Friday, March 25, 2011

The end of the world as we know it

I thought that with all the accidental traffic to my blog, I should write something important (like the 300th post message to home-wrecking sluts wasn't important enough). So, I've decided to say a bit about a book I recently read about surviving disasters.

Sadly, though I just read the book a month ago, I've already forgotten the name of it.

But, that doesn't matter much, and maybe I'll remember it and add it in later. It was a very general overlook, and if you are worried about a particular kind of disaster, you should get another book (or many books) specifically for that. Cause if you have a plan for surviving a world of mostly blind people that has been overtaken by man-eating triffids, that probably won't be as helpful in surviving nuclear bombs or anything else involving radiation. More than half of this book was about storing emergency food in case something happens, probably something that involves the electricity being cut off.

There was a lot of stuff, even for a very general book. The author made a couple of points that I thought I'd mention. One of them was about having a portable kit with stuff to survive for three days. Most of the book talked about nutrition and calories and make sure you have enough of this and enough of that, etc.... But, for the three day emergency pack, most of that goes out the window (except for obvious things like pack plenty of bottled water). Unless you have an allergy or diabetes or some other medical condition that requires you to eat special food every single day, don't worry about too much sugar and not enough veggies and such. Pack something that you like that you will eat for three days, stuff that needs no refrigeration, stuff that needs no preparation, and maybe stuff that requires little preparation but no electricity (and make sure that you pack whatever is needed for food preparation and maybe some paper plates and plastic sporks.)

In other words, pack peanut M&Ms.

Okay, maybe not just that. Pack energy bars and granola and raisins. Pack cans of tuna and a can opener. Pack a jar of peanut butter. Pack crackers to put the peanut butter on, and maybe some store bought cookies. (Crackers and store bought cookies will go stale, so every couple of months you'll have to eat those and buy new ones to pack.) Pack banana chips and other hydrogenated snacks that you've been told are bad for you. Pack nuts, even if they have salt on them. Maybe pack some canned pineapple (just remember that it isn't as important as important as the canned tuna, so if you haven't got room for both, stick with the tuna). And if you think you can get hot water (remember that you probably won't have electricity), maybe pack a bowl and spoon and some of that instant oatmeal with too much sugar and ramen noodles with too much fat and salt.

With the stuff that's been in the news lately, I wonder if packing for a whole week might be better. Except that I'd never be able to carry a week's supply of water on my back, so I don't guess that I'd be doing that.

The other really good point made by the author was that you probably don't want to buy someone else's prepackaged emergency food. You would probably pay too much for it and/or not like the food. It might be low quality stuff that couldn't be sold for profit at places that you would normally buy food, but after it's been repackaged for "emergency supplies" not only do people buy it, but now they pay extra for it. And the calorie count is probably lower than what you would need in an emergency, so you'd probably have spent all this money and then still not have enough food. So then there's all these tables and charts (most of which I did not read, cause I'm not going to go out tomorrow and buy all of this stuff) suggesting that you might need this much of something and that much of something else, and how to store it, and canned is probably better than dehydrated if you have the space, though you probably want to try a bit of both.

There was a whole chapter about frozen food. I'm not sure why. In most disasters we'd be preparing for, there would be no electricity, the freezer would stop working, and then you'd probably be stuck with a lot of food that would thaw out and then go bad. Have you even seen this type of disaster movie with the electricity and everything still working?

Night of the Comet. Maybe? Flip a few switches at the mall, and the lights came on, music played, and the escalators worked. Maybe a week later, the traffic lights still worked. This never made any sense to me. I'm assuming that when whatever it is comes that without the guys going to work at the power plant the electricity will soon go off, and there will be no traffic lights, no music at the mall, and no working freezers.

Okay, there might be a few working freezers. There might be some rich "green" people who have totally switched to solar and wind power, and they will have working freezers. And there will be a few people who bought gas powered generators for Y2K who will have working freezers and other things until they run out of gas. But for most of us, our freezers probably aren't going to work. Little is said about this in the book, just if you have a bunch of frozen stuff and the power goes off, you'd better have a plan to store the food some other way, like drying and canning. I'm not sure how to can a frozen steak, so I'm probably better off just buying Spam and canned tuna to begin with.

Anyway, you're supposed to store enough food for about two years, and then not everything you want to store will last for two years, so you'll have to store a lot of different things. And then before the two years are up and you're out of food, you'll have to do stuff like learn to plant corn. And so you'll also have to store three years worth of garden seed, cause you're first attempt at gardening might not be what you hoped for, and the second year there might be a drought and/or a late frost, and so forth. You'll always need to store several years worth of extra seed, just in case of one year's crop failure.

I read this book and thought it was all a good idea, though even with all of that it would only work for certain disasters. A few months ago, I read One Second After, about trying to survive following an EM pulse, and I think that it would really help for that (and maybe the world taken over by triffids), but I don't think it would help much in a nuclear attack (unless I knew ahead of time where the attack would be and moved all of my supplies someplace safe). I think that I'm too far inland to worry about tsunamis, but if I were hit by one I guess that my supplies would get all wet and ruined, or at least scattered and/or buried under debris. Also, if terrorists poison the air, I'm not sure what I'd be able to do about that, unless again I knew ahead of time and were able to leave the area being attacked, or maybe do some short-term thing involving gas masks and/or oxygen tanks. And if there's an outbreak of smallpox, I'm unlikely to be in the minority who survive.

Two years supply of food and three years supply of garden seed won't help me survive either poison or plague. In the unlikely event that I survive either of these things while the majority of other people die, I won't need to worry about my own emergency supplies, cause I'll just take stuff that used to belong to the dead people. So again I'm back to thinking that this plan is mainly good for surviving after an EM pulse (or maybe survive hiding in the basement from people infected with Rage, except that I don't have a basement to hide in anyway).

So after reading this book, I'm thinking that I need that three day emergency supply pack for short-term emergencies, and that if I want to prepare for a long-term emergency, I'd better decide which emergency to prepare for, probably the EM pulse.

Only just before I started writing this, I made an attempt to find the name of the book I just read last month, and I came across a website that reminded me of the other emergency I should be planning for.

The Tribulation is coming.

Not that I'd really forgotten about it, just that I wasn't specifically thinking too much about it when I was reading through this book decided what might be useful. So that might be similar to the plan for surviving the EM pulse, except that I'd need seven years of supplies in someplace so remote that I'd never see any other people. So I guess if I win the lottery I'll be buying a bunch of "green" stuff and moving to an underground bunker in someplace like Montana.

I think I'll buy a Spam cookbook.

No comments: