are essential. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Yes.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Like our iPhones.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: And we take these things are incredibly for granted. And not only that, but there are databases that we have not printed out. So, when they go, we have no information, which is why we have a roadmap. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Tell us about the guide in your car. What is that? 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: So, the Thomas Guide when I first came to LA in the 80’s was essential. As matter of fact, it's a mantra

JARED BLUMENFELD: It's a map. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: It’s a map. You will be able to use what's in the phone even when the cell towers go out. And this is a misconception.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: As long as the battery lasts.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: As long as the battery lasts. And by the way, you can make that an indefinite. I am a solar specialist. I've sold solar, I bought solar. Everything from the tiniest things. My watch right now on my wrist is solar. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Me too. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Everything I have in in many ways is based on solar. So, I brought you several things that are solar. I brought you a solar lantern and I brought you a solar communication central device, which really has a bunch of functions. It's a flashlight and it is a radio. It is communication with the very outside world. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Here we go, we're winding it.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: And you can hand crank it. Hand cranking is essential for many gadgets that I would love to talk people into. Solar is a an essential for many gadgets I would love to talk well into. 


JARED BLUMENFELD: So, it works. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: That's the weather channel. You've got FM/AM, you've got far away international channels, several things. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, this just basically gives you weather. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Well it gives you more, you can have your favorite band on there. You can have AM/ FM. I continue to have phone service in my house, not on my cell, but my landline. I maintain an AT&T copper land line that goes to a phone in my house. It doesn't require a battery. So, when the power completely goes out, I can still call anywhere in the world. It doesn't need power from the power company. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: But like most of us, I got rid of my landline. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Yeah. I would get it back. It's absolutely imperative. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: But who are you going to call? Ghostbusters?

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  You're going to call your sister, your brother, your parents. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I mean everyone you know would need to have one. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  So, they're going to hear about this earthquake. By the way, it's a two-way street. People are going to hear about a major disaster. They're going to wonder about you.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: True. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  They're going to want to know that you're okay and you're going to want to also be able to reach people outside for made many different reasons. A land line, I'm just going to say this. Folks, if you can afford it, I've got it down to $40 a month. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And it’s worth it. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  It's worth it. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, the power's gone out. And you don’t know how long it’s going to last. So, you don’t open your fridge.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: And you don’t know how long it's going to last. Let's just assume it’s not coming back.

Don’t open your fridge. What's the next thing you do? 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Don’t open your fridge. So, the important thing is anything that has power in it is going to eventually run out. How do you put power back in? So, the bottom line is stop, assess, breathe. Take a moment. Light is the first thing you're going to think about because when it gets dark and the power's out, you're going to go, oh yeah, I don't have any light.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Why would you need light? It's just dark. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  Well, funny you should say that. You can actually keep down use of your resources relaxing in the darkness. This is what we used to do years ago, humans. So, when it gets dark, don't do a lot. You're going to want to take it very slow and easy. I mean, unless you've done a lot of this product testing and gadgets and stuff ahead of time, there's things you can buy now that can actually power your cell phone from a little fire. It's got a thing of power, the USB from burning things. First and foremost, after any disaster is turning off your main gas line. It’s critical. Most Californian homes have an automatic shutoff valve. It's a little ping pong ball. It drops and covers over the line if the ground shakes. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Hmm. I don't think mine does.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  I have a tool that I try to give everybody I can use. I wanted to bring it to you, but the airlines weren't going to let me carry it. It's a very simple $5 tool that lets you, it's a wrench.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: We have that. First of all, you need to figure out where it is. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  Yes. So, get to know basic stuff in your home. Where's the gas line shut off? 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Which is kind of useful things to know. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  Right? So, the next thing I would think about would be food and water. So, food and water are critical. The minute something happens, and this is where you want to try to think ahead of time. Water is most of all the biggest of them all. So, there is the basic prepping. The minute we have a disaster, put that cork in the bottom of that tub, and fill up your tub. So, you want to get water, as much water, and you want to identify all the places. So, think of this a gallon a day. We want a gallon a day per person. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Per Person. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Per person. That is barely cooking. That's barely hygiene. That's really what we want to consider for our own hydration. We want to include pets in this. Pets are our beloved and we want to keep them alive. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Yeah.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  Water is king. So, water, water, water. A lot of people went into these tankless water heaters, so they don't have a tank of water. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Interesting. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  So, you want to fill up a tub, a sink. Gather water everywhere as soon as you can. Okay, so you fill up the tub.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, the idea is that your water tank will get filled back up? Is that the goal? 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: So, here's what's going to happen. So, we have a major, let's just stick with earthquake. In terms of this prepping thing, we've had a major earthquake. The water is still going to come when the power goes off. Realize the water still has pressure, but what's going to happen is the ground shifted and so water mains have been moved around and there's going to be contamination. That's the thing people won't know about. Water will continue to come, but it could easily be contaminated. I have a 10,000-gallon pool. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, did you plan that? Like when you looked at the house? 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  I literally did. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: When you think of the pool, do you think it was recreation or just water storage after the hits the fan? 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: For me it’s water storage. Absolutely. And I went with a very slow pump that runs very low energy, so it continuously circulates it. I actually have the what's called a Berkee, it is a gravity fed water filtration system. It's simply sits on your counter. It looks like one of those big silver coffee decanters that you'd see at a church gathering or something. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Yeah. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  And you basically put water in the top. In between the top and the bottom units, there is a filtration, the charcoal, and another type and it will absolutely just get almost good as reverse osmosis water into the bottom of it. And that water could be green algae water from a pool that has not been circulated. I will admit right now I have tested it with my own liquids out of my own body through in the end of the top, after drinking a lot of water and out the bottom. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, you pissed in this thing?

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  Yes. I actually said, hey, this works. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: When I went hiking, I had this basic little reverse osmosis. You pressure it through a bag. You can turn the foulest water and drink it. You know, most people aren't going to invest in this Alexander. You know, they're going to listen to you. They going to say, yeah, this stuff is never going to happen. So yeah, I know I need water and power but he's crazy. He got solar and a swimming pool. But like how do you get of the mentality that this is important enough to invest time and energy and like tell us about that. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  Okay. So, the simplest thing I would tell anybody in that mind frame is let's not spend any money right now. Let's not even do anything other than look at what we already have. Disaster hits. You are actually going to have a number of things in your home. There are four products that I want to talk about that you're going to already have baking soda. Vinegar. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Yeah.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  Bleach.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Yeah. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  And cornstarch. These are products that will clean you, clean your home and clean water and keep you going.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: All these things that we talked about so far, Alexander are if you're able to stay in your house, but there are a whole set of floods, mudslides, fires, earthquakes. Like how do you make the decision? I’ve got to get the hell out of here. This is not a place I can stay. How do you make that assessment? 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  Right. So, we call that bug out. By the way, if you finish this podcast and you move on to the Internet and you put in the word bug out or bug out bag, it will tell you the essential things that you'll want to have when you're going to have to make that decision. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: A lot of people I spoke to in the Santa Rosa fire last year, the police services, emergency services are stretched so thin, you're going to have to make those decisions yourself.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK:  So, to answer that question, I give a laminate. There's a laminated card in my son's backpack that he takes every day to school. I carry around as well, shows the walking distance to a firehouse, the walking distance to a police station. So, the answer to that question is go to where people are who you trust. You're going to want to have a plan, and this is really simple. There is no 911. 80% of what happens after a disaster is neighbors helping and people are their own first responders. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Most people don't know their neighbors. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: This is the first step. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, disaster preparedness involves knowing your neighbors. That sounds cool. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: It starts with that. It absolutely starts with that. Your neighbors are absolutely resources and you are resource for them. They have skill sets. They have a ladder. They may have a water pump; they may have a first aid that you need. They may be a nurse. You may be a plumber that's going to help them. You guys need to share those knowledgeable resources. Los Angeles has what's called “a ready your neighborhood la program.” I'm actually hosting that. I am my block captain. What is that? That means sitting with your neighbor. It's a step above neighborhood watch. You're going to build a small, great, wonderful network of people who are ready for an emergency and boom. Most of all able to get out of their home. Say, my home is okay right now. You put a little sign on your home, says I'm okay. You take your fire extinguishers, you put them on the curb in front of your house. That's something you'll do.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, fire extinguishers are necessary. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Fire extinguishers are primary, and the reason primary is when we have any type of disaster, fire suppression, very simple fire suppression. Knowing how not to exhaust your fire extinguisher, but how to use it correctly, knowing it works at all. What I don't want people to think about is just buying a backpack at Home Depot or somewhere that says earthquake preparedness. It's got very little in it. That's going to work. It's got little packets of water that'll last a few minutes. It's got a plastic whistle from Taiwan and it's got an inedible block of something called an MRE. So, forget that. Build your own knapsack of goodies to have by the bed. What is in that backpack? Most of all, believe or not, socks for your hands and feet, broken glass. In there should be a little respirator. What's called an N95 respirator. People were killed last year actually. We had a huge windstorm and electricity gets in the water that's right outside your house. You step in that water, you're dead. So, electricity will come down, things will be electrified. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, some of it is just common sense.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Common sense. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I mean literally what happened to our common sense? Has it been kind of bred out of us? 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Huge apathy. So, the hardest thing is for people to even believe it's going to happen.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: But even right here in this state of California, Alexander, we've had mudslides, fires, floods in the space of a year. But when you talk to people, are you prepared for the next earthquake, for the next whatever? No one really thinks it's going to happen to them, right? 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: That's the difficulty. The problem is a lot of people are very isolated, so it doesn't come out of their brains. They're not thinking about it and then they hear about it and they just go on with their lives.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, when you have your neighborhood meeting, like how do you get people to attend? 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: What I try to do is make people realize this is a very serious medical health issue and most of all 911 isn't going to be there for you. How do I make people realize the ambulance is not coming? The police are not coming. What does that really mean? 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: It means you're on your own. It means you're own or with your neighbors.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Or with your neighbors. And hopefully some guy on the block like me is a urban prepper who has gathered his things, gathered his knowledge, knows about this stuff. In my case, I also test products big and small. Right now, I'm testing these Tesla power walls. My home is completely off the grid today. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: That's awesome. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Which means I can actually turn off the power need from the grid and just use what's in the batteries. And the bottom line is when we have a major earthquake or power outage, my home will literally continue to work. My refrigerator, which is the primary use of power that I want. We'll continue to work. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, there's some very cool, immediate benefits that you receive for planning for the future. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Absolutely. And once again, this isn't just about disaster. This is about being able to learn how to be much better off with the food that you have, the food that you're going to save. I grow a lot of food in my garden, very little water needed. Believe it or not, potatoes grow more potatoes. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: How many days of food? 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: I have foods that'll last 20 years. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Yeah, no, but how long would you just last on them? 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: I could easily ration myself out and my son and probably I'm going to get some neighbors and I'm going to just take basically become a soup kitchen. This is the big one. I want everybody to camp out in your home this week. Next week. Have fun with your kids. Turn your home into a campsite. Camping at home in the living room in the backyard is where this really kind of starts. The ability to sleep outside your home if it's structurally it didn't make it through the earthquake or it's not looking good. Aftershocks they're going to come. So, the minute that earthquake has stopped, the initial one you are going to want to get out of your house and aftershocks could continue. So, you're going to want to probably spend the first night or other nights outside. So, we're going to talk about camping. Basically, what you need to do is grab things that you own and yes, go to that local REI store, go to that local Big Five, get those wonderful dehydrated camp meals. They do really last a long time. They've, the water's out. You just putting water back in. 


JARED BLUMENFELD: My favorite one is the Chana Masala and the Katmandu curry.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: These will get you through. You've done the big trail walk.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: They are 800 calories. This is protein, this is carbs. And they taste good too. And it’s fun.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: The energy bars, all of these things that have nuts, that have raisins, all of these will actually last you a long time. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And how many days worth of food would you recommend? 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: I personally work by the month. I don't work by the week. Cause I consider a month. The first month is absolute critical. Do not think life is going to come back as you know it with for at least a month. If you're thinking that why far out, you're in really good shape, you've got to be ready for the shelter issue, shelter, shelter, shelter, and being able to insulate your body from the elements. So, this is a critical thing to think about because you don't have to get anything. You own sweaters. Layers, not thick jackets, but layers. You own sheets, blankets, pillows. But you do want waterproofness and you want shelter outside the house. That means a tent. Or you can build a tarp. I want everybody to learn to camp because you're going to camp at home after a disaster. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, Alexander, before we started recording, you were sharing me earthquake apps that you have on your phone. Are any of them any good? 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: I have three different earthquake apps on my phone. Los Angeles came out with this Shake Alert LA, which is a great one that tells us and actually gives us a minute maybe to know an earthquake is coming. And so that's because of sensors. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: That's amazing. That came out last week that came out with Mayor Garcetti.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Los Angeles announced the most amazing app based on millions of dollars spent putting little sensors in the earth all over Los Angeles, outside and outside. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Incredible. 

ALEXANDER BLACK: So now as the waves come through the ground, we will get an alert saying, you've got 10 seconds, you've got five seconds, you've got three seconds. Boom. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, what do we do? So that's the thing, right? Information is only as good as your response to it. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: In Los Angeles, we consider buildings to be very resilient. And so, we have what's called duck cover hold. What does that mean? It means get under something because your head is most primary part of your body you want to save. You don't want to get hit in the head. You want to be covered by something. You want to hold onto it because it's going to walk. It's probably going to move because this is going to be a very violent shaking. And generally, what you're underneath may start to move. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, it’s probably going to be a table, right? You hold onto a table leg, under the table. Then what do you do? 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: You're going to stay there until it stops. And I mean stay. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And how do you know when it stopped? 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: So generally, the first wave is going to be under a minute. And you're going to have pause. So, they will keep coming. Don't think you can outrun an earthquake just like you cannot run a bear, you can't outrun a mountain lion. Once it stops, you're going to assess yourself. You're going to remember where you are and you're going to think about who you're with and people are going to wonder about you. It's going to be extremely quiet. There's going to be a lot of car alarms everywhere, but you're going to want to think about where your resources are right off the bat because we've just had an earthquake. Most of all, no power. Water will not continue to come for days.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Do you need a gun? Do you need a knife, like all these prepper people seem to have a lot….

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: No, no, no. I wouldn't do the knife gun thing. What I would do most of all is realize that you can, you're going to work with people, stay very positive because you're also, your emotional life is going to be extremely important, so that is where you want to go back to neighbors. If you can get to know your neighbors now, if you can get ready for civil unrest, it's basically safety in numbers. If everybody's going in there to get, because it's survival time. Cash is not going to work except in small bills for bartering. So by the way, I do want you to keep cash around but keep it in just singles and fives at the most and a lot of it because you are going to be bartering with your neighbors, bartering with those looters and saying, look, instead of killing me, can we talk? 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: There's going to be a strong emotional response seeing most of us haven't seen dead people in the streets, haven't seen severely injured people. I think the people that I talked to that went to fires, it's scarring. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: It is a very scarring experience. I do training and when we train, we are looking at pictures of dead people, people with very terrible injuries. Very colorful slides. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I'm glad this is a podcast. Thank you, Alexander. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: I could show you pictures.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: No, you could, but luckily no one including me would be to see them.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: I do what's called size up and assessment. How do I do an assessment? It starts with breathing. It's a cuticle refill, which is on your cuticle. You can actually hold that down and if it fills up quickly within two seconds, it means I've got some blood circulation. I do want to bring one little thing. These are these little tidbits that I’m going to share.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, the people from nail salons know. If you got a neighbor that works in a nail salon, they know about cuticles. I’ve never heard of the cuticle tests.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Absolutely, cuticle test, breathing test, pulse. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Breathing is a good one. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: And then here's the big one. If you do get to an injury and it's disgusting, but it's pumping, you've got to put pressure on it. So, the first thing you're going to do on a size up when you come across a bleeding situation is you've got to stop the bleeding.People will bleed to death. Anyway, I just want to throw that in my first aid conversation because pressure and getting bleeding to stop is a critical thing if you are going to save a life. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, I did this course called wilderness first aid. Yeah. And I found it extraordinarily empowering. The thing I realized, the minute I got in this two-day course, is that I'm not saving myself. This is about if I see someone who's injured on a trail in the wilderness and I have no skills, I mean the same thing. Nine one one's not going to come. There's no plane coming. Like either you are going to help someone or they're not going to be helped at all. And just learning some basic skills helps my kids, my family, my neighbors, my work.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: First aid is first. That's something we actually do say. First aid is first. Because if you have made it through the earthquake and are uninjured, you're going to then look at everybody around you and somebody is probably going to be injured. So, you want some basics. What does that mean? Think about your first aid kit anywhere in your house and expand on it. Things like hydrogen peroxide, burn creams, antibiotic creams, things that can stop bacteria after you've stopped the bleeding and you've sealed up a closed up a wound. There are tricks. Yes, you can use them, by the way, crazy glue works to seal up a wound. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I've used it. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: It's effective. I'm serious. And also, I always have butterfly bandage.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So how did you get into this in the third place? 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: I grew up in a very funky family of adventurers. My grandfather, a guy who was an adventurer in both the mountains of Colorado and the oceans off the coast of Maine, took me with him. He was not the friendliest guy in the world at all. Left me in a lot of situations that put me in jeopardy. At one point, we were lost off the coast of Maine in a boat. I was out on the bow spirit. We hit rocks, pea soup, fog. I went overboard. The boat disappeared into the fog and I had moments to live. I swam as fast as I could. Finally caught the tail end of the little rowboat that pulled behind his yacht, his sailboat, and I climbed in and got myself back on board and he said, “oh, you should have been holding on.” The guy just left me to die.  I actually was lost in the snow-covered forests of Colorado at times and I had to get myself out. I built a shelter once and I lived in the shelter overnight. But the big moment for me was I went on Outward Bound. They taught me skills. We were put on an island for three days and four days, three nights, and we had to fend for ourselves. The little bag of Gorp disappeared in the first day. So, I figured out what I could eat, and I had read about enough what I could eat. I've eaten the backside of the bark of a couple of different trees. The cambium layer has nutrition in it. There's a lot of nutritional things that are all around us in the wilderness that can get us through. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, when you're walking through LA or San Francisco, when you're going through an airport, are you thinking about this all the time?

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: I do. I go to the mall with my son and the two things I think about are the shattering glass because the earth is shaking. I actually walk kind of around big windows, but then I walk to the sides because I look straight up, and I think of the ceiling coming down. I get very worried anytime I go into a parking garage. Parking garages to me are just coffins. So, I'm always thinking about it. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I mean, that's terrifying, isn't it? To always be thinking about it. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: CNN, pick up the newspaper. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I know, they would want us to continue thinking about it. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: But last year, every month we had a school shooting. Last year we had a major disaster every month. All of this is absolutely going to happen. Ham Radio. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Are you a Ham radio guy?

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: I’m a Ham radio operator.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I never could have guessed that.  

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: People don’t know what Ham radio is.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What is it? Smokey and the Bandit was Ham radio, right?

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: No, that was CB radio. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Oh, sorry is a big difference. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Ham Radio is the way in which we can communicate. Me being somebody out of state and nothing to do with the feds, nothing to do with wifi, nothing to do with cell towers. I can get a message out and my neighbors know to come to my house. I'll be able to get on my little ham radio outfit, talk to somebody in another state, tell them to call a relative and tell them that so and so is okay. By the way, I do have little walkie talkies and there's some extremely cheap ones that are really good.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, when there isn't an emergency, you're more resilient and self-sustaining. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: When there isn't an emergency, I've got a vegetable garden. When there isn't an emergency, I've got basic home cleaners that are not so toxic because I want to see less toxicity after the earthquake. When there isn't an emergency, I have a cell phone that's going to be charged a lot because I have batteries around. So, I have nightlights all the time that'll turn into something else when the emergency happens. I have all kinds of gizmos.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, what about your son? He's 14. He goes to school not close to the house probably. If the earthquake hits when he's at school, do you have a plan of how to reconnect with him?

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Well, the school does earthquake drills. And I've given him small dollar bills for some bartering. I've given him a number of little snacks to keep his body worth. I've talked about water. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Does he think you're just completely nuts? Or he’s into it?

ALEXANDER BLACK: Well, he's not into it as much. He thinks that I'm just going to outfit them and then I'll come and get him with my folding bike, which I do keep hidden in my car because if the shit hits the fan, I tell him stay in place. You want to have a written plan for how you're getting back together or where you're going to get together with people, both those neighbors we talked about and you're going to want to get together with your family. Most of all you're going to want to know that they knew to stay where they were or to walk to that local fire station or police station. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: We spend a lot of time talking about earthquakes, but after Fukushima and other tsunami's before, I've been thinking a lot more about like what do we do when one of those tsunami hits?

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Okay. The tsunami thing is the scariest, I think, because there is no recovery.  You cannot shelter in place. You're basically being drowned. The tsunami is going to hit in southern California and it's going to take out the tremendous amount of low lying ground that's continues to go in from Venice, Marina del Rey throughout Long Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan beach, all of that's going to have exactly what you saw in Japan. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: That’s millions of people.

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Millions, millions. So, it's going to just continue to come in, we think 10 or 15 miles, maybe 10 miles at least. After I moved out of Venice, I turned around and said, why would I ever live there because of that exact reason. Because I became a prepper and I thought about it. There's nothing you can do except don't live there. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Is that why you moved away?

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Yeah. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Wow. 

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: I did. And it's the same thing about the Mississippi. It's about any place, the coast of Florida. 2019 we're going to have wildfires. We're

going to have earthquakes, we're going to have hurricanes, and people are going to live where they shouldn't. And they're not going learn that they shouldn't live there. I don't know how to, to shake people up enough to get them to do the simplest things. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What does it mean that we continually want to ignore that the future will contain disasters that we need to prepare for? What does it mean about us?

 

ALEXANDER BLACK: Well, it just further, unfortunately it further separates us. So, we become more of a society of individual s than as a group. We've become more unfortunately susceptible to selfishness. We become more a group of a society of people who don't have the ability to interact and share experiences, share resources, and most of all get to know each other. If we have an earthquake tomorrow, the most important things are going to be first aid, water, food and communication.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Thanks so much Alexander Black for helping me realize that we all need to be prepping a lot more than we are. The likelihood of the shit hitting the fan is objectively going up with each passing day and by understanding how to get through the first hour, then the first day, then the first week, we will be building our individual family and community resilience. A huge upside of disaster preparedness is that we get to meet our neighbors and work with them to build a community. At the same time, most of the things Alexander talked about from solar power to getting rid of the toxins under your sink, also help us get through today. Talking of prepping, I want to thank Podship Earth for helping me prep for my new job at California's EPA by meeting with so many of you in the last year. I have a much better sense of what's actually happening on the ground throughout the golden state and beyond.  As a result, my work for governor Newsom will focus on how to help communities reach their goals. In our next episode of Podship Earth, I talk with Jean Rogers about how to replace corporate greenwashing with real standards by which to measure the sustainability of every company on the planet. Thank you so much for being part of the Podship Earth journey from the entire Podship Earth crew, or actually this is producer Nancy Ferranti’s last show with Podship Earth. From the very beginning, Nancy has been such a positive force. Nancy's vision, wit, and ability to thread together narratives will be greatly missed. Nancy, we wish you all the best and hope that you'll come guest host a Podship Earth show in the very near future. Thanks also to sound engineer Rob Speight and executive producer David Kahn who will hopefully both be staying put. And from me, Jared Blumenfeld, have a great week and don't forget to prepare.