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'Disaster Diaries' Will Help You Survive The End Of The World

By NPR Staff | 02/03/2013

From movies about outbreaks, to television shows about zombies, to books about Armageddon, we're in love with the end of the world.

Author Sam Sheridan wants to teach you how to survive it, no matter the catastrophe. His new book is called Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse.

He's got the skill set to prepare us: Sheridan's resume includes wilderness firefighting, construction work in the South Pole, and everything in between.

In his quest to prime himself and his family for a worldwide disaster, Sheridan reached out to experts on everything from marksmanship, to medicine, to weightlifting.

Here are a couple of the skills he spoke about to Laura Sullivan, host of weekends on All Things Considered.

Building a fire

"You learned how to build a fire from scratch," says Sullivan, "not even with flint."

In his book, Sheridan treks out to Kansas from his home in Los Angeles to meet John McPherson, a Vietnam veteran whose every book is subtitled "Naked into the Wilderness."

McPherson taught Sheridan to draw "fire from cold wood." Sheridan describes McPherson flint-napping, or breaking rock, to get sharp edges, and then using the sharp edges for knives, to then cut wood, make a bow drill, get fire.

"It takes a long time, yes, it's tough," he says.

Stealing Cars

"It's pretty easy with older cars, and it's pretty impossible with newer cars," Sheridan tells NPR's Sullivan.

In Disaster Diaries, Sheridan reaches out to Luis, a former gang member from Los Angeles, to learn how to steal cars. Luis told Sheridan not to bother with hot wiring, the only tool he'd need was a Craftsman 41584 screwdriver.

With the flat side of the screwdriver, Luis showed him how to pop off the casing around an ignition, shove in the screwdriver, and turn over the ignition.

But the skills Sheridan shares with his reader don't end at things he can do with his hands. Disaster Diaries also goes through the coping mechanism for dealing with the emotional traumas that might come along with the end of the world.

All in all, the advice in Sheridan's book seems to come down to one common idea: "It'd be a shame to survive the initial meteor, or whatever it is, and then not be able to start a fire."
Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.