Survivors – What would you do

Survivors, a re-imaging of the 70’s series devised by Terry Nation, started last night on the BBC and there was a minor Twitter flurry of discussion about it. There’s been mixed reaction to the episode, including these from Jason, and from Savage Popcorn.

One common question that popped up is what would you do in that situation, how would you rebuild. Well, the odds are that you, or me, or most of everyone would be dead anyway. The show said something like 90% infection, which would still leave 6million in the UK alive, but the impression was there were a lot more dead than that. Even if you weren’t killed in the first infection, you’re going to have to be lucky and good to escape ongoing death from disease, cold or starvation in the first year or so.

The first episode ended with our group of heroes finally meeting and wondering what to do next – only one of them had done any thinking and collecting of goods to get to the next stage. The rest seemed woefully inadequate in their outlook. But, if, by some chance, you did survive, would you have any idea of what you would have to do? I thought I’d throw up some thoughts – and these have been done with no research, just mulling around what would need to be put in place. I’m pretty sure if I looked, I could find a whole bunch of websites giving me the information I needed. One assumption is that there is enough stuff around to survive the first month or so. Canned food, bottled water and transport with available fuel, to get to somewhere. This is about longer term thinking.

  • Key things are shelter, water, food and sanitation. You’ll need a place to live, which has its own water supply – a well or a spring – and has arable land to grow food. Ideally, it should be defensible; law and order won’t be around and humans tend to fight a lot, especially over resources. A septic system would be a advantage.
  • Ideally, you’d want to be away from any nuclear plants and from prevailing winds that could bring radiation. I’m not sure how safe these plants are with no electricity, no water and no manning, but some may go boom.
  • You’ve found your farm, castle or where ever it is. (I fancy Windsor Castle actually, but probably a little too close to major population centres for the start, so it would be smelly and potentially disease prone in the beginning.) Now you need to start stocking it. First of all, work out where to get fuel, stock up some tanks so you have transport as long as possible. Go and raid supermarkets and get enough food (tinned, dried) for at least a year.
  • Find a library/book store and grab lots of practical books for the things below. Also writing things and lots of paper, so you can start recording the new history.
  • Hope the farmer had a shotgun and rifle, if not, go find some. You won’t be the only one, you’ll probably have to defend your place and you can go hunting.
  • Tools – axes, knives, carpentry, farming, scissors. As much as you can
  • Find some generators. You’ll need to have the option as you build up for the longer term
  • Clothes and linen- stock up with tough stuff, it’s going to have to last. Store a lot for future use – including material. You’re going to have to learn to weave at some point but t may have a lower priority than starting the food supply.
  • Growing things. Find agricultural suppliers and get everything you can – seed, fertiliser, pesticides.
  • Animals – sheep for wool, cows for milk, meat and leather, pigs for meat, chickens for eggs and meat. Rabbits, guinea pigs and all the small stuff could be good.
  • Farming. you may have a tractor and enough fuel for one year, but longer term I’d be looking for a plough and some horses. You should probably grab some horses for transport as well, along with some bikes
  • Medicine. It’s not going to last, but grab what you can. Antibiotics, diarrhoea medicine, painkillers, antiseptics. (Stock up on soap as well). Iodine tablets may be useful as well

Now, you have to learn how to use all these things, how to farm, how to metalsmith, how to manage sanitation. A bit of medicine.

What have I missed, what else would you add to the list to gather and control in the first year?

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5 thoughts on “Survivors – What would you do

  1. I’m not allowed to watch/read post-apocalpytic scenarios anymore, I start prepping my go-bag & survival rations instead of shopping for that night’s dinner… anyway, of all the above I think the most important thing is pulling together the combined skill-set you need, all these possessions and working with them is way too much for one person – so ideally, you’d find yourself someone with some level of medical training, rudimentary mechanics is probably (IMO) the most important thing to understand as this will help you save time establishing your irrigation+sanitation pipes/pumps etc., it would be nice to know how to make penicillin, guides taking you through everything from first principles.

    I thought Alas, Babylon a fantastic book (written during the Cold War) summarising the various stages people would go through in post-nuclear scenario, and the most interesting things I found covered included:
    Need for salt (an uncontaminated salt source, finding maps locating old resources including possibly wells all the sorts of things that have been built over and we’ve little clue about)
    Need to establish martial law (not only with the weapons which, as you point out, will be important to defend scarce resources the cause of most of the world’s conflicts) but also a system for adjudicating disputes, you may need to appoint yourself if others in the neighbourhood descend into chaos
    A central bartering location and message board
    The most important thing to sort out is bartering actually, as presumably if the UK population were reduced to 6m (about the population of England in the 1800 Census) and given immigrants wouldn’t be in a hurry to move here if still a chance of infection, you’d be having to swap whatever you needed with your neighbours just as all through history – so finding yourself things the people can’t easily make/find important (alcohol, tobacco, coffee, flour, salt, sugar, seeds)
    A seed bank would be so handy – you’d want to find out the location of the Millenium Seed Bank and get yourself there sharpish – or perhaps protect it, given others might have the same idea…

    That’s my blitherings for the mo., must get back to this debugging…

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  3. I guess I would be most worried about my banking shares that would have taken yet another hit.

  4. Though no longer permitted to watch/read post-apocalpytic scenarios (I start prepping my go-bag & survival rations instead of shopping for that night’s dinner)… of all the above I think the most important thing is pulling together the combined skill-set you need, all these possessions and working with them is way too much for one person – so ideally, you’d find yourself someone with some level of medical training, rudimentary mechanics v. important understand to help save time establishing your irrigation+sanitation pipes/pumps etc., it would be nice to know how to make penicillin, guides taking you through everything from first principles.

    I thought Alas, Babylon a fantastic book (written during the Cold War) summarising the various stages people would go through in post-nuclear scenario, and the most interesting things I found covered included:
    * Need for salt (an uncontaminated salt source)
    * Need for maps locating old resources including possibly wells all the sorts of things that have been built over and we’ve little clue about)
    * Need to establish martial law (not only with the weapons which, as you point out, will be important to defend scarce resources the cause of most of the world’s conflicts) but also a system for adjudicating disputes, you may need to appoint yourself if others in the neighbourhood descend into chaos
    * A central message board – and means of communicating with the rest of the world, obviously – presumably patchy satellite comms and long-range radio would still be going, and while none may be officially manned setting up a radio station post and old-fashioned paper notice board for your local community useful
    * A central bartering location – one of the most important things to sort out may be bartering actually, as presumably if the UK population were reduced to 6m (about the population of England in the 1800 Census) and given immigrants wouldn’t be in a hurry to move here if still a chance of infection, you’d be having to swap whatever you needed with your neighbours just as all through history – so finding yourself things the people can’t easily make/find important (alcohol, tobacco, coffee, flour, salt, sugar, seeds)
    * A seed bank would be so handy – you’d want to find out the location of the Millenium Seed Bank and get yourself there sharpish – or perhaps protect it, given others might have the same idea…

    Most initial supplies may have been raided by scavengers (as in New Orleans), and presumably if actually survived an initial epidemic that would partly be due to not having left your location for a while, so most of the supermarket stuff will have been taken – hunting supplies might be most efficient unless strong enough to raid the homes of the dead while they’re decomposing

    Anyway, first blithering thoughts, see Rachel, mustn’t get me started on this sort of thing!
    Nic

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