A recent Fark thread about zombies brought disaster preparedness to the fore in my mind.
Specifically, it made me think about locations that, at first glance, may seem to be an excellent place to flee to in a disaster, but are actually a very bad idea.
One of the prime examples is a big-box store, like Wal-Mart, Costco, etc. Here’s my analysis:
1.Large, windowless building. Rolling metal shutters allow entrances to be secured. Doors only open outwards, and are made of steel.
2.Substantial reserves of food and water.
3.Large, flat roof makes it easy to observe (and by extension protect) the surrounding environs.
4.Large steel racks of goods can be used for various other purposes, including elevated sleeping platforms and barriers.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? However, if there’s a major disaster, there’s numerous cons as well:
1.Most people are poorly prepared for an emergency, and so will flock to such a store if a disaster is imminent1. They’ll probably head in even greater numbers to such a store during a disaster (witness all the looting that took place in New Orleans after Katrina, for example).
2.These stores have huge amounts of perishable products (e.g. meats, milk, etc.) that will rapidly spoil if the power to their freezers is interrupted. One would need to quickly remove these products from the store and deposit them a suitable distance away before they spoil, particularly if one is going to remain there for more than a day or two. Spoiled food can attract predators and harbor diseases.
3.Sanitation is a problem. While one can flush a toilet by pouring water into it (useful if the water service is out), this wastes considerable amount of water. It also assumes that the sewer system is still operational, which may not necessarily be the case. Big-box stores tend to be surrounded by enormous parking lots, and digging a latrine through asphalt is quite challenging.
While a big-box store may appear to be an attractive place to go during a disaster, I submit that it’s a bad idea.
To me, it makes much more sense to be reasonably prepared at home — a week or two of food and water per person doesn’t take up that much space and isn’t that expensive. Get a few other basic supplies2 , like flashlights, batteries, a water filter, some means of starting a fire, a shovel/entrenching tool, toilet paper, some cash, a tent and some sleeping bags, and you’ll be set to ride out just about any plausible disaster until help arrives.
If an actual zombie attack occurs, we’ll be screwed anyway.
1.They always seem to buy bread, milk, and eggs. Why? When faced with a natural disaster, “french toast” is not the first food that comes to mind. [↩]
2.Firearms and ammo are assumed. [↩]