Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Alas, Babylon

I'm reading Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank and it really made me want to write an article on "prepping" or whatever the PC term is now.

Firstly, I think the "preppers" you see on TV are largely fools, and I'll get more into that later. I don't think there's going to be a nuclear apocalypse like in Alas, Babylon, or a zombie apocalypse, or a Barackalypse, or whatever. However, every year there are freak storms like the one that flattened Parkersburg, IA, or the one that flattened Joplin, MO, or the one that flattened New Orleans, LA. Those are real things that could really happen to you.

The gubment recommends you have a 72-hour survival kit, and I think that's probably appropriate. I think 3-7 days of food and water are perfectly reasonable things to have around. But "what" and "how" are some important questions to ask about both food and water.

Bottled water has a shelf life, as does canned food. So if you buy a survival kit and leave it in your basement for ten years, odds are that it is all expired and very possibly contaminated. The way around this is to use and replace your canned stores every few months. Get some canned chili, tuna, greens of some kind, etc and simply use them and replace them every 90 days or six months. More often than that if you're into canned chili...

Water is trickier. Cases of distilled water are pretty cheap and easy to store, but they do have a shelf life, and a case of water split among two or three people does not last long (do I have to say "don't use drinking water for hygiene!"?). What can last long is a ceramic water filter like this one. Yes, it's over $300, but it has a ceramic filter that can be simply cleaned with a dish-scraping pad, then flushed with bleachwater, thus giving you 13,000 gallons of service (or enough water for two people for 17 years). There is a cheaper version with a disposable filter with a 500 gallon service life. Either way, if you want real peace of mind, it's a water filter. You can get food easier than clean water in an emergency. And you can go very long periods of time without food. You can't go more than a day or two without water.

Then of course you need to be able to defend yourself and what remains of your property, as well as maybe hunt if you're in a rural area. I know it's controversial, but the .22LR will do all of that. If I were doing guard duty, I'd want a shotgun or an AR-15, but it just isn't practical to keep a huge stock of ammo at hand just because of how much space it takes up. If there were a Barackalypse and you had to walk or otherwise relocate to a safer area, you couldn't carry all that much ammo without sacrificing weight and space for food, clothing, and medical supplies. A single person can carry two or three thousand rounds of .22LR without taking up much weight or space. And if like Randy Bragg, you step out your back porch at dawn to see a mushroom cloud over your nearest city, two or three thousand rounds of .22LR will bag lots of game and still keep the escaped convicts and highwaymen at bay. Platforms are up to the end user, but a 10/22 with a few BX25 mags would be about ideal.

But the best advice for emergency situations comes to us from the 1940s United Kingdom: Keep Calm and Carry On.

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