Back in the 60’s when the Cold War with the Soviet Union was in full gear and the threat of nuclear conflagration seemed just a button push away, it was popular to imagine surviving that halocaust. I recall the popular magazines, Popular Mechanics, Mechanics Illustrated, and other home design magazines all had construction plans for fallout shelters. From the cinder block walls built in a common residential basement to larger underground complexes, the designs always showed a typical family of four engaged in the work and enjoying the idea that they would have storage areas for canned food, nice looking bunk beds, a radio with extra batteries, and of course the deck of cards to while away the time as the radiation outside discipated. Little was discussed about just what might be outside, presumming one could go outside… and little was discussed about how life might be inside those cute little fallout shelters for any length of time (I honestly don’t recall if there were toilets or any other plumbing). The problem with all this of course is that nuclear war is pretty final… no one wins, everyone looses… and if you do manage to make it into your makeshift shelter before the fallout falls out… you would be just delaying your inevitable demise. But it was fun to imagine the whole thing as being like camping out or something.
Well, that seems to be pretty much where we are at with all this talk and interest about surviving some apocolypse. I think the reality is exactly that… surviving.. and to what end? Let’s presume for the sake of argument that you and your family have managed to survive the instinctual mass evacuation of the city, say within the first week of whatever tragedy has befallen humanity. You’ve found a place in some rural area to take reasonable shelter; it’s hidden from the roving population with guns who might want what you have, and you have a chance to sit down and begin to assess the future. Here’s what you got…
There is no government left… no FEMA, no military, no nation-wide organization. In fact, the tragedy is such that there’s likely not going to be a return to any social balance or status quo that was there before all this happened. There’s no law & order; anarchy reigns as people hack out some way to survive.
You already know that there’s no more food in the stores, nor much of anything else of value that might help in a long term survival situation. No more MacDonald’s.. restaurants, fast food… no more bread, butter, milk… water becomes the value of what gold used to be (currency, gold, and diamonds are now worthless as people forage for food). Barter becomes the new currency. You are in a 19th century lifestyle.. and even at that, in many cases there was more available to live such a lifestyle back in the 19th century than there is now. Cars will break down.. run out of gas. Horses will be the transporation and there’s not many of them around nor are there people who know how to handle them. Expendable and consumable items like batteries (even storage batteries if you plan on using solar or wind power), toilet paper, medicines, writing paper, will eventually all cease to exist. Like the song says, no phones, no lights, no motorcars.. not a single luxury.
Electronic items like commercial radios and two-way radios (ham, CB, etc.) will end up being worthless as batteries become scarce and home brew wind generators fall into disrepair for lack of available parts. It will literally take years before any sort of transportation system will be reliable enough for commerce and that will be horse and wagon.
Within a couple years settlements will pop up.. clusters of people who have gravitated together who have valued skill sets to bring to the group… and for protection from other warring groups of people.
But by far the most single element to make survival the most difficult will be the advent of chronic depression. The sudden shock & awe about having your entire life and lifestyle ripped away; children with no apparent social future; adults not knowing how they will survive to the end of the day much less the next month. Having to realize that defending those you love will likely require killing others… and making judgement calls involving life and death… all this will contribute to the overall mental anxiety of loss of social order. People.. children.. will exhibit these traits all differently and they will manifest themselves in a wide variety of actions. Once calm and casual people can end up being psychotically violent; people under normal situations who might be charitable and giving may end up being anything but. Post traumatic stress will be chronic and will make survivability all that more difficult… especially when the rusting reminders of all the luxury that once was is all around you.
So what am I getting at with all this doom and gloom? Well, this is likely the reality after some level of apocolypse might hit either our country or the world. It’s not going to be a matter of common survival, help your neighbor, protect your family (the more kids in your family the more safety vulnerable you become) with the few guns and freeze dried MRE’s you’ve stockpiled in the basement. This is NOT going to be a fun Kumbaya time. Life as you know it will be forever changed… and not for the good. Now, the question to ask yourself is this… is it going to be worth living at all? That will likely become more apparent as the old social structure vanishes.. and many people.. families.. will likely terminate their own lives somewhere along the way. But man by nature is a survivor and we are all given the instinct to want to live. Ultimately, man will continue in some form.
So as you think about how to protect your loved ones should the country or the world ends up topsy-turvy keep in mind the reality of what will likely occur. Depending on the permanance of the calamity, a thought might be to prepare for the long term survival of the family.. rather than the short term grab-the-food-and-guns-and-get-outta-Dodge and pick up grandma along the way. If in fact the world will be tossed into something like the 19th century then do your homework on how people lived in the 19th century. Let the rest of the world use up all the gasoline, batteries, and toilet paper… you learn to adapt to live off the land from the get go.
If roving bands of renegade zombies (as if there were any other kind) or aliens are attacking the world… our human focus to survive will be a united front against those threats. But for some reason I can’t imagine those two scenarios being even in the top ten of possible apoclyptic events. So.. enjoy life as it is while you have it… and don’t worry so much… and have fun killing off zombies and aliens in those apocolyptic video games.