I listened as my two seemingly normal-sounding friends compared their “doomsday stash.” They were telling me mostly to get a rise out of me (apparently both their kits include shotguns, and they know how I feel about guns), but what struck me most was not that they were preparing for disaster, but that they were preparing for long-term disaster. These are not tinfoil-hat types. They are fully functional professionals. And they had not just a week’s worth of non-perishables, but radiation gear, iodine pills, years’ worth of food and other stuff that seemed to take them straight into batsville. What was up?
I was intrigued enough to do some research. Turns out the end times are big business. Even companies we’d consider mainstream, like Wise (they of the potato chip brand), create tubs full of dried out food to get you straight through armaggedon. There are water purifiers and gasoline siphons, moist towelettes to use in case of nuclear explosion (I am not kidding). Somebody’s making millions from our paranoia. It doesn’t take a nuclear fall-out shelter to get ready for the end of the world.
I would like to think I have some ownership of the concept of civilization ending, because I have done more reading about it than most humans. I love me a good end-of-the-world novel. But I am clearly an amateur. By the time I discovered Doomsday Preppers, they of the homemade knives and stashed heritage seeds, I realized that just having read The Postman did not help me compete. I was intrigued, but also lazy.
Then Hurricane Irene hit and flooded my basement and took away my electricity for nine days. A year later, Hurricane Sandy knocked it out again for almost exactly the same amount of time. I nearly lost my mind. And I realized I had no f-ing idea what to do in case of an emergency.
The idea of being prepared suddenly wasn’t some abstract and amusing thing anymore. It was real. I filled big bottles with water and stashed them. I listened to the news to learn of upcoming storms with enough time to hit the supermarket for non-perishables. I Googled to find out just what a non-perishable is. I was surprised to learn, pre-Sandy, that even given ample time to prepare, I just wasn’t sure what to do.
Still, I didn’t take it much further. Then, the other day I watched a documentary about what would happen if a major U.S. city got hit with a nuclear weapon. Turns out that if New York gets hit, I have a 50/50 chance of being a rice krispy or of being in the zone that they recommend shelter in place long-term. (Depends on if the terrorists like uptown or downtown for their target).
First, yes, I really should turn off the TV.
Then, after acknowledging that, I revisited some of the research I had done after Sandy. I had bookmarked the sites but not bought any of the more hardcore stuff, like the fish antibiotics they recommend you stash for when access to Western medicine gets cut off. But some things just seemed innocuous and not that hard, like buying 20-pound bags of rice and of beans and then breaking them down into smaller, hermetically sealed Mylar baggies for eternal storage. For some reason, the doomsday prepping websites I found all seemed to be obsessed with storing salt too. Sure, add salt to the list. After all, if civilization is gone, should I continue worrying about blood pressure?
So, to recap, all I’ve done is order the Mylar bags and the iodine pills in case of radioactive fallout. And maybe kinda one book about disaster preparedness. (And, okay, also signed up for a wilderness survival course in the spring). But it seems like this prepping thing might be a slippery slope. so I’m admitting my tendencies publicly. If you show up for a visit and I greet you in camouflage and grease paint, you know it’s time to stage an intervention. But good luck catching me.
Think I’m crazy? Send me an email and let me know.
Want to start your own doomsday stash? Some helpful websites:
- Here’s what FEMA suggests you have on hand in case of a natural disaster (for when you want to prep but you don’t want to feel like a total lunatic): click here.
- Oh happy day when I discovered that doomsday preppers can still get their long-term rations even if they are sticking to a gluten-free diet. Bless, you, Wise: click here. I haven’t yet given in to this particular investment, but it thoroughly intrigues me.
- Here’s a list that’s a little more “out there.” It’s where I learned about the fish antibiotic trick: Click here.
- For when you want to give in to your full-on crazy, here’s a “Dirty Bomb Emergency Kit PLUS” (I think it’s the “Radiacwash towelettes” that make it “PLUS.” Click here.
Oh, mortality, how you make us all scrambling little ants. You amuse me.