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Survival Lessons You Can Learn from Post-Apocalyptic Novels

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You don't have to be an avid prepper to enjoy post-apocalyptic novels. In fact, they are a great way to learn about preparedness while you are being entertained, as it's surprising how many real-life scenarios are presented in these stories. The first one I read was Good Fences by Boyd Craven. I saw an ad for his book in my social media news feed a few years back, and I decided to give it a read. I'm glad I did, as I thoroughly enjoyed the story.

The main character, Brian Cartwright, runs his own farm and just wants to be left alone. His farm shares a property line with a gated community, and their HOA repeatedly files nuisance complaints against him. His former employer, George, built a large home overlooking Brian's property, and a tragic incident ties the two men together. George's son, responsible for the tragic incident, repeatedly trespasses on the farm, and is eventually injured, causing Brian to build better, taller fences.

After America is attacked by an EMP, his neighbors realize they are woefully unprepared once the power is out, the grocery stores are closed, the faucets run dry, and opportunists begin to prey on the vulnerable. The neighbors who used to turn law enforcement on Brian now need him desperately. Surprisingly, he discovers he needs them as well.

Good Fences is highly engaging and raises a plethora of ethical dilemmas that everyone should consider before disaster strikes.

John D. McCann's book Wake-Up Call details Todd Hamilton and his wife Melissa's struggles to survive after a massive earthquake hits New York. They find themselves without power or water, and their food supply consists of a few canned goods (do you only have an electric can opener?) and coffee. Their attempt at boiling water fails miserably when they ignite a piece of newspaper, and it immediately turns to ash. I interviewed the author, who explained the difference between starting fire and building a fire. Could you build a fire if you needed one to cook food or stay warm?

Their neighbor is a USMC veteran, and they come across him as he is using his chainsaw to clear downed trees on his property. He has plenty of food, water and other necessary supplies. The couple quickly realize that being unprepared was a terrible mistake. Put yourself in their place and take the opportunity to come up with a plan, because just when you need it the most, help may not be on the way. If this scenario seems far-fetched, a week before this writing, a 4.8 magnitude earthquake struck New York City, rattling buildings and nerves. Because people tend to correlate earthquakes with the West coast, most residents were lacking in their readiness plans in The Empire State.

Both scenarios highlight the struggles of the unprepared, and how they gravitate to the prepared in times of need. This raises an important issue: what is the obligation of preppers to care for and assist those who have no emergency plan? Are those caught flat-footed entitled to benefit from the efforts of those who went to the time and expense to have a plan? It's good to have the resources to help people outside your immediate family if you can do so, but how far does that generosity extend? Friends? Neighbors? Co-workers? Strangers who come knocking in time of need?

At first people might ask nicely. But Friendly Neighbor might become Angry Father as time passes and he can't feed his hungry family. Have you considered how to handle this situation? What if others decide to take your supplies? What amount of force are you willing to use? In a normal world, you can't use lethal force to defend property. In a disaster, someone taking your food supplies might mean the death of your own family. At this point does lethal force become justified, as there is now an eminent threat to the lives of your family? Sure, the threat might not be immediate, but imagine how the rules will change when the rule of law goes out the window.

Going Home by A. American is the first in an epic series kicking off with the scenario of what happens when disaster strikes, and you are far from home. Morgan Carter is 250 miles from his family when his car breaks down. Then the country's power grid collapses, leaving him with no way of knowing when things will return to normal, or the status of the situation at home. Morgan is an avid survivalist and continues his journey on foot with his survival gear on his back. Chaos threatens him every step of the way, but he'll do whatever it takes to get home to his wife and daughters. This series is wildly popular, and for good reason.

Do you and your family have a plan in place in the event disaster strikes and you are separated? If not, now is the time to come up with one.

In Locker Nine by Franklin Horton, Grace, a college student, finds herself far from home after a nationwide terrorist attack. Her father taught her self-defense and survival skills, hoping she would never need them. On her way home, she finds herself the target of a deranged fellow traveler who seeks opportunity in a chaotic new world that allows him to reenact his favorite video games in real life. Do your children have the skills to protect themselves when you can't help them? Perhaps this story will inspire you to teach them.

Even the most experienced preppers and survivalists can find holes in their plans, or small details that they may have missed that can impact chances of surviving an emergency. If you don't think you need to be prepared, read a few of these stories, and put yourself in the place of the characters. You will surprise yourself, and hopefully, act accordingly.

Your survival is your responsibility. A prepared society a free society.


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