Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Eschaton Awareness: Survival Kits, Part I

A priliminary stage in civilization reconstruction after an Eschaton event would be initial physical survival. Many survival kits are currently marketed. What can we infer about the state of Eschaton awareness or preparedness from the contents of various survival kits?

The first survival kit I will consider is the Special OPs Survival Necklace, avaiable from Special Forces survival gear.

A minimal survival kit, including a compass, firestarter, signal mirror, whistle, ID tag, wire saw, and a tiny flashlight. The marketer suggests adding fishhooks, dental floss, a condom (to use as a water bottle), and tinder.

The contents of this kit indicate a mindset that is planning for an unpleasant detour, not the Apocalypse. Items such as signal mirrors, whistles, and flares are included in survival kits with the assumption that help is available, if only one can signal for it. To the hiker lost in Joshua Tree this weekend, help will indeed be available if he can hold out for a few hours. However, this is not a safe assumption after a civilization-ending or even civilization-threatening event.

A compass is helpful for navigation only if one has a destination in mind.

Packets of storm matches are commonly included in survival kits. Fire could be considered a Foundational Technology - it provides heat and morale, aids in food preparation, and sanitizes water better than any chemical. The packet of storm matches on my desk has twenty-five matches in it. This might be enough to save the life of a lost hiker, but is a laughably short-term solution for the survivors of the Apocalypse. Of course, flint and magnesium or tinder firestarters will probably only light a few hundred fires before they are used up or wear out, but this gives the survivors time to establish and practice with sustainable methods of fire starting.


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