Preparing For a Widespread Disaster
-- by Alan Detwiler
There are at least seven global or widespread disasters that seem likely to occur at sometime in the future. A large asteroid hitting the earth is one of those seven. It is generally accepted by scientists that asteroids have struck the earth in the past causing widespread damage. It is believed that asteroids will continue to collide with the earth every now and then. Maybe every sixty million years a big one comes along that is large enough to have a global effect on survival of earth's living things.
The chances of such an event happening in a particular person's lifetime are tiny. But that tiny chance is there.
It is unpleasant to consider such terrible things. But the best attitude, it seems to me, is to ignore, to a very large extent, the unpleasant feelings that the topic causes. That allows a person to consider what might be done to increase the chances of surviving a disaster. No way can a person be fully prepared. And since we cannot know just what is going to take place, it may be an exercise in futility. But you never know, simple basic preparations could bring you through some calamity.
And why not take the attitude that your efforts and interest in such preparation is something to feel good about. Those efforts can be fun and interesting. The topic certainly grabs my attention better than a Hollywood movie. By doing what I can to become prepared, I am doing something that could dramatically make my life much more pleasant should I be involved in a catastrophe. Disaster preparedness is an interesting and enjoyable hobby that could pay off big-time. Knowing that all the benefits of modern life are not necessarily a given, is a reason for enjoying them more.
The seven possible widespread or global disasters:
-- Very large volcanic eruptions. Hugh volumes of gas and dust could spread around the globe. There is some evidence that these have occurred before. Doesn't that mean that it could happen again?
-- An epidemic. There was the flu epidemic of 1918 that killed 30 million people worldwide. There was the plague that killed about one fourth of Europe's population in the Dark Ages. Viruses and germs are known to mutate and change. They may become resistant to vaccines and medications, become more deadly, and become more contagious. Viruses and other pathogens could mutate into virulent forms that could spread rapidly around the world by people using air travel.
-- Crop failures due to plant diseases, climate change, or ozone depletion.
-- Climate change including global warming and the effects that might come with it such as extreme heat, drought, and severe storms.
-- Nuclear war.
-- Terrorist act which could bring about widespread effects. If, for instance, a nuclear device was detonated in Washington, D.C. and another wiped out Wall Street, the effects could be unpredictable and could include economic depression, anarchy, shortages of consumer goods, and war.
-- Something unexpected. A disaster could be caused by a completely unknown event. It is unreasonable to think we are smart enough to be aware of all threats that could bring catastrophe.
There are many other plausible scenarios for widespread catastrophes.
These include such things as a large solar flare that shoots out radiation and charged particles toward 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 vast quantities of methane gas have been discovered on the sea floor 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 massive quantities. Methane is explosive and could displace oxygen causing suffocation.
Below are some things you can do to be better prepared for emergencies.
Store food and water: About a gallon of water a day per person is a reasonable goal. How many days worth is anybody's guess - you have to use your own judgment about what is practical for you. Know where to get water if your standby supply runs out. Water of unknown purity should be boiled 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 at least 30 minutes. Smell the water. If it does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the process. Use bleach that contains nothing else other than water and 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Bleach is most effective for killing bacteria but is not effective against parasitic organisms.
Choose long storage food such as canned goods, dry food such as nuts, seeds, beans, and grain products in plastic or glass containers. Most dried beans will need to be soaked and cooked 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 calorie rich, long keeping and require no preparation. Canned meat provides protein and requires no cooking. A multi vitamin will help with adequate vitamin requirements.
Keeping warm: The colder the climate where you live, the more important this is if the electrical 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 clothing that will keep you warm, 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 bandaging.
Tools and supplies for short-term emergencies: Flashlight and batteries, candles, matches, can opener, soap, battery-powered radio and batteries, face mask for filtering the air you breath,
Tools and supplies for long term emergencies: all of the items above for short-term emergencies plus the food items listed above plus: long lasting led flashlight, wind-up flashlight, wind-up radio, unscented 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite bleach for purifying water,
sturdy knife and sharpener, salt, grain grinder, food storage containers, shovel, blankets, rifle and ammunition.
Tools and supplies for your car: gallon of drinking water, blanket, extra clothes (sweatshirt, long underwear, boots, socks, gloves, hat), compass, rain gear, battery-powered radio and batteries, long storage and light-weight food, maps, siphon (20 feet plastic tubing, 1/2 inch diameter), gas can, wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, portable light. Long-term and extras: bleach for purifying water, shorts or swimsuit, tube tent (or 10 by 10 tarp, cord), ground moisture barrier, closed cell foam sleeping pad, sleeping bag, insect repellant, sunglasses, sunscreen, soap, knife, backpack,duct tape, cord (i.e., seine twine, parachute cord, masons' twine).
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 are operating, one person could remain at home to take and relay messages. Have a place in mind in case you need to relocate to a different geographic area. Plan how to get there and what you will take along. If you believe you are not enough prepared, decide how to become so.
Stay informed: Have at least a battery operated am/fm radio with extra batteries. A wind-up radio not requiring batteries could be used if the power is off for an extended period. Emergency alert radios might receive broadcasts in a long-term power failure where the backup generators for am/fm radio stations have run out of fuel.
If situations develop so that longer-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 present supply chain would require that you become self-sufficient in mending and making your own clothing. You might have to construct a shelter using basic tools and basic materials. The scope of this article does not allow for discussions of what you would need to know to survive extended collapse of society into how it was a couple of hundred years ago.
If you would like to learn more about disaster preparedness and related topics some of the following links might be helpful.
American Red Cross
Terrorism Preparation Materials
Dealing with terrorism and natural disasters of less than two weeks duration. Some of that info would be helpful at the first part of a long-term disruption.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response
Has a little information on nuclear radiation treatments and effects, avian flu and other diseases, the effects of hot weather on the body.
American Red Cross
Food and Water in an Emergency
Brief guidelines for storing and using food and water for short-term emergencies.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Heat Wave: A Major Summer Killer.
An online brochure describing the heat index, heat disorders, and heat wave safety tips.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Extreme Cold: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety.
Planning to avoid problems caused by exposure to short periods of unusually cold weather.
Index of other articles at same site:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Update on the Spaceguard Survey and on Asteroid Apophis
Schweickart Proposes Study of Impact Risk from Apophis (MN4)
A couple of articles on issues concerning a specific asteroid that has a small possibility of striking the earth in 2036.
Late, Great Planet Earth
Describes the effects of an asteroid hitting the earth, evidence that it has happened before, odds of it happening again, and what should be done about it.
Climate Warning as Siberia Melts
This describes one factor that can accelerate global warming.
Toronto Globe and Mail
Civilization Could End in a Giant Methane Belch
The vast quantities of methane hydrate in ocean sediments could cause what would otherwise be a gradual increase in global temperature to become a faster and greater increase.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Abrupt Climate Change: Should We Be Worried?
Global warming can cause abrupt regional climate changes that cool or dry continent-size areas of the earth. Such changes could occur in as little as a decade.
A Modest Proposal To Save the Planet
What can we do to head off global warming.
Effects of a Global Thermonuclear-War
by Wm. Robert Johnston
Nuclear War Survival Skills
by Cresson H. Kearny
Hoods Woods Survival.com
An article on eating insects
Backwoods Home Magazine
Mother Earth News Magazine
Each of these have a few hundred articles that can be read online. Some of the articles describe how to accomplish some task contributing to self-sufficiency.
Alan Detwiler has written several books about ways to have fun. Do a search for Alan Detwiler at the ebooks section of Amazon.com
His web site, www.leisureideas.com has ideas about having fun.
This article can be published in print or electronically, free of charge as long as it is complete, unaltered and contains the links for the author's books and web site (text only or active).