Zombie apocalypse survival tip!

Hi, all–

Whew. A busy week. Hope everyone’s going to have a great Labor Day Weekend! And if you’re part of the contingent out there along the Gulf Coast of in the Crescent City who thought “oh, cool! Beach weekend!”, well, bummer. Tropical Storm Lee, as you no doubt have already found out, is bringing tons of rain. And then the storm will move northeast, so Texas and Oklahoma won’t get any of that much-needed rain. Dang. For those of you in the path of Lee, stay safe.

And speaking of storms, if you can help in the clean-up of Hurricane Irene, here’s a list of organizations accepting donations. Please share it far and wide, because these organizations are not only helping with Irene, but they help all kinds of people following all kinds of disasters all over. Thanks.

Moving along. It’s Saturday, and time now for a zombie (or other) apocalypse survival tip. This one is one you might want to start putting into play long before any sort of apocalyptic event, however. It has to do with adding to your skillz box.

Read on to find out what I’m talking about…

This past week was also the sixth anniversary of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, also along the Gulf Coast. Almost 2000 people died in that disaster, and there are still communities and cities trying to recover from that terrible event.

I remember reading an article a couple weeks after Katrina that profiled a community along Mississippi’s coast that was basically completely cut off from everybody in the storm’s wake for a while until help got in there, but I was struck by something one of the people who was interviewed said. He noted that after the storm had passed and residents could go out and assess the damage, some started to set up relief stations and put shelters together. This guy made the point that the people in town who worked traditional “blue-collar” jobs were better able to get things working again. That is, they were able to fix things, set up makeshift wiring from generators, and get shelters put together for people who needed medical attention and/or who lost their homes.

So that’s my tip for you today, dear readers. Learn how to fix things.


I’m fortunate in that my parents are fixer-uppers, and have built houses and fences and done wiring and plumbing. So I learned a thing or two about doing that and I know my way around a toolbox and a hardware store and can do some basic fixing of plumbing and wiring. Thanks to my mom, I also know a thing or two about cars, and I can do basic maintenance on mine.

Take some time and enroll in some of those classes offered at the big hardware stores. You can also check with your local community or vocational college. Many offer courses in things like basic electrical wiring for people who have no background in it, like this one. They and trade schools also offer courses in basic plumbing. You might also check around and see if there are organizations that offer courses geared toward basic home repair for people who might not want to go into the trade, but would like a little background.

For example, Jill of All Trades in San Francisco offers that sort of experience. They offer the basics in electrical, plumbing, painting, and carpentry — all handy things to have just for basic home maintenance, but also things that could serve you well in event of a disaster like a hurricane. A group like Jill of All Trades might be attractive to women, especially, because a woman runs it and teaches the classes. Traditionally, the trades have been a male domain, but so what? Don’t let that stop you if you’re a woman. It’s always good for everyone to learn how to fix things, because you just never know when you’re going to need those skills.

It’s easy to find classes on basic repair and maintenance. I also recommend learning a thing or two about your car, so in a pinch, you can deal with the situation (not necessarily to escape zombies, but to just get from one place to another). I have a lot of female friends who have never changed a tire on a vehicle, for example. I’ve taught a few how to do it, and made sure that if they ever had it done at a shop, to tell the guys (usually guys) there not to tighten the lug nuts with an impact wrench because invariably, that makes them impossible for a lot of people to get off with the basic tire iron. At any rate, if you’re a total car novice, you can start at websites like this one.

And here’s an auto repair place in Phoenix started by a woman. She also offers basic auto classes geared toward women (guys — not trying to diss you, but traditionally, it’s been difficult for women to feel comfortable in a car repair environment). Check, too, with your local community colleges and trade schools to see if they offer non-certificate classes in auto maintenance.

So there you go. I’m a huge advocate of vocational training, whether you turn it into a career or just have the knowledge and skills for your own use. I think this country has done itself a disservice in sort of de-emphasizing vocational training (as either a career or extracurricular thing to do) and fewer people have been going into trades like construction, plumbing, electrical work, and even civil engineering and mining. These are infrastructure skills, friends — things we need to keep our homes, office buildings, roads, bridges, and waterways working.

Learn how to do some of this stuff for yourself, but also think about going into a trade if you’re thinking about a second career or starting a first. You’ll be doing yourselves and your communities a huge service. Plus, in a zombie apocalypse, you’ll be the person who’s able to start that survivors’ compound sooner than anyone else…

All rightie! Happy Labor Day and happy writing, reading, and whatever else you’re up to!

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