Rob Williams: How to prepare for the end of the world - fit a smoke alarm, leave extra time for journeys, and give your pets a cuddle...
WITH the world edging ever closer to what some believe could be an end-of-days catastrophe that will see the planet and its inhabitants destroyed, British authorities have been issuing tongue-in-cheek advice on how to prepare.
The advice comes just two weeks ahead of the day that some believe will mark the end of world.
According to some interpretations of the ancient Mayan calendar, December 21 will signal the end of a 5,125-year cycle known as the Long Count - and will bring about the apocalypse.
There have been scattered reports of panic buying of candles and essentials in China and Russia. There has also been a reported hike in the sales of survival shelters in America.
An official US government blog was published last week saying it was "just rumours" and insisting that "the world will not end on December 21, 2012, or any day in 2012".
In France, authorities have even taken steps to prevent access to Bugarach mountain, which is thought by some to be a sacred place that will protect them from the end of the world.
Reports claimed websites in the US were selling tickets to access the mountain on the 21st.
In the UK, however, the impending apocalypse is being treated with dead-pan humour by some organisations.
The AA has advised: "Before heading off, take time to do the basic checks on your car and allow extra time for your journey.
"Local radio is a good source of traffic and weather updates and for any warnings of an impending apocalypse. Should the announcer break such solemn news, try to remain focused on the road ahead and keep your hands on the wheel."
A London Fire Brigade spokesman issued the following advice: "Fit a smoke alarm on each level of your home, then at least you might stand a chance of knowing that the end of the world is nigh ahead of those who don't.
"If you survive the apocalypse you'll be alerted to a fire more quickly should one ever break out."
An RSPCA spokesman offered advice for animal lovers ahead of apocalypse saying: "Luckily for animals, they do not have the same fears of the future - or its imminent destruction - as us humans, so it is unlikely that our pets will be worrying about the end of the world.
"However, should the Mayans prove to be right, our message would be to spend whatever time you have left with your animals wisely.
"Take them for a long walk or give them a cuddle. Enjoy every second you have with them as if it was your last!"
Other bodies including British Transport Police and Dorset Fire and Rescue Service confirmed they were prepared for any event that may occur on December 21.
Should December 21 not produce a cataclysmic event it will join the ranks of other end of the world panics that proved to be unfounded.
The countdown to the millennium was awash with fears that the Y2K bug would send computer systems into meltdown with devastating consequences, and last year American pastor Harold Camping, predicted Armageddon not once but twice.
Both of his predicted dates for the end of the world passed without incident.