Tag Archives: disaster prep

What do we really need to survive disaster?

I just ran across a great website called Survival Cache!

Follow this link to their 100 suggestions about stuff you need and what disappears first in a disaster. 

It’s a thorough and fascinating list. In the first four episodes of This Plague of Days (to be released soon!) the Spencer family is under siege from the world flu pandemic.

Until the Sutr Virus hits here, you could read these books by Robert Chazz Chute. Just sayin'.

Until the Sutr Virus hits here, you could read these books by Robert Chazz Chute. Just sayin’.

They stock up on what they can as prices soar and canned goods are flying off the shelves. 

I’ve seen that happen personally on a small scale. During the SARS crisis, you couldn’t buy a bottle of hand sanitizer for any price where I live. The supplies were all gone in the worry and panic over SARS.

Then, at the end of the first season of This Plague of Days, the crisis shifts. Over the next four episodes, The Spencer family loses a lot, including much of their cache of emergency supplies. Once they’re on the run, they can’t take everything they need. Then they can’t carry everything they need. When traffic jams block all escape routes, survivors have to get innovative.

So we need to think carefully about our go-bags.*

What do we absolutely need and what luxury will feel like it weighs a ton by the fifth mile of our hike to safety? Individual capacities will vary. Maybe you’re a Marine who can huck a heavy ruck 25 miles a day, but what weight can your ten-year-old daughter carry? Is the weight in the harness rig on your dog balanced? Can grandpa walk out of the flood zone unassisted or should he stay behind and hope for a helicopter? Do you have alternate escape routes and fallback positions? What’s the backup plan behind the backup plan behind the backup plan? 

What’s in your backpack?

When many people think of prepping, they picture a fortress, panic rooms, a bunker, a defensible Wal-mart or a castle with a moat. They picture infinite supplies and relative comfort. But what if the hurricane takes away your supplies and screws up your plans for holing up and waiting out the flood, fire and armies of crazed zombies?

To be zombie-ready, we have prepare to be mobile, too. Get out your clipboards, pack and repack and weigh. Start crossing stuff off your awesome list. Figure out what gets packed in the basement, the family van and what you can carry on sore, aching shoulders to safety.

*More on go-bags in a coming guest post by friend and fellow author Jordanna East.


Weight loss strategies for the zombie apocalypse

Some health researchers are pushing for a new metric to predict morbidity. Doctors generally check your weight against the Body Mass Index and no physical is complete This Plague of Days 0328without a check of your blood pressure. The proposed new measure is your waist circumference. This will probably become standard soon. The bigger around you are, the more diseases you can expect will come try to kill you.

Why am I posting this in ThisPlagueofDays.com? Disaster prep is useless if you aren’t up to moving out of the way of the hurricane. What are your chances if you have to wade through dangerous flood waters? What if no one’s around to help you load the back of the truck with survival supplies you had to liberate from Wal-Mart?

Ironically, if you’re gung ho and taste testing a lot of Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), you’re probably overweight. MREs are packed with calories. The idea was to give soldiers energy. However, even soldiers in the field with all the running, walking and heavy toting they do, can easily put on pounds if they consistently eat the entire bag.

I encourage everyone to think in terms of sustainability (as opposed to pure survivalism.) Sustainability, conscience, recycling, cooperation, rational social engagement and treading lightly may even help us avoid some of the disasters headed our way. As with all global problems, the best and first thing you can do is to start with yourself. If you’re radically overweight, you aren’t ready, no matter how many cans of soup you have stored in the basement. I’m not ready, so I’m changing that. 

My steps to taking better care of myself so I can care for others longer:

English: Simplified graph of body mass index U...

1. Thirty minutes of intense circuit training with weights (preferably free weights) is more effective for weight loss than sixty minutes on the treadmill. Whatever you do, after ninety minutes of exercise, you’re inviting free radical damage and the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in. To quote Tim Ferris of 4-Hour Body fame, “ounces are lost in the gym but pounds are lost in the kitchen.” You can’t exercise yourself out of this mess. You have to cook your way out of it, too.

2. Fat doesn’t cause fat. Fat is your friend because it gives you satiety. We were sold high-carb, low fat diets for a generation and we’re fatter than ever. That way just made us hungry failures. Dump your packaged weight-loss products, fad diets, powders, pills and false promises.

3. Protein is fine. (Try steaming it. Do not roll it in batter and do not fry it.) Vegetables are awesome. Fruits are peachy, unless you’re a diabetic in which case you’ll have to attend to portion control and follow your doctor’s nutritional plan that’s tailored to you.

4. Sugar puts on flab. Avoid sugar. Eliminate sugar and you can go into healthy ketosis (burning ketones and losing weight.)

5. Simple carbs (breads, pastries, candies, cookies, pasta) put on fat. Avoid it and the cravings will lessen eventually. 

6. Up to six small meals through the day keeps your metabolism burning. Learn more about food and cooking. Educate yourself and you’ll have more delicious options. If you allow yourself to get bored with your new diet/lifestyle, you’ll fall back on bad habits.

7. Getting enough sleep helps you recover and energizes you.

8. More muscle = more calories burned each day. Build it.

9. Portion control. Try the Fitbit, SlimKicker or FitDay to track how many calories are going in and track energy expended. If you don’t write it down, you’ll get it wrong. You’ll always get it wrong, yet you’ll never eat less than you’re supposed to. You’ll always eat more than you’re supposed to. Write! It! Down! (Oh, and if you choose the Fitbit, please go to AllThatChazz.com and click the Fitbit link on the right to grab it so they send me a few dollars to support the blogs and podcasts. Thanks!)

10. Eliminate processed foods. They’re full of chemicals and crap and sweeteners that don’t help you and often make you want to eat more than you should. Non-foods are designed to make you want to eat more non-foods.

11. Instead, eat lots of green, leafy vegetables with as much variety in color as you can. (Preferably organic and wash it well.)

12. I watch portions on everything but vegetables. I can eat as many salads as I want  (no croutons) and I use a little Greek yogurt for salad dressing. Seeds are good. Use caution when adding nuts. They’re awesome nutrition in small doses. They’re too much of a good thing if you eat too many and you can get to “too many” very quickly.

13. Daily walks outside and more friendly social interaction is good for you. If not, you’re a pasty-faced, Vitamin D-deficient Unabomber.

14. Start thinking of food as medicine to fuel your machine. Don’t live to eat. Find hobbies and pleasant distractions to fill the void.

15. Do not eat mindlessly in front of the TV. By the end of Game of Thrones, you’ll wonder where all the chips went. Stretch in front of the TV or while reading if you need to veg out.

16. Think like a thin person and be that. Thin people don’t go back for thirds.

17. Plan ahead for meals. If you don’t know what you’re eating at your next meal, you will wing it and you will make bad choices on the fly. Don’t just write down what you did eat. Write down what you will eat.

18. Sunday is a good day to get your cooking done for the week. I cook chicken breasts ahead of time. Baggies and Tupperware and freezer space are your friend.

19. Drink more water to flush your system. While exercising or in hot weather, drink more. (How much to drink is still surprisingly controversial. There’s a lot we still haven’t figured out.)

20. Be kind to yourself. Make sure you take time for you and make your new lifestyle a priority as an example to your children and so you’ll be happier. Put your exercise on the family calendar, just as you would a doctor’s appointment. It’s equally important and may help you avoid future doctor’s appointments.

21. Desk worker? Get a treadmill desk or a standing desk. Move more. Sedentary people die young. Fat, sedentary people die younger, receive fewer promotions, are thought (unfairly) to be less intelligent, are often socially isolated, lead less interesting lives, have less money and aren’t as happy. It sucks, but you know it’s true.

22. Focus on what you should do instead of what you shouldn’t do. Do that, and you’ll be less likely to let your appetite drive your life. I lost a lot of weight. I gained it back when I started to think about how deprived I was. Deprived of a brownie now is better than feeling deprived because you feel too self-conscious to go to the beach all summer.

23. Get over entitlement. When I feel down, I “deserve” a treat. When things go well, I “deserve” a reward. Treats and rewards were always chocolate croissants. Under those errors in thinking, when isn’t a good time to chow down? 

24. Scrub your environment of things that tempt you. If there are no chocolate croissants in the house, I can’t eat them at midnight and hate myself when the acid reflux hits at 1 a.m. If you don’t bring it into the house, you can’t eat it. Therefore, don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry and stick to your shopping list. A little discipline now, more sex later.

25. Focus on the positive so someday soon, you’ll like your mirror. Dignity is a great appetite suppressant.

26. Love yourself now. Overweight or underweight, taking better care of yourself is an act of love for yourself and others. If you decide you’re going to to hate yourself until you’re thin, you’ll eat more to self-medicate over those negative feelings. Don’t do that.  You want to live and live better. You want to be able to play with your kids more actively now so they won’t remember a childhood that was couch-centric. Exercise now so you can play on the floor with your grandchildren. I want you to live! I need the readers! Live, dammit! Live!

27. Put yourself out there. Report to someone. No matter what commercial diet plan you follow, they’ll pretty much all work, from Jenny Craig to Weight Watchers to Dr. Bernstein. The one thing they have in common is you report your progress to someone on a regular basis. Accountability helps. Dare it.

Weight loss and continued weight management is a key survival tool, even if the optimists are right and the apocalypse never comes. A heart attack is your own private apocalypse.

Still not sure? Please consider all those cans of food you’re stocking up on as you prepare for an earthquake. They are full of sodium. Get in better shape and lose the excess weight now and you won’t be trying to fill a prescription for blood pressure pills in the midst of a crisis that paralyzes your city.

This is the program I’m following. I feel better, look better, sleep better and I’m getting zombie ready. This approach might not be for you. There are thousands of diets out there. Find the one that works for you, get back in control and get help. I didn’t start to get under control until I realized I was an addict and I had to make the big decision. Your better, safer life is one good decision away. The trick is to keep making that good decision, minute to minute, each day. Good luck! I feel for you. I’m working on it, too.

Me B&W~ Robert Chazz Chute is the podcaster behind All That Chazz and Cool People Podcast. He is the author of eight books and This Plague of Days, a soon-to-be-released post-apocalypstic serial about a boy with Aspergers leading his family to safety during a plague that ravages the world. His websites are ChazzWrites.com, AllThatChazz.com, CoolPeoplePodcast.com, onlysixseconds.wordpress.com, and ThisPlagueofDays.com.

To prepare for the end, start with a new beginning

English: Schematic of a deadfall or cage trap....

English: Schematic of a deadfall or cage trap. The schematic was based on a schematic found in the book “SAS Survival Handbook” by John Wiseman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last episode of this season of The Walking Dead captured the problem perfectly: If you’re going to survive, you have to depend on other people and bring them together. The notion of the lone survivor is a dangerous and common fantasy. Preparedness has greater value than toughness. Community will save you and being a loner will kill you.

Sure there are mountain men out there who do survive alone…sort of. The problem with the lone survivor model is first you have to eliminate the psychotics and schizophrenics who are running around in the woods, but not really out of a rational choice they made. Next cut out the people who don’t slip in and out of civilization for supplies and rely on technology (bullets, radios, canned food, MREs, etc.,…). Those animal traps last forever, but unless you’re fashioning a wooden trap, somebody smelted the steel somewhere and at some point you might want to use a little WD40 instead of beaver skin grease.

Who does that leave? That family in Russia who spent generations out in the cold eating bark and didn’t know about World War II. Not optimum for most people. Still think you’re a tough guy? Who’s going to do the hunting and gathering when you twist an ankle or come down with a fever?

I think I’ve established how we need people, but what does emergency preparedness really mean?

Start with yourself: How’s your cardio? Can you change a tire without getting winded? Do you know how to do something useful other people don’t know how to do? One of my favorite post-apocalyptic novels is World Made By Hand. The hero is a musician (so he can provide entertainment) and but he’s most valued as a carpenter. The novel chronicles the conflicts that rise when a community is forced to go it alone, pool resources, trade and adapt to changing times in a world without an oil supply. (Check it out. Lots of interesting ideas in there, including the benefits of an outdoor kitchen when summer heat waves come.)

One of the lessons my family of survivors in This Plague of Days learns too late is that they’re better off working together, not just among themselves but with whoever else is left. Instead of defending just your home, you’ll do better and live longer working collaboratively to defend a neighborhood. The SAS Security Handbook has it right: the young and the very old are good for watching for strangers and dangers. Everyone else is on patrol duty. Instead of spending thousands of dollars fortifying your home to make it safe for a short time, get to know your neighbours, establish a sense of community, get some exercise and develop skills. Become a person of value to your community. When your wood stove burns your house down, you’ll have somewhere to go.

In building a network of friends and allies, you’ll be healthier. One of the predictors of a long and happy life is to be embedded in a caring, compassionate community. When one of those lone survivors shows up looking for supplies and trouble, he’ll be met with a group. And instead of shooting him, maybe he can show why he should be taken in. You don’t build a future out of endless violence. That’s civilization falling, not getting back up.

~ I’ve written eight books. My post-apocalyptic/plague/coming-of-age/Aspergers thriller, This Plague of Days, will be published soon.

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