Hey Monstrum fans! I hope everyone is
doing okay. Thanks to COVID-19
I’m stuck at home, as you likely are, too.
So I thought I’d give you a peek into
how my monster-loving brain prepares for
the inevitable zombie outbreak… or robot
apocalypse! Bioterrorism attack! Nuclear
war. Alien invasion! Major solar flare.
Finding out the Matrix is real! The great
flood. Super-volcano. Sharknado. Bees rising
up and taking revenge! Giant mutant insects.
I mean… pandemic. Whatever. I’m ready.
So I’m going to show you what’s in my
go-bag. My bug out bag, bug in bag, get out
of dodge bag – basically the bag I keep in
my car stocked full of survival
necessities in case [BLEEP] hits the fan.
Or should I say when it does.
I’m Dr. Emily Zarka. And this is Monstrum.
When resources become scarce it’s quickly
apparent who is prepared and who is not.
Sure, you could go full survivalist mode
and stock an underground bunker or
secret cabin in the woods with months
worth of food, water, and toilet paper, but
that kind of preparation isn’t realistic
for many people and likely isn’t
necessary. So where can you look to
figure out what will keep you safe?
And even more importantly, help you get in
the right mindset to survive in a
life-threatening situation? Horror
stories. Horror books and films shape my
life obviously. Yeah, I study monsters for
a living, but there are other day-to-day
things, like always making sure where the
exits are and what object in the room
could be used as a weapon. Some
legitimate organizations like the CDC
and FEMA have some great survivalist
tips, and those are definitely worth
looking at… but there’s also a few things
missing from their checklist that I
think can be the difference between
staying alive and becoming zombie food.
Although I was a Girl Scout and taught
to always be prepared,
I really didn’t start stacking the deck
in my favor until I began watching
horror movies as an adult.
Let’s be clear: a lot of it is nuts.
Some of it is outright ridiculous.
[“Oh my gooooodddddd!”]
But there are some very useful tidbits
in horror stories that you can use in
real life. Yes, I keep a go-bag in my car.
Yes, I pretty much always have a stocked
pantry with two weeks worth of
non-perishable food. And yes, I have a
zombie apocalypse survival team of
people I vetted who possess the skills
and mindset necessary to survive an
outbreak of the undead.
Call me crazy, but my survivor mindset
means I’m ready for the worst if it
happens, whether that’s my car breaking
down at night in the snow or a sudden
hoard of the Living Dead.
Before we get into my go-bag,
let’s talk about horror
movies and how they inspired me to
become more prepared. I for one
have learned plenty of things while
delightfully watching horror movies. Here
are just a few examples. Night of the Living Dead: finding food should be a priority.
Then securing and barricading
your location. And honestly, Ben is just
one of the most competent horror movie
characters out there.
You’re Next: no bug out bag here, but
an excellent example of
how resourcefulness and survival
training can save your life… even when
you’re in an unfamiliar territory.
28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later let me
know that you can’t always trust
authority or anyone who broadcasts
And if a huge group of animals
starts running in one direction, you run
in that same direction! Plus, a plastic
bag full of soda and money is useless…
minus temporarily disarming a zombie.
There are also some helpful examples of
what a good go bag looks like.
Bushwick has a pretty decent one.
There’s a first-aid kit with scissors,
gauze and rubbing alcohol; a flare; pain meds;
water; a flashlight; a knife; duct tape; and a
sewing kit – all of which come in handy in
one way or another throughout the movie.
All right, so now it’s time for what is
actually in my bag! So this is my bag.
I know some people say that I should
probably have like a pack bag or
something with an internal frame, but
this one was free – it was my brother’s
old backpack – and it has lots of pockets
which helps keep me organized. So this is
what I have right now! So let’s see
what’s in my bag. I keep this on the
right side for easy access, this is sort of
my, like, defense pocket.
A knife: kind of self-explanatory, but a knife
is always good to have.
Flint: this is a fire starter that I highly
recommend that you practice with.
It can be hard to get the hang of right
away, and the last thing you want when
you actually need it is having to spend
an hour trying to get a spark.
Tiny alcohol bottle! Alcohol is always a
valuable resource to have for bartering
and to actually sterilize wounds in a
last-ditch effort if you need to.
Pepper spray gun: I like this one because
it has a really far shot and I actually
have two shots. Again, protection from other people.
Workman’s gloves! Please get these!
If you ever read The Road or seen
the movie The Road, having these is
really important. Flashlight: this one is
awesome because it’s actually a hand
crank, so I don’t need batteries or any
electricity to use it, and it always works.
My multi-purpose tool! Definitely
important to have some kind of basic
multi-purpose tool. This one also comes
with an additional flashlight. One other
really important thing to have in your
survival kit is some kind of can opener.
So this is a Japanese-style one; it’s
really simple, relatively lightweight
not super bulky, doesn’t take up a lot of
space. Waterproof matches.
Allergy pills! I’m allergic to shellfish and have
some other allergies so this is something
super important to me. The moral of this
story is: keep around medication that you
need personally. So if you have anything
you take on a day-to-day basis, I would
recommend trying to get an extra 30-day
supply of that and keeping it in your go
bag just in case.
Now moving to the interior pocket.
More workman’s gloves! you can
never have too many, and if you’re
traveling with someone else and they
don’t have them, you’re good to go.
A blanket! For staying warm or helping
build a shelter. Yes, I did take this from
an airplane. Don’t judge me.
Deck of cards: for entertainment, but also
for bartering purposes. People are gonna
be bored for the apocalypse, maybe they
want something to do and they have a lot
of canned food – you get food, they get a
source of entertainment, everyone wins.
Face masks, for protection.
This one’s important: a hand-crank and
solar-powered radio. Let’s say the
electricity is cut off, or the news
stations are down, you can’t get on the
Internet; I can have a little form of staying on
top of everything. Ooh! An emergency
blanket. This emergency blanket can keep
you warm – which might be important if
someone goes into shock, or if it’s
nighttime and you’re freezing – but also
Emergency rations! They have almost 4,000
calories in each bar, there’s enough for one person
for three days in here. Tastes like
shortbread, it’s actually not terrible.
Duct tape. If you buy anything,
buy duct tape. It has infinite uses!
You can’t go wrong with duct tape. Buy duct tape!
A life straw. This allows me to drink from
natural water sources that might not be
safe otherwise, so I know I can get water
by having one of these handy.
Ooh! First aid kit. Absolutely crucial to have a first aid kit.
I also keep some expired
medications, some pain meds, and
antibiotics in here – you never know when
you might need them during the apocalypse.
Oh, this one’s fun. So I know I said that
horror movies were what really
got me on my survivalist journey,
but one thing that really started it is
this book: The Zombie Survival Guide. And
yes, it does talk a lot about how to kill
zombies, the best weapons to do so, but I
think it’s really important. It talks
about things like protection, how to
remain invisible, look and listen, you know.
Will banks be safe? (The answer is no.)
Not only is it entertaining, but it reminds
me of where my survivalist journey started.
Ooh emergency poncho!
More hand sanitizer.
So I have a pair of socks because I keep a
pair of old sneakers in my bag as well.
After watching some disaster movies
where you see these women running
around in high heels all the time, that’s
impractical and you could hurt yourself,
so I always keep extra pair of shoes and
socks, so I have more secure and stable
footwear if I need it. Then I also keep
this guy: The Art of Eating Through the
Zombie Apocalypse. What I really like
about this is that it teaches you how to
do things like pickle vegetables, make a
makeshift fishing line, how to clean and
gut animals… it has some great recipes
for canned food and air-dried food. Also, I
like that it sort of encourages a mindset
where it’s not just about survival, but
about being comfortable – so even things
like using spices to help make your
canned food not so terrible or
monotonous. Keep this one handy.
And finally, I have a notebook and a pen.
Not only to keep notes for myself, or if I
needed to make a sign or something,
but I actually took an urban survival
class a few years ago and I have all my
notes in here. So things about how to
purify different kinds of water, basic
food starter kit, that kind of stuff.
So yeah. That’s my go bag.
We’ve been doing this for a long time.
Apocalypse scenarios feature heavily
in many religions. From the Norse Ragnarok
to the events described in the Bible’s
Book of Revelations.
But these end-of-days stories go back
even further, to around 2000 BC: an Epic
of Gilgamesh, which features a huge flood.
But what keeps us drawn to all these
apocalyptic tales? Watching a scary movie
or reading a terrifying book offers more
than entertainment. We get to experience
danger without actually being in harm’s
way… in other words, it’s kind of
like an emotional and intellectual
practice for our brains to learn how to
react. In the mid-18th century,
philosopher Edmund Burke proposed that
humans could experience something like
delight when encountering the sublime:
something that evokes the idea of danger
and pain without actually posing an
immediate threat. This is why we enjoy
rollercoasters, haunted houses, and of
course horror movies. As Burke says, at
certain distances and with certain
modifications – like a movie screen, for
instance – we can experience delight: the
relief of not being the person who is
suffering. There are lessons we can learn
from horror. Even if there is no specific
monster to point a finger at, how
characters in fiction respond to
dangerous situations can help form our
own habits. The overall takeaway? Be
prepared. But please, for the love of God,
there’s no reason to hoard toilet paper!
And hey, if Ron Swanson can have an
emergency Tammy bag in case his ex-wife
shows up, you can keep a few things in
your car or desk at work.
Hey Monstrum fans! I hope everyone is