Previously, we engaged in a little thought experiment (Brought on by sleeplessness via the dog laying on my arm. Thank you, Harley)
In my ‘what-if’ scenario, I lived in a world with a much-reduced population. One where there weren’t enough people left to keep the power and internet on and priorities were food, water, and shelter. Once all the food in my nearby city was gone, there was nothing to hold me there and I had left the concrete for the bears, rats, and coyotes. In my thought experiment, I retreated to the woods north of the city and began to build a refuge there.
I imagine that while I walked, I would desperately try and remember the Survival Rule of threes.
- You can survive for 3 minutes without air
- You can survive for 3 hours in a harsh environment without shelter
- You can survive for 3 days without water
- You can survive for 3 weeks without food
(All of these assume you’re not in icy water)
So let’s assume I have a backpack containing a wool sweater I found somewhere, a 2 layer weatherproof jacket scrounged from the back of a truck (the dead man at the wheel wasn’t going to be needing it anymore) and enough food for a week. In the pocket of the coat, I found a lighter, a bottle of water, a bandana, a battery operated flashlight, a 6” folding knife, and the dead man’s keys. On that keychain is a small strike-a-light thing that creates sparks when you scrape it. From a survival standpoint, this is a potentially life-saving discovery!
Ever vigilant for wild animals, I suspect it would take me a couple of days to reach my destination. I’m in fairly decent shape for a walk of that length, but I don’t consider myself fit. I’m conscious of where I put my feet because a sprained ankle would seriously limit my safety. I stay warm at night in the sweater and weatherproof jacket, and I’ve been lucky enough to find safe places to sleep at night, albeit fitfully. Let’s assume I made it out of town without incident.
I come across a small village seemingly uninhabited. I stay in the bush waiting and watching for as long as I can. Yes, it might be nice to have someone to talk to, but I can’t assume only the good people survived. So I’m cautious. I finally decide to approach one of the houses that looks in good condition. I can see a few crabapple trees in the yard and what looks like an overgrown garden nearby the house. I see no signs that anyone has been there for some time, so after a whole lot of internal debate with myself, I finally decide to check the house out.
Close inspection shows all the windows and doors intact and not a single human print in the dirt driveway. I look in all the windows I can reach, half expecting to hear a shout of alarm or warning. There’s no one inside and I find the back door unlocked. With a whispered apology to whoever owns the house, I quietly slip inside and explore. There are two levels, a basement with a walk-in pantry, a cold-room and various appliances. Knowing how long the power has been off, there’s no point in looking inside the freezer. Its contents would have thawed and rotted long ago. But the cold room is situated in such a way that it is kept cool by the earth itself, and the heavy door that protects it. My flashlight shows built-in shelving stocked with all sorts of cans and jars of food, and I breathe a sigh of relief. On the floor are crocks and bottles. The crocks are full of sand that holds potatoes, carrots, and apples. The bottles are all labeled ALE. It looks as if the previous occupants knew a thing or two about preserving and home brewing. The walk-in pantry holds a variety of buckets. They’re all labeled according to their contents, and if the labels are all correct, the house is well stocked with rice, flour, dried beans, bottles of spices and dried fruit. Leaving the basement, I return my attention upstairs.
There is a kitchen, whose cupboards are well-stocked with dry goods in large glass jars. Dishes still rest nestled inside each other in another cupboard. Down a long hallway, I find a bathroom and two bedrooms, all empty of people. There are no bodies of the dead, no signs of panic or violence. It looks like the people who lived here just vanished. Curious, I explore further. Back in the kitchen, I take a close look at the table and find my answer. A notice of mandatory evacuation.
Next time: What would I find out in the barn that might help me stay alive?
I’d love to hear your impressions of my little thought experiment. Let me know in the comment section!