Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Getting Ready for the Apocalypse

So I was reading The Path trilogy by Diana Pharaoh Francis while I was sick this week and enjoyed it very much. The characters do a lot of travelling around in their magical, pre-industrial world - on horseback, on foot and magically - and, of course, they have to carry whatever they need with them in backpacks. At one stage she lists what the protagonist takes with her which is 2 blankets, an extra set of clothing (including spare boots) but not for herself, a waterproof cloak, waterbag, food (she hasn't much of this but then she is an excellent forager), a pot, a bowl, a belt knife, paper, a leather kit (for a particular purpose otherwise I doubt you'd include this), string, needles and thread, pouch of oil (I have no idea why you'd take this with you. Cooking, perhaps?), flint, whetstone, fish hooks, comb, extra socks, cake of soap, 4 candles, money and medicine kit.

This was not unlike what I would have selected in a similar situation albeit I'd be leaving out the candles and instead taking a torch and I would include a sleeping bag of some sort in preference to blankets, adding a spoon, extra underwear, something to write with (since paper is of limited use without a writing implement) and some things would have been substituted with more modern items.

At least that's what I thought until coincidentally The Link - a local TV program headed by Stan Grant which featured interviews and discussions with people on current topics of interest (and which sadly is not being renewed for next year) - showed an interview with a man who is determined to be prepared for any calamity that might happen and this in turn led me into the world of the Doomsday Preppers and the Bug Out Bag.

I'd never really considered the need to be prepared for more than day to day mishaps which means I do no more than keep a first aid kit, an emergency blanket, wind up torch, matches, a weatherproof poncho, a spare jacket and hat that roll up small enough to put in a pocket plus (this is Australia after all) some water in my car - and while I've never needed to deal with an apocalyptic situation they've all been used at one time or another.

Preppers take things to a whole different level. They want to provide for their survival in the case of major disaster - and by that they mean DISASTER on a large scale like civil unrest, major earthquake, eruption of a super volcano and so on. They are determined to be prepared for any eventuality and one of their basic tools is the Bug Out Bag. These are many and varied but are intended to provide for your needs for 72 hours while you head for your chosen - and ideally preprepared - bolt hole, which is somewhere off grid where you can protect you and yours.

If you google 'bug out bag' you'll find it's big business, too. Survival equipment, lists of what you need in your BOB and even ready made packs are all available whether you intend to head to the wilderness or withdraw to the safety of your home (which you’ve made secure from attack) along with your emergency supplies - and in the case of the US preppers where it is strongest, armed to the teeth. Given our gun laws in Australia weapons are one aspect that's unlikely to rate highly here. Not to say, of course, that weapons couldn't be needed or made if things got really bad but it's not a high priority here.

I was fascinated by what I found - and it's going to prove useful in my fiction writing - but I don’t intend to invest in a Bug Out Bag or stock up on more than I already have. With luck in any emergency (which here is most likely to be a natural one like storm or earthquake damage) I’ll be able to cobble together the essentials from the pantry and our existing camping gear.

That said I can understand why folk feel under threat. The world is not a stable place at the moment and the desire to feel you have some control over your destiny is inevitably going to appeal. I'm just not at all convinced this is the way to go about it. Let's hope I'm right.


Jo said...

Oops I don't have any preparation for anything. I recently read a novel with preppers in it. I had never heard of them before. American preppers certainly go the whole hog with their preparations. Didn't realise it was a worldwide thing.

Helen V. said...

It's not anywhere near as big here as in the US, Jo, but I guess no matter where you live there'll always be people who want to be prepared for any eventuality however unlikely. I can see why they think that way but it's not something I see myself doing.