Surviving the apocalypse is a very popular theme these days. Everyone seems to ask the question…‘what if?’ Whether this question is driven by forward thinking and necessity, or just out of a great (if not a little morbid) desire to see the end of the world, it cannot be denied that the subject is being considered, even fleetingly, by almost every human being on the planet.
There are people from all walks of life, across the world, who are carrying out their own preparations, covering numerous scenarios. Some will prepare at low level; ensuring that they have extra stocks of food and water in their basements, and a plan for how best to secure their homes. Others are going into full apocalypse prep mode and ploughing huge sums of money into their front row seat for Armageddon; building shelters and bunkers. Stockpiling weapons, food, water and even attending training camps, which seem to be growing in popularity.
So, over the years I’ve received many emails, some of them asking the inevitable question…‘what would YOU do, Luke?’. To anyone who’s read my books, I would have thought that the answer was obvious. But just to be clear, here are the fundamental considerations that I believe must be taken to ensure people have even the slightest chance of surviving the end of civilisation. I hope it helps;
METHOD: This is the first thing to consider. How is the world about to end?
- Asteroid – then what’s the point in prepping? If a T-Rex couldn’t survive it, what chance does ‘Survival Sid’ have while sitting in his cave?
- Nuclear War – would you want to survive?
- Plague, and yes…Zombies – survivable if you know how.
TIME: A time appreciation is always important. Knowing how long you have to prepare before the end cometh, will dictate what is feasible and what is not when making your plan to outlive the majority of the human race. The more notice you have, the better prepared you can be. But it is also good to consider the worst case scenario, and be prepared for a short ‘flash-to-bang’ between normality and hell on Earth.
LOCATION: There are two factors to this consideration….
Firstly, your current location. If you are in an urban area, then you need to get out. Again, this depends on ‘TIME’, but urban areas are the worst places to be during an apocalypse:
- Asteroid – get shit faced, party and fuck hard. Indulge your fantasies and go out with a bang.
- War – cities are a great big ‘shoot me first’ target and the first to be hit during a nuclear strike.
- Plague – close proximity to other people hugely reduces the chances of survival. Everyone has seen how easily a common cold can spread in heavily populated areas. So imagine some mutated virus with a fatality rate of 100%?
- Zombies – we all know how they like to hang out in the towns and cities. And it isn’t for the shopping. They’re a hungry, stubborn bunch and hard to shift. Let them keep the cities and get out of there.
However, if you are trapped in an urban area, then consider turning your house, flat, office into a fortress:
- Approaches – think about the ground surrounding your stronghold. The harder you make it for someone/thing to get to your doors and windows, the better your chance of survival.
- Doors and Windows – don’t just place boards over the weak points, barricade them. Heavy equipment and entanglements will help slow any advance and will give depth to your defences.
- Obstacles – use anything you can to create barriers to slow and restrict anything that manages to bash their way through the outer defences. If they’re entangled, they’re easily dealt with…
- High-Ground – if you have stairs, destroy them and deny access to the upper floors from the ground.
- Fall Back Position – if your defences are compromised and your fortress is overwhelmed, have a plan to bug-out, and where to.
The second consideration is, where you need to be.
- Distance – simply heading out to the rural areas isn’t enough. Many towns are surrounded by green belts and it wouldn’t take much for whatever is causing all the people in the cities and towns to die, to seep out into the surrounding countryside.
- Ground – think about the topography; hilly and mountainous regions tend to be less densely populated. High ground gives you a number of advantages. It affords a better field of vision and allows you advanced warning of anything approaching.
- Defence – it’s easier to defend if your attacker is having to fight upwards.
- Remote – get away from the beaten track/road. Most living people avoid hills, because they hurt! The more remote you are, the less likely you are to have problems. People + People = drama 🙂
EQUIPMENT: This needs to be realistic. There’s cost involved and of course, availability. Here in the UK, firearms are hard to come by. So, if you live in Norwich, adding a number of machineguns and sniper rifles to your list is just a fantasy (unless you have the time to pop across to Birmingham and go to the ISIS store). Most weaponry will need to be made from everyday items.
Personal Equipment. Try to keep it light and practical. The more you intend to carry, the slower you will move:
- Weapons – bats, knives, clubs, tools, pointed sticks etc.. will generally be as good as it gets, so figure out what best suits your needs, and learn how to use them.
- Clothing – you’re not packing a wardrobe here. Keep it light/minimal and practical, covering the most extreme eventualities, such as cold and rain/snow. You survive the zombies, only to die of hypothermia? Wanker!
- Food and Water – it’s important that you stay hydrated and nourished, but you’re not going to travel far if you’re carrying a weekly big shop on your back. High carbs and protein, with plenty of fats for energy. It doesn’t need to be gourmet, it’s just fuel.
- Shelter – a lightweight shelter and sleeping bag are recommended. If you can get some rest without being exposed to the elements, then you can operate more effectively.
- A plan – where are you headed? What will you do when you get there? What if your primary plan doesn’t work out? Actions-on and alternatives are important.
Base Equipment. If there’s time and money, and you have the perfect location already secured in advance, then you can stock it with anything you feel you may need, but there are essentials:
- Food and Water – large stockpiles for a prolonged stay. Ensure that they are long life items and not likely to perish in the first few months. Tins, jars and bottles.
- Power – generators are always a good idea, providing that they don’t give away your position. However, fuel is then an added consideration.
- Medical – the ability to treat simple ailments and injuries is important. In addition to basic medical equipment, dressings, drugs…. knowledge is also recommended. Medical courses and manuals are extremely valuable and can mean the difference between life and death.
- Comms – being able to find out what is happening in the outside world is vital, even from a psychological sense. With no knowledge of what state the rest of the world is in, individuals could easily lose hope and touch with reality. This can also lead to the need to see for yourself, but curiosity always kills the cat.
- Tools and Construction – essential if you are intending to be in place for a long period. Materials will be required to make your hideaway more secure and comfortable. Defences will need building/digging. And of course, a latrine is needed so be sure to pack a shovel or you will be knee deep in your own shit within a week.
- Misc. – if there is time and space, then comforts can be considered. TVs and PlayStations aren’t practical, but additional equipment for sleeping, cooking and lighting… think of a good camping trip and what would make your stay more comfortable. If you have space, time and a means of carrying it to your base location, then load up with what you can.
PERSONNEL: This is more important than you may realise. You will need to be totally honest with yourself and you may not like what you discover. Morality and sentimentality will need to be tossed aside, because don’t forget, there isn’t going to be room for everybody and this is about survival, not inclusivity! Beyond your immediate family, which goes without saying, you need to consider who to involve in your survival plan. The best way to sift through your nearest and dearest list is to be ruthless and ask yourself the same question for every person you consider… ‘what are you brining to my table?’ Skillsets are important:
- Survival – the ability to hunt, trap and live of the land will increase your chances of survival. Supermarkets will be picked clean early on in an apocalypse, and foraging in urban areas could become extremely dangerous when it’s survival of the fittest. The last thing you want is to become the main course of someone’s evening meal because you were looking for pineapple chunks in Tesco.
- Medical – at least one person in your group needs to have basic medical skills. A doctor would be great, but simple first aid experience is more likely, but extremely vital.
- Building – knowledge of how to use building materials will be important if you’re intending to be there for the long term. Electrical and mechanical skills will also be very useful.
- Tactical/Strategic – not everyone is Rommel, but to have someone in your group who can read the ground and think tactically would be an advantage. Especially if other survivors are considered as a threat. Even low level tactics such as light and noise discipline, a guard/early warning system may not always be considered by most people. Simple tactical considerations can improve survival chances.
But there are other virtuous considerations:
- Leadership – essential! Who will be the group leader? In a survival situation, it can not be left to democracy. Clear and decisive thinking will be required, especially in the early stages.
- Resourcefulness – the ability to utilise anything and everything will mean the difference between life and existence. Imaginative people can see what others cannot, and should not be underestimated within the group.
- Intelligence – the ability to think and solve problems will be the deciding factor of whether your group survives or not.
- Humanity – a group made up only of cold and ruthless killers would not last long. They would soon turn on each other, so there needs to be a balance, a voice of reason in each member of the group. Not everything needs to be killed and eaten.
- Psychopaths and untrustworthy types need not apply. You don’t need to be looking over your shoulder every two minutes, wondering what the group wanker is up to.
- Well balanced and motivated people with reasoning skills stand a better chance. A group of people who can plan and problem solve, without resorting to murder and betrayal are preferred.
PREPERATION & PLANNING:
- No plan survives first contact with the enemy, so ensure that you have asked yourself ‘what if?’ for every phase of your plan. In the military, we call these ‘actions-on’.
- Have a procedure/alternative worked out for every eventuality. Work out what to do in various scenarios, such as blocked routes, attack, separation, contact with other survivors…etc. Discuss them with your group and whenever possible, rehearse them.
- Plan your locations and routes, and then plan alternatives. The roads during an apocalypse will be chaotic, so have a plan-A to Z for how to get to your final destination. Safe havens and lay-up positions need to be plotted if the journey is likely to take a number of days.
- Prepare yourself mentally and physically. Personal fitness cannot be underestimated. There will be times when your endurance and determination will be all that you have to run on, and mentally weak and physically out of shape people aren’t likely to get far when the shit hits the fan.
- The more in-depth and detailed the plan, then the more likely you are to be successful in your attempt to survive.
SUMMARY: Be realistic. If you don’t have the money and time, then an underground bunker complex capable of withstanding a direct nuclear strike isn’t feasible. Ninja throwing stars and Samurai swords aren’t practical. And not everyone has the survival skills of the SAS. Plan to your capabilities and available assets.
Don’t carry any unnecessary baggage (physically and emotionally). Think about what you really need, and not what you would like.
Be objective and ruthless; do you really need to bring that annoying second cousin, the one with the bad body odour and never shuts up? That uncle who fucks up everything they do, what’s his use? Do you really like your neighbours enough to include them in your fight for survival? Remember…‘What are you bringing to my table?’
Plan, plan…and plan. The more comprehensive (and realistic) the higher your chances of outliving most of the other seven billion people on this planet.