Turkey and Syria were hit with a massive earthquake on Feb. 7th. There’s a lot of coverage about it. If you’d like to see pics of the devastation you can look here. It’s not pretty. There is drone footage here, as well. You can also read a bit about the where and why of it here.
Yes, we can blame shoddy building for some of the damage. There’s the usual groups talking about how people are stupid for living on fault lines. Their president is being told he could have prevented it (sort of like Bush was supposed to prevent the levees breaking in New Orleans after Katherine?). There’s a small amount of merit in all of these statements, but not a lot.
The bottom line is that you cannot really prepare for this kind of destruction. Yes, it happens. Yes, it happens more often when you live on a fault line. But this is the largest quake in decades. It’s just not something you can plan for. In a world that’s rapidly becoming overpopulated, we can’t simply seal off huge tracts of land because “something bad MIGHT happen.”
Some of you reading this probably live in Tornado Alley. Some may live on fault lines. Others live near nuclear reactors. And so forth, and so on. There’s only so much you can prepare for, and only so much you can avoid. Humans aren’t meant to live in bubble wrap, after all.
But how can we prepare for survival? And what should we prepare FOR? That’s the question that you have to answer for yourself.
Me, I live in New England, on top of a hill, near a number of clean bodies of water. I don’t need to worry about floods, because by the time flood water gets high enough to affect my ho use, there will be too many other problems to worry about. I don’t have to worry about running out of water to drink and clean with. I do have to worry about cleaning that water, though, because if disaster happens, I can’t be certain that the water will remain clean and potable either due to the disaster itself or other people being idjits.
I am not near a major city, so it’s likely that if disaster does hit, it’ll be weather related. The most usual types of issues in my area are loss of power, loss of running water, and lack of food. I determined this over the past ten years, observing what happens in my area, as well as researching what’s happened here historically over the past 200 years.
I know how to cook without power. I do so on a pretty regular basis, actually. I have a nice fire pit that I use for fun. Still, cooking over an open fire is not a great way to do daily cooking. In an emergency that lasts more than a few days, an open fire pit will be detrimental to my own safety. For that reason, I’m working on plans for an outdoor kitchen behind the house, where it’s private and no one can see. I’ll be putting in a small wood burning stove of some type (likely cement with metal parts) that works like a rocket stove. I’m hoping to build a cobb oven in which I can bake breads and other foods.
My home is full of oil lanterns, solar lanterns, and stores of candles. Seeing what I’m doing in the dark is not going to be an issue. I have the means to carry water from nearby places to my home, and methods to use to clean that water so it’s safe to drink under most circumstances. I know how to grow a garden, hunt, and raise and butcher animals for food.
Whether the disaster that hits my area is ecological, weather-related, or political doesn’t matter. I have my plans, and all of them are tested. When the power goes out, it’s no big deal. I’ve gotten the kids to the point where power loss equals fun stuff, because we pull out the popcorn and make special foods, and we spend time around the wood stove in the living room reading and playing games. No panic, just preparation and readiness.
I can’t tell you how to prepare. Everyone is different. I look at the disaster in Turkey and I find myself in tears. But I know I would never live in a high rise apartment, even one that was supposedly earthquake proof. I’ve seen too many buildings go down like jenga blocks in the past 25 years. That’s MY choice. Other people make their own choices.
I would say that if you have to live in an apartment or multi level condo of some kind, make sure you have preps elsewhere. If your building is burning because someone played a stupid game and won stupid prizes, you may not have access to go back and get your preps. If you are facing a social uprising, you may want to get out of Dodge rapidly, and having 2000 lbs of goods isn’t going to be the least bit helpful. If you are running because of flooding, mudslide, or earthquake, there may be no time to load up with your preparations. Always have your eggs in more than one basket.
Even I do this, and I’m personally in a “best case” situation with my preps. I have most of my preparations “in big”… food, water, filters, weapons, ammo, etc. all stored neatly and out of the way. I cycle through some stuff (food, ammo) and leave the rest for long term storage. But I also have car kits for every car we own. Mini versions with food, shelter, first aid, water, and information. Why? Because we might be away from home when disaster strikes. We may be caught up in something. We may need to flee. We may need to hide temporarily, for a longer or shorter time. And for those reasons, I have caches of all those things, too. In several places. Because I cannot know what MIGHT happen, some random day between tomorrow and forever.
Beyond all of that, however, the single most important prep you can have? Skill sets. Learn to do for yourself. Think about what might happen, from most likely to least likely, and prep for what you can. Practice it. Turn off the power at the main breaker at odd moments and force the family to practice rusty skills. Learn how to cook over a fire. Know what foods you can eat from your local tract of land. Understand how to filter water. Practice making a fire (because if you lose your Bic, then what??). On and on. Continue to acquire skills until you literally cannot anymore (ie you’re dead).
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
I am DAMN proud that I can do most of those things. I’ve never had the opportunity to conn a ship, and solving equations is probably my weakest point. And I’ve never died gallantly, and hope to avoid it for some time to come. But I’ve done all the rest. What can you do?