Chance of a quake in LA before 2018 is 99%. Where you live, maybe zombies or sharknado •
Call me crazy, but I’ve done nothing whatsoever to prepare for the inevitable zombie apocalypse, alien invasion, and melting of the polar ice caps destined to turn our happy little planet into Dante’s fifth circle of hell sometime next Thursday. So when a Polar Vortex knocks out the electricity for hundreds of miles in every direction, making my ten-speed blender and microwave oven completely useless, when a torrential Frankenstorm drenches all my firewood, and when I realize that silly me neglected to fill the propane tank for the barbecue grill, how, you may ask, will I ever stay warm and cook up a box of macaroni and cheese to brighten up my Doomsday?
For starters, I’ll pop open a bag of Doritos, which stay nice and dry in the Mylar bag, and then use the corn chips as kindling to light a fire. The crushed dry corn chips, saturated with oil, burn long enough and strong enough to dry wet firewood and get a campfire going. I call them Genuine Flaming Hot Doritos. By the way, if you want a romantic evening and you don’t have a fireplace, just turn to your loved one and whisper, “Honey, what do you say we pop open a bag of Doritos?”
I don’t own a canoe or an inflatable motorized life raft, but should floodwater come raging down my street, I won’t be waiting helplessly on my roof for a helicopter to rescue me. I’ll simply remove my bedroom door from its hinges, strap fifty empty 2-liter soda bottles to one side with duct tape, and go floating merrily down the stream. But not before setting a folding beach chair on top of it for comfort and creating an oar by unscrewing a broomstick from the bristles and duct-taping a Ping-Pong paddle to one end of it.
If the Martians invade and they spray all that noxious Martian vapor around, which could happen any moment, or if you accidentally find yourself at some big protest like Occupy Walmart, and you get a face full of tear gas, pepper spray, or Glade air freshener, you’ll need a gas mask—pronto. If you don’t happen to carry a gas mask wherever you go, you can saturate a bandana with vinegar and hold it up in front of your face. Or, to fashion a more stylish gas mask, use a pair of scissors to cut a clean, empty plastic soda bottle in half on a diagonal, discard the bottom half, turn the top half upside-down, and fill it with cotton balls. Pour in vinegar to dampen the cotton, and hold the bottle to cover your nose and mouth. Poof! Instant gas mask—and a trendsetting fashion statement to boot. The vinegar neutralizes those nasty fumes and, with a little luck, may even repel those nasty Martians.
Have you ever fallen off a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean (or been pushed overboard by a spurned lover or jealous husband) and suddenly realized, “Oops! I don’t have a life vest!”? If that scenario seems highly unlikely, consider this: The chances of that cruise ship smashing unexpectedly into an errant iceberg, getting hit by a tsunami and flipping upside down, or capsizing after the drunken captain steers too close to shore and collides into underwater rocks are better than the odds of catching the common cold (based on statistics I recently fabricated to instill fear). But when you do find yourself in that unfortunate situation, you can easily fashion a life vest while treading water—if you remove a shoelace from one of your soggy shoes and retrieve two condoms from your back pocket.
Unwrap the first condom and inflate it like a balloon. When the condom reaches the size of a watermelon, knot the free end. Tie one end of the shoelace above the knot. Repeat with the second condom. Slip the shoelace around your waist, and position the inflated condoms so you look like Jane Russell. The water displacement created by the buoyant and surprisingly durable latex balloons will keep you safely afloat—demonstrating that condoms can save your life in more ways than one.
By the way, a condom also doubles as a waterproof container for matches, a waterproof case for a cell phone, and when placed over the muzzle of rifle, a sheath to keep rainwater out of the barrel. In fact, during the Vietnam War, Navy SEALs used condoms as sheaths to keep fuse igniters dry and ready, which, I’m told, is the sole reason why they carried condoms.
Yes, hundreds of quirky yet ingenious survival techniques lie hidden in everyday household items—proving there’s no need to rely on months of preparation and expensive equipment because it’s just as easy to survive by the seat of your pants. Should all hell break loose in the wake of a major disaster or calamity, simply embrace your inner MacGyver and make a radio antenna with a Slinky, revive a dead car battery with aspirin, and improvise an alarm system with dental floss. In a pinch, you can disinfect a wound with Listerine, boost a cell phone signal with an empty soda can, and build an emergency tiki torch with petroleum jelly and a tampon.
Just because we’re living in a constant state of super-ultra-hyper-red-alert doesn’t mean you have to build a Costco in your basement. To survive all those imminent earthquakes, hurricanes, and coups d’état, you can filter and purify puddle water with a bandana and iodine, treat dehydration with a disposable diaper, and splint a broken leg with a pizza box and Bubble Wrap. All you need is a healthy dose of American ingenuity. And perhaps a paperclip and a pair of panty hose. ◊
[This piece was originally published in The American Bystander #1, October 2015.]