Surviving the Collapse of Infrastructure
Infrastructure breakdown is different from many other types of catastrophes. For one thing, it is possible to anticipate certain types of natural disasters using various meteorological methods. Infrastructure breakdown is undoubtedly a social and political disaster, and these types of disasters can be somewhat harder to predict. While problems with infrastructure are relatively common in many nations, infrastructure breakdown to the point of government collapse is very rare and often absolutely devastating.
The overarching systems and technologies that enable modern life could all be classified as infrastructure. A functional water supply, heat, transportation, electricity, energy and food production and distribution, and public health services are all essential for the sake of a national critical infrastructure. Having a functioning police force can be just as important. The collapse of any one of these elements can lead to not one disaster, but several. There have been cases of areas succumbing to crime after having been without a police force for only a few hours. Devastating city-wide blackouts that lasted under a day have had far-reaching economic and political consequences.
The United States and Infrastructure
Politicians in the United States are constantly debating about what it is they should do about America's deteriorating infrastructure. The long-term consequences of America's problem with deteriorating infrastructure remain to be seen, but the current situation is certainly unsustainable. Most instances of infrastructure breakdown in the United States have occurred within local areas. Situations of persistent infrastructure breakdown in the United States vary, and it depends upon how one defines infrastructure breakdown in the first place. Electricity is a part of a nation's critical infrastructure, so a pervasive blackout could be considered infrastructure breakdown.
1. The City of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina experienced a collapse of critical infrastructure. It may be one of the most infamous examples in all of American history.
2. New York City has suffered a number of blackouts throughout its history, which will no doubt continue.
3. The Northeastern region of the United States has had significant power outages. Highly urbanized areas like the Northeast may be more vulnerable to certain types of infrastructure breakdown.
The ability of citizens to prepare for infrastructural problems will vary according to the type of infrastructural problem in question. Preparing for power outages is a fact of life for a lot of people anyway, and preparing for extended and profound power outages requires a similar set of supplies. Preparing for a full-scale government collapse is much more challenging. Many people in the survivalist subcultures are specifically preparing for a major government collapse.
- Water: The end of stable infrastructure will mean the end of a clean water supply. Any existing water supplies would probably rapidly become contaminated. People that have gallons of water in storage are that much more likely to survive any major disaster brought on by infrastructure breakdown. Having water on hand can help people prepare for all sorts of disasters, even those that are relatively mild.
- Food: It is best to stock up on non-perishable food that requires minimal preparation. Almost anything that you can do to prepare food is going to require additional resources and time. If you're dealing with a situation where the roads and the outdoors are going to be unsafe for an extended period of time, having a solid stash of food will extend the amount of time you can rely on yourself.
- Light: Electricity is often the first thing to go, when it comes to infrastructure failure. Having flashlights, lanterns, or almost anything else that can allow you to generate light without an electricity source can help you. Solar lamps and flashlights that you can power manually are particularly good to have in this situation. Having heat sources is just as important.
- First aid: Being able to treat as many potential injuries as possible will improve your chances of getting through the infrastructure breakdown unscathed.
In the United States and many other nations, infrastructure breakdown is probably going to occur within a relatively localized area. In that case, you may be better off doing everything you can to leave a particular area. If there's any way of anticipating any sort of infrastructure breakdown in advance, it's best to leave as soon as possible, at least temporarily. However, some infrastructure breakdowns happen unexpectedly enough that by the time the public knows that they have happened, it is much too late to escape. If transportation services have collapsed or the roads are obstructed, escape may be impossible.
- Stay indoors if your home is safe. Crime tends to spike in situations of infrastructure collapse.
- Ration the supplies that you have on hand. It is difficult to know how long an infrastructure breakdown will last.
- Try to keep up with the news, if you can. One of the challenges of infrastructure collapse is that the news media is part of our infrastructure. However, there are different levels of infrastructure problems, so it may still be possible to get a sense of how things are progressing, or whether the situation outside is improving.
Everyone affected by infrastructure breakdown will almost have to recover as a group. Even after the disaster has been averted, the local economy may suffer as a result of the breakdown, depending upon the severity of the incident. There may be some fatalities. While the recovery process for periods following full-scale government collapse can be difficult to anticipate, many types of infrastructure breakdowns require a certain expected healing process.
- Once it's safe, leaving the affected area during the recovery process can be the best course of action for many people. Many areas recover very slowly in situations like these, and it may be best to get to a more stable environment at that point.
- If you are unable to leave, you can cautiously work at returning to normal, knowing that the disaster may have affected the lives of many different local people in unexpected ways.