I’ve never been a harbinger of doom. Nor have I subscribed to theories posited by those who are. Ever. Goth-girl that I am aside, I prefer to dwell (or at least try my best to) on the more positive side of things, even if it means forcibly yanking my head out of the dark spaces in which it often chooses to go; literally and figuratively.
So when it comes to post-apocalyptic, end-of-days, elemental level extinction (ELE) theories, I generally approach these with my ten-foot-pole in one hand, and a sack-full of grains of salt, in the other. Armed with idioms, I find strength to resist my morbid fascination and endless curiosity with such theories.
I take these precautionary measures and keep a safe enough distance from such theories lest I find myself sucked into the black hole of doomsday sayers and preppers; the likes of whom are often at the receiving end of my snarky chortles. Their actions and obsessions are perfect fodder for derision, due to the extremeness of their beliefs.
Their preoccupation with apocalyptic scenarios has them so fixated, that they waste their lives away (at least, in my opinion) preparing for what they believe to be “eventualities.”
The times, they are a-changing
However…in recent weeks, beginning with the 5.7 magnitude quake that struck Manila on June 24 and up to the recent post-typhoon Glenda days, I have found myself thinking more and more of the “what ifs.” The times are changing, and the world’s natural cycles are off their rocker. Scientists report that the moon is phasing differently, and the sun’s cycles are erratic. Global weather has gone to the dogs, and we are all left going “HUH???”
The quake, which had its epicenter in the city of Batangas but was very much so felt in Manila, had everyone buzzing about “the big one.” It was a portent of mega-shakers to come, and supposedly, soon. The nation has tried to prepare, since then. TRIED TO being the operative phrase. They say countless buildings need to be refitted to get into quake-proof shape. I say, with what money? Will the government shoulder the refitting of these privately owned structures? We all know the answer to that. So we wait, and we shudder the thought.
The typhoon had me on the streets, as soon as the howler subsided, in search of food. I was unprepared for Glenda and her aftermath: Winds so intense they knocked down or uprooted everything in their path, leaving the Metro sans power for several days.
Rammasun – Glenda’s international code name and Thai word for “god of thunder” – came to Manila to play tumbang preso with electric posts and trees, and jolen with glass panes on houses and building alike (I did not like this god very much for doing that.) Like a schoolyard bully, the typhoon had us all we cowering in fear; feeling helpless in the face of its wrath.
Blank stares and the last roast chicken
That day, I roamed the streets with others – blank stares on most their faces – likewise in search of food. There was none to be had. All eateries, whether big chain restaurant or hole-in-the-wall carinderia, were closed for the day; and understandably so. Broken glass was everywhere, turning the streets of my side of Makati into a veritable crystal beach. The only place for something to eat was the grocery; where check-out lines were as long as tempers were short. Not a good combination on any given day, but especially on this one.
The grocery’s rotisserie was the one outlet selling cooked food; and that line stretched even longer than the check-out lines. It seemed there were numerous others who – like me – were reliant on electricity to cook. People shot dagger looks at each other over the last piece of roast chicken, and fights threatened to break out any minute. The rotisserie attendant (sweating profusely and hopefully not onto the chicken) looked as stressed as he was haggard, now having become a negotiator, of sorts, and not just a chicken-chopping employee.
My unpreparedness hit me like a ton of brick. And this was just the aftermath of a Category 3 tropical storm (granted, early news reports pegged the casualties at 38 lives, with half a million folk displaced; figures which have since risen) This was not the zombie apocalypse. Nor was it a super volcano or asteroid impact ELE. It was neither flu pandemic, nor solar storm. A world market collapse did not take place, nor did a Timewave Zero or Web Bot scenario.
The doomsday preppers came to mind as I trudged through the debris-filled streets; and then again, as I waited in endless lines at the check-out, and once more at the rotisserie. Their efforts may be extreme verging on ridiculous, but at least they were prepared. I didn’t even have a stock of food to last one day; for me or my cats. Tsk. Heaven forbid I find myself cat-nibalizing. Or the other way around (yikes.)
An ounce of prevention (is better than fighting over the last chicken)
Convinced that I had to be more prepared than this (lest I find myself throwing punches at the rotisserie) I have researched on some survival tips for disaster situations, extreme or otherwise.
The site Ready.gov (and a few other sites I found) gives the following tips.
Things to have prepared:
• Water, computed at one gallon per person per day, with a supply to last at least three days
• At least a three-day supply of non-perishable, ready-to-eat food. Other sites peg the supplies of food and water at 90 days, for serious prepping.
• Battery-powered radio
• Extra batteries for both radio and flashlight
• Extra gas for your car, if you have one. Always keep a full-tank of gas in your car, as well.
• First aid kit with basic medicines and prescription medication
• Eyeglasses should always be kept handy
• Whistle, to signal for help
• Dust mask that is heavy-duty enough to help filter contaminated air
• Plastic sheeting and duct tape to help seal off your shelter
• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for be used for personal sanitation
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
• Manual can opener for food
• Local maps (because Google maps will presumably be down)
• Emergency numbers and addresses of disaster response agencies (you may need your map to get there)
• Cell phone with chargers, power bank or solar charger
• If you have small children/babies: Infant formula, infant food and diapers
• If you have pets: Pet food and extra water for your pet
• Important family documents such as passports, copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.
• Emergency reference material such as a first aid book.
• Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person.
• Complete change of clothing including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes.
• Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper. Household bleach is a good water sanitizer. Nine parts water to one part bleach makes for a good disinfectant. In an emergency situation, or in face of a depleted water supply, you can treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water.
• Fire extinguisher
• Matches in a waterproof container
• Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
• Paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
• Paper and pencil (for leaving notes and documenting your experience. Who knows, it may be the next blockbuster TV series.)
• Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Make sure to keep your supplies updated, especially food items. A good tip would be to write down the expiration dates or food shelf life on storage containers. Remember to consume the food and replenish when you can, so stocks are always fresh. Also, check expiration dates and throw out anything that may have gone bad.
It is also essential to prepare “bug out packs” – backpacks or duffel bags – containing these supplies good for at least three days.
Not the want to join the ranks of seemingly crazed preppers, but neither do we want to find ourselves fighting over the last piece of roast chicken.