An often-overlooked aspect of disaster planning is boredom relief. There are many disaster scenarios that would involve a fair amount of down time. The power goes out during a blizzard, and suddenly, only the second half of “Netflix and chill” is an option. It won’t take long before the kids are climbing the walls, too.
Here’s the thing. Boredom isn’t just an annoyance. It can lead to a variety of issues, such as a short temper and an excess of nervous energy; conversely, it can make you tired and lethargic. None of these situations are helpful in the wake of a crisis. While food, water, and other supplies are certainly important elements in your disaster plan, don’t overlook stocking up on things to do when binge-watching the latest season of Alone isn’t a viable option.
Board games are tried and true options for the proverbial rainy day. Many families have at least a few of them kicking around, such as Monopoly and Risk, and maybe even a dusty box of Chutes and Ladders or Candyland. Today is a good time to break out all those games and go through the boxes. Make sure all the pieces are present and accounted for, rather than finding out later that someone appears to have made off with every single pair of dice in the house.
You can often find used board games at very cheap prices at thrift stores, flea markets and rummage sales. Just be sure to check the contents. Anything that is missing can usually be found online, either through the manufacturer or occasionally on eBay. Playing pieces or tokens can be improvised, of course, if need be.
If you’re looking for a board game that has a survivalist or prepper slant, seek out Doom and Bloom SURVIVAL!, Dead of Winter or Settlers of Catan. Be forewarned, though, these games, and others like them, are a touch more complicated than a standard board game like Sorry or Life. It might take playing the game a time or two before you get the hang of the mechanics and rules.
An often-overlooked aspect of disaster planning is boredom relief.
Extra dice are always good to have on hand in case you lose the ones for Monopoly. Of course, there are also many games you can play with just the dice, such as Bar or Poker dice. Some folks even invest in a nice, leather dice cup, too. Tenzi is a fun game that uses 10 dice. Yahtzee is another popular dice game. You can find good deals online on large sets of dice. Invest in a few packs of scorecards at the same time.
Playing cards are pretty inexpensive in most stores and ridiculously cheap at thrift shops. Put a prepper spin on the poker game by using cards that have survival information, wild edibles or animal tracks printed on them. There are several books on the market that detail the rules and strategy for playing innumerable different card games suitable for solo or group play.
Conflicted is a very fun and interesting card game for preppers. Cards Against Humanity is a load of laughter—if played with the right people. (Fair warning: It isn’t for the faint of heart and should be kept well away from children.)
Physical activity is a great way to burn off excess energy, as well as either getting into or staying in shape. Face it, the better your physical condition, the better you’ll handle stress, along with the rigors of a true survival situation. And there’s little need for special equipment. There are many exercises that utilize nothing more than your own body weight as resistance.
Planking is one of the best exercises for your core; the front plank is the most common of these. Get down on the floor in the standard push up position, but instead of extending your arms out and resting on your hands, bend your arms until your forearms and elbows support your weight. Bring your hands together and stay up on your toes. Keep your back as straight as possible and hold that position. (Don’t forget to breathe.)
If you’re new to the exercise, strive for just 20 to 30 seconds. Over the course of a few weeks, you could work your way up to three or four minutes. (FYI: The current world record is eight hours, one minute and one second.)
Pushups, sit-ups, jumping jacks and all those classic exercises are great. Just don’t overdo it if your exercise regimen has consisted of little more than doing arm curls with the TV remote. (It’s always a good idea to consult your physician before beginning a new exercise program.)
Many preppers and survivalists are avid readers. The down time after the initial crisis has passed might make for an excellent time to catch up on some of the books and magazines you’ve been meaning to get to but haven’t found time for.
In “Time Enough At Last,” an early Twilight Zone episode, Burgess Meredith’s character is continually badgered for his obsessive desire to devour books. When an “H-bomb” destroys the city and possibly the country, he finds himself all alone, having survived because of his habit of taking lunch in the vault of the bank where he worked.
At first despondent at the thought of being the last person on Earth, he then realizes he finally has all the time he wants to read everything and anything. Then, in classic Twilight Zone fashion, he trips and breaks his glasses. The moral? Make sure you have a backup pair of spectacles stashed at home.
Related to reading is storytelling. This is a fun family activity that is often neglected or overlooked. Gather the family and grab a book from the shelf. Take turns reading chapters or sections aloud. (Bonus points for those who use different voices for each character.) Or, forgo the book altogether and just make up stories to tell. Even a room full of grownups can have fun playing story evolution, where each person in turn contributes one line, or even just a single word, to the developing story. This can also be a good time to tell family stories and histories—usually an entertaining and comforting topic.
Arts and Crafts
While more geared toward the youngsters, there is a growing selection of coloring books designed to reduce stress in adults. Breaking out the art supplies can keep creative family members of any age occupied for a while. Drawing paper, colored pencils and crayons, scissors and glue are guaranteed to keep the pre-teen crowd busy for a while. Add in a few tubes of glitter if you’re feeling brave.
Depending on the nature of the crisis, perhaps you can take some plaster of Paris outside and show the kids how to make casts of animal prints. Let them paint the casts as an added touch.
Hand out blank sheets of paper and ask the kids to make maps of the neighborhood, labeling street names, as well as showing who lives in each house around you. Use these maps to help illustrate evacuation plans should the need arise.
Shop the back-to-school sales in late summer for good deals on the basics (markers, pencils, scissors and paper).
Air rifles and pellet guns can be used indoors, provided you take common-sense precautions. Target practice can be a great way to spend some time while maintaining or improving your skills. Basements and garages are great places for an impromptu range. Set up paper targets and stack cardboard behind them as a backstop.
BBs and pellets are very cheap, so it is easy to stock up on a ton of them. The rifles and pistols aren’t inexpensive, at least not if you want something of good quality. However, if they are properly maintained, they’ll last a long time—not to mention, high-powered air rifles can easily be used to hunt small game such as squirrels and rabbits.
Boredom isn’t just an annoyance. It can lead to a variety of issues, such as a short temper and an excess of nervous energy; conversely, it can make you tired and lethargic. None of these situations are helpful in the wake of a crisis
Air rifles are great for teaching basic marksmanship, as well as safe firearm handling. Indoors or out, though, be sure to use safety goggles and be hyperaware of your surroundings.
It almost sounds counterintuitive, but boredom can be stressful. Take the time now to stock up on a few things for you and your family to do if the power goes out for a substantial length of time.
Of course, you might consider adding a few of these activities to your daily lives, too. Time spent as a family should be a priority in every household.
Cards Against Humanity – www.CardsAgainstHumanity.com
Conflicted: The Survival Card Game – www.ConflictedTheGame.com
Dead of Winter – www.PlaidHatGames.com
Doom and Bloom SURVIVAL! Board Game – www.store.DoomAndBloom.net
Settlers of Catan – www.Catan.com
American Science and Surplus – www.SciPlus.com
Nasco – www.eNasco.com
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the January 2017 print issue of American Survival Guide.