Let’s have some fun. It is the season for zombies, after all. So what do you do when you wake up one morning and the undead hoard are digging up the flowers in your planter because the cat got away when they tried to eat its brains? Do zombies like cat brains? I don’t know. But regardless…
You need to have a plan for when all hell breaks loose. The plan in its entirety would take a book, not just an article. Despite some detail differences, all of the apocalyptic possibilities yield basically the same issues for survivors, whether it’s zombies, werewolves, EMP, viral outbreak, or nuclear winter that kills 92% of the world’s population. That said, this is Part 1 of a series that will cover equipment, supplies, weapons, and survival thinking for pretty much any end-of-civilization scenario you can think up. However, I will only be covering initial survival and general preparedness that is intended to keep us alive long enough to begin restructuring a new civilization. If you want a more long-term survival plan, for sustainable living if the rest of the world was eaten by zombies, you should read my cousin’s blog, Crowsonshire: Homesteading in the South. Jason is a rather prolific blogger since 2007, and has tons of excellent information on sustainable living, along with his humorous accounts of living the mini-farm homestead dream. But how do you make it to long-term sustainability? First, survive day 1.
Man, I’m Thirsty…
Water is the centerpiece of all life on this planet. As much as air, if you run out of water, you die. Here’s something most people haven’t thought about: If you get your water from anywhere other than a well on your own property, you will not have a water supply if the power grid goes away. Pumps and filtration systems used by city and county water authorities run on, guess what, electricity!
Step one in preparing for this issue is to have an emergency supply on hand. I regularly rinse out any two-liter bottles my family of four empties and store tap water in them, squirreled away throughout the house. Figure on at minimum a liter per day per person. That’s just to barely survive. If you plan on drinking it, cooking with it, washing anything at all … the numbers quickly add up. If you’re in a static location, store as much as possible, but shoot for at least four liter per day per person, and you’ll want at least a month’s worth.
Now, taking it a step further, prepare for not only if you run out of stores, but also in case you have to travel. You’ll need a portable filtration and purification system. There are many on the market. Some better than others in quality, reliability, and price. Way too many details of specifications exist for these for me to go into here, so I’ll just give a few of my favorite examples.
The Katadyn Combi is one of the best you can get that’s not godawful expensive. Rugged and dependable with a high volume output and long lasting, cleanable filter, it’s a good bet to have on hand. One of these takes residence in my dad’s bug out vehicle (a topic for later).
Another fine example that I’ve sold a ton of over the years, is the
MSR Miniworks EX. This thing is probably bomb-proof. If it did take some damage though, it holds a reputation as one of the easiest filters to repair in the field, on the fly. I was once told by an Army Spec Ops, uh, operative, that this is the filter his squad used when they were in Africa. His guys were fine, the rest of the platoon, using a different system, all wound up with the trots. Good enough for me. Also, after once drinking water from a mud hole after it went through one of these, I can attest to its effectiveness. Tasted better than tap water.
I could continue for pages, but these are my two favorites. There are many more good options out there. Talk to a salesperson in your local camping store to tell you about their offerings. If it isn’t one of these, though, ask them to compare these to it. If he stammers, you don’t want his filter.
One additional consideration about water is that even having gone through these filters, there is still a possibility of some microscopic virus having infiltrated. You should still boil your water if possible and you have time. As a backup, cheap and plentiful iodine tablets kill many things, but they taste funny. The filters listed above remove all of the same critters that iodine kills.
Also, a few drops of chlorine (unscented Clorox bleach) will take care of tiny critters. Use special care with bleach, however, as too much can be harmful and make you sick, or even kill you in addition to the bugs in your water. Use two (2) drops of bleach per quart (roughly 1 liter), which translates to roughly 1/2 teaspoon for a 5 gallon bucket. You can use as much as twice that if the water is especially suspect (still cloudy, discolored, smells, etc), but a drop per liter is the recommended dose. After stirring (or shaking, if you’re 007) the treated water, allow it to sit at least 20 minutes before drinking. Be sure to also treat any surfaces that your mouth may touch or the water may pass over, including the underside of container lids.
A special scenario exists here. If the population is dying off from a disease, be sure you use all of these methods to clean your water, and not just your drinking water … all of your water! However, under normal circumstances, either of the filters above will keep you safe in your home region, where you’re already immune to many of the bacteria that live outside the human body (that could be in the water) and viruses such as HIV cannot live outside the human body. It’s mostly parasitic micro-organisms and the occasional odd bacteria you have to worry about, which these filters handle like champs.
I’ll add a short article soon concerning ozone generators for water purification, which also includes the likes of my tiny portable purifier, the MSR Miox.