Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Eschaton Awareness: Survival Kits, Part II

The American Red Cross recommends that a survival kit include the following:

Battery-powered Radio
Plastic Sheeting and Duct Tape (for shelter construction)
Food, including
* Ready-to-eat canned meals, meats, fruits, and vegetables;
* Canned juices; and
* High-energy foods (granola bars, energy bars, etc.).
Water (at least one gallon)
Medications (a three-day supply of prescription medications)
First Aid Supplies, including wound dressings, antibiotic ointment packets and antiseptic wipe packets, aspirin, a pair of non-latex gloves, scissors, and instructions

They recommend additionally:
* Paper plates and cups, plastic utensils
* Non-electric can opener
* Personal hygiene items, including a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, brush, soap, contact lens supplies, and feminine supplies
* Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)
* Change of clothes and shoes, including a long sleeved shirt and long pants, as well as closed-toed shoes or boots
* Extra pair of glasses

Red Cross goes on to specifically discourage the inclusion of "weapons, toxic chemicals, or controlled drugs unless authorized by a physician."

I feel that the Red Cross recommendations are excellent - for a minor, regionally localized disaster. People sitting out a hurricane might need only have three days of medication, a few bandages, and a gallon of water. However, for a civilization-ending event, the weight of some of that gallon of water would better used for iodine tablets, a firestarter, and a metal pot, equipment which could be used to purify unlimited amounts of water, given access to fuel. This kit also does not help the city-bound survivor escape the urban areas safely, which is unnecessary for a minor disaster but of critical importance during an Eschaton event. Heavy canned food is emphasized, giving the impression that the survivor will be staying in place until things return to normal or he is "rescued."

Finally, the specific injunction against weapons could prove extremely misguided in a civilization-threatening event. We have very little information on human behavior during Eschaton events, but the data from regional disasters (troubling enough on its own) probably underpredicts the willingness of humans to resort to violence if they perceive that society is over and their survival is endangered. Consider also the groups that have invested in Eschaton preparations (survivalists). I do not want to be at their mercy when the world ends.


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