Sam Sheridan’s book, The Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse, is the real thing. This is a guy who wants real answers to important questions, and is willing to go to great lengths to get those answers. What do I actually need to know how to do in case of a serious crisis? Will I be able to handle it? Or am I going to vapor-lock at the time I most need to act? Sheridan is not content with idle speculation or ivory tower thought exercises. He goes out and finds experts to train him in various types of combat and survival skills.
People love to talk about what they will do during the “zombie apocalypse.” The Disaster Diaries is full of such scenarios. They are very vivid and surprisingly moving. For instance, Sheridan imagines his wife and child trapped in a car, crying for help. The protector role is motivating for him, and perhaps for many of us who won’t necessarily bother with emergency preparedness for ourselves alone. If we’re not prepared, we become burdens to others. We may find ourselves waiting a long, long time for public services that never arrive. If we are prepared, we can be useful to others. My neighbor is 96, and the guy three doors down from him is 90. It seems legit to me that they might need an extra hand. Planning around vulnerable neighbors helps spur me to plan enough for my own household.
There are three parts to emergency preparedness: the supplies, the skills, and the mindset. Most of us stop before acquiring any of those things. I know from experience that my first reaction under surprise is to stand rooted to the spot and scream uncontrollably. I can’t pretend to myself that I am very good at keeping a cool head during a crisis. I can make up for this ridiculous (yet common) foible by overcompensating in other areas. I have a solid level of confidence in my gear and my fitness level. I know how many hours I can walk and how much I can carry. I know how much food and water I consume under exertion in a given time span. I know I can climb a fence. I know how much I can lift and how fast I can sprint. (Not very). I doubt I would do well in hand-to-hand combat, but I have escaped physical attack a few times when it mattered. Reading a book like The Disaster Diaries helps me fill in a broader schema of the kinds of things it would be helpful to know.
We love to talk about that ol’ zombie apocalypse. I’ve heard people talk about how they would get a flamethrower or a tank. Oh, would you now? From where? Your garage? I like to ask these same people whether they have three days of water stored. Not only do my friends always answer No, they aren’t even sure how much they should have. (A gallon a day per person). They don’t have food, they don’t have first aid kits. They don’t even have extra pet food. Sheridan would probably agree with me that if we like fantasizing so much, we would do well to visualize something both more specific and more practical.
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I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.