When I am watching post-apocalyptic films such as The Road Warrior I wonder if I have what it would take to survive in such a hostile environment. Surviving in the wasteland would not be a walk in the park by any means and you would need many different kinds of skills to survive.
The first question you have to ask yourself is if you even want to be a survivor. I’m talking about a nuclear war of some sort, not a biological mishap that gets out of control. For example, if all of the nuclear weapons held by Russia, America and Israel went off I would personally rather just snuff it because the Earth is going to be just about impossible to live on for a very long time. The only way you are going to make it through total nuclear annihilation is if you live underground for a century, waiting for some of the fallout to go away. That is the basis for some books, specifically Wool, but it really wouldn’t make a totally interesting film would it? That sort of happens in A Boy And His Dog, but in that film there are also people still living above in the wasteland. In order to actually survive it could in no way be a full out nuclear conflagration.
Let’s say that a couple of nuclear weapons ‘accidentally’ go off. These strikes will happen in major metropolitan areas, so depending on where you live you are either going to be instant ash or have a chance to survive. Since Europe is a more densely packed area I wouldn’t imagine the chances to be very great that a sustainable population would flourish. A bomb hitting London is going to affect all of eastern England along with France and the rest of the continent. On the other hand you have countries like the US. and Australia that have population centers mostly along their coasts. In the US specifically there are cities that are inland, but there is so much empty land that people would have a chance of surviving. You live in the Seattle area, learn that bombs are going to drop and flee to eastern Washington state or to the Olympic Peninsula in the west and you will at least have fighting chance. It would all actually come down to how the wind is blowing the day that is happens.
Once the radiation has calmed down it will be safe to freely roam about after a few months. I imagine that you wouldn’t want to get too close to the bombing sites so you will have to wander about in the suburbs or countryside searching for food and shelter. The major problem would be the fact that all the crops, no matter what they are, will be contaminated to some degree. So, you would have to ignore those yummy apples and start eating canned food. Not everybody, of course, is going to realize that eating the fruit off of the trees is a bad idea so for a while finding canned food probably won’t be that much of an issue. Besides grocery stores going into private homes would be the best way to go about that. However, you will have to be very, very careful about entering a home because you don’t know if anybody is already occupying it, or perhaps wanting to catch you…for…food.
Cannibalism would definitely be one of the hazards you would face in the wasteland. It would be the only way that some people would have to survive; have the food come to them rather than going to the food. Since I’m a woman I would have some special problems to overcome. Personally, I would cut most of my hair off and bind my chest so that I look male. Who are a band of wasteland ruffians going to rape, a woman or a man? Okay, they may also rape a man, but by hiding my identity I would have a better chance of surviving. Society would break down, and law and order would probably be a thing of the past. That is unless you throw your lot in with a town. The problem with that is that they would be quite often run by people with delusions of grandeur who think they are some kind of President or even Jesus Christ. Sure, you would probably be more protected, but you are trading your freedom for a set of rules that might not be in your best interest. You would have to approach settlement with caution and always have an escape plan in case you have to get out of one in a hurry.
What about weaponry? That would totally depend on where in the world that you are. If you are in the US you would have a huge access to firearms; not only in stores such as Walmart but in private houses. I would carry some sort of assault rifle, a handgun and a knife. Never carry just one weapon because you never know when one of them may break down or get stolen. If you are somewhere else, such as Australia, you may be able to find some guns, but more than likely you would have to rely on other sorts of weapons. I think that some sort of sword would be an excellent weapon, because not only does it immediately intimidate your attacker, it also has the ability to chop their head clean off. As a backup weapon I would chose either a knife or a bow and arrow. It would all depend upon your dexterity and your ability to be able to find weapons.
The biggest issue is whether or not to take a vehicle or to go it out on foot. Having a vehicle of some sort would get you place to place faster, and you would be able to evade many of the ‘bad guys’. However, you would have to scavenge for gasoline and that bring about another whole set of problems. You are already spending a lot of your day looking for food, do you really want to spend the rest of your free time looking for gas? Then there is the issue of car maintenance. Personally, I think I could keep a car running as long as I had a manual and some basic tools, but I don’t think it would totally be worth the trouble. Something self propelling such as a bicycle, with a small trailer attached would make a lot more sense. Not only could you get to place to place more quickly than walking it would also keep you in good shape.
All in all I think that I could survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It’s all about how resourceful you are and how much common sense you have. If you possess both of these traits then you too could probably make it.