Wolves at the Door, Zombies Coming Down the Chimney, Don't Ask About the Flu-Ridden Swine
Melissa WilsonView all articles by Melissa Wilson
So the undead have risen and are seeking your tasty, tasty brains, while Captain Tripps (or other bird or swine flulike pandemic of your choice) is spreading like wildfire through the cities and towns of $your_country's_name_here, and the world food supply chain has been cut via a nasty combination of poor crop yields and civil unrest, and also it's snowing. In July. In short, you're having a Monday to beat all Mondays, and worse, despite all the warnings we've been trying to provide, you haven't had so much as a flu shot or stocked up on a single case of soup. (Maybe you heard about swine flu and bird flu but thought "pandemic" was a kind of bad guy in Dungeons & Dragons.)
You are screwed, you think to yourself, and part of you is shaking your mental fist at survivalist-types (embodied in your mental image as Michael Gross and Reba McEntyre from their "Tremors" days) and part of you is wondering if you can talk them into letting you stay with them. Assuming you can get out of your house.
You're in a bad situation, and you're not prepared, and frankly, Reba's gonna shoot you if you show up, so what next?
First, stay calm. Panicky people run out into streets screaming, which attracts the attention of the zombies. Not only will it get you eaten, but as your local zombies crunch on your skull like a Snickers bar, they'll draw attention to the other people in your area. If nothing else, think of your cat. Stay quiet, stay calm. You need to make plans now. If someone in your group is acting panicky, take steps to get them calm. Normally, drugging someone against their will is unethical at best, but when the undead army is beating at your door, making your next-door neighbor who's prone to screaming at ants pop a couple of Benedryl to shut up is preferable to everyone dying. Note: someone in your group will probably die or has already died. You will watch the zombies eat someone you care about (that poor cat) or the ebola virus will take the life of your best friend. This is possibly preventable given enough prep and luck, but assume people will die and deal with your particular brand of hysteria and/or raging grief quickly and quietly, in advance if possible. Again, running out into the street rending your shirt because you're upset will not up your life expectancy in any way, and will make things harder on everyone else.
Second, you need to perform an inventory. Get paper, get a pencil (if you still have power, use your computer but be aware that the power grid is not something that lasts in an emergency). You didn't get a chance to stock up on dried goods and medicines, fine. That's in the past. What do you have now? Make a series of lists: perishable foods in the fridge and freezer, dried and canned goods and other staples in the pantry, potable water supplies and amounts, all medicines and their expiration dates, useable weapons and ammo, camping equipment, cleaning supplies such as bleach and soap, and miscellaneous building supplies. If you are in a particular place for the long haul, also do an inventory of the supplies outside: fruit trees and bushes, vegetable gardens, livestock, etc.
Make the water supply as big as you can in case of water contamination. Clean ay spare plastic containers with a mild bleach solution, rinse them well, and fill them with water. Put the water supplies in a cool, dark place. Fill the sinks and bathtubs in case of sudden water emergency. Check out the hot water heater: it's a source of potable water.
Sort your food supplies. The perishable supplies must be eaten first, so ironically, you may spend the first days of your emergency confinement eating steak. Can and preserve if possible so you have the food for later, but if you can't, don't dwell on it. If you can obtain more non-perishables and stock medicines (like multivitamins) without endangering yourself, do so. Pay extra attention to your salt and sugar supplies, as these can make an electrolyte solution that will keep someone alive in case of severe diarrhea. Make a food plan based on the supplies you have. Meals may be tight for a long time, so look for easy ways to get calories such as rice and pasta. Livestock can be a good way to keep meat fresh, at least as long as you've got feed for the animals, but if the question becomes between feeding the humans and feeding the chickens, you're having chicken for dinner. If you have enough uncontaminated land and the resources, you can start a small vegetable garden but if you haven't already done this, do not rely on it to feed you and yours, only to supplement what you have; if water becomes scarce, you'll lose the garden and any resources you spent on it will have been wasted.