MILWAUKEE - As North Korea and the U.S. continue to exchange threats, Americans are preparing for the worst. We wanted to know what people are buying and how Wisconsin is reacting to the North Korean threat.
Last week Kim Jong Un launched another missile over Japan, the second in less than a month. North Korea is not backing away from its threat of launching a nuclear weapon, and experts are now predicting a missile can possibly reach some of the U.S. mainland.
Many Americans consider North Korea a tangible threat.
"Kim Jong Un is one of our best sales people," the owner of "SHTF and Go" told us. Fear has boosted business at Rich Gilbreath's preppers store in Burlington. "We have had now seven record weeks of sales in a row."
They sell everything from first aid kits to a compound that protects the thyroid from absorbing radiation. The store is almost out of its potassium iodide tablets. A few weeks ago they had cases of the stuff. Another top seller, emergency water systems. In any disaster drinking water is the first need.
"You can live three days without water. You can live 30 days without food," Gilbreath said.
Their water distillers, which are designed by Gilbreath, can turn any water source into safe drinking water and even remove radioactive particles.
Firstaidsurvival.com is also doing gangbuster business on its nuclear preparedness kits. Owner Joshua Lindley has seen an 80 percent increase in overall sales, in the last month. "People are concerned, and this is a way they can kind of calm their fears by being prepared."
It wasn't an enemy attack but an accidental fire that lead Milwaukee County to dust off its disaster plan. The 2013 electrical fire at the courthouse caused major damage and power outages to key county agencies. "We've actually put in a huge effort, a strong effort, since that fire to really stay continuing operations," said Christine Westrich. She runs the county's emergency management program.
In a radiation disaster the county would handle the basics like setting up a perimeter and measuring exposure levels. Westrich pointed out, "preparing for a radiation disaster requires a lot of resources, a lot of planning." Something that's cost prohibitive. So the county would look to the state, and its plan to handle a nuclear incident. Not something Governor Walker feels is a direct threat to Wisconsin, but the governor said North Korea should still be on the radar. "Just the fact that somebody's got access to these kinds of weapons should be a concern to anybody."
As part of its emergency plan, Wisconsin has two teams trained to respond to weapons of mass destruction. The state is ready to handle this type of event but Westrich doesn't think it will ever have to.
Despite that more Wisconsinites and Americans are taking steps to be safe.
There's also been a recent run on bomb shelters, something Westrich doesn't think is too "out there" because they can also be used as tornado shelters. She does recommend every family have an emergency plan and some basic supplies which will help in any natural disaster.
A typical home emergency kit should have:
- 3 gallons of water
- Supply of food
- Flashlights/extra batteries
- First aid kit