How to Effectively Deal with Natural Disasters (Spring Edition)

20 Mar

Today officially marks the first day of Spring, which can only mean one thing: you are now at risk of a major natural disaster. (The date also marks two months since a certain someone became the 45th president of the United States, but I’d call that more of a national disaster.)

However, don’t go shitting any bricks just yet: I am here to help you. In addition to the boatload of badges I received as a member of Troop #4847 in Trenton (NJ), I was invited (by Smokey Bear himself) to participate in the first annual Abandoned Cubs Survival Camp. Although the camp was quickly closed, thanks to a lawsuit filed by Timmy “I Don’t Wanna Wrestle Raccoons” Wilson’s mother, I did learn a lot. I’m pretty confident that I’m prepared to handle anything Mother Nature can throw at me, and I’m happy to share that knowledge with you forthwith.


If Smokey  taught me anything, it’s that you don’t play with matches, especially when each one represents a grand in a dice game. However, fires happen and require quick thinking. If you caused the fire, quickly throw any evidence into the hottest part of the blaze then get out of there as fast as you can. Stay low if possible to avoid the rising smoke, but scooting around on your belly is stupidly ineffective so try to keep your wits about you. Don’t stop to pick up valuables (except for your purse or wallet; phone; camera; laptop; important documents like birth certificates and banking details; treasured family heirlooms; and children, but only your own). If you have to jump out of a window, try to land on something softer than cement.

Fire-Forest.jpgIf you’re out camping and encounter a forest fire, find out first if it was deliberately set by experts before you start chucking the contents of your Thermos at it. Some people think controlled fires are good because they prevent more dangerous fires, just like smoking crack prevents heroin use. Whatever. If someone official is in charge of the fire, just go home and promise yourself to stop pretending that camping is fun.


Dszpics1.jpgIt’s relatively easy to tell when you’re about to be confronted with a tornado. It’ll be proper rainy and windy. The air might seem a little warmer than it should and feel weirdly still despite the wind. The sky could even go a strange colour that will make you think, “What the h?” Then all of a sudden you will notice that the ringing in your ears is not just the remnants of last night’s hangover, but a siren announcing that a tornado has been spotted in your area. It’s time for you to act.

Do not run. First off all, if you run while you’re panicked, you’ll be tempted to flail your arms around, and you risk looking hysterical. Secondly, you cannot outrun a tornado: they can travel up to 100 mph and you cannot run that fast, even if your life depended on it which it will.

Instead you need to go to the cellar (if you don’t have a cellar, I’m sure your neighbours won’t mind if you use theirs or just crawl under a rock). Locate something strong and heavy to protect your person: get under some shelves, slip beneath the washing machine, or crawl into a disused refrigerator and pull the door shut tight. Do not, however, try to get inside a working furnace. Make yourself as small as possible: tuck into a tight foetal position and use your hands to cover your head. If you’re religious, this would be a good time to pray but don’t make any promises you can’t keep.

Three things will happen next. You could get caught up in the twister and your body will catapulted through the air until you slam into a barn or the ground and you’ll be dead.

Or the building you’re inside of will be destroyed. This sucks but at least you’re alive.

The most likely option, though, is that the siren will stop, the wind will die down, and you’ll go back upstairs, probably feeling like a cowardly idiot whose knees are now filthy. Clean up and shake it off: this is just the way it goes when it comes to tornadoes.

Note: it’s a myth that tornadoes will lead you to the Emerald City. If you want to get out of Kansas, just relocate.


Hurricanes aren’t quite the same as tornadoes, but you didn’t come here for science, you came here for practical advice. While the above suggestions still apply, everything’s going to be a lot worse for a lot longer, so act now by constructing a concrete underground shelter and stocking those shelves.


The best way to protect yourself against floods is to not get gay married. If it’s too Looking_downtown_from_Riverfront_Ave_Calgary_Flood_2013late for that (congratulations by the way), the best thing to do is to get into the bath. As you are normally wet in the bath, it’ll feel less like a crisis and more like the norm and thus you can think more clearly. Don’t bother with sandbags; they are really, really heavy. If you do have the strength, go out to your garden and dig holes — this will give the water a place to go. You could even dig one in your neighbour’s garden and charge them for installing a pond — think creatively!

Weaklings should carefully consider which possessions to carry up to the roof first. Help will eventually come, usually in the form of politicians in wellies.

Wild Animal Attacks

Spring weather means that hibernating animals are starting to rouse and emerge from their wintry naps, drowsy and hungry. Plus when they find out that no one stopped January’s presidential inauguration, they are also going to be well pissed off. Your reaction will depend on the type of animal staring you down.


Wolves can only focus on one thing at a time. Throw some clothing or an infant at the wolf and then book it out of there before it realises what precisely is going on.Black_bear_large


Bears look cute, but they are deadly. Seriously. Don’t muck about. Get yourself to the nearest elementary school, borrow a child’s gun, and blow the bear’s brains out.


If a fox is attacking you, you must have done something to aggravate it. If you survive the attack, promise yourself you’ll leave foxes alone in the future. So what if they eat leftovers out of your bins? Is that a crime? (If it is, it shouldn’t be.) Shop less wastefully from now on.


Always wrestle raccoons. They like it. They think it’s fun.


If you’ve got a goat on you, offer it to the chupacabra in exchange for your safety. If you don’t have a goat, take a quick photo then back away slowly to make your escape.

Since most of my emergency training was done when I was a child, it is, admittedly, more geared toward those living in the United States. However, soon everyone on the planet will get to live in fear of the environmental repercussions of 45’s well-informed stance on climate change, so at least bookmark this page for future reference.

Until then, enjoy the daffodils!

2 Responses to “How to Effectively Deal with Natural Disasters (Spring Edition)”

  1. susieb4547 Monday, 20 March 2017 at 20:18 #

    One of your best advise columns ever…I’m still laughing (I’m suppose to laugh, right?). However you did not mention “Stop, Drop and Roll” advice which would apply to almost all the above disasters (except perhaps the Raccoon attack, as he will think it’s another clever game). I now feel equipped to handle most any problem, so my lawyer will be contacting you shortly.

  2. Antonia Matthew Tuesday, 21 March 2017 at 01:27 #

    wonderful — helps to deal with the national disaster!

    On Mon, Mar 20, 2017 at 1:56 PM, Everyone Needs an Algonquin wrote:

    > SW/AWW posted: “Today officially marks the first day of Spring, which can > only mean one thing: you are now at risk of a major natural disaster. (The > date also marks two months since a certain someone became the 45th > president of the United States, but I’d call that more ” >

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