- Certain survival skills and useful pieces of knowledge could be invaluable in the event of an apocalypse or other dangerous scenarios.
- You can stockpile food and water, but seeds might be more helpful.
- You’ll want to get out of large cities and towns.
Your first aid kit and emergency gallons of water might get you through a snowstorm or power outage, but what would you do if the apocalypse hit?
Being prepared for the worst-case scenario is always a good idea, so INSIDER spoke to Professor Lewis Dartnell, senior editor of Astrobiology journal and author of “The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Civilization in the Aftermath of a Cataclysm,” to learn what everyday people should do to make it through a potential world-ending disaster.
Notably, Dartnell stressed that a global catastrophe or apocalypse is extremely unlikely to occur during our lifetimes. But just because a world-ending situation may not be looming doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a crisis plan in place. These tips may be able to be applied to any dire situation in which you’re faced with limited resources.
Whether you’re looking to outlast the end days or just want to sharpen your survival skills, here are some tips to help you stay safe in the event of a major disaster.
You can stockpile food and water, but seeds might be more helpful.
In the event of an apocalyptic scenario, survivors will have to figure out how to feed themselves without commercial food products.
Although it might seem smart to start hoarding canned goods and water now, Dartnell advised that stockpiling isn’t really the wisest use of your time or money.
“I think it’s important to remember that you can stockpile all the canned food, bottled water, or other consumables that you like, but they will all run out, sooner or later,” he said.
What should you do instead? He said learning how to grow your own food and keeping a stash of seeds might be more helpful in the long term. Becoming self-sufficient now will definitely help in a post-grocery store world.
In the event of an apocalypse, you’ll probably want to get out of large cities and towns.
- Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Dartnell advised that after any collapse of civilization, survivors would do well to get out of urban areas.
“Modern cities are incredibly artificial environments, and they simply don’t function without electricity, water, and gas being pumped into them. Where would you go to find a natural supply of clean water in your city, or a patch of fertile ground that hasn’t been smothered over with concrete or tarmac?” he said.
If you want the best chance of surviving the end of civilization, he advises that you get out of the city as soon as you can.
You should try to find a rural area where you can live off the land.
- Laurin Rinder/Shutterstock
When the apocalypse strikes, it could be the perfect time to lace up your hiking boots and find a secluded spot in the countryside to set up camp.
“To start rebuilding, you’d be much better off finding a quiet rural location with fresh water, a nearby supply of timber, and arable land where you can start growing [food and trees],” advised Dartnell.
With fewer people around to compete for scarce resources like packaged food, water, and gasoline, relocating to a rural area might also help you avoid conflict with fellow survivors.
But if a zombie plague hits and you’re in a city, Boston could be one of the safer ones to be in.
- Gene Page/AMC
There’s no doubt that taking shelter in a rural hideout would be the ideal setup in the event of a zombie apocalypse. However, if you were to choose an urban area within the US, hunkering down in Boston, Massachusetts could be a decent option.
In a recent study, CareerBuilder’s analysis arm Emsi tried to determine which US cities would be the most and least likely to make it through a virus-based zombie apocalypse. The study scored the US’s 53 largest metropolitan areas on eight different factors in four categories: ability to defend against the virus, ability to contain the virus, ability to find a cure and ability to outlast the epidemic with an ample food supply.
Boston came out on top with strong scores across the board, but New York City was determined to be the worst urban spot in the US for surviving a zombie plague.
It’s actually easier to disinfect drinking water than you might think.
- Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock
No matter what disaster scenario you’re faced with, ensuring a steady supply of clean and safe driving water is crucial. Luckily, there are a few easy ways to turn potentially contaminated water into potable water using things you already have in your house.
“You can chemically disinfect suspect water by using kitchen bleach or even swimming pool chlorine – just make sure you dilute it enough and that there aren’t any other additives like fungicides. Just a few drops of a 5% liquid bleach solution that has sodium hypochlorite listed as the main active ingredient will disinfect a liter of water in an hour,” Dartnell explained.
If you live in a sunny climate, Dartnell also said you can use a method called solar disinfection to create safe drinking water. All you need to do is pour any suspect water into a clear plastic bottle and leave it in the bright sunshine for a day or so.
“The ultraviolet rays in the sunlight will shine right through and kill any waterborne pathogens,” he added.
Of course, these filtration methods can come with risks, especially if not done properly, and they should only be used in emergency situations.
You can potentially avoid infection by using unexpected first aid materials.
- Wikimedia Commons
With the protection of modern medicine, it’s easy to forget just how dangerous a simple cut or scrape can be. Dartnell pointed out that in a world without hospitals or antibiotics, avoiding infection would be one of your top priorities.
“You can prevent cuts and wounds from turning septic by disinfecting with alcohol, and if you’re able to scavenge any super glue it can be used to rapidly close a gash to prevent bacteria entering,” he told INSIDER.
Since many transmissible diseases are easily prevented by using soap, it might also be helpful to know how to make your own in the event of an apocalypse.
“Soap is easily made yourself by boiling animal fat with an alkali – such as potash extracted by trickling water through the ashes of a hardwood fire, or soda ash extracted from seaweed,” Dartnell explained.
Of course, none of this should be your go-to method for preventing infection, but this information could be useful in a situation in which you do not have access to standard medical supplies.
It’s important to choose the right kind of crops to plant.
Although you may be able to scavenge preserved food from abandoned supermarkets for a while (canned food can last for decades), sooner or later you are probably going to need to start growing food for yourself.
“You’d be best off finding ‘heirloom’ strains of cereal crops like wheat, rice, and maize,” said Dartnell. “Unlike the hybrid crops grown on most industrialized farms today, which also often rely on artificial fertilizers and pesticides, traditional heirloom varieties breed true, which means you can save some of the harvest from one year as seed corn for sowing the next.”
Make sure you also have access to arable land, a good supply of clean water for irrigation, and a safe place to store food away from pollution or vermin.
Consider picking up hobbies now that could benefit you in a post-apocalyptic world.
- Ian Gavan / Getty Images
Although Dartnell told INSIDER that an apocalyptic scenario is vanishingly unlikely to happen in our lifetimes, it might still be a good idea to pick up a few hobbies that could be helpful in a disaster situation.
Learning how to grow some of your own food or developing crafts like carpentry or metalworking will still be immensely enjoyable and satisfying even if you don’t end up using them in the end times, Dartnell added. It might also make sense to learn how to repair basic appliances and tools.
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.