8 Items That Will Be Unexpectedly Useful After An Apocalypse
A little-known fact about this site is that every Cracked writer and editor is an expert on doomsday preparation. This is in part because of our intense commitment to memorizing interesting facts, and also because if the world does end any time soon, it will probably be because of something we write.
6 Common Misconceptions About Opening A Portal To The Null Plane.
And although a lot of our plans involve eating the flesh of those who are less-prepared, that's no reason not to share some of our knowledge with our readers, so long as you guys all promise to let us eat your flesh when the time comes. We're also going to skip the basics -- the obvious stuff about stockpiling guns and knives and canned foods, or building that huge ark on the hillside when it starts to rain. Because you're going to overlook a lot of little things -- everyday items which will become amazingly valuable in the event the shit hits the fan. Here are eight of them.
In a world where you can't just walk into a McDonald's and get a meal 70 seconds later, you can probably guess that having your own supply of stored food will come in useful. You might even be able to make some educated guesses about what will work best. Canned foods, dry grains, maybe seeds for a garden. But would you think of honey? Many survival experts would, exactly like Winnie the Pooh.
Why honey? A few reasons. First, it lasts forever, which is a big deal when planning a stockpile. It's also obviously very calorie-dense, which makes it relatively efficient, if not precisely a balanced diet. But eating it raw probably isn't its optimal use; it's better suited for making other food taste better. That might sound like a small thing, but it will become a real factor when all the supermarkets have been cleaned out.
And you have to eat your way through a Payless.
Because you'll be living in a world without medical care or even soap, a big part of surviving will simply be preventing minor injuries to yourself. An untreated infection could kill you, and with all the work you'll be doing chopping wood, fortifying compounds, or decapitating looters, a sturdy pair of gloves will do a great job of minimizing blisters and other minor abrasions.
This is doubly important if you happen to find yourself situated in a zombie or plague apocalypse, in which case you're really going to want a minimum of open sores on your body or delicious unprotected skin exposed.
Zombies are hell on your manicure as well.
A Magnifying Glass
Matches and butane lighters require specialized manufacturing processes and supply chains which will break down quickly once civilization collapses. Which means that even if you have some, you'll want to preserve them. And of all the alternate methods for starting a fire, a magnifying glass is one of the easiest.
During the daytime, at least. Less so at night.
Unless you're looking for clues.
You can obviously survive a long time without toilet paper. Humans managed it for thousands of years, and many public transit users can apparently go for even longer.
You know who you are.
But with a limited supply of water, hygiene becomes a lot harder, and a dirty, stinky bum can make you uncomfortable and unhappy. Although apparently valueless, something as simple as toilet paper can really brighten your mood. People who have lived through wars report that toilet paper becomes a valuable barter good, so even if you don't need it yourself, with enough of it, you can afford that shiny zombie-killin' machete you've had your eyes on.
A Small Dog
Dogs are sort of a mixed blessing in an apocalypse. Yes, they provide companionship, bodily warmth, and a measure of self-defense. But they need to be fed. Sure, they'll eat garbage, but there may come a time when you would too, and you're not going to want a dog around, hogging all the good trash.
"No, Joffrey! Very bad dog! That's my dinner!"
But a small dog, with their much smaller appetites, might make more sense. Yes, your beagle might not be much use in a fight with Lord Humungus, but it can serve as an alarm. For a few scraps of food, you'll be able to rest easy every night, knowing you'll be alerted if anyone approaches the compound you've established in that Payless.
A Shitty Car
Certain flavors of apocalypse (often nuclear-themed) can cause what's known as an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, which can destroy delicate electronic devices. Like, for example, everything made in the past 20 years. The good news is that simple things, like spoons or Plymouth Dusters, should be relatively immune to the effect of EMPs. So if you still have a source of gasoline ...
A big source.
... you'll find an older-model car far more useful than a newer one.
Unless you need cup holders. Those old cars sucked for cup holders. And you might need cup holders, because...
A Wheeled Trashcan
Quickly, where's your water come from? A tap? You are so fucked. Why are you even preparing for an apocalypse, idiot?
At this point, the smartest thing you can do is let yourself get killed an eaten by someone better-prepared.
In any apocalypse worthy of the name, all our utilities are going to stop working, leaving your domestic plumbing useful for not much more than disposing of your tears. But if you have the foresight or good fortune to live near a well or clean lake or running stream, then you might have a chance. Unfortunately, water is damned, damned heavy, which makes the simple process of lugging it around a real problem you likely had never considered. After an apocalypse, any sturdy container which can carry water will be unusually valuable. And a wheeled garbage can? You'd be ballin'. You're going to be damned glad you've got that tiny dog around to guard it.
Oh, and speaking of that water you've been lugging around in your garbage can: It's poison, so don't drink that. Probably should have told you that before making you haul it all the way back here, huh?
Oh, don't look at me that way.
Purifying water will be a big challenge in our new, awful world. Boiling it is the safest way to kill pathogens, but in some situations, that might not be possible or practical. Which is why a bottle of pool shock could come in handy. Pool shock is the common name for calcium hypochlorite, and is normally used for cleaning pools. Although hardly an everyday item you have on hand, you'll want to know what it is to at least understand why someone felt the need to kick in the door of that pool supply store down the street from Fort Payless. It's because it can do a great job of disinfecting drinking water.
If you know what you're doing.
Which you probably don't.
Seriously, this is a ridiculously powerful chemical which can do a lot of harm if misused. But if you do know how to use it, a single bottle could disinfect thousands of gallons of water.
Or clean your pool, if you're going through one of those fairly easy apocalypses.
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and would quite probably die if even the internet went down for an hour. His first novel, Severance, is incredible and available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Apex Books. Join him on Facebook or Twitter.
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