This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 18, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Survival in the city, it's not just for extremists anymore. From natural calamities to an economic collapse, would you be prepared to make it on your own if a huge disaster hit us tomorrow? Ainsley Earhardt reports in this "Hannity" special investigation.
AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX CORRESPONDENT: SARS, tsunami, Katrina, bird flu, swine flu, 9/11. When the next disaster strikes, is it possible to be ready for it? These people will be. They're called survivalists, and they're ready for anything.
(on camera) There are a lot of survivalists out there, right? A lot of people out there that are really worried.
ATON EDWARDS, INTERNATIONAL PREPAREDNESS NETWORK: Well, they have to be. I mean, considering what's been going on in the news even recently.
(voice-over) Aton Edwards has made being prepared for these disasters and teaching others how to do the same his life mission. He wants America to be ready for anything: from the next hurricane to the next terror attack.
EDWARDS: We will see weapons of mass destruction used in the United States or we'll see them used abroad.
EARHARDT (on camera): When?
EDWARDS: Within the next five years.
EARHARDT: Really? In the next five years.
EDWARDS: Yes, I think so. The reality is that we live in a world full of danger. You know, safety is an illusion to some degree.
EARHARDT (voice-over): As executive director of the International Preparedness Network and author of the book "Preparedness Now!", Edwards leads regular training classes called global meltdown survival clinics in New York City.
Simon Templer is a regular attendee of Edwards' clinic, because for him it's not a matter of if. It's only a matter of when.
SIMON TEMPLER, CLINIC ATTENDEE: That's what they're telling us. They're telling us in the news, they're telling us -- the government is telling us, FEMA, if you read their Web site, they're telling us it's not a matter of if anymore; it's when. And we're seeing this with 9/11, the swine flu, all these other -- Mad Cow Disease, whatever is coming. Tears come to my eyes when I look at my own children. And I'm saying to myself, my gosh, what if I'm not around them to help them.
DR. MARC SIEGEL, AUTHOR, "FALSE ALARM": Normally, the kind of people that do this, and there is a group of them, would be known as extremists. People thinking that doom is about to happen and the end is near.
EARHARDT: But experts say there's been a recent shift in the typical survivalist. They're not just extremists anymore, living somewhere in a remote wilderness. They're more mainstream, more urban, and more prevalent than ever.
SIEGEL: The thing that's led to the change, where every-day Joes are now hoarding supplies and becoming survivalists is this notion that the economy is in trouble, it is not going to repair itself, and the government is not helping. So people are thinking that they may suddenly have a day where there's no food to have.
COMMISSIONER JOSEPH BLING, NYC OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: There's no question that the economy is affecting people, and they are concerned. We like survivalists. I want more of them.
NEIL STRAUSS, AUTHOR, "EMERGENCY": A lot of people would kind of watch me preparing and sort of laugh are now, like, actually saying, "Hey, man, do you know where you can go get a bunch of survival supplies." And it's people from, like, across the spectrum, not just people on the extreme left or extreme right.
EARHARDT: Neil Strauss is a Los Angeles-based survivalist and author of the new book "Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life."
STRAUSS: All the things that have happened to our country, whether it's the economy, whether it's 9/11, whether it's Hurricane Katrina, whether it's banks collapsing, all these things happening, made me realize that why don't I go and learn to do some practical things for myself so that I don't have to be dependent on anyone or anything.
EARHARDT: How did Strauss go about preparing?
STRAUSS: I've learned wilderness survival. I've learned urban survival, how to make shoes, how to make clothing, and how to fly a plane.
EARHARDT: Strauss himself admits he's taken things to the extreme, but if you truly want to be prepared for anything, is it necessary to obtain all of these skills?
STRAUSS: There's only two things you really need to prepare for if you're talking about disasters. One is how to stay at home if you're cut off from all utilities. The other is how to get out of your home if you're in an impact zone.
EARHARDT: Most experts agree on the necessities you need to make both of these possible.
STRAUSS: Have a go bag, a bag that has important documents, some cash, some food and water and survival supplies so that if you have to leave your house, even if it's just a fire, you can grab that bag and run.
EARHARDT: The Office of Emergency Management suggests a few basics.
BLING: Bottled water, non-perishable food, battery operated AM-FM radio, very important.
EARHARDT: He takes it a step further. His go bag weighs approximately 100 pounds, and he keeps it fully stocked with literally everything he might need to make it on his own.
EDWARDS: This is a rig that you can actually wear.
(on camera) You think everyone should carry something like this all the time?
EDWARDS: Well, I think people need to carry a personal kit.
EARHARDT: You talk about this so matter-of-factly, like this is normal. But in reality, most people don't carry all of this. Do you live in fear?
EDWARDS: Oh, absolutely not.
EARHARDT: And what about the things that you should store in your home for survival?
BLING: A gallon per day for everyone in the house. Have enough canned food that you could use.
EARHARDT: Strauss has added a few additional items to his list.
STRAUSS: This is the garage which once held my car and now it holds my stockpile. I live off this now, so it's always here. It's like a mini- grocery store. So I've got everything I need. I've got my food; I've got my water; I've got my gas.
EARHARDT: Strauss has his own goats for milk and cheese, chickens for fresh eggs, makes his own beef jerky, grows his own vegetables, keeps a get-away motorcycle on standby and even has dual citizenship to a small Caribbean island.
As for Edwards, he's equally prepared for disaster.
EDWARDS: See these lanterns over here? The beauty of this kind of lantern...
EARHARDT (on camera): I actually have one of these in my apartment.
EDWARDS: Do you -- well, that's the beauty of these is that you can just crank it. This is a kind of a camping watermelon.
EDWARDS: And you can fill this up and it will basically give you about six gallons of water. This is a survival straw. These are called -- a different type of multi tool. It's a pry bar, a little mini-hatchet and a hammer. All of these things are things that you can purchase at, like camping stores.
EARHARDT (voice-over): And survivalists aren't the only ones stocking up these days.
JAMIE ABISH, TENT & TRAILS OUTDOOR STORE: The Wall Streeter is just as worried about survival as the kid that's just delivering his coffee in the morning.
EARHARDT: Jamie Abish is general manager of Tens & Trails, a 6,000- square-foot outdoor store in the middle of downtown Manhattan, a store where city folks can stock up on everything that they would need to survive. But is that a bad thing?
SIEGEL: Being prepared when something is actually happening, having a survival plan is a good idea. But we focus on it, we obsess on it and we think that danger is near. And that spreads from us to the next person.
EARHARDT: And then some argue that there is no down side.
(on camera) Do people accuse you of being over-prepared?
EDWARDS: Of course they do. But I don't want to be the person who's struggling or hungry. I don't want to be the person who's dirty. I don't want to be the person who's got a wound that can't be treated.
I want to be the guy that when something goes down, I've got everything I need to handle whatever comes my way.
BLING: No one knows when an emergency is going to occur. No one knows when their world is going to turn upside down.
EARHARDT: Makes no difference whether you live in a small town or a big city. Most agree another national disaster is inevitable. It's just a matter of when and where. So when it does hit, will you be ready?
(on camera) What do you say to the public who turns a deaf ear to this?
EDWARDS: Well, don't knock on my door when basically these things happened.
Yes, you've warned us.
EDWARDS: You've been warned.
HANNITY: And joining me now is Ainsley Earhardt.
I'll tell you, you know what? A lot of people are worried there's going to be an economic meltdown, a depression, some calamity of some type, some natural disaster. A lot of people are worried about it.
EARHARDT: Yes, he guy Aton that we talked to in the story, he says in the next five years he predicts that something will happen, a major disaster.
HANNITY: But I followed this movement. I've watched it, read about it over the years. There's a lot of people that made a lot of predictions over the years.
EARHARDT: Right, right.
HANNITY: It's not that hard a prediction to make. We saw what happened in Katrina.
EARHARDT: There's folks still living in trailers after Katrina. And his point was, he said, "We don't need to depend on the government. We can't defend on FEMA to come and rescue us, that we need to take care of ourselves.
HANNITY: The main thing is, you know, people are talking about food, water, medical supplies, weapons. Is that part of it?
EARHARDT: Absolutely. I mean, they are carrying -- these two guys that we talked to or several of the men in the piece, they're carrying around screwdrivers and flashlights.
I mean, the one guy -- I said let me see what you're carrying and he pulls out -- it's like the guy at the circus that pulls out all the scarves. You know, it just keeps coming. And he's like, "You need to carry all these with you."
And you know, to each his own. You know you need to be prepared for certain situations.
HANNITY: Well, would it be so bad to have a month's worth of food in your house?
HANNITY: Would it be so bad to have a month's worth of water in your house? But it be so bad, for example. I believe in the right to keep arms. What do you do? If you don't have a weapon in your house, what do you do if somebody breaks into your house?
EARHARDT: Right. And what if you have the stash, like he does, and then someone comes -- it's like "War of the Worlds." When someone comes in and they try to steal your stash of water, they want what you have. They want what you have. You have be prepared. That's why he has weapons.
HANNITY: How prepared are you?
EARHARDT: I'm not prepared at all. If it's my time to go, I guess I'm coming to your house.
HANNITY: I'm prepared. I'm ready for the worst.
EARHARDT: I'm finding Sean Hannity. I am going to your house.
I will get some water. After this story, I used to think these guys were just kind of extreme and crazy.
But after talking to them, they do have good points. And after 9/11, you know, our world has changed, and this economy...
HANNITY: I think there is a certain amount of wisdom to being prepared for the worst.
HANNITY: Ainsley, good report. Thank you.
EARHARDT: Thank you, Sean.
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