Food in the hierarchy of survival needs, but, since we're talking about an urban situation, I've assumed that most people will easily be able to shelter themselves. Manhattan has thousands of empty hotel rooms and miles of subway stations. If you need to get out of the elements, you'll probably be able to.)

But what if you find yourself with no place to go because of a fire or the threat of violence or any of a hundred other complications in a collapse situation? Where will you go? How will you deal with the elements? Assume the worst. Assume it will be cold and wet. What will you do for 72 hours in the middle of winter?

Make sure you can always grab winter clothing with an outer layer that repels water. Boots are essential, as are gloves, hat and scarf. You will find in an emergency situation that you quickly become focused on the fundamentals of life: hunger, thirst and warmth. Plan in advance to address those needs.

Recently, there's been talk that the government is going to change its preparedness recommendation from 72 hours to 96, which says to me that somewhere a bureaucrat got restless. The number of hours isn't the point. The point os to be prepared and know what you would do in the initial phase of an emergency. And since this book is concerned with open ended disasters, where nothing will be restored in 72 hours - or 96, or perhaps 9,600 - I present the 72-Hour Rule to you only as a way to focus your thinking on the absolute essentials of how you should prepare.

Now: How do you put that thinking into action? That's where the go-bag comes in.

April's text in black pen:

What am I going to do if I can't stay at Eva's anymore? My phone doesn't work. I don't know where any of my friends are, and they mostly lived in Brooklyn anyway. I can sneak into a hotel room, I guess, but I'm afraid someone will see me. There are aimless people all over, wandering and picking things up. People are being robbed and mugged everywhere. I'm trying to stay inconspicuous. I spent the whole morning today trying to buy medicine and any food that might have good vitamins or antibiotic properties. There's nothing, and what there is has gotten so expensive... is it time to just dump my money? That seems like giving up somehow. I mean, if you can't believe in the good old American dollar, what can you believe in?

April's text in blue pen:

At first I didn't take the boot thing seriously, but after 10 days walking, I ducked into a store and came out with a good pair of hiking boots. You were right again, Merch. You were so right, as a matter of fact, that when I can't sleep I get myself half-convinced that you're behind this whole thing, What a joke on all of us that would be.

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