On February 7, 2003, The Office of Homeland Security placed the United States on Orange Alert. People were terrified and confused; some on the verge of panic, but Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge told Americans what to do. To prepare for possible chemical and biological attacks, prepare a safe room. To do this, you need a stock of bottled water and non-perishable food, plastic sheeting and duct tape. Once the alarm is sounded, take your whole family into the safe room with the food and water, then seal all the doors and windows with plastic sheeting and duct tape. You will probably have enough oxygen to last until the all clear signal. The toxic gasses should creep along the ground, so make your safe room upstairs if you don't live in a ranch house. Since this advice was given, people have bought up all the duct tape available, and nearly all other survival gear as well. Duct tape factories are kicking their production into high gear to meet the newfound demand. For them, the recession is over.
In Winsted, Connecticut, a man named Paul West has wrapped his entire house in plastic. "I just have all this energy from tension and anxiety and I don't know what to do with it," West said. "Basically, I'm doing what the government says we should do." One can only wonder if the government told him to jump off a bridge, would he do that, too?
At hardware stores and survivalist supply shops like The Survival Shack in Horse Branch, Arkansas, the shelves have been picked clean. We spoke to Clem Riley, an employee of The Survival Shack. "Hooey! we're making so much money. When Y2K came and went and nothing ever did happen, we thought we were going to have to close. Only the nutbars with cabins up in the woods were buying our stuff. That started to change after 9/11, but everything really took off thanks to Tom Ridge. It's bigger than 1999. We're going to be rich!" We also spoke to the store's owner, Ray Brantley. "I am working real hard to keep up with demand, but it's worth it. Tin foil is really flying off the shelves. People are also asking about digging wells and collecting rain water in barrels. We are selling gas masks, we are selling oxygen tanks, cans of Spam, water testing kits, water jugs, guns, ammo, the whole nine yards. I am thinking about turning The Survival Shack into a chain. This war on terror could last for years, and opportunity knocks on your door only once. I don't want someone else to get there first. I expect the next two must have items to be sand bags and magnets, so I have ordered thousands of each. Magnets repel nucular (sic) radiation, you know. I read it on the internet."
Even though the threat of a so-called dirty bomb turned out to be a fake, the alert level remains at orange. The men we at The Survival Shack don't have a problem with that. Brantley told us, "I can barely imagine how much business will take off if they declare red alert.