“Urban survival” – why would Weekly Playboy (Dec 31) be sounding that note? What threats to survival does the big city pose? Three in particular: earthquakes, crime, poverty.
Earthquakes, naturally, come first. A particularly devastating one 22 months ago is still fresh in our minds, and seismologists say there’s a 60% chance of a “big one” rocking Tokyo sometime, there’s no telling when, within 30 years. A magnitude 9 quake centered beneath Tokyo, the experts calculate, could kill 323,000 people. How not to be one of them?
There are no guarantees in a cataclysm that overpowering, of course, but “be prepared” is a good maxim to start with. Think small. Think, for example, of the humble spoon.
It’s amazing what you can do with a spoon, when you stop to think about it – open bottles, open cans, unscrew screws, dig yourself out from under rubble. One thing: to be useful in a dire emergency, a spoon needs to be tough. One that bends easily is useless. There are tough spoons on the market. Check them out.
Other goods to stock up on now, before it’s too late, include a diesel-power chainsaw, emergency plastic toilets (as Playboy wisely observes, bodily functions do not cease in a crisis, even if everything else does), and non-perishable dried foods – which, the magazine notes, used to be barely digestible but are now, thanks to recent improvements, quite delicious.
Crime. Recent police statistics suggest violent crime is down, but the fact remains that the economy is feeble, many people are underemployed and underpaid if not unemployed, and there’s a lot of pent-up edginess on the street. Some will do anything if pushed far enough. They’ll do it to you if you happen to be in their path.
A surprisingly good weapon, the magazine tell us, is a set of keys. If you see someone coming at you in what looks like a threatening manner, grip your keys between your fingers, and if the attack materializes, let the attacker have it in the face – you’ll do some damage and give yourself time to flee.
Purse and bag-snatchers are a growing menace. One person watches you at the ATM and with a cell phone contacts a partner outside when you leave flush with cash. Usually the partner is on a bike or motorcycle and will make the grab before you even know what’s happening. There are, fortunately, special anti-crime straps that, for example, attach your bag to your wrist, making snatching virtually impossible.
Poverty is one thing that causes people turn to crime. But supposing you’ve lost your job or suffered a salary cut and are pinched to the point of desperation but shrink from violence. Are you homeless? Weekly Playboy offers instructions on how to build a cardboard shelter. Cold? Well, if you have someone to huddle with for warmth, so much the better. If not, find someone – preferably someone with a dog or cat because, the magazine says, animal warmth is not a bad second-best when unpaid utility bills have left you freezing in the dark.
As for food, how does 300 yen a month sound? With a little ingenuity you can keep body and soul together for no more than that. Ultra-cheap, high-calorie fare is what you need. Item one: a bottle of mayonnaise. Then, at the supermarket, ask for discarded vegetables – tell them you’ve a rabbit to feed. Your next stop is the bakery – “May I have some bread crusts to feed my carp?” And so on. Weekly Playboy makes it all seem rather fun. It probably isn’t, but if it tides you over to better times which surely lie ahead, the purpose has been served.