Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guest Post: Mike Mullin on Surviving a Supervolcano

Top 10 Tips for Surviving a Supervolcano

My debut novel, ASHFALL, will be released on October 11. It’s about a teen struggling to survive and find his family in the wake of a supervolcano eruption at Yellowstone. In order to write ASHFALL, I spent more than a year researching volcanoes and survival situations. If you’d like to know more about the science behind ASHFALL, check out my guest post at Our Time in Juvie. Here are ten tips I learned on how to survive a real disaster like the one in ASHFALL:
  1. Be a woman – if the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, most of the resulting deaths will be from starvation, not ash. The most productive grain-producing states in the U.S. will be buried in ash. The U.S. alone produces about 20% of the world’s grain supply, and there is less than a 60 day supply of stored grain. In a famine, women have an evolutionary advantage over men. Their lower muscle mass means they can survive on less food and their higher percentage of body fat gives them more reserves when food is scarce. Muscle-bound men—the Rambo types—are among the first to die.
  2. Be the right age. If you’re under 6 or over 35, your chances of surviving are slim. Children from age 6 to 14 will probably fare well if they’re with their families. Women between the ages of 14 and 35 have the best odds of all.
  3. Keep your family close – having family around roughly doubles your odds in a survival situation. The will to live is just as important as the means.
  4. Don’t fall victim to the ash. Protect your lungs with an N95 or better mask and your eyes with goggles. The ashfall will also kill people by collapsing their houses and kill people who fall off their roofs while removing ash. A long-handled roof rake could be a life saver.
  5. Stay indoors as much as possible until the ash has settled. Seal windows and doors with plastic and tape. Shut off furnaces, air conditioners and ventilations systems (if they’re still operable) to keep ash out of the house.
  6. Drill a well if you don’t have one and shell out the extra money for the manual pump option, so you can still get clean water when the power goes down.
  7. Have enough food stockpiled to last until you can find another source.
  8. Learn how to grow food in the winter. Cold frames or greenhouses could save your life. Remember that any high-tech greenhouse heating system is likely not to function after an ashfall. A heat source that’s totally in your control, like a methane digester, may be a better option.
  9. If you’re going to have to move to survive, do it before your food runs out, while you’re still strong. Air and automobile travel will be impossible after an ashfall, so you’ll likely be walking. Snowshoes or skis will be very helpful, particularly once the volcanic winter sets in.
  10. Practice low technology living now. Learn how to skin and butcher an animal, what you can and can’t eat, how to make fire, and how to purify water.
The protagonist of ASHFALL, Alex, doesn’t have many of these things. So how does he survive? You’ll have to read ASHFALL to find out!

Thanks for stopping by, Mike, and sharing those tips!
You can find out more about Ashfall and Mike Mullins by following these links.

The first two chapter are available on his website: www.mikemullinauthor.com

Also, Mike will be giving away four hardback ASHFALL first editions during the blog tour, one to a random commenter from each week of the tour. The giveaway will be US/Canada only.  There will also be a 5th copy of the book available for those who are international. Just make sure that the Book Depository ships to your country as Mike will purchase a copy of the book through the Book Depository to send out to the international winner.
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