7 steps to surviving an apocalypse (according to science!)
What would YOU do if the world was ending?
It’s the end of the world. What can you do to survive?
We spoke to an astrobiologist about the survival science needed to keep you alive, should you find yourself facing the end of the world, or worse, a herd of zombies…
Okay… so it’s unlikely to happen, but it’s a fun way to picture all the different skills we’d need to survive.
Where would you go? What would you take with you? Would you have the skills needed to rebuild civilisation?
These are the questions Dr Lewis Dartnell, an astrobiologist (someone who studies how life can survive in different environments) will be answering at this year’s Big Bang Fair, which encourages young people to learn about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Check out his top tips on how to survive should you find yourself facing the end of the world…
1. Know your survival skills
“Imagine you found yourself in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, how do you keep yourself alive? Well, there are loads of everyday objects that could help you in an emergency situation.
“A fire alarm for example, can actually be used to start a fire, and a humble plastic bottle can be used to sterilise drinking water. Simply fill your bottle, and leave it out in the sunshine. The sun’s UV rays will pass right through the water and kill any germs that are in there.
“You can even make a simple gas-fire stove out of tin cans, which is really efficient. It uses the same process (called gasification) that was used to power cars across Europe during the Second World War!
“And how about opening a tin can without any tools? Easy, there’s a trick for that! You’ll need to turn the can upside down, so it can get a little messy, but it’s handy!”
2. Choose a good hideout
“Firstly, get out of the cities. A lot of us live in cities nowadays as they’re so convenient and full of shops, but if civilisation collapsed and you had to do things for yourself, the city is one of the worst places to be. What if there’s no electricity, no gas, no running water, no lights, heating, and you can’t grow your own food because everything’s covered in tarmac? You’ll want to escape to the countryside! Find a spot near a river with fresh water you can drink, and start learning how to grow your own food.
“The Lake District would be ideal. Just make sure you avoid the Arctic circle or the middle of a desert!”
3. Pack a survival kit
“Imagine you’ve got a four-minute warning to get out of the house. Grab some fresh water and cans of food – if you forget your can-opener, don’t worry because you now know how to open one without! – a knife, twine for tying things, or failing that, use your iPod headphones instead! And don’t forget that empty plastic bottle for sterilising water. It’s all about being clever, ingenious and using things in new ways.”
“According to recent research, over a third of the UK population (36%) are already prepared and keep a “bug-out bag’ (a kit that’ll keep you alive for 72 hours!) ready in case disaster strikes!”
4. Use your mobile phone
“The one thing we all can’t live without these days are our mobile phones, but if civilisation collapsed they’d not be much use at all. However, there is one feature on your mobile that will continue working for at least a couple of months, and that’s GPS. I estimate we’ve got about six months of life in the satellites should they be abandoned, so while you won’t be able to phone people or ‘tweet’ for help, the map function will continue working as it relies on satellite signals and not the mobile phone network – that goes for your smartphone compass, too!”
5. Become a super scavenger
“The biggest key to surviving is learning how to scavenge and forage for the things you need. One of the best things to get your hands on is a car battery and alternator. Use them to make a simple windmill or a watermill to recharge the battery. A scaveneged solar panel can be used to charge your mobile phone.
“And if you’re in need of a compass, an analog wristwatch will do just as good a job. Simply point the minute hand towards the sun and halfway between the number 12 and the hour hand will show you where south is!”
6. Gather a useful gang
“You might have imagined who you’d take with you during an apocolypse. Who’d be most useful? Do you know anyone who owns an allotment, who has the skills to grow their own food? Or someone who’s good with their hands, like a carpenter or metal worker, or good at fixing things, like a car mechanic? These are the people that will be most useful when you’re trying to rebuild society. People like computer programmers or astrobiologists (like me!) will probably have to learn a few more useful skills!”
7. And what about a zombie apocalypse…?
“One of the safest locations during a zombie apocalypse (not that that’s ever going to happen!) would be a prison. With their high walls and barbed wire fences, they’re great at keeping people in, but of course, they’re also great at keeping people out. Find one with its own water supply and a stock pile of food, dig up the car park to plant crops, and you’ve got an extremely safe refuge!”
The Big Bang Fair is free and runs from Wednesday 16 March to Saturday 19 March. Schools will be attending on Wednesday-Friday, with families encouraged to come down on Saturday 19 March, where the activity will be focused on careers and aimed primarily at 11-14 year olds. For more information and tickets, head to thebigbangfair.co.uk.
You can get more information on Dr Lewis Dartnell’s book, The Knowledge: How To Rebuild Our World From Scratch, plus loads of cool survival tricks video content, head to the-knowledge.org.