Any number of events could cause a societal disaster. Cataclysmic climate change seems quite possible, whether it’s long-term anthropomorphic change, a nuclear winter from nuclear strikes, a volcano or super-volcano emitting vast quantities of greenhouse gases and/or particulates, an asteroid impact, or the natural climate change cycle of the planet. A pandemic could cause mass panic and paralyze the globalized world. A major solar flare could destroy modern electrical systems. An economic depression could cause mass riots and war.
In the immediate aftermath of a crisis, you will face many challenges. You need to assess the threats and find solutions.
Threats and Solutions:
1) Threat: Exposure to the Elements
If a climate crisis causes extreme cold or another crisis simply happens during the fall or winter, you could freeze to death.
Solution to the Cold Threat
Follow this practical advice on avoiding hypothermia.
The advice in the hypothermia article deals with our current peaceful world. If society breaks down, and you want to avoid being seen, take smoke and light into consideration when building your fire and shelter.
2) Threat: Lack of Water and Food
Hydration is more pressing than hunger to maintain mental functions. You will need a reliable source of clean water and calorie dense foods.
Solutions to the Water and Food Threat
Water: Over the short-term, make sure you have water bottles available in case the plumbing dies. Over the medium-term, use life straws and iodine tablets to kill bacteria (buy some of these ahead of time for your bug out bag – see below). Over the long-term, use a basic still to separate water from contaminants. This will also be helpful for making alcohol, which can be used as fuel or a disinfectant.
Food: Over the short-term, ensure you have calorie dense dry food like rice (simple carbohydrates for energy) and beans (fibrous carbohydrates for additional calories and vitamins and protein for efficient metabolism). Ideally, you will have oil (fat for efficient metabolism) to cook the food.
Human metabolism is extremely complicated and still being unraveled by scientists. I am by far not an expert. This is a cursory oversimplification. The essential is to ensure enough calories to survive.
Over the medium-term, find your hidden caches of food (make sure you hide some food out of town – see below). Avoid gas station, grocery stores or any retailers if possible. Other people will have the same idea, and you could enter into conflict with them. Predators will no doubt stalk these places as a way to take advantage of desperate people.
Over the long-term, you will need to forage, hunt, trap and fish. Learn these skills now. They’re a great way to enjoy nature and harvest her bounty. Ideally, you would set up a homestead to raise crops and animals, but the climate may become too unpredictable to rely solely on what you can produce yourself. A homestead also limits mobility and makes you an easy target.
3) Human Threats
People typically cooperate in an acute crisis (tsunami, earthquake, hurricane etc). This is, in part, our nature as social animals and the knowledge of aid arriving from unaffected areas on the globe. However, psychopaths always exist and if the crisis is global, no help is coming for you. Even good people can become violent when they’re starving.
Solutions to the Societal Threats
1) Bugging Out: You’ve probably heard this term before if you’ve ever read into survivalism. You want to bug out of the city before you get trapped in civil chaos. This means you will need:
Transportation: The first debate for transportation is speed, manoeuvrability and fuel. The trade-off will depend on the situation.
If the situation is slowly unfolding, say a prolonged food, disease or climate crisis, your best bet is to take a car. The additional room for supplies and loved-ones will make up for the lack of manoeuvrability and excessive fuel consumption. Remember to load your bike into the vehicle for fuel-free transportation once you arrive at your bug-out spot. A fatbike is ideal for biking off-road.
If the situation is rapidly unfolding, you’re better off with two-wheelers that can swerve between the inevitable traffic jams. A motorcycle, scooter or dirt-bike would be ideal, but these are financial investments you might not make ahead of time. A more affordable investment would be a fatbike that performs well in snow and off-road conditions. In a pinch, any bike will do to get you out of town.
ii) Supplies: You should make a bug-out bag and establish a cache outside of town.
Your bug-out bag and cache should take into consideration the threats mentioned above.
First, warmth, like winter clothes, blankets and firestarters. Second, water purifiers. Third, calorie dense food. Fourth, a basic first aid kit. Fifth, a means of defence from predators, human or otherwise.
Fit the most essential equipment in a bug-out bag. If you have room in your bug out vehicle, consider additional supplies. Fill it to the brim. You don’t know how long the crisis is going to last.
The out-of-town cache should be well hidden and element proof. PVC pipes with end caps are a good way to go. Check the cache regularly to ensure the supplies are still good.
That’s the basic process for escaping a disaster. I’m going to get into the details of each solution in coming posts.
Fear not – any crisis is manageable!