Zombies. Giant super-storms. Runaway climate change. Alien invasions. Sneak attacks by invading enemy nations.
Thrilling stuff of end-of-life-as-we-know-it science fiction books and movies.
Superstorm Sandy in New York; the fertilizer explosion in Texas; the huge tornado in Moore, Okla.; the train derailment and explosion in Baltimore — ordinary events bring plenty of disasters that can end life as we know it, at least for those affected.
It’s probably not possible to prepare for all potential disasters, but some preparation is better than none.
I’m a fan of apocalyptic science fiction, so I’m looking forward to seeing “World War Z” opening in theaters on Friday, June 21. The movie tells the story of a virus that turns people into raging zombies who attack noninfected people and overrun armies and governments around the world.
But how would a zombie attack go down in Hagerstown? What should citizens do to survive?
I asked Doug Lent, spokesman for Red Cross of the Chesapeake Region, which covers Washington County. He laughed. Then he talked about disaster preparedness.
“You know, whether it’s a zombie apocalypse or a huge tornado, the Red Cross wants you to do three things,” he said. “Have a kit, including the things you take for granted: a copy of important documents, like home insurance; nonperishable food and water for three days; medications. Whatever you can’t live without. Keep the to-go kit in a backpack.
“Second, be prepared for disasters that might come your way. Know what might happen.
“And third, have a plan with your family to meet up after a disaster. The kids are at daycare, Dad’s at work, Mom’s at home. Know where you’re going to meet up afterward. And practice it,” Lent said.
Vacate the area
Rod MacRae, spokesman for the Washington County Health Department, has been a zombie fan for years. But he’s not a fan of the so-called fast zombies of “World War Z.”
“I am old, and I find myself as a traditionalist. I’m a slow zombie fan,” he said with a chuckle. “But with a zombie attack, you’re talking about a more broad-based disruption. (The advice is) basically, vacate the area.”
MacRae said in the event of a zombie attack, people would be dislocated. In movies, following the zombie onslaught, people typically congregate in a safe haven, at which they would need the supplies they would need for a large storm with extensive, lingering damage. MacRae suggested preparing a to-go pack of supplies, such as those recommended by the U.S. Federal Emergency management Agency. See sidebar.
“You need that immediate set of supplies to get you through the initial disruption,” he said. “Also, if power is out for an extended period of time, ATMs would not work. Cash on hand would be good.
Prepare for the unthinkable
Zombies, of course, are completely imaginary. Probably.
But an electromagnetic pulse — called an EMP — is not. Nuclear explosions high in the atmosphere produce an EMP over an area hundreds or thousands of miles wide.