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August 2, 2010 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

How to Survive a Catastrophic Disaster

It finally happened. The ‘big one’ hit/there was a huge tidal wave/there was a catastrophic storm. Miraculously, you survived the initial onslaught of God’s vengeance, but running water is going to be out and power will probably be much the same—so no showers and no straightening your hair. What do you do now?

Luckily, the government of our fine nation has examined the possibilities of these disasters actually happening and has put together a list of suggestions for us, so that we may better serve as their minions in a post-disaster scenario.

A helpful website

When you go to it says in nice big bold letters on the front page: “This website will show you how to get ready, so you’ll get through”. While I can’t see that Telstra will still be providing my internet if Mt Ruapehu has just blown it’s top and covered most of the central North Island in lava and volcanic ash, people aren’t stupid enough to not check this site before a disaster, right? Preparation is key.

Get Thru recommends having an Emergency Plan. The plan should outline all of the gathering points and supply caches you have created. There is a small downside to this: it’s highly likely that at least a few of your dwelling mates won’t be at home when a disaster occurs. So live and let die. The good of the many outweighs the needs of the few. The government also advises having a Getaway Pack ready, but more on this soon.

“Ensure your insurance cover is adequate and up to date” is another helpful tidbit of information. Obviously the first thing I’m going to be doing when the hordes of ravaging pillagers are smashing through my front door is call State Insurance to make sure I won’t be liable for the excess when they eventually get around to seeing to my (comparatively) piddling insurance claim.

When disaster strikes, expect to get the middle finger from your insurance provider. They will have bigger fish to fry. Try expressing your point with a thoughtfully placed petrol bomb. They won’t see to your claim any faster, but you will feel better about establishing your place in the dystopian wasteland.

The Kit

Everybody knows they should have ‘The Kit’ somewhere. The Kit is a collection of supplies to get you through until normal service can be resumed. The Man would have you believe that after a catastrophic event everything should be back to normal in around three days.

However, I have been intently watching footage from disasters that have occured around the world over the last twenty years or so. I have kept scrupulous records of what happened, where, and how long it took until life was back to normal. I’m here to tell you that, in the event of a system-shattering catastrophe, if life is back to normal in three days then there is an afterlife—and you probably won’t need a survival kit.

But assuming that you made it and you have just stepped outside the shattered ruins of your once-whole house to find a ravaged environ full of toxins and hazards, what do you really need to survive?

First thing’s first: make sure you’ve got the basics covered. For those of you taking notes, never fear, I will have a handy checklist for you to cut out and keep at the end.

Water is a vital consideration. A rough guideline for how much water you’ll need is three litres per person, per day—give or take a bit based on your consumption and general size, etc. I decided to look into this further. Three litres of water takes up a fair amount of room. If you need nine litres of water for three days for one person, that’s 27 litres of water for three people for three days—about 12 2.25 litre Coke bottles. It should be noted that the New Zealand Government suggests we use empty Coke bottles for water storage. I wonder how much Coke paid them for that little slice of advertising genius. You can’t buy empty Coke bottles.

Don’t forget you need space to store your 2.25 litre Coke bottles. The entire floor of my walk-in pantry is filled by 12 2.25 litre bottles of water. And they are pretty heavy. What if your house burns down in the disaster? You’d be well fucked. Or would you? Does your next door neighbour have a spa pool? Mine does. That’s a water source right there. Or, you know, go grab a distillation kit and distill seawater—then you have salt AND water. Both are essential to human survival.

Food is the next consideration. I would recommend stocking up on biltong, wasabi sauce, Maggi’s Vegetable Cuppa Soup (kerching!) and Watties Fruit Salad (canned(kerching!)). An odd-sounding mix perhaps, but bear with me. Biltong is dried spiced beef. It’s tasty as hell and was the staple food of the Dutch when they colonised South Africa. So if it’s good enough for them, then it’s good enough for me. It also lasts longer than anything you’re likely to create in your life, and in times of great need its fibers can be woven into a makeshift rope.

Wasabi sauce will provide a lot of the nutrients that a protein-only diet would be lacking. Like biltong, it’s tasty and you can smear it on your fingers as an added close-combat weapon. Jab that shit in someone’s eye and see if they notice (this will also help determine if they are human). The vege soup has dehydrated carrots and other miscellenia—it can’t be all bad, and at least it has some carbs in it. The fruit salad, that shit never, ever goes off and it’s fruit. It even has cherries in it. That’s pure class right there.

You should have a first-aid kit. Now I’d recommend you go and buy a tramping one, but let’s be honest—we’re all students here, and frankly given the choice between buying a first-aid kit and a beer and well, I’m pretty thirsty. Realistically, you only need a few basics thrown into an ice cream container. You definitely need band aids. If you can’t afford them I would suggest tapping up every store you go into, they generally have a box around somewhere. A little fake blood goes a long way here. Added bonus: you end up with a widely varied selection of band aids so you can appropriately accessorise.

You need a needle and thread. This one is for the wounds beyond the help of band aids. A lighter wouldn’t go amiss here either, as it helps sterilise the needle. You will also want to put some non-iodised salt in the kit. This helps stop wounds bleeding and disinfects. It also flavours your food. Make sure it doesn’t have iodine in it, or it will just make the wound worse. Iodine + open wounds = bad news.

You will also require clean cloths and a pair of scissors. With these two basic items you can take care of damn near anything in a pinch. It won’t be pretty and it’ll damn sure hurt, but the injured person probably won’t die. Unless they were going to die anyway, and then you can take solace in the fact that your inept fumblings were never going to do any good.

At the end of the day it comes down to this: Do you want to be Mad Max or the Mariner from Waterworld? Cause if you want to be top dog after disaster strikes, you need to be hardbitten and tough as nails. A take-no-prisoners attitude will get you a long way. Alternatively you could potter around from now until the Apocalypse collecting items that might be useful and stowing them away. Maybe you can successfully revive a barter economy after money means nothing because the government is buried under a landslide and burning to death in their concrete deathtrap.

As promised, the checklist:

• 3L of water per person, per day. I’d recommend freezing it.
• Biltong, wasabi sauce, vegetable cuppa soup and tinned fruit salad. If you’re a vegan or you don’t own a can opener then you’re pretty fucked, huh?
• First Aid kit. Even the rudimentary one I outlined above is better than nothing. A little goes a long way with these sorts of things, but it never hurts to be over prepared.
• Leather jacket (leather pants are a good option too). “Why?” you ask. They are hard wearing, they don’t catch on fire easily and they are really good at keeping you warm and dry. Again, fuck you vegans.
• A machete. Pretty self-explanatory really. Should be your go tool for most things. A shotgun would be a worthy addition to your collection if you can manage it.
• A sweet dog. Bonus points if it’s a Blue Heeler. Mine’s a Shih Tzu/ Schnauser cross and I’m not worried.
• A creased, weather-beaten photo of your loved ones. ‘Cause if they can’t get you through then who can?

Be Prepared. Stay Alive. Survive. I’ll see you on the other side.


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  1. Disaster says:

    Due to heavey monsoon rains in Pakistan, about half of the Pakistan is under flood. Millions

    of people need help. They have no food and shelter. Please create awareness and try to help

    these needy people. You can give your suggestions to us at , your

    little help can save a life.

    A message from , we request all the charity organization in the

    world to come in Pakistan and help in this hour of need.


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