Penthouse Retrospective

by Michael Estrin Originally Published: July, 2010

Survive Alive | 10 Years Ago This Month

Maybe it’s a category-five hurricane or an earthquake Maybe a new virus kills humans faster than any disease since the plague. Or the next banking crisis takes us from advanced capitalism to chaos in the blink of an eye. Or, maybe the terrorists finally explode that dirty bomb.

Penthouse Magazine - July/Aug, 2010Survive the End of the World

Here’s what you can do when the only thing you can realty count on is uncertainty.


Max out your skills right now. All of them. If someone wants to teach you to fly a plane, say yes, because you never know. If your local fire department offers a first-aid class, take it. And if there’s a cooking show on how to make beef jerky or start a vegetable garden, watch it. Get the idea?

“Being a true badass is about being independent from the system,” says Neil Strauss, author of Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life. “The more you learn and the better prepared you are, the less afraid you’ll be.”

If you’ve planned ahead at all (and you should), you’ve filled a handy backpack with some survival essentials: a fixed-blade knife, medicine, nonperishable foods like canned tuna and peanut butter, a map, and iodine tablets for purifying water. Survivalists call them “G.O.O.D.” bags, as in Get Out of Dodge, or simply “Bug Out Bags.” And anyone who’s ever thought seriously about surviving the end of the world has spent hours packing and repacking this doomsday backpack, making sure it’s both lightweight and jammed full of the kind of stuff they’ll need when all hell breaks loose.


You won’t last more than three days without water. But if you haven’t stockpiled a serious supply in advance, you’re not screwed, says Dr. Maurice A. Ramirez, an emergency-medicine specialist and founder of High Alert International, a medical consulting firm that responds to major disasters, such as the recent earthquake in Haiti.

“Most people are caught unaware by disaster,” Ramirez explains. “In those cases, the problem isn’t finding water; it’s making water clean.”

Ramirez says that filters, boiling, and iodine tablets (assuming you aren’t allergic) all work well when it’s time to purify water, but the easiest solution can be found in just about any home. “Put a teaspoon of Clorox in a gallon of water and let it sit for about 15 minutes,” Ramirez says. “It’ll taste like pool water, but you can live on it forever.”


If you’ve had some primitive-skills training, you know you can build a fire by rubbing two pieces of wood together. The trouble is, you need to be a real outdoorsman to master this method. More likely, you’ve thought ahead and packed a lighter or a magnesium stick in your G.O.O.D. bag. But if you don’t have those items, it’s possible to make a fire with two common household items: steel wool and a nine-volt battery.

Rudy Reyes, a former recon marine who, after combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, appeared as himself in HBO’s Generation Kill and as the host of Apocalypse Man, a History Channel show about disaster survival, explains, “Fray the steel wool-that’s your tinder. Then scrape the charged end of the battery against the wool. It’ll start to spark. You can apply your burning tinder to kindling [little pieces of wood or cardboard], which can then be used to light larger pieces of wood.”

But starting a fire is only half the battle. “You need to keep it tactical,” Reyes warns.

That means keeping your fire small, because bad guys

can smell larger fires over a great distance. And it also means concealing your fire. For that, Reyes suggests finding such debris as cinder blocks, bricks, or even building a dirt mound around the sides of the fire to hide the flames.


Where you sleep after a disaster will depend most on the nature of the catastrophic event. Provided there hasn’t been an earthquake, any structurally sound building will do. But before you set up camp, you’ll want to make sure you’re the only one in the building.

“Never assume security,” says Reyes, who adds that you should map out an escape route in case someone else comes knocking. But, if you’re forced to sleep outside, you’ll need a shelter to keep safe from the elements-especially wind, cold, and rain. “A tarp is a great way to start a shelter,” Reyes says.

The boy scouts are a mess these days, but that does not mean that being prepared has become a horrible idea. We just need to survive.

Leave a Reply