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What 3 Fictional Disaster Scenarios Can Teach Us About Emergency Preparedness

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As a society, we seem obsessed with our own destruction. What is it about going to a movie and witnessing the death of millions that makes for an enjoyable outing? There’s just something cathartic about seeing L.A. sink into the ocean, or Paris get wiped off the map by a meteorite. Maybe it’s the idea that somehow, against all laws of probability, we will be one of the few survivors to experience the fall of human civilization and come through unscathed. Just us and our loved ones, and probably our dog too. But despite the implausibility of this scenario, there is still a lot that we can learn from disaster movies. Here are three fictional disaster scenarios that have taught me about emergency preparedness.

1. Zombie Uprising

As seen in: Dawn of the Dead, World War Z, Shawn of the Dead

Let me just get this out in the open: I hate zombies. I don’t mean that in the same way as someone who says “I hate Fig Newtons,” or “I hate Adele.” I mean that Zombies creep the living heck out of me. I can’t explain it. They’re slow, stupid, and don’t even try to dodge a well placed sword swing. I think what really gets me is how they multiply. Most modern Zombie movies depict the spread of zombification as something similar to a viral outbreak or a disease pandemic. Think about it. The first thing most zombie movie survivors do is identify the problem. With the exception of Shawn of the Dead, main characters are usually pretty quick on the uptake. The next step is for the survivors to protect themselves from possible infection. For you and I, that means that we head home, seal our doors and windows and eat our food storage. For the zombie fighter it means the same thing, except it includes loading up on weapons. What I Learned: Keep up with the news, isolate yourself in the event of possible infection, and have a good emergency storage.

2. Foreign Invasion

As seen in: War of the Worlds, Independence Day, Battle for Los Angeles

Once the giant flying saucer has already begun to blot out the sun, it’s a little late to start preparing. While it would have been nice if the aliens had let us know ahead of time that they would be stopping by, they operate on the same principle as most natural disasters and appear when we least expect it. Therefore, it’s always good to have an emergency plan in place in the event of a disaster. Nor can we trust our leaders to make everything all-better; the governments of the world are initially powerless to slow the incursion from beyond the stars. It’s therefore up to individual families to see to their own needs. Luckily, a plucky band of human survivors are usually able to band together and prove that no matter how advanced the alien technology might be, teamwork and human resourcefulness will always win. What I Learned: Be ready for the unexpected, have the supplies you need in case municipal services are unavailable, work together within your neighborhood to make sure that everyone’s needs are met.

3. Cybernetic Revolt

As seen in: Terminator, The Matrix, I Robot

Oh the hubris, that we thought we could forever master the machines on which we so heavily depend. The Cybernetic revolt is the scenario in which manmade artificial intelligences become sapient and realize that they could probably do a better job running things than we could. What follows is either a devastating first strike against the major governments of the world, or a quickly escalating revolution among household and military automatons. Either way, humans quickly learn that doing things machine free can be a drag. Without robots to do everything for them, they need to discover how to survive using those few mechanical implements that aren’t actively trying to kill them. As society reverts back to pre-computer age standards, those who know how to make and operate basic machinery have a distinct advantage. What I Learned: Don’t become too dependent upon technology as you may not have electrical power, be resourceful and figure out how to use items in ways that they might not have been originally intended, know how to build and maintain your own supplies.

Lee Flynn is a freelance writer, emergency preparedness guru and all-around zombie hater.

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