Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Do disaster movies offer any way to prepare for a real disaster?

Photo by Avlxyz

Ordinary people need to pay attention to the disaster movies if they plan to survive real disasters. 

Few people react the way that actors do in the disaster movies. With so many luxuries, government infrastructures and advanced technological resources available, it will be easy for an ordinary person to fall apart in the event of a catastrophic  disaster or societal breakdown.

No one falls apart like a disaster movie hysteric who smashes the island's only radio, kills the survivors one-by-one or tosses the  only remaining granola bars into the sea! 

Losing your last granola bars will wake some people up. You have to be ready for folks to get hysterical and trash the food.

In one real world example, car navigation systems led some people to take abandoned forest service roads as shortcuts to better highways. Some survived, but barely, with only bits of food, little water and no communication capability. 

In a disaster movie, there would be psychotic mountain families, the hills would have eyes and Bigfoot would show up in there somehow. 

Now that's a survival scenario to make people wake up and think about some things!

The common wisdom  is to prepare for a period self sufficiency and to let the authorities take charge in the event of a disaster or crisis.  

This means keeping multiple disaster kits as advised by FEMA.
But here are many more survival skills that the common citizen needs to think about in the event of a truly devastating or long lasting crisis.

Will the men leave the toilet seat up? Do the women get to keep their press on nails in a disaster? What about big hair and mouthwash? Do people really start snogging after three days with no toothbrush? Someone has to set the rules and make sure that survivors stick to them!  

Have a plan for securing the home and neighborhood.
In a disaster, there are many neighborhood and workplace hazards such as rioters and looters, neighbors and co-workers with mental breakdowns and potentially dangerous pets that can go loose.

That's right. Fluffy, the loving, gentle pit bull is now a bulky little monster with teeth and powerful jaws. Your cat thinks you look tasty. Your neighbor thinks you are a government clone. And Joe the Plumber has an awful lot of guns and ammo.

Work, neighborhood, travel and household plans offer solutions for the unanticipated behavior of people and animals in crisis. 

The main point is to be prepared for well known people and pets to go through drastic changes in their behavior.

In a disaster movie, we think nothing of Stephen King-like people who hoard, turn into dictators and run with a pack of goons. In real life, we must account for potheads, drug dealers and organized buffoons. Without law and order, who is going to battle with those giant spiders or the dinocroc?

Be prepared for limited or no communication or power where
Anything goes. Cell phone towers or centralized communication facilities can be damaged. The family is spread out over miles. The children are in the hands of dicey school authorities if they are in school and not hanging out down by the slough, drinking Skyy Vodka and making out.

Stay in touch throughout the day so that the last known location and activity will be available. Think of a plan that might bring everyone together in one place without cell phones or smart phones.

In a disaster movie, fully 99 percent of an adult's time is spent trying to find the spouse and children, who invariably end up clinging to edge of a toppling, flooded building ready to drown while they tumble for hundreds of feet as they go up in a giant fireball of escaping volcanic gas. This sorry situation is always preceded by an argument between a spoiled, headstrong family member who has to go their own way.

Know first aid and CPR. The local Red Cross chapter has great classes for beginners or for refreshing older first aid and CPR skills. It is worth it to take a class or two.

In a disaster movie, there are always nubile, competent young doctors who manage to keep their fingernails clean despite having just emerged from an underground sewer. How did they come to be in the underground sewer? They were escaping the venomous, giant spiders who exploded all over them, covering them from head to toe in nasty goo that somehow seemed to disappear in the next scene.

Know how to start a fire and have the tools for safe, outdoor fire starting and maintenance. With no power or gas, having the skills or tools to make a wood fire is a basis for human survival, for cooking food and purifying water.

Yeah, right. Everyone hated smokers so much that all the smokers bought e-cigarettes. No one even has a car lighter any more, let alone a BIC to flick. If the contestants for "Survivor: Hukunuku Island don't bother to  learn how to make a fire before they show up, then what makes us think we know what we are doing?

 It's not like these bad boys are going to be lying around...

In a disaster movie, a crackling fire magically appears in two or three frames and a giant rabbit is sizzling and roasting over a spit. In real life, a full grown wild rabbit would bite the heck out of us. 

As for weapons, those pointed sticks, clicking ammo clips and high tech guns take training and experience. Let's face it, the only thing people know how to click is the TV remote and computer mouse.

These adorable Tardigrades live among us! Can you do battle with them or eat them?


In the disaster movies, even goofy Barbie turns into an instant commando, clicking ammo clips and shooting with precision like a Marine. And everyone knows how to climb up a thirty foot structure to escape raving zombies. Yeah. Right. This is because there are no old people in disaster movies, unless they get sucked into the burning vortex at the beginning.

There is a lot to learn before we start having any more disasters. Real world survival is getting more and more like the scenarios we see in disaster movies (minus  the aliens and giant snow spiders). But one thing is always going to be true: common sense will be in short supply, so be ready for serious foolishness and uncommon bad sense! 



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