Apo-CAN-lypse: Being Prepared for the End

If the World Ended Tomorrow, Would You Be Ready?

Back in 1999 my beloved uncle, Joseph Truitt, died at the age of 88. I had always regarded him as an extraordinary man because he was the model of men. He was extremely kind, even-tempered, strong and hardworking. The weeks after his passing gave our family two incredible shocks. The first was his unexpected death in a car accident. Even though he was elderly, he was as strong and healthy as an ox. A few months prior to his death, I watched him hoist a long, heavy sofa by himself up to the second floor of my mother’s house. The front and back doors were too narrow for it to fit.

The second shock was what our family discovered when we ascended on his house to clean and prepare it for sale. The basement had been converted into a renovated apartment complete with a bathroom, living room and fully functional kitchen. To our surprise we found the kitchen cupboards brimming with canned goods. Except for the grocery store or Sam’s Club, I had never seen before so many cans of vegetables, fruits, Vienna sausage and corned beef in one place. After getting over the initial shock, my family assumed this basement must have been my uncle’s bomb shelter. We spent days clearing out all 5,000+ cans. Many had expired decades prior. I courageously opened one twenty-year old can to find the food inside black. It was so old it didn't even have an odor.

This experience caused me to think long and hard about my uncle’s character. There was certainly a much deeper, contemplative part of his being that I had not been privy to. This shelter proved he had been prepared for the end whether the apocalypse came in the form of fire and brimstone or nuclear war. It was obvious he thought had horded enough food and tools in his basement for him and his wife to live comfortably for years. Whether or not his preparation would have actually sustained them doesn't really matter. The point was that he was prepared.

This year marks the year predicted by the Mayans when the world will finally come to an end on December 22, 2012. In January, there was quite a buzz about it. Lately…not so much. Although the world is in turmoil and seems to be pretty much like the descriptions of Revelations, no one seems all that concerned. How many of you out there are prepared like my Uncle Joe was? Do you have the knowledge and basic survival skills to endure? How about the tools and resources? If you said “no” to any of these questions, I promise by the time you finish reading this, you will have the bare bones facts you will need to be prepared for December 22, 2012 (or any other disaster that may leave you homeless, hungry and thirsty).

I’m not suggesting you follow my uncle’s lead on preparation. It isn't practical to collect and store so many can goods unless you plan to stay put. If a flood had occurred, his food would've been washed into Lake Ontario and out to sea. It also could have burned up in a fire. You’ll most likely have to migrate regularly to get away from predators and other life threatening conditions or search for supplies. The less stuff you burden yourself with, the better.

The three most essential considerations you must make are to stay dry, warm and hydrated. All other considerations are secondary (i.e. cell phone, television/radio, e-reader/electronic supplies, etc.) Don’t take this along stuff along unless you have a portable solar generator to keep them working. Ultimately, they will burden you down and do little to help keep you alive. Remember, it takes three weeks to die of hunger, three days to die of thirst and three hours to die of exposure.

Get started with a large knapsack and an AAA Emergency Roadside Kit. It comes with jumper cables, a flashlight, bungee cord, screw driver, shop towel, duct tape, rain poncho, plastic cable ties, wash-up towels, a first aid kit (band-aids, gauze, antiseptic, and aspirin).

From here add the following things:

  1. Canteen (to hold at least one liter of water. You need to drink this much each day.)
  2. Cigarette lighter
  3. Plastic sheet with camouflage print
  4. Emergency tent
  5. Survival Guidebook
  6. Machete and/or ax
  7. Swiss army knife
  8. Twine, dental floss, 25’ of rope
  9. Iron pan and boiler pot with lid
  10. Energy bars
  11. Mild soap
  12. Light sticks
  13. Waterproof matches
  14. Candles (preferably citronella to ward off insects
  15. Scissors
  16. Newspaper (good for stuffing in clothing to keep warm or serve as kindling)
  17. Emergency blankets (plastic sheets that capture heat)
  18. Map of area and a compass
  19. Aspirin (if not in first aid kit)
  20. Seed packets to easily grow vegetables (tomato, cucumbers, green beans, beets, carrots, potatoes, peas, radish and mustard/collard/kale greens.) These are hearty vegetables that will grow in the harshest conditions.

What to wear?

  • Down coat with fur trim
  • Boots (preferably with a steel toe to guard to protect toes from falling objects)
  • Wool socks (be sure to have at least three replacement pairs)
  • Hat (Be sure it is snug and keeps the heat from escaping your head.
  • Gloves (Work gloves thick enough to protect hands from cold, cuts and scrapes)

How to use them and Where can I find other resources?

Most things are self-explanatory. If you need further explanation, check your survival guide. Better yet, go on YouTube or Google “Survival Tips” to learn more.

If you are in a forest, use elements of nature to help you in your survival. Pine needles and dry grass make for a great mattress or kindling. Of course pencil-sized and thicker branches make for great firewood. It’s also good to find a source of fresh water such as a lake, river or creek. You can boil the water to sterilize it. If you can’t find a good fresh water source, collect rainwater in your large boiler pot.

Where should I or can I go to be safe?

Try utilizing natural land forms such as caverns and caves to get out of the elements. You can also stay in dead hollow trees. If nothing else, there are great videos on You Tube that will teach you how to build shelters out of sticks and leaves.

If there is unrest such as war, rioting, pillaging, etc., you will literally need to head for the hills. Find a densely forested area far away from civilization. If you don’t have a bike to travel that far, try hiding under railroad bridges, in mine gullies or abandon subway lines.

What about emergencies?

Hopefully, if you have planned and made good preparations you won’t have any or if you do you’ll be prepared to handle it. Use common sense by avoiding possible hazards. Remember, there probably won’t be any police or emergency services available to help you if you get hurt in an accident.

How can I communicate with other survivors?

I realize I said leave electrical equipment at home, but that doesn't include solar radios. This is essential for keeping track of any emergency broadcasts that may go over the airwaves. Also, take a look in camping stores or online for portable CB equipment. There are many hand-held options available now.

Get your act together.

Sit down with your family and make an escape plan based on the escape routes in your area. Remember, the worst thing you can do is panic in a crisis. Plan out in advance a meeting place and method for evacuation. Traveling by car may not be an option due to traffic backups, fire or flooding. Think about other methods of travel such as bicycles, ATVs or rubber rafts. Just a few hours of planning and preparation can make the difference between you and your loved ones’ survival.

Wilderness Survival Skills

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