Margaret Ling is possibly the most prescient person we have seen on Doomsday Preppers. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, she decided that she needed to be prepared for another hurricane to hit New York while the rest of the city dwellers kept their heads in the sand. With the help of frequent cast member Matan Gavish, she is looking to prepare to bug out of the city by foot.
Walking to Canada
Margaret’s plan is mostly focused on getting out of the city. Her concern is not directed towards the hurricane as much as it is towards the unpredictable human element of any catastrophe. Because of this, and most likely because of the context of the show, her plan is mostly about getting out of the city.
There are some complications once on the road that can’t be ignored, however. Walking to Canada from New York city would take a very long time. A few hundred years ago this would be the sort of voyage you would take in a covered wagon and expect to lose half of your party with. Today there are less Indians to worry about, but in the context of a hurricane it would be very tricky at best.
Some of the most conditioned foot soldiers in history, the Zulu, were reputed to march 50 miles in a day. According to google maps, the closest route to Canada is about 350 miles. So optimistically assuming the ability to maintain a forced march at the highest rate in recorded history, it would take about a week to get out of dodge.
Threat of Exposure
This is ignoring the effects of inclement weather, of course. The pace of a hurricane is much faster than 50 miles per day and once out of the city, there are assailants worse than muggers to worry about. According to survival instructor Cody Lundin, exposure is responsible for the two most common causes of death in survival situations. These are hypothermia and hyperthermia, related to body temperature.
While overheating would not be a likely problem for Margaret (she is walking as fast as a Zulu warrior, of course) hypothermia is a major concern in a hurricane. Being wet only contributes to the threat of maintaining a core temperature, especially wearing a material like cotton.
Metabolism and core temperature
Core temperature is going to separate the living from the dead in a situation like this. And maintaining core temperature requires calories. The question of where these are coming from is of paramount concern in a situation like this.
Maintaining a fat metabolism would allow Margaret to maintain ketosis, burning bodyfat in order to produce ketone bodies to fuel her exodus. Alternatively, if she is in a state of sugar metabolism she will continue to produce glucose by breaking down muscle tissue. In this situation, she will need all of the muscle tissue she can maintain.
This is a bit of an extreme situation and I understand that the show needed to focus on her bug out on foot but I hope it is a good example as to why dietary choices are important for a bug out situation like this.