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Michiana Chronicles writers bring portraits of our life and times to the 88.1 WVPE airwaves every Friday at 7:45 am during Morning Edition and over the noon hour at 12:30 pm during Here and Now. Michiana Chronicles was first broadcast in October 2001. Contact the writers through their individual e-mails and thanks for listening!

Always Be Prepared

U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security

If you’ve always wondered how to make your husband’s face contort into confusion, fear and amusement all at the same time, tell him you’d like to buy a gun.  Especially if you already had one but sold it once you had children because it was just too risky to have it around.  It is even more fun if during this conversation you use the words “Bug Out Bag” or the initials W.T.S.H.T.F. followed by ‘bag’.  Some of you are nodding, some of you have the same face my poor hubby had.  In today’s uncertain political climate, I just want to be prepared.

I read a book by author Steven Konkoly last year entitled “The Jakarta Pandemic” about a post apocalyptic/dystopian America where the hero has ‘prepared’ and keeps his family mostly safe and well fed.  The author is a fraternity brother to John and also Navy Seal and began to get a following from the ‘Prepper” community based on his thrilling fictional tales of world-wide woe.  I ate up the story and had a clear picture of the suburban neighborhood in the book because it closely resembled one we lived in when freshly married.

I liked the book but did not start stockpiling goods or “preparing” because that is crazy. I might have even laughed when my local Costco offered thirty day emergency ration kits for a “low low price”.  Thanks to Costco we do have an admirable supply of diced tomatoes, dry pasta and Annie’s mac & cheese. Useful in the event we are snowed in or too lazy to leave the house for a week.  I know the U.S. Department of Homeland Security suggests we have enough supplies for at least 3 days without mobility or power.  They have downloadable plans from FEMA and topics ranging from biological incidents to natural disasters.  Our family’s biggest move towards emergency preparedness was a case of bottled water.  And of course the cans of diced tomatoes.  We are a veritable fortress of Americana.

Lately I have been more curious about emergency preparedness.  Thus the gun and W.T.S.H.T.F. Bag conversation.  If you are a person who is interested in this topic, you may be called a “Prepper”. If you are not interested, you think “Preppers” are crazy people digging holes in their back yard and kitting them out with camping gear and beef jerky. As I have been looking into all of the above, our clay dirt yard is too hard to sig into so I’m settling for a backpack of supplies we can keep in our basement.   It does make sense to be prepared in case there is a storm and we loose mobility or power. No matter your thoughts on the ‘apocalyptic end of days’ scenario played out in many a good date night film, consider at least storing up the basics of extra food and water.

Now if your life is boring or the political climate around here has you nervous, you have lots of options.  Steven Konkoly offers a secret book on prepping, “Practical Prepping, No Apocalypse Required” but it not listed with his fictional best sellers..  As I began looking into prepping websites and books, it was a fascinating and a little bit scary.  My next trip to Costco I looked for and finally asked about the thirty day ration kit but it was no longer in stock.  I bought nasty looking protein bars instead.  I figured in an emergency we would be glad to have them and I wouldn’t snack on them before then. If I got yummy granola bars the only emergency they would be good for is when we are out of cookies.  So now we have bottled water and nasty protein bars.

I mentioned my interest in emergency preparedness to a perfectly reasonable friend of mine and her eyes got big, she grinned, and led me to her kitchen cabinet.  She pulled out three foil sheets of bubbled tablets.  I was confused until she explained she just ordered them online and if there was a nuclear ‘event’ a person was instructed to take one each day for three days and they flood your thyroid with iodine to keep radiation from wiping your thyroid out.  I vacillated between pleased to learn a new tip and mortified that a perfectly lovely woman knew about such a thing.  Was I right to be preparing if another normal neighbor also felt the need?  Perhaps. 

I told John about the iodine tablets and that I wanted to order them.  He said if there was a nuclear attack on Chicago we’d be totally wiped out so there was no point in preparing. My face then screwed up into what I imagine was a horrified mirror of his face when I brought up getting a gun.  He agreed we would do a little at a time, that it was good to be prepared.  I told him to spare me honest details about our chances. I said in any disaster what people need is hope. I don’t know if I won that conversation, but I’m heading to the basement soon to try out those canned tomatoes. And maybe a protein bar.

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