Survivalists have a point: Be prepared

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The people who hosted the survival camp at the Milton Center a few weeks ago had a very realistic idea of disasters when they organized it. They did not have underground bunkers filled with Twinkies in mind; instead they wanted to offer some food for thought.

If you lived in New Orleans and knew Hurricane Katrina would hit in a week, how would you prepare for it? Canned food and bottled water? Important documents in a safe place? Your car has a spare tire in the back, doesn’t it?

The American Heritage members wanted to hammer that mentality home – be prepared. Take your important documents and photocopy them, put them in a safe place. A fireproof and waterproof safe would work. Take photos of your belongings for insurance purposes. Be sure to keep your animals' information there too – many shelters will refuse to take pets without their information.

Buy a couple jugs and fill them with water, enough for one gallon of water per person per day. Build up your stockpile of canned goods (don't forget the honey! It doesn't spoil) and keep them safe.

All those simple ideas are part of being prepared for a disaster and it doesn’t take much.

It’s always popular to think about disasters. Hollywood has broken it down into a fine art – lots of explosions, a car flipping over, people screaming, CGI or 3-D ad nauseum. Zombies. Aliens. You know the type.

Filmmakers take the approach that, at the end of the world, there will always be a villain to fight back against. Blow up the invaders; give the zombies that good old double-tap.

Perhaps the best post-apocalyptic film I’ve seen has to be “The Road.” It’s not amazing by any stretch of the imagination (and I hear the book is amazing), but I think as far as movies that try to realistically tackle the fall of civilization go, this one was the best.

I think what sold it for me was not the plot or the acting, but instead the stripped-down, bare-bones portrayal of “what if?” There are no aliens. We don’t really know how civilization ended, just that it has. It’s more a story of survival than disaster, more personal than global in scale.

Survival takes many forms. It can be killing aliens, sure, but more than likely, when we are faced with survival, it will be more along the lines of finding food, shelter and safety. How many of us know how to start a fire with no matches on hand? Or forage for food? How many can entertain themselves or our children without the aid of a television or video games?

It’s something to think about. Our families are much more likely to be involved in a house fire or flood than an alien attack.

Quite possibly, knowing how to use a weapon would be handy in the End of Days, but more useful would be basic survival techniques and preparedness.

Thinking ahead has many upsides, of course, but it can save your life and make surviving so much easier for yourself and your family. Take a few minutes to figure out what you might need if your family is simply without power for more than a day. It can be the difference between getting caught by surprise or facing the challenge in comfort.