But, more interestingly, what would I think I should do, pending the determination of whether our visitors from the sky were friendly or not?
On returning home, I think there would be a good case to be made for an immediate "bugging out" of large cities, they being obvious targets for any invasion bent on sterilizing the planet for their own purposes, at least until the reason for their visit was known. Could I sell that to my family?
The scenario that has some appeal is to go bush for a period, in or near a heavily forested area that may make detection difficult. Particularly in South East Queensland, we have some pretty thick subtropical rainforest not too far from the city, with lots of water and dense canopy that would surely hide your infrared signal pretty well. There is Lamington National Park, but it's very up and down, and I imagine most flat sites under cover to be some distance from water. Instead, I have one particular State forest area in mind, where I went camping (not entirely legally) in my early 20's. As far as I know, it remains undeveloped. The creek is substantial and very clean, and few people have likely have seen much of it beyond the one swimming hole/picnic area, because there are no paths going upstream - you can follow the creek and there are other waterholes further up there, but it's not the easiest of walks, involving as it does going through water and scrambling over boulders. No, I'm not telling you where this is, because it's my secret, illegal hideout, not yours.
Here's the part that I like fantasising about more: if the reason to get out of the city was becoming very clear and urgent (say, reports of major cities in the Northern Hemisphere starting to be nuked), what would I urge the family to collect from the house (and the nearest - perhaps in the process of being ransacked - shops) if I only had an hour to organise the car being packed for an indefinite period of survival in the bush? My scenario is a bit like Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds, except he had no time at all - the tripods were just a few blocks away.
Hence the title of this post: what is the best strategy if you suddenly become "the one hour survivalist"?
I was a bit surprised to find that Googling that phrase doesn't produce anything useful, but rather has links to some video games.
I've never spent much time looking at American survivalist websites, but they are (of course) more about years of planning for economic collapse and defending your homestead - lots and lots of emphasis on shooting and having a decade's worth of ammo - rather than people who are suddenly pressed into running away.
I found one web page semi-helpfully entitled The Quickest Way I Know to Get a Family of Four Prepped for the Coming Collapse (Updated for 2018). (Good to know the author keeps updating it.) His main recommendation, though, is to be buy a year's worth of survivalist food from America's survivalist food specialist company - Augason Farm. (Only in America, I would guess, can one make a successful family business out of a perceived need for tasty survival food that has a shelf life of up to 25 years.) The cost of a year of food seems to have gone up a bit from what that first link indicated - it's now $5,000. They don't ship outside of America, though - not even to Alaska or Puerto Rico, which seems a bit unpatriotic of them.
So that link is not as useful as one might hope.
There is the more directly on point article from the (UK) Telegraph - Could you survive an alien Invasion? 8 ways to stay alive if disaster strikes. Now we're talking.
It does feature UK "Prepper" Steve Hart, who " sees prepping as an “enjoyable hobby” primarily, but knows his meticulous preparations may just help him survive in the unlikely event of evil aliens running riot."
Actually, must of what he says is very similar to the thoughts I had in the car yesterday:
The survivalist likens having an underground bunker stocked up with food to “lasting a bit longer in your own coffin” but explains that he does have three ‘bug out’ locations he can go to in the event of a ‘Doomsday’ scenario....
He adds: “I would only leave my house if the situation was so bad that I feared for my life. There could be a virus or a pandemic moving towards me and you obviously need to put as much distance between you and ‘it’ as possible. It could be that I have some aliens coming towards me, I’m going to leg it and I’m not going to try and stay and fight.
OK, so he takes it much more seriously than me, although I suspect that, if I had to walk, I could reach my "bug out" location within 3 days - perhaps 4. Generally speaking, though, it looks like British "prepping" is more about bushcraft and skills without guns, unlike US prepping sites which all unduly obsessed with ammunition.“I have three 'bug out' locations, these are areas that I go to, regularly, minimally stocked up with enough supplies for a few days … all within three days walking distance of my house, in different directions. That’s how most preppers would work.”
Back to my imagined problem: the big complication is, of course, not knowing how long you may have to live out of town. Camping stuff is an obvious start, but should you worry about the folding stretcher bed or folding chair if you just have one car to take? Probably not. Any tents and tarpaulins - obviously. Warm clothes and sleeping bags, yes - might be a nuclear winter coming, and if it's the reverse, it's easy to not wear clothes. My mind keeps running to knives, lots of knives, and any sharpening method available - I imagine kitchen cutlery can be shaped into good spear heads. Ropes, strings, fishing tackle, at least one good shovel and any garden saw - all crucial. As are water containers. All medicine in the house I would take. If I could find the big glass magnifying glass, I would definitely take that.
From the food cupboard, I would think going for dry foods (rice or beans, especially) would have to be the priority, followed by anything high fat and therefore high calorie. (Not that we tend to buy Spam or canned corned beef.) Based on something I read on some survivalists site - salt. A very useful product if permanently trying to live off the land, large amounts of it would be one of the first things I would steal from the local Coles. That and vitamins. And dried beans. Matches and fire starters, of course. Soaps and detergents in pretty high quantity too - they are not going to be easily replaced with something from the wild.
And that's were my imagination starts to dry up. One of the main things I think would be very useful, and which I don't own, is a solar cell charger for mobile phones and rechargeable batteries. They are pretty cheap now, but it does seem redundant when you have electricity at home and rarely camp away from power.
I keep getting the feeling I am missing something important in that quick list. Anyway, doomsday is hopefully far enough off that my mental listing for it may be improved.
We all need a hobby...
Update: One key thing I think would be useful, provided I had the means of recharging the smartphones and tablets in the house, would be downloading some books on first aid, survival medicine, local bush foods, and off line maps of South East Queensland. Shouldn't take up more than 10 or 15 minutes of the hour, provided the internet is still up.
Secondly - you know one thing I can imagine causing the biggest argument: toilet paper. It's not as if civilisation is based on it, but I can just imagine everyone else wanting to take every roll in the house, and my arguing for sacks of salt in the space 50 rolls would take up.
* about which I retain, I should hasten to add, some skepticism arising from how there were released and their limited context. But that pilot interview about what he saw - that was more convincing that something was odd. Even then, though, there should be more willing to talk about his incident, no?