A massive meteor strike, a super volcano, or global warming: There are plenty of theories of how the world could end. Doomsday predictions of what will push humans to the brink of extinction have been around since at least the time of the Mayans, who prophesied a catastrophic event would occur at the winter solstice -- December 21, 2012.
However you imagine the world might end, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a checklist for you. Its job isn't to predict apocalyptic mayhem, but it does want to make sure we have our emergency kits ready.
The CDC says on its website, "Though some people feel it is impossible to be prepared for unexpected events, the truth is that taking preparedness actions helps people deal with disasters of all sorts much more effectively when they do occur." (The government agency has proved this by issuing instructions for a zombie apocalypse and as well as a wedding survival guide.)
Here, tips for everything you'll need to face the end of the world.
1. Water. Set aside a three-day supply of water or a two-week supply if you can't leave the house. Keep in mind that each person needs a gallon of water a day. Include an extra half gallon of water per person for washing up.
2. Food. Set aside nonperishable food items like canned goods and dry mixes along with a manual can opener. Again, think a three-day supply for evacuation, or a two-week supply if you need to hunker down at home.
3. Safety and hygiene. Make sure you have a flashlight, extra batteries, and a first-aid kit, including medications. Bleach and soap will also come in handy.
4. Entertainment. Even the coming end times may have its boring moments. Pack books, toys, board games.
5. The family pet. Pack an extra collar and leash, ID tags, food, and bowl.
6. Important documents. Copies of birth certificates, licenses and passports, and proof of address should be ready to grab and go.
7. Cash. ATMs won't work if there's an electrical outage.
8. Extra set of car keys and house keys.
9. Equipment to stay in touch. Two-way radios plus a hand-crank radio will come in handy. Area maps might be needed for everyone. Keep a list of emergency contacts and decide on a meeting place beforehand.
10. Extras depending on where you live. Consider stockpiling surgical masks, sleeping bags, gloves, extra clothing, hats, and sturdy shoes.
For more information, check out the CDC's website: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/planning/.
Don't miss Tom Hank's post-apocalyptic series "Electric City" and follow @ElectricCityAMP for more clues.