Slate's newest feature, "The Survivalist" by David Shenk asks its readers to soberly contemplate seriously frightening scenarios. The Survivalist Fray has its elements of one-upmanship, such as RoyJaruk-18's contemplation of an Antarctic cruise wreck. But the majority of posts amplify Shenk's advice with more cheap and common-sense steps citizens can take to forestall catastrophe in the face of disaster.
If the earth starts shaking, MacAdvisor takes issue with the advice to shelter under a doorway:
Not to be mean or contrarian, but I think Mr. Shenk's advice to get in a doorframe is most certainly wrong. The American Red Cross "has not recommended use of a doorway for earthquake protection for more than a decade. The problem is that many doorways are not built into the structural integrity of a building, and may not offer protection. Also, simply put, doorways are not suitable for more than one person at a time."
Consider the last time you experienced a power failure in your home, which we have all experienced. Did you have to stumble around looking for flashlights? Did they work if you found them? Did you have a method to prepare food? Did you have canned food to last a few days? Did you have a system for family members to contact each other? Did you do anything different when the power came back?
In a large disaster, do you have the training and supplies to help your family members if they are injured and need first aid? Are you part of an organization that will help organize the response, or are you expecting others to help you?
If that's too complicated, you still might try Sarvis' disaster prep quiz: the "who's a bigger asshole" test.
Who's the bigger asshole? The guy who spends a couple of hours and $50 bucks assembling a "go bag" plus maybe a little continuity of life planning that he'll likely never use, or the guy who wanders aimlessly around town after a hurricane with his hungry kids in tow wandering what the hell to do with a stalled car and a visa card no one will take.
Rejecting the individualistic focus of the articles, ironocracy_now argues that disaster prep should be a collective endeavor:
Rather than posting links to the latest fashion accessories that may save your life assuming you have them with you and functional at the moment danger strikes, how about a frank discussion of the changes in mindset that will truly make us safer? How about a rundown of sustainable practices and methods of preparedness including how long items are useful for, how to accomplish secure storage, etc.?
Rising to the challenge, BenK offers a great suggestion – encouraging widespread EMT training as a basic civic duty.
Several readers raise arguments against preparing at all. Degsme thinks a little sensible paranoia spits on the notion of grace. TJA describes how too much common sense can ruin your chances of getting laid. According to NickD, survival depends more on the sensible use of ordinary resources, like a simple bicycle, than the acquisition of dedicated gear.
Ultimately, TheMaxFischerPlayers points out the best hope for educating the public – disaster prep aerobic videos (video link with sound).
Quit holding out on us. Share your own secret plan for withstanding the apocalypse in the Survivalist Fray. GA … 6:15pm PDT
Thursday, Sept. 7, 2006