Maybe it was hearing about Zombie walk yesterday in Dublin, or maybe it was worrying about the consequences of the US’ upcoming self inflicted economic meltdown, but I found myself reading about Survivalism on Wikipedia. This is the whole idea of being prepared for the worst if/when civilization takes a tumble. As a movement I guess the extreme is a paranoid stockpiling several years of food in his bunkers beside the gun collections as he waits for the end of civilization from one of various means (Y2K, nuclear war, peak oil, economic collapse, zombies, etc).
There is a more rational side to survivalism though. In a lot of places around the world people are advised to have temporary stockpiles for the worst. The standard seems to be to have a Bug Out Bag (BOB) good for you and your family for 72 hours. You would fill it with food, basic medicine, and nick-nacks like radio, flash light, batteries and so on.
Personally I have 2 questions about a BOB. What would I need one for, and then what should go in it? Living in Ireland we are pretty spoiled when it comes to the risks of the natural world. We don’t have to worry about earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunami, governmental instability or invasion. Our storms rarely cause much significant disruption and people tend to get good notice to be prepared. Can you remember the last time you had difficulty getting bread or milk after an Atlantic blow? It’s probably only snow that we need to worry about. It’s rare enough an event that if we get a big dump the country can go to pieces. And remembering the big snow of 1982 I can see how having 3 days of food stockpiled would remove one thing to worry about.
The next thing then is what to hold. I’d start by putting all my camping gear into one or two boxes, for quick transport to the car if I did need to do a runner. Then there is the question of food. You can get lists and so on talking about the general items – radios, batteries, food, drink etc. But the practicalities of it intrigue me. Take water – 3 litres per person per day for drinking, and 2 for washing. Family of 4 for 3 days – 60 litres. But can you really leave it there for 6 months without it spoiling? Then there is food. What would you pick that will feed you for 3 days, is not too bulky, is relatively easy to prepare, and will keep for about 12 months? The militaries of the world have done plenty of work there, and you can get MREs with enough food for one for a day or so for about €10, cheaper if you buy by the box. Except while I am not fussy I don’t think the ladies of my house would be too keen on eating that sort of food for 3 days. I can see my BOB containing pasta, cereals, tins, and dried fruit. Better make sure there is a good can opener, and plenty of loo roll in there too then so.