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Forget about Day Zero – are you ready for Armageddon?

By Isabelle Coetzee

Since Cape Town’s recent flirt with disaster – known as Day Zero – average citizens joined doomsday preppers in hoarding water supplies.

When this critical resource suddenly became scarce, people put aside their inherent ridicule and they invested in jerrycans.

Die-hard, doomsday preppers, who were well-prepared, had already spent large sums of money to protect themselves if – or, as they believe, when – disaster struck.

Belgian author Patrick Geryl, who swore that a South African farm would be the safest location for Armageddon, told CNN he’d already spent over $130,000 (R1,530,470.50) on preparations by 2012.

One South African, who believes Siener van Rensburg accurately predicted the world’s demise, bought a farm for $4 million (R47,113,800.00) which he intends to use as a haven during periods of turmoil.

But do South Africans truly have to spend so much money on their preparations?

Herman Roos, who left the corporate world to become a survival instructor, believes preppers are focussing on the wrong things.

“A lot of people join my survival courses to find out what they can buy to prepare themselves for a catastrophic event, like a world war or natural disasters,” says Roos.

“However, by the end of the course they realise they need to concern themselves with the right skills rather than the perfect kit,” he adds.

Roos trained through survival schools in the United Kingdom for three years, during which he survived in the jungles of Thailand, the highlands of Scotland, and the bushveld of Africa.

In 2007, he started his own training school, called Boswa Survival, in South Africa and since its inception, 2,587 enthusiasts have been trained.

Roos points out that during a disaster people will be separated from their belongings and, what they manage to hold on to, would have to be light enough to carry.

As a result, he advocates for a very small kit, which includes a reliable backpack that blends into the crowd, first aid supplies, an outdoor survival kit, and emergency ready-to-eat food (refer to infographic).

“This is more realistic than building a bunker under your house or buying an army unimog (multi-purpose, all-wheel-drive truck) and kitting it out with hundreds of thousands of rands worth of kit,” says Roos.

He firmly believes that, unlike a heavy backpack, knowledge and skills can be carried in your mind and muscles, which weighs nothing.

“When you lose your kit, you should still be able to stay alive and take care of your most basic needs. You can do this by turning natural materials into useful products that will help you survive,” says Roos.

He has been trained in both modern and primitive survival techniques, and he suggests people familiarise themselves with a range of skills. This includes the ability to make a fire with sticks and building a waterproof shelter to protect them against the wind and rain.

Roos offers weekend courses for R1, 295 per person, and completing all his courses would cost in the region of R12,000.

Compared to purchasing property, bunkers, and huge trucks, this may be the most affordable way to prepare for the worst.

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