I lived on the Space Coast (east central) of Florida for ten years. Most of those years were quiet, catastrophe-wise. Then in 2004, we had 4 major hurricanes hit the state. Three of them rolled through our area, two almost making landfall in the same spot about 100 miles south of me. (My car still has a dent where Jeanne threw some mystery object at it.) In 2005, we had so many tropical storms and hurricanes that we ran through all of the official storm names and started on the Greek alphabet.
Before the storms, I had accumulated a reasonable number of hurricane supplies. All the usual suspects: candles, batteries, water, manual can opener. But some things you discover you need only after you actually need them.
Bleach. If you can’t boil water because the electricity is off and you’re out of propane or charcoal for your grill, you can use a drop of bleach (per so many gallons) to purify water.
TV antenna. Most TVs these days don’t come them.
Cash. No electricity, no ATM or credit card purchases. Some places didn’t have electricity for weeks after, but they still were open for business.
Gas. During Hurricane Francis, the entire state of Florida ran out of gas. Since it was an enormous (wide) storm, I ended up going to Georgia. On the way back, there were huge signs at the Florida border that said NO GAS. You could see people with South Florida plates with full cans of gasoline strapped to roofs of their cars.
Beer. Enough said.
So, after the storms I had really well stocked Hurricane Pantry. I shared my list of supplies with a friend who didn’t live in a hurricane (or earthquake or flood) zone, and she shared it with some other people. Next thing I know, my friend has a Bird Flu Survival Stash under her kitchen sink. She added cigarettes to my list, not only because she smokes but also because she says cigarettes will become the new currency. Just like in prison.
Another friend, who actually survived Katrina in New Orleans, has what she only half-jokingly calls the 2012 Armageddon Closet at her rental cabin in the mountains. The food and supplies are primarily in case the guests get snowed in and can’t make it to the store. But, I think my friend and her hubby are planning to occupy the cabin themselves, oh, around December of 2012, just in case.
After moving back to the mountains, I let my hurricane supplies sit on the shelf, batteries slowly expiring and analog TV becoming obsolete. Last winter, though, my Hurricane Pantry morphed into the Snowpocalypse Stash. I added pet friendly deicer and a small shovel to carry in the car. I still need a portable digital TV, though.
Do any of you have secret supplies for surviving potential apocalypses? A Swine Flu Fridge? A Climate Change Closet? (To clarify, I'm not talking about being a full-on survivalist with a storehouse of MRE's and ammo. No, just average folk with a tiny fear of running out of duct tape, peanut butter, and MGD 64.)
And, think about this when you’re reading or writing dystopian fiction, too. What dumb thing are the characters going to have to work around because they all of a sudden don’t have it anymore? How can you use that to heighten the drama?