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I'm a firm believer that the government is the only vehicle that allows the people to act as a whole. The CDC is the federal government at its best and their post, Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse, is evidence of that.

CDC: Get a kit, make a plan, be prepared
CDC: Get a kit, make a plan, be prepared

This is good advice. My only complaint is there is no mention of weapons, nor how to assume a more active defense against zombies. However, given the mission of the CDC, I understand.

READ THIS NOW!

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We had a freakish snowstorm here last week. Reminded me that the little decisions we make every day could lead to tragedy. Here are some every day things you can do to lessen the chances of that happening:

  • Keep your gas tank full

    For some, a 1 hour drive home took 7 or more. You don't want to run out of gas when it's significantly below freezing, you're in the middle of a desert or a bad neighborhood.

  • Keep your cell phone charged

    When the poop hits the fan, you're going to be making a lot of calls and frequent references to your GPS map. The latter, especially, drains power. Make sure you walk out the door fully charged. Also, it wouldn't hurt to bring along a chord to charge up if you get the chance.

  • Keep abreast of the weather

    This has to be more than just listening to the updates on the eights. I mean, grok the weather. What are the experts predicting? How could the forecast vary? What is the worst case scenario? Act accordingly.

  • Keep abreast of the news

    Related issues can have a significant impact. Does your jurisdiction have enough budget for plowing? Is there unrest that could escalate in an emergency?

  • If in doubt, stay home

    Seriously, is what you're doing something for which you should risk your life?

This idiot's story is a case in point. Was going to work that day worth what he risked? I mean, c'mon, he made a dash across an interstate highway!

I strongly urge anyone who has yet to do so to read Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why, which I reviewed previously (Book Review: Deep Survival).

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The Undead have long been the subject of classes, even at the university level. I myself have taught several on the subject of area defense and removal strategies. I see now that the subject is making its way into the liberal arts realm: Exploring the undead: University of Baltimore to offer English class on zombies. I like the course description:

Is "Night of the Living Dead" a simple zombie film or a subtle antiwar statement? Precisely when did viral pandemic supplant nuclear radiation as the lead cause of zombification? And which sort of animated dead has the greater potential to frighten: shambler or sprinter?

I applaud this move.

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This is a constant subject of conversation: What could I have done to improve my chances once we had an outbreak of undead? If you knew for sure that it was coming, yes:

  • Build a fortress
  • Stock it with a lifetime supply of food and ammo
  • Heck, build a solar array and a reverse osmosis water purification plant

Truly, though, even with 20/20 hindsight, you'd've been an idiot to do that. Taking such steps would have meant completely writing off a normal life. If the end of the world never came, you'd be broke and probably lose contact with your kids after they leave the nest, seeking a normal life.

This is not to say, however, that you couldn't prepare in a way that would still be beneficial if you never encountered a single zombie in your lifetime. This is just general good advice.

  1. Get in shape: The ability to run long distances interspersed with quick sprints not only maintains a healthy cardio-vascular system, but also allows you to escape the hoards of undead giving you chase.
  2. Get regular checkups: The last thing you want in any TEotWaWKI situation is to experience a health issue. Make sure you're always up to date on your vaccinations, get your teeth checked every 6 months and pay special attention to foot health. Zed would just love it if you had a bad case of plantar fascitis.
  3. Know how to use and maintain a fire arm: First, get a lesson on how to fire a weapon. You're local gun shop or firing range should have classes. Once you're comfortable with that, buy something. Become an expert in how it works. Keep it clean.
  4. Understand your local weather patterns: This means more than just reading the weather report everyday. You need to be able to rely on more than just your newspaper and be familiar with the whole region. Quick, tell me, when does the first frost usually happen where you live?
  5. Be the map: I know, you're thinking, "I have no problems getting from point A to point B." I'm telling you, post-SHTF, your points A and B are going to change. Can you navigate off road? What are some terrain features that could impede your progress? What if you're half way to point B and learn you need to get your butt to point C?

Like I said, I believe this to be valuable advice whether or not the dead rise again.

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I will usually applaud efforts to prepare for the worst. Even just thinking about what you might do in a given scenario can help you make the right decisions in a stressful situation. This is something all individuals and families should be doing.

I get a little leery, though, when larger groups of people or, especially, political entities do so. I'm not saying that it cannot be done right; with careful planning and a reasoned and transparent prioritization process, it can be most effective. However, it's been my experience that this is rarely the case.

First of all, who is or is not to be protected is a critical decision that is frequently not clearly spelled out. Of course, not everyone can be covered. No one has infinite resources, so you have to limit your efforts. The reason why these limits are not made explicit is because of the deal making in deciding who is included and the bigotry in the exclusions.

Secondly, the lack of training and skill in those implementing the plans can make the situation worse than if nothing at all was done. The last thing you need is some jack-ass shooting of his mouth or gun at the wrong time and you'll have mass panic on your hands.

A case that worries me: Louisiana Cops Plan for “End of the World” Scenario.

Deen’s plan is to protect Bossier Parish’s vital resources, like food and gasoline, in the event of a catastrophic event, such as war or a terrorist attack. Deen said he had been thinking of the plan since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, reports Drew Pierson.

Under Deen’s plan, the police will use volunteers, supplemented with active public safety personnel, that will be dispatched to vital areas in Bossier to protect them from looters and rioters. Deen listed as examples grocery stores, gas stations, hospitals and other public meeting places.

Instead of normal riot equipment such as shields and batons, the volunteers will be armed with shotguns and have access to a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on a vehicle dubbed “the war wagon.” On February 20, the volunteers were trained in hand-to-hand combat techniques.

I think I'd be a little worried if I lived in Bossier Parish.

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OK, before the first wise guy comments, I know winter is nearly over. I had considered writing this article in November, but I realized that it's too late at that point to prepare. You need to start now if you want to be ready for the next winter.

Stop and think!
Take Time to Plan!

These are some basic steps to help you make it through the cold, dark months:

  1. Plan for the long haul. Assume you're going to be isolated, without chance of resupply, for at least 6 months. Sure, this may be more than enough even for the Canadians, but you shouldn't count on a normal winter pattern. Make sure you have enough food, water, heating supplies, sheltering material and entertainment (don't forget about mental health). Even if you over plan, you have left over stuff. That's certainly better than the alternative.
  2. Establish more than one location. That effort you did up in step 1, repeat it at least once more. The last thing you want is to be forced to abandon your shelter in the middle of sub-zero temperatures with no other place to go. This is a very real possibility: You could be attacked by others or maybe you just got careless and burnt your house down. Having the option may save you from risking your life unnecessarily.
  3. Do not reveal your presence. Smoke discipline is a year-round skill you probably have already mastered. Snow tracking, though, can trip you up. Try your hardest not to leave any tracks in the snow around your shelter. I realize that this might not always be possible. Judicious use of hedges can hide your trails in such cases. If that doesn't work, then go to the other extreme. Leave tracks all over to make it appear that large numbers of folks frequent the area.

There is no guarantee when it comes to winter. The meteorological gods may be against you such that no planning would suffice. However, if you think it through ahead of time, you can increase your odds.

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It is becoming clear that World War Z could have been prevented. Between ludicrous positioning of medical research labs and the less than stellar performance of the authorities, it's a wonder that humanity is not extinct.

We now learn that scientists had developed a model of a potential zombie outbreak before SHTF. This is documented in When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modeling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection (pdf). The conclusion of this is quite prescient:

In summary, a zombie outbreak is likely to lead to the collapse of civilisation, unless it is dealt with quickly. While aggressive quarantine may contain the epidemic, or a cure may lead to coexistence of humans and zombies, the most effective way to contain the rise of the undead is to hit hard and hit often.

The inference in the paper is that the collapse of civilization is equivalent to extinction. It did not seem to occur to the authors that a new civilization would arise from the ashes, albeit one largely based on the world as we knew it. Truly, that which did not kill us, made us stronger.

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The consensus is that so many random factors played out to our disadvantage that preventing the outbreak that led to TEotWaWKI was impossible. We should be thankful that humanity survived, even in its much reduced state.

I'm thinking, perhaps not. Here's a story from a 2009 edition of the Washington Post: Infectious Diseases Study Site Questioned . That's smart, "locate a ... research facility for highly infectious pathogens in a tornado-prone section of Kansas."

I'm hoping that the catastrophe culled out those with such flawed thought processes. As for the present, I would rather we didn't engage in such research, though I suppose we could learn valuable lessons. We must assume, though, that the worst will happen. Not only should we not locate these facility in dangerous regions, they should be isolated from the population, too.

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I was at a birthday feast for that old geezer Javi. I kid! He's 5 years younger than me, but I'm far better looking. We go way back, having served together in the final clearing operations on the east coast.

Anyways, we were all digging into some excellent Rognons de Veau like it was our last meal. — That's veal kidneys for you philistines out there. — I noted that, in the old days, this probably wouldn't have been on the menu since most people turned their noses up at offal. In fact, I commented, there does not seem to be any picky eaters or even vegetarians these days. Well, what a conversation that sparked! Several interesting tidbits came out of this.

First, about half the people present claimed to be former picky eaters, one was even a vegan, but they changed their habits out of necessity. If survival means having to eat that piece of cow liver, you will hold your nose and do it. For many, their dietary restrictions were a result of not wanting to try new stuff. They discovered that most formerly avoided foods were actually quite good.

Second, and most surprising, several at the table new of people who died as an indirect result of their pickiness. It was never a direct choice of death over okra. Rather, having passed up nutritious oddities, they either didn't have the strength when it was needed or took ill. Their inability to master the gag reflex cost them their lives.

Finally, the conversation ended when I asked if anyone partook of human flesh. All quickly said no, but there were a few downcast eyes and talk changed to the upcoming home stand of the Rappahannock Raiders.

For the record, I never ate people. However, I was never in a position where my life depended on that choice. I don't think I'd have a problem doing it. I will eat anything. And I am a leg man. I'd get hung up, though, on how to ethically harvest that food.