I don't have an earthquake survival kit, so I should at least store some water. Can I just fill some old milk jugs and put them in the basement, or do I need some special treatment pill? —Lazy Prepper
As my editors are all too painfully aware, I do an earthquake-doom column about every six weeks. Thus, you might imagine that my personal earthquake survival kit would be a model of well-planned readiness.
But who am I kidding? Everyone who reads this knows it's half a Dr Pepper and some Tic-Tacs. But I'm a guy who still hasn't finished his 2011 Oregon taxes. (They're done, I just need to mail them.) You should be able to do better.
The official line is that you need water (1 gallon per person per day) and nonperishable food for two weeks. Start with the water; it's basically free.
You actually can use milk-style gallon jugs, as long as they didn't actually contain milk (or juice)—bacteria can survive on the remnants of these, even after cleaning.
You can also use big plastic camping jugs, or even jerry cans, for that Mad Max feel. Just rinse them thoroughly in a solution of one teaspoon of unscented chlorine bleach to 1 quart of water.
If that sounds like a pain in the ass to you, I recommend paying someone else to do your taxes. Luckily, we can make it even easier.
Go buy six of those 2.5-gallon jugs of bottled water, the ones with a little spigot on the bottom. They're three bucks. Put them in your crappiest storage area—when survival is on the line, you'll be happy to brave that fiberglass-filled attic!
Then, get some peanut butter. Restaurant supply stores sell 35-pound buckets for $65. A place called webstaurantstore.com will deliver one to your house for $75. Sounds gross? Good, you won't be tempted to open it.
Away with the dull drudgery of workaday cannibalism! That bucket contains 93,000 calories—easily enough to keep you alive (though not healthy) for two weeks post-quake, with 20 pounds left over to barter with hungry, knife-wielding neighbors. It's a lousy plan, but it's better than what you're doing now, which is bupkis.