Friday, January 8, 2010

Apocalypse Man

I was flipping through the channels looking for a bit of news before bedtime and came across a new show, Apocalypse Man. The premise is that there has been an apocalypse and it is TEOTWAWKI (ie: marshal law, total disorder and lawlessness, societal breakdown, etc). Looks like I will be up for another hour or so. Here's what the host, a former Marine, had to teach us:
  • Follow rail lines instead of the major roads when there is total social collapse, there will be fewer people here.
  • In your backpack carry gloves, a good flashlight, a crowbar/breaker bar, rope, etc).
  • Move quickly and watch out for people who will try to take what you have.
  • When using your flashlight, carry it tactically so you can use it as a weapon if needed.
  • Head to a city to find materials for survival.
  • Sometimes bridges and roads will be destroyed or otherwise unusable. In the show, the host used rope with butterfly knots tied to a crowbar which he used as a grappling hook to scale his way from one side of the open bridge to the other. You don't want to swim the river because there will be all kinds of pollutants in the water due to the sewer and power processing plants being shut down.
  • When you travel, along the way in old buildings. Always clear the building when you enter it to make sure no one else is there. The second floor is a good place to shelter because you can hear people coming from below and you can also jump from the window if needed.
  • In you shelter, cover your tracks so others won't know you are there.
  • Use a steel wool pad which you rub with a 9 volt battery as a fire starter.
  • Build a fire in your shelter but block it with concrete blocks so people can't see the fire if they come into your room. Damp cardboard over the top of the fire will absorb some of the smoke.
  • To escape a building in an emergency undetected, go down the elevator shaft. The host suggests jumping onto the cables of the elevator and shimmying down the cable.
  • Check out residential districts. Most people will be gone. Watch for looters.
  • Houses with windows and doors in tact that are still locked probably haven't been looted yet. Speed, surprise, violence, action are the rules of making entrance. Make a quick entry.
  • Scavenge basements, that's where most families store their emergency supplies.
  • Collect canned food. If the tops pop back and forth, don't eat it.
  • Check the garage for tools, equipment, a bicycle pump, camping gear.
  • With no power you need to find information. Check out the library for info from books (maps, medical books, mechanical books, etc). In New Orleans after Katrina the library was one of the few places NOT looted.
  • Maps of the city can provide information about more resources and the best way to travel from point a to b (ie: road maps and sewer maps).
  • When crossing open ground, go fast. A better way is to go underground through the sewer system. Pop the sewer lid with a shoelace and metal wrapped around your flashlight. The lid may weight 100 pounds or more. Sewer drainage systems basically follow the roads above.
  • Sewers may be cleaner because there won't be commercial/household use of the sewer system.
  • To set up a home base, the host is heading to the hospital for power. Most hospitals have back-up generators. First, switch off all of the breakers so when you fire up the generators it won't light up the hospital like a Christmas tree. The selector switch on the generator should be on auto.
  • You will need to find fuel from underground fuel tanks at a gas station. Go for the diesel fuel (95% of cars in America run on unleaded not diesel fuel so there should be some left).
  • Use a hose and the bicycle pump to siphon fuel from the tank. The host also found a car battery at the gas station which he took with him.
  • A car battery can be recharged and provide ongoing power. Fuel and power are the most important commodities during a disaster.
  • Once the generator is started, charge the car battery.
  • The security office makes a good home base. With power, the closed circuit TVs in the security office will allow you to see what's happening around the building.
  • Catch water from the roof.
  • For food, if you have cans without labels, you eat whatever is in the can that you open.
  • Make contact with others by using a short wave radio. Check the phone book for the local taxi dispatch center. At the dispatch center, take CBs, a tape recorder, a 12 volt battery, handset, transmitter, a whip antenna, co-ax cable.
  • Use rooftops and fire escapes to cross the city undetected.
  • Get to the roof of a high building to set the antenna for the radio. With an unblocked signal, you can transmit up to 25 miles.
  • Attach the transmitter to the 12 volt battery. Put the radio on channel 9 which is monitored by emergency services. Put the antenna up in unblocked area, connect it to the radio. Record a message on tape recorder (include name, status, specific destination) and let it play on a loop; be sure to tape down the mike button so it will continue to transmit after you leave.
  • When you give your destination, set up at the location a day prior so that you can scope out the area before others come.
  • CB radios were the only form of communication used successfully during Hurricane Katrina.
  • Find an older, diesel car and use the charged battery to get the car going. Newer cars have to much safety and electronics--they won't work. Hot wire the car.
  • You can make your own fuel for the car from grease found in a restaurant's grease trap. You need to cook down the grease (using a covert fire). Heat grease, skim off the surface, then use methanol (antifreeze) and lye (household drain cleaner) in 5 part grease, 1 part methanol, and 1/2 tablespoon lye. Mix lye and methanol then add to grease. Cool then pour fuel through a t shirt to strain it into the tank.

Interesting show. Like anything you see on TV, pick out the pieces of information that will be useful to you in a survival situation. Don't watch a show and think every survival situations will follow a TV script. Which is why the more information you have, the better off you will be during a disaster.


  1. Its amazing to me that someone will add the tag to their name of "special forces, recon, seal special ops" and then make a speach or give advice and other just seem to blindly follow it or they make a documentary or movie about it. Sorry, but listening to some will get you killed or at least in a fix you may not come out as you have been told you would. You can pick through and get some good advice but you have to be careful and pick and chose wisely. Best wishes to all and may God run point for you.

  2. Great post. Thanks!

    I've been enjoying your site since stumbling across it somewhere. Besides its value as an information source for survival and self-sufficiency, it's a great resource for a writer wanting to create smart, "real" characters who aren't soft. Don't know how you feel about it or if you intended it that way, but it's still pretty cool.

  3. Hamy--I agree. As the host threw a grappling hook over to the other side of the bridge then proceeded to shimmy up a rope and hoist himself up onto the bridge deck, I had to laugh. About 90% of the people I know would have fell in the river if they had tried that stunt. That being said, it is always a good idea to pay attention to every book/magazine/workshop/lecture/TV show/etc. because there may be a grain of wisdom that you didn't know before that may come in handy in the future.

  4. I saw the show... I thought it was interesting that it was PC for in he wasn't carrying a gun... nor if he had one, especially when he was fiddling around in the dark looking for a place to sleep was it in any place he could of easily gotten it.

    My favorite part was when he pointed out you didn't want to store the battery and steel wool together (as they were going up in flames)... good info though... and good post. thanks

  5. I found that show, pretty much the way you did. Do you know where that was filmed? I was thinking detroit, because that place is apocaliptic(if that is a word)

  6. Anon--Over at Survivalist Board the group seems to agree that the show looked like it was filed in Detroit.