Apocalypse Prep: Put On Your Gas Masks, Kids!

PHOTO: Dennis McClung of Mesa, Ariz., is prepared for Dec. 12, 2012 -- the end of the world -- with a closed-system garden and tilapia pond.
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Dennis McClung is like a Boy Scout on steroids preparing for the end of the world, which he predicts will happen Dec. 21, 2012.

After working a decade at Home Depot, the 31-year-old Mesa, Ariz., handyman can build just about anything. And now he has engaged his 25-year-old wife, Danielle, and their two young children in getting ready for the apocalypse.

The children, ages 3 and 5, make a game of putting on their gas masks and protective clothing in preparation for whatever natural or man-made disaster might strike.

"My son likes to put on the big nose mask, and my daughter likes to wear her elephant mask," McClung told ABCNews.com.

"I am sure there are a lot of people out there who think I am crazy, but they don't say it to my face," he said.

McClung, who hosted the first survivalist convention in Arizona, is not the only one preparing for the end.

He joins hundreds of other Americans who stock canned goods, buy gas masks, build bomb shelters and even hoard alcohol, just in case they have to barter their way out of a disaster like an economic melt down.

"I don't see us as fear mongers or even negative people," he said in an upcoming TLC special. "I think we are actually very optimistic people. We're just preparing for the worse-case scenario and hoping for the best."

Though these Americans may seem like eccentric hoarders, some have engendered goodwill among their neighbors and created a sense of "we are in this together."

Close-ups of these families can be seen in a one-hour special, "Livin' for the Apocalypse," which airs Sunday, Aug. 28, at 10 p.m. They are the ones who are taking the doomsday predictions seriously and preparing accordingly.

From rabbit-raising to meat-canning, no measure is too over-the-top when it comes to preparing for survival should the unthinkable happen: a Christian apocalypse, economic chaos, earthquake and tornadoes -- or even an alien invasion or meteor attack.

"Survival Doc," who is a St. Louis chiropractor, launched an Internet channel to share survival skills in case of a disaster. He raises rabbits, then kills them for their meat, which he stores.

His large warehouse of food and supplies includes alcohol, even though he doesn't drink, because "it's good bartering material."

"Obviously, you can't protect everything," he said. "There are no guarantees in life."

Peggy and Scott Layton have built an extensive and well-stocked bunker in their Manti, Utah, home where they can hunker down with their seven children if disaster strikes. The bunker is complete with kitchen, dining room, bedrooms and canned food and supplies.

Their daughter, who competes in beauty pageants, has only one request: that there be a cell phone and make-up ready for her in the bunker. Her other children, all of whom live in apartments in the city, are equally cynical.

Their root cellar is also a bomb shelter in case of a nuclear attack. They have a second home in the mountains, "high up," for radio communications and, in case of war, an ample supply of weapons.

"We won't go down without a fight," said Scott Layton, who is a plumber.

The couple pays for its survival efforts through Peggy Layton's book. She has published seven guides to emergency food preparation and survival skills.

She denies she is a hoarder.

'If it's messy and unorganized, it's hoarding," Peggy Layton tells the television cameras. "I feel a great urgency to be prepared and to have my family prepared. It's a possibility we could have an earthquake, we could have economic collapse."

McClung thinks of himself as more of a pragmatist. The son of a builder with an architect for an uncle, McClung learned young how to take care of himself.

"I guess my dad taught me to be more self-reliant," he said. "I also worked at Home Depot for years, where people come in with the craziest projects and you have to find solutions."

About eight years ago, the couple got interested in the date Dec. 21, 2012.

"I just happened across the subject," he said. "It touches on so many religions, not only Christian beliefs. In 2007, my wife and I made a five-year goal to be as ready as we can by that date."

Their plan is to live completely off the grid by December 2012, providing their own energy, food and water systems.

Their swimming pool has been converted into a closed-loop garden system with chickens, goats and a tilapia pool. The fish eat algae, which is formed when the droppings from chicken on the roof fall into the pool.

Solar panels are their only source of energy. They feed the chickens with food from the garden. The 10 inches of rainfall in this desert town can provide thousands of gallons of water when it is collected off the roof.

"We like to think we are prepared for most situations, even though Mesa, Ariz., is one of the safest cities in America," said McClung. "As far as natural disasters, there are no tsunamis -- the worst thing that can happen is water, and we harvest our own."

One inch of rainfall fills the reservoir and the family uses the shower water to grow vegetables and the laundry water for the banana and almond trees.

"Believe it or not, we have a really big following in the green community, even with the idea of the 2012 survival," said McClung. "People love the idea and see past what we are doing."

They are now a model to others in the community, showing them how to be prepared. "The more people who are prepared, the less chaos for us," he said.

"At first we thought conventionally and got 72-hour kits and cans of food," he said. "Then we thought beyond that and evolved our own unique strategy.

"First we had to pay off our debt, then we bought our first home and we were totally gung ho from that point."

They used the Obama first-time buyers' tax credit -- about $8,000 -- to begin their renovations.

McClung offers free advice on his website, Garden Pool2012 Supplies.

He was able to quit his job and works from home. "It was a hectic job at Home Depot," he said. "I had no time for family and now I do. I see them all the time."

Danielle McClung, who works in the natural medicine field, said her older son is already quite capable.

"He can cook, he can make cereal," she said -- maybe even take care of his little sister if something happened to his parents.

Her husband said he tries never to scare the children.

"I never tell them the world is going to end," said Dennis McClung, whose children are far from afraid. "It depends on how you handle children. I don't tell them fire will burn the house down. You do a stoic approach."

McClung admits that he is not 100 percent sure the world will end in 2012 or even 2013.

"I do consider myself an agnostic in the day to day, but I can see a scenario where humanity is frazzled and there is a tipping point," he said. "The population is exploding and we have no resources."

"It's a scary scenario, especially when you are raising a family, knowing our son and daughter are going to grow up in this world."

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