Saturday, May 21, 2011

Nan’s Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse

For those who may have missed the bulletin (I believe it was sent via Twitter), today, May 21, 2011, is predicted to be the end of the world. The Rapture. The Apocalypse. Doomsday. Just when the weather started getting good.

So, in honour of the occasion, I have decided to take a day off blogging about writing romance because, honestly, suddenly there seem to be issues more pressing than how to write a steamy sex scene (by a slim margin). Like, for instance, how to eat, shelter and protect your fragile human body when everything around you is going gaga. And, incidentally, how to stay sane while doing all of the above.

First of all, in homage to the late great Douglas Adams, my most important piece of advice is: DON’T PANIC. What’s the worst that can happen? You die. That’s it. Based on the predictions, today you’ll be in good company. A lot of good company.

So, what do you do about the apocalypse? Well, in the interests of democracy (soon to go down in history as a spectacular failure, along with leggings and everything else we hold dear right now), I’m presenting two possible scenarios for survival: the Hermit and the Pilgrim. Your choice between the two will depend on how badly you need to get out of your house today (in order to escape your bickering and/or panicking family members, for instance). I will cover of the basics for each scenario: food, shelter, entertainment, etc. Enjoy.

The Hermit

So, you’ve stuck your head outside, seen the world ending, and decided that the weather really wasn’t good enough for you to take a long trip today. Congratulations, you lazy hermit. I’m going to help you live.

Food and water: If you haven’t already, fill up every available container in your house with water. Fill the bathtub. Your water may stop running so be prepared. Hopefully, you’ve planned for this occasion (you were warned, after all), by stocking up on nonperishable food. Besides food, you will need other supplies like flashlights, batteries, matches and so on.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put out a list of what you need to be prepared, how many gallons of water, etc.  Sure, it's about the zombie apocalypse but I'm sure it relates to just about any apocalypse.  Check it out.

Shelter: This is an easy one. You’ve opted for the safe and comfortable – your own home. If you’re at a temperate time of the year, you can exist for the next few months without heat or air-conditioning. When it gets hot, stay in the basement. When it gets cold, put on more clothes and huddle under your blankets.

Protection: Unless you live in an underground bunker, the problem with your home sweet home is that it may not be terribly secure from the other unfortunates who've been...left below.  You will need to reinforce your windows.  Nail down shutters.  Lock the door and stack up all of your available furniture (preferably heavy) in front of it.  Hunker down, Hermit, you will be here for a while.

However, you will need an escape route in case of any further disaster requiring evacuation. Leave an accessible route to the outside world that can easily be secured.  Besides escape, you will also need to get rid of...ahem...waste.

Entertainment: It's just you and your family/ friends now.  Whoever is left with you in your house is now your chess/poker/monopoly/tiddlywinks opponent...for life! Don't play every game you know in that first night.  You should be saving your flashlight batteries and saving some element of surprise for that looming 100th day when everyone has sung all the songs they know and told all of their stories.  Prepare for boredom, people.  It will be inevitable.

The Pilgrim

You've decided to strike out into the newly devastated world in search of warmer climes, companionship or some remnants of civilization.  Congratulations, you are a pilgrim.  You know not for what you search but you're sure willing to make the journey.  Your voyage will be fraught with dangers and adventures but it will never be boring. Here's what you're facing.

Food and water: The keyword for you is mobility.  All of the food and water you are taking either needs to fight on your back (in which case I suggest water purification tablets, vitamins and energy bars) or in your vehicle.  I would suggest taking a vehicle.  You may not know how to drive but remember that there may not be any police officers to pull you over.  They will be busy with other things.

In addition to being nonperishable, your supplies must be portable.  Don't forget the supplies needed for the elements, if you're walking, or for your vehicle, if you're not.  A car will need food (gas) and water (oil etc.) so stock up.  If you don't know too much about cars or don't have access to a reliable one, be prepared for the possibility that you may eventually be walking.  Good shoes are a must.

Shelter: Unless you're in a car, you have no shelter.  Remember to pack a sleeping bag or collapsible tent/ tarp so that you can stay warm and dry while you sleep.  Find an out of the way place to sleep, you don't want to bunk down on a park bench only to find yourself at the mercy of another unfortunate pilgrim in the middle of the night. If you're sleeping in your car, park off of any roads and drive a little distance away so you can't be easily spotted by passing vehicles.  Remember to lock your doors.

Protection: On the road, a blunt object is a must.  If you're thinking about more deadly weapons, you'd better know how to handle them or else you will be in more danger of harming yourself than your target. While on the move, your best protection is going undetected.  Travel off of main roads.  Use a compass.  Where possible, have a map of the area with you.  Above all, be cautious.

Entertainment: The road trip will offer a lot of its own pleasures.  Navigating unfamiliar roads clogged with stalled cars, viewing scene fires, fending off enemies...the list goes on.  When you've stopped for the night, you may want a pack of cards to pass the time but really, what's more entertaining than listening for the sounds of wildlife or other intruders? Sleep tight.

If today is the day, I want to wish you all good luck.  I'll see you on the other side.

Photo courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at

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