Monday, November 18, 2013

What would you miss the most?

I just finished re-reading One Second After by William Forstchen. It's an interesting book, thought provoking and scary. It's a story about what happens after an EMP attack is unleashed on America.

I see that they're in production at Warner Bros. to make a movie with the book as the basis. I'll go see it.

The scary part of the book is that it's a true possibility. Many of the apocalyptic movies and books are so far removed from the realm of possibility that I would classify them as entertainment. The things that happen in One Second After could happen. I doubt it would happen on the scale that's depicted in the book, but even an EMP over our major cities would create devastating havoc for many, many years.

An EMP is an Electro Magnetic Pulse. I won't go into details, it's easy to look it up (and I'm definitely not an expert!). On a very-simplistic level --- it would wipe out, shut down, kill computers, cars with electronic components, airplanes, your electric can opener,  trains...anything that has a computer circuit or is run by any form of electricity. Here's a quote from the "About EMP" section on Forstchen's website: "In far less than a milli second the entire power grid of the United States, and all that it supports will be destroyed." (


How do you repair things without electronics? Dams would shut down. Trains wouldn't run. Freezers wouldn't work. Electric power tools would be useless. Tractors, dead. Processing machines, kaput. Circuit board fried.

Most grocery stores have maybe three days of food. They rely on heaters, coolers, freezers and transportation.

How far are you from a grocery store? Right now you hop in your car and drive the five or ten miles. Unless you have a clunker from the 60s or earlier you vehicle isn't going to work. So... think about walking. Think about carrying the food home. Think about how fast those who got their first would clean out the shelves.

If you do have a clunker that works how are you going to fill the tank with gas? The gas station pumps aren't going to work.

No communication either. No radio or TV no Internet to tell us what's going on. No cell phones. No telephones, either. You wouldn't know what was going on with your son in college, your daughter who's visiting a friend across town or your parents living in another state.

Hospital equipment unable to function, elevators stopped or crashed... People in the inner cities would start to move outward hoping for food to live on. How long before the animals on the farms are butchered without thought to the future?

We gradually acquired skills and knowledge to bring us to our current wonderful lifestyles. What happens when all at once everyone loses everything? Most of us don't have even basic survival skills. Do you know what's edible in the forest? How to butcher a deer (assuming you could figure out how to kill it in the first place)? Know where the nearest stream is with fish? Could you grow a garden with edible food before you starved? Could you protect it from those who are out to survive any way possible?

Since reading the book for the first time I sometimes look at some of the things I take for granted and wonder what I'd miss most. Some of the big things are easy --- connection with family, communication, heat, air conditioning, FOOD. Transportation. Refills on medicines.

But, assuming I was one who managed to somehow survive for a period of time, I sometimes wonder what little things I'd miss the most?

I always think about toilet paper. Once whatever I have in the house is gone it's gone.


Hot tea.
Contact lenses / replacement glasses.

What about you? 

Here are a few links to get you started if you'd like to know more about EMPs: