Zombie apocalypse parenting class: Part three

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been writing about the zombie apocalypse parenting class I took at Babes in Arms, a local baby store. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here. This is the third and final installment to the post series.

Note: Babes in Arms gave me the complimentary seat in the class because I’m writing about it for ICoS.




So, okay. This class was held in Calgary. You know, in Alberta. Where it gets cold and snowy for six months of the year. (Yuck, I know, but such is life.) But since we live in a place where winter takes over for what seems like forever, we always have to be prepared for blizzards. Which are kinda like the hurricanes of the north, if you think about it. I mean, it gets windy, with ridiculous amounts of precipitation—though instead of being flooded out, you get snowed in. And instead of drowning or dying from heat stroke, you could freeze to death when the power goes out.

Either way, it’s pretty bad. And blizzards do happen. So, as always, it’s best to be prepared.

If the power goes out during a blizzard, the first thing you need to do is figure out how to stay warm. They don’t call them “cold winter nights” for nothing. While you may think the best thing to do is haul out the firewood and light up the fireplace, this may actually be a terrible thing to do. Why? Heat loss. You lose a lot of heat up that chimney, and you may actually be losing more heat than you create.  Which would, you know, defeat the purpose of making a fire in the first place.

So if the fireplace is out, what can you do?

Get everyone in the same room. Yep, it means getting close to your family. And possibly your neighbors if you decide to invite them over for the whole strength-in-numbers thing (or the body heat thing). And make sure to keep your food and water in the room with you! You don’t want to preserve all that heat only to lose it when you open the door every time you need to eat or drink. So before you barricade yourself in that cozy survival room, make sure you’ve brought up enough food and water to last you a couple days. (And if you can stay in a room with a bathroom, even better. You’re still gonna need to pee.)

Word of caution: stay away from candles as much as possible. You don’t want to accidentally start a fire, and all it takes is a split second when you have an open flame. (And while burning to death would keep you really warm, I recommend against that method.)

So. Now that you’ve squished you, your family, your food, your water, and your bathroom into one probably cozy room, how else are you going to keep warm? By promoting heat gain and preventing heat loss. (This seems like a “duh” answer, doesn’t it?) But I’m serious. During the day, open the curtains (make sure your bunker-room has windows), and let the heat in. If possible, stay in a room with heat-retaining material like stone; if not, make sure it’s at least got a window (the more the better). At night, prevent heat loss by boarding that window up tight so no heat escapes. Makes sense, right? While you’re at it, make sure you’ve sealed the door closed, too. Heat still escapes under the door, after all.

And now that you’ve gotten your room as warm as possible, make sure you stay warm by wearing the right kind of clothes. As weird as it may seem, there is a right kind of clothing when dressing for cold weather emergencies. But don’t worry, you don’t have to go all Prada on your family.

Essentially, the best things you can wear are clothes made from natural materials, particularly bamboo. Now, I’ve bought some bamboo clothing before (albeit for my kids) and that stuff is hella soft. So not only will you be warm in your marginally warm blizzardy room, you’ll be ridiculously comfortable. And hey, I’d take comfort along with warmth. You won’t catch me wearing wool, no matter how warm it is.

Other things to keep in mind during a blizzard or other cold weather emergencies:

  • Drain your pipes. No really, drain your pipes. Trust me, you do not want to have to deal with the aftermath of pipes that have burst. You really don’t
  • At some point, you should shut off your gas. That means your furnace and your hot water won’t work, but it’ll be better that way (especially in the long run). Besides, you’ll have body heat and bamboo clothing to keep you warm, right? Exactly.
  • Makeshift heaters: Since your furnace won’t be working, consider making a compost heater. It’ll be gross as hell, but it’ll be effective. Essentially, you take your garbage to your hunker-down room (but for the love of all that smells flowery, keep it sealed shut). As your garbage decomposes, it’ll give off heat, which will keep you warm. But, you know, don’t open it. Just don’t.




And now, we get to the crux of the class: parenting prep. Okay, in all fairness, everything I’ve talked about so far is helpful in any situation, But now we’re moving into parent-specific prep. If you’re not a parent, feel free to skip this part.

A little while ago, I wrote about child transportation in the post apocalypse. Even though I love those strollers (because who doesn’t want to be pushing around a ninja throwing star on wheels?), I have to admit it’s not very practical. Unfortunately. So what can you do if your child gets tired but your stroller called it quits several feet (and/or several snowbanks) ago?

Answer: babywearing. No, really. I wore both of my kids when they were younger, but I admit I’ve been putting them in a stroller lately. In an emergency or apocalyptic situation, a stroller may be out of the question. But if you’re like me and have already put the Snugli in storage, you might think that babywearing isn’t possible.

Don’t worry, it is. I used to use a giant stretchy cotton baby wrap, which, if I could find it, would be perfectly usable for carrying my toddler and preschooler. But if I can’t find it (or if you don’t have one), you can use pretty much anything you’ve got. During the class, we learned different emergency babywearing techniques, which turns everyday items into baby carriers. For example, you can use short sleeved t=shirts, long sleeved t-shirts or sweaters, towels, blankets, belts, scarves or shawls…you name it, you can use it.

I’ve actually already used a fleece jacket as a baby carrier. It wasn’t an apocalyptic emergency, but it was an emergency in that my 2.5 year old was getting very tired and very cranky. Turning my jacket into a carrier saved her (and me) from throwing a tantrum at the mall. See? These emergency tips can be used in day to day life.

Oh, by the way, those giant super stretchy wraps I mentioned? They can also be used as adult carriers, supply carriers, splints, and water filters. Handy, right? So if you don’t have one, maybe run down to your nearest local baby store and pick one up.

All right. So now Junior is packed nice and tight on your back, and you two are running like hell through the post-apocalyptic wasteland. But wait! Junior’s not toilet trained yet, and your friendly neighborhood box store has been turned into a haven for zombies. What do you do?

Well, you’ll still have a choice. At least at first. So if you’re using disposables, use them until you run out. But be aware that you’re going to have to dispose of those disposable diapers somehow, and a trail of dirty diapers is a pretty big trail of breadcrumbs for someone to follow. Consider burying your diapers if you can. If not, toss them as far from you as possible and use them as zombie decoys.

If/when you run out of disposables, you’ve got a couple of choices. One is the obvious, which are cloth diapers. The other is elimination communication. Let’s start with cloth.

Cloth diapers last a ridiculously long time, and can be reused (which is their post-apocalyptic appeal, of course). However, keep in mind that reusing means washing. A makeshift washing machine is a bucket and toilet plunger. Put water and detergent into your bucket and plunge your diapers (with the plunger, obviously) til they’re clean.

If you’re familiar with cloth diapers, you’ll know that there are about a gajillion different kinds available now. Unfortunately, the super fancy, high tech kinds (like the all-in-ones I used on my kids) won’t be the best ones to use in the post-apocalypse. Instead, stick to the cotton flats or the cotton prefolds. They’re basically just giant squares of cotton. If you can’t get these, get something else in a natural material, since these will be the best to use.

Also, those cloth diapers Junior’s using will also be great for that time of the month for women. It might seem gross to be sharing your kid’s diapers, but pads, etc will be just as hard to find as disposable diapers. But maybe make sure you’ve got two buckets and two plungers.

If you’re not into cloth diapering (and it’s okay if you’re not), your other option is elimination communication. This is really just a fancy term for “your child potty trains you.” How this works is you become attuned to your child’s signals and signs, and you rush them to the potty/outhouse/nearest bush so they can do their business. There are no diapers involved.

Of course, this also pretty much guarantees that your child will be attached to your hip. And if you don’t pay attention, you’re going to end up peed on. Or worse.

Other parent-specific topics covered in the class:

  • Infant feeding: consider extended breastfeeding. If you can’t/won’t breastfeed, then stock up on the formula. (But always pay attention to the best before dates on the cans.)
  • Menstruation: the aforementioned cloth diapers can work if necessary. If you’re not into diapers, consider getting the Diva cup.
  • Family planning: natural family planning (this is NOT the rhythm method) will be the most natural way in that you won’t be ingesting or inserting anything. Aside from that, stock up on condoms, consider getting an IUD, or go herbal.

And that’s about it. The class covered a lot of information—all of it good—and I’ve only covered some of it here. It was a very informative class, and I highly recommend it. Consider taking the class if you’re in the Calgary area. If you’re not, then keep an eye on the Babes in Arms website for if/when they start offering the information online.

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