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Preparing For a Widespread Disaster
There are at least seven global or widespread disasters that seem likely to occur at some point in the future. A large asteroid that hits the earth is one of the seven. It is generally accepted by scientists that asteroids have struck the earth in the past and caused extensive damage. It is believed that asteroids will continue to collide with the earth every now and then. Perhaps every sixty million years there comes a big one big enough to have a global effect on the survival of Earth’s living things. The chances of such an event occurring in a particular person’s lifetime are slim. But the small chance is there.
It is unpleasant to contemplate such terrible things. But the best attitude, it seems to me, is to largely ignore the unpleasant feelings that the subject causes. It allows a person to consider what can be done to increase the chances of surviving a disaster. No way can a person be completely prepared. And since we cannot know exactly what is going to take place, it can be an exercise in futility. But you never know, simple basic preparations can get you through a disaster.
And why not take the attitude that your effort and interest in such preparation is something to feel good about. These endeavors can be fun and interesting. The subject matter certainly captures my attention better than a Hollywood movie. By doing what I can to be prepared, I am doing something that could dramatically make my life much more comfortable if I were to be involved in a disaster. Disaster preparedness is an interesting and enjoyable hobby that pays big. Knowing that all the benefits of modern life are not necessarily a given is a reason to enjoy them more.
The seven possible widespread or global disasters:
1). Very large volcanic eruptions. Large amounts of gas and dust can be spread around the globe. There is some evidence that these have taken place before. Doesn’t that mean it can happen again?
2). An epidemic. There was the 1918 flu epidemic that killed 30 million people worldwide. There was the plague that killed about a quarter of Europe’s population in the Dark Ages. Viruses and bacteria are known to mutate and change. They can become resistant to vaccines and drugs, become more lethal and become more contagious. Viruses and other pathogens can mutate into virulent forms that can be spread rapidly around the world by people using air travel.
3). Crop failure due to plant diseases, climate change or ozone depletion.
4). Climate change, including global warming and the effects that can come with it, such as extreme heat, drought and severe storms.
5). Nuclear war.
6). Acts of terrorism that can have far-reaching consequences. If, for example, one nuclear device were detonated in Washington, DC, and another wiped out Wall Street, the effects could be unpredictable and could include economic depression, anarchy, shortages of consumer goods, and war.
7). Something unexpected. A disaster can be caused by a completely unknown event. It is unreasonable to think that we are smart enough to be aware of all threats that could bring disaster.
There are many other plausible scenarios for widespread disasters. These include such things as a large solar flare that shoots radiation and charged particles towards the earth; an object, such as a black hole, passing close to the earth; and a technology accident such as a genetically modified organism being released into the environment.
In recent years, enormous amounts of methane gas have been found on the seabed, where the water is very deep, and in places where the water is very cold. It is believed that global warming or earthquakes could cause the methane to be released, perhaps suddenly and in huge quantities. Methane is explosive and can displace oxygen and cause suffocation.
Below are some things you can do to be better prepared for emergencies.
Store food and water: About a gallon of water per day per person is a reasonable amount. How many days worth is anyone’s guess – you need to use your own judgment as to what is practical for you. Know where you can get water if your standby supply runs out. Water of unknown purity must be boiled for at least 3 minutes to kill any pathogens. If boiling is not possible, add 16 drops or 1/4 teaspoon of household bleach per gallon and let stand for at least 30 minutes. Fragrance for the water. If it does not have a slight bleach smell, repeat the process. Use bleach that contains nothing but water and 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Bleach is most effective at killing bacteria, but is not effective against parasitic organisms.
Choose foods with a long shelf life such as canned goods, dry foods such as nuts, seeds, beans and grains in plastic or glass containers. Most dried beans need to be soaked and boiled before eating. Examples of dried beans that can be eaten after soaking and without cooking include split peas, mung beans, lentils, and black-eyed peas. Wheat and corn can also be soaked and eaten without cooking. Peanut butter and vegetable oil are good choices because they are high in calories, last a long time, and require no preparation. Canned meat provides protein and requires no cooking. A multivitamin will help with adequate vitamin requirements.
Keeping warm: The colder the climate where you live, the more important it is if the power fails or you are forced to leave your home. Have enough heavy clothing and blankets in your home to keep you warm. Have ready to go to put in your car, such as in a garbage bag: at least two changes of warm clothes, a sleeping bag or a couple of blankets, gloves, knit hat and sturdy shoes.
First aid kit: The most important items may be soap for washing a wound, an antiseptic ointment and bandages.
Tools and supplies for short-term emergencies: Flashlight and batteries, candles, matches, can opener, soap, battery-powered radio and batteries, face mask to filter the air you breathe,
Tools and supplies for long-term emergencies: all of the above items for short-term emergencies, plus the above-mentioned food items, plus: long-lasting LED flashlight, wind-up flashlight, wind-up radio, unscented 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite bleach for water purification, sturdy knife and sharpener, salt, grain grinder, storage containers for foodstuffs, shovel, blankets, rifle and ammunition.
Tools and supplies for your car: gallon of drinking water, blanket, extra clothing (sweatshirt, long underwear, boots, socks, gloves, hat), compass, rain gear, battery-powered radio and batteries, long storage and light food, map, siphon (20 ft. plastic pipe, 1/2 inch diameter), gas canister, wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, portable light. Long-term and extra equipment: bleach for water purification, shorts or bathing suit, tube tent (or 10 x 10 tarp, cord), soil moisture barrier, closed-cell foam sleeping pad, sleeping bag, insect repellent, sunglasses, sunscreen, soap, knife, backpack, duct tape, string (i.e. fishing line, parachute string, mason’s string).
Have a short-term plan: Discuss with your family how everyone will get home if their usual transportation is not available. If the phone systems work, one person can stay at home to receive and relay messages. Have a location in mind if you are moving to a different geographic area. Plan how you will get there and what you will bring. If you think you are not prepared enough, decide how you will be.
Stay informed: Have at least one battery-powered am/fm radio with extra batteries. A wind-up radio that does not require batteries can be used if the power is out for an extended period. Emergency alert radios can receive broadcasts during a prolonged power outage where the backup generators for am/fm radio stations have run out of fuel.
If situations develop so that long-term solutions are needed, you will need other strategies. You may have to hunt for and gather food from the wild. Very long-term collapse of the current supply chain would require you to become self-sufficient in repairing and making your own clothes. You may need to build a shelter using basic tools and basic materials. The scope of this article does not permit discussion of what you would need to know to survive the collapse of an extended society to how it was a few hundred years ago.
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