What Would You Do?
You wait a while, not concerned. But a while turns into hours. The air conditioning does not work. Your internet isn't available and your phone just died. You have gone outside to try and start your car but it won't work either. Noone's cars or trucks work. You only have what is available around you, your two feet, whatever is in your undrivable vehicle and non-electric house. Think about the people around you. Are you with coworkers on the fifth floor off a highway? Are you doing algebra with your 12 year old homeschooled son? Are you on your bi-weekly commute to a yoga class thirty miles away?
Would you be okay?
I'm sharing this story because I think there are two reactions to it. There are the people who stop and consider what they would do in that situation, start grinding the gears and starting a plan. They mentally inventory what they have in their trunk, the walk home, the safest route off the main roads, etc. The other type just rolls their eyes and says no emergency would ever be that drastic. Yes the power might go out, but phones and cars would still work and why would you even ask such a horrible question?
I'm not asking if it was real. I am asking if you would be okay.
I do not think we should live in fear of such things, that would be a very dreadful existence. But to think such an event would never happen is just as dreadful. Because things do go wrong all the time and so many people are not even mildly prepared for them. This example of an EMP isn't very likely (I think at their peak every 11 years Solar Flares only offer a 12% chance of causing such a mass electronic disruption) but even so, there are diabetics driving forty minutes every day to work in their flip flops without any extra insulin in a cooler or cash in their wallets. If they had no power and could not get home? What would they do?
We are a society addicted to comfort and convenience, and that is a blessing, but it may also be a curse. To many people the idea of having to walk home twenty miles is unthinkable. They do not have sneakers in the trunk on their car, a first aid kit in the glove box, or any idea how to defend themselves or avoid being a victim. They do not carry cash or spare water and food when they leave home. Most of us just expect everything to be super all the time. We are addicted to everything going as planned.
The Titanic was also called unsinkable, shit happens.
Since becoming a homesteader—and since I am a single woman living a rural life—I have lost any illusion of things going as planned. I never drive anywhere without everything I need to leave my vehicle and walk home. I carry three days worth of food, water, a water filter and have a loaded backpack with a tent, sleeping bag, hiking boots, extra clothes, first aid gear, phone charging devices, lights, the works... 99.9% of the time this is overkill. But it has to be there. You break down sixteen miles from home out here in a place without cell reception or any houses you are hoofing it. You do not sit and wait. You go find a house, flag down a friendly truck, whatever it takes to get back to your farm and animals. I usually travel with a dog and a weapon, as well. Several weapons. And not because I expect the world to implode into a Mad Max chaos, but because it seems irresponsible to not be ready to get back to my farm. My farm is my whole life.
This is not at all how I lived, drove, or thought before I started homesteading. Not at all. But today it is. I think because I can't make myself forget reality anymore. And by reality I don't mean bills and blog comments - I mean things like food, shelter, water, and community. When you learn these things are what matter you guard them like a mother wolf.
And I urge you to consider such a situation where you can't rely on anyone but yourself and your good body to be safe. Would you be okay? What would you do? And if you think the idea is terrifying why is that? It's perfectly okay to be scared! What is important is you make small steps every day to be a little safer, a little more prepared. Because one day that storm may knock out power for two weeks. Would you even be able to feed your family if the pipes stopped running and the grocery stores were closed?
Maybe tonight you can throw a pair of sneakers, a bottle of water, some bandaids, and a powerbar in your car. If you do you are 90% better off than you were today. Maybe a blanket and set of jumper cables too? Perhaps it is time to start filling up the pantry with a couple jugs of drinking water, some pasta, and peanut butter. These are not freakish things to do and will not get you on a reality show on National Geographic. But they could make a bad day a lot safer.
So share your story. If RIGHT NOW the power went off and your car and phone did not work. What would you do? And if you aren't sure, write a fantasy version of what you would do if you had prepared for just such an event the night before. Because guys, this could be the night before.
I'll end with a paraphrased story I heard once:
If someone told you not to go to your town park because there was a werewolf there, would you believe them? "Of course not!" - you say - "Werewolves are not real!" Well what if two people told you there were werewolves in the park? What then? "No!" you say. Well, what if a dozen earnest people told you, without a sign of joking, that there were werewolves in the park. Would you believe then? Because, my dear fiend, the question at this point is not about the reality of werewolves.
The real question is: would you still go to the park? If any of this struck a chord - STRONGLY suggest you listen to this free podcast. It's called, "Holy Crap! I just found out everything isn't super!" If the name of the podcast, the intro sponsors, or the idea makes you uncomfortble still listen. This is not a whackjob with a tin hat. This is a guy helping people become personally responsible, get out of debt, quit miserable jobs and live a life of personal freedom. He's also one of the people who inspired me to follow my dream.