THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO
By Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht
C H R O N I C L E
SAN F R A N C I S C O
The authors wish to thank all the experts
who contributed to the making of this book,
as well as Jay Schaefer, Laura Lovett, Steve
Mockus, and the entire team at Chronicle Books.
Copyright © 1999 by book soup publishing, inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in
any form without written permission from the publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data available.
Printed in the United States of America
Designed by book soup publishing, inc.
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Illustrations by Brenda Brown
a book soup publishing book
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Chronicle Books LLC
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San Francisco, California 94105
When a life is imperiled or a dire situation is at
hand, safe alternatives may not exist. To deal with
the worst-case scenarios presented in this book,
we highly recommend—insist, actually—that the
best course of action is to consult a professionally
trained expert. Do NOT ATTEMPT TO UNDERTAKE
ANY OF THE ACTIVITIES DESCRIBED IN THIS BOOK
YOURSELF. But because highly trained professionals
may not always be available when the safety of
individuals is at risk, we have asked experts on
various subjects to describe the techniques they
might employ in those emergency situations. THE
PUBLISHER, AUTHORS, AND EXPERTS DISCLAIM
ANY LIABILITY from any injury that may result from
the use, proper or improper, of the information
contained in this book. All the information in this
book comes directly from experts in the situation
at hand, but we do not guarantee that the information contained herein is complete, safe, or accurate,
nor should it be considered a substitute for your
good judgment and common sense. And finally,
nothing in this book should be construed or interpreted to infringe on the rights of other persons
or to violate criminal statutes: we urge you to obey
all laws and respect all rights, including property
rights, of others.
Foreword by "Mountain"
Great Escapes and Entrances. . .17
How to Escape from Quicksand... 18
How to Break Down a Door... 20
How to Break into a Car... 24
How to Hot-wire a Car... 28
How to Perform a Fast 180-Degree Turn
with Your Car... 31
How to Ram a Car.. .34
How to Escape from a Sinking Car.. .36
How to Deal with
a Downed Power Line.. .39
The Best Defense... 41
How to Survive a Poisonous Snake Attack... 42
How to Fend Off a Shark...46
How to Escape from a Bear.. .50
How to Escape from a Mountain Lion... 54
How to Wrestle Free from an Alligator...57
How to Escape from Killer Bees...60
How to Deal with a Charging Bull...64
How to Win a Sword Fight...66
How to Take a Punch.. .69
Leaps of Faith...73
How to Jump from a Bridge or Cliff into
How to Jump from a Building into
How to Maneuver on Top of a Moving Train
and Get Inside...79
How to Jump from a Moving Car...82
How to Leap from a Motorcycle to a Car...84
How to Perform a Tracheotomy...88
How to Use a Defibrillator
to Restore a Heartbeat...91
How to Identify a Bomb...94
How to Deliver a Baby in a Taxicab...99
How to Treat Frostbite...103
How to Treat a Leg Fracture.. .106
How to Treat a Bullet or Knife Wound...109
How to Land a Plane...114
How to Survive an Earthquake... 120
How to Survive Adrift at Sea... 125
How to Survive When Lost in the Desert...129
How to Survive If Your Parachute
Fails to Open...l37
How to Survive an Avalanche... 140
How to Survive If You Are in the Line
How to Survive When Lost
in the Mountains.. .146
How to Make Fire Without Matches... 150
How to Avoid Being Struck by Lightning... 155
How to Get to the Surface
If Your Scuba Tank Runs Out of Air...l60
The Experts... 163
About the Authors...176
THE RULES OF SURVIVAL
By "Mountain" Mel Deweese
I am a Survival Evasion Resistance Escape
Instructor. I have developed, written, attended,
and taught courses around the world to more
than 100,000 students—civilians, naval aviators,
and elite Navy SEAL teams. I have more than
30 years of survival training experience, from
the Arctic Circle to the Canadian wilderness,
from the jungles of the Philippines to the
Let's just say that I've learned a few things
about survival over the years.
Whatever the situation, whether you're out
in the mountains, on board a plane, or driving
cross-country, to "survive" means "To outlive, to
remain alive or in existence; live on. To continue
to exist or live after." After all, that's what it's
really all about—about continuing to exist, no
matter how dire the circumstances.
• You have to be prepared—mentally, physically,
I would have to call my training in the
Arctic Circle the ultimate survival adventure.
The Arctic is an extremely harsh and unforgiving
environment, and yet the Inuit people (Eskimos)
not only survive, they live here at the top of
the world. Most of the items you need for Arctic
survival must come with you when you go—
the Arctic offers little for improvisation.
One morning, as we huddled inside our
igloo drinking tea to warm up, I noticed that
our senior Inuit guide drank several more cups
of tea than the rest of us. "He must be thirsty,"
I thought. We then proceeded outside for our
morning trek across the frozen landscape. After
we reached our camp, the senior instructor
walked over to a small knoll. Our young Inuit
guide interpreted his words: "This is where the
fox will come to seek a high lookout point. This
is a good place to set a trap." The older man
then took out his steel trap, set it, laid out the
chain, and to my surprise, urinated upon the
end of the chain!
The younger instructor explained: "That's
why he drank all that tea this morning—to
anchor it!" Indeed, the chain had frozen securely
to the ground.
The lesson: Resources and improvisation
• You must not ignore the importance of the
mental aspects of survival; in particular, you must
stay calm and you must not panic. And remember
that willpower is the most crucial survival skill
of all—don't catch that terrible disease of "Giveup-itis." All these mental strengths especially
come into play when someone makes a mistake—
which is inevitable.
One trip into the jungles of the Philippines,
our old guide Gunny selected and gathered various
plants while we were trekking. Upon arrival at
the camp, Gunny skillfully prepared bamboo to use
for cooking tubes. To these he added leaves, snails
(he claimed only the old men catch snails because
they are slow—young men catch fast shrimp),
and a few slices of green mango. He also added
a few things I could not discern. Topping this off
with leaves from the taro plant, he added water
and placed the bamboo cooking tube on the fire.
After the jungle feast, we settled into
the darkness for sleep. During the night, I
experienced pain, contraction, and itching in
my throat. We were in pitch darkness, far from
civilization, and my airways were progressively
closing. The following morning, the condition
worsened and my breathing was becoming restricted. I questioned the instructor, and he agreed he
had the same problem. That we shared our
distress was reassuring and it led to our determining the source of the problem. It turned out
we had not boiled the taro leaves long enough.
Recovering hours later, I mentally logged this as
a lesson learned the hard way: Even the old man
of the jungle can make mistakes.
We all make mistakes. Overcoming them is
survival as well.
• You must have a survival plan. And your
plan should consider the following essential
elements: food, fire, water, and shelter, as well
as signals and first aid.
I remember a military survival training course
I took in another jungle. A tropical environment
is one of the easiest to survive, if you know where
to look. It offers all of the needs for survival—
food, fire, water, shelter. We needed water badly
but could not head for the major streams, rivers,
or bodies of water to quench our thirst, as the
"enemy" was tracking us. The enemy knew our
dire need for water, and he would be watching
those areas. Looking into the jungle foliage, our
guide Pepe pulled his jungle bolo (a large knife)
from its wooden case and pointed to a thick,
grapelike vine, 3-4 inches in diameter. He cut the
vine at the top, then sliced off a 2-3 foot section,
motioned to me, and held it above my parched
lips. Excellent! In total, it produced almost a large
glass of water. Then he cut into a rattan vine that
provided nearly the same amount.
That evening we tapped into the trunk of
a taboy tree, placed bamboo tube reservoirs we
had constructed beneath the tap, and left them
overnight. Early the next morning, I was surprised
to find 6-8 quarts of water in our reservoirs.
The next morning in the rain, Pepe stopped to
cut a tall bundle of grass. He selected a smoothbarked tree and wrapped the grass around the
tree to form a spigot. He then placed his bamboo
drinking cup under the grass spigot. I was not
convinced about the quality of his filter, but it was
a good way for us to gather rainwater. That night,
after we had reached the safe area, the jungle
darkness fell upon us and we sat in the flicker of
the bamboo fire. Pepe smiled at me and said,
"Once again we've evaded the enemy and learned
That simple phrase became our motto—and
in fact, is the motto of every survival trainer,
whether or not they know it. "Learn to return."
This guide might help you do just that.
Anything that can go wrong will.
—Boy Scout motto
The principle behind this book is a simple one:
You just never know.
You never really know what curves life will
throw at you, what is lurking around the corner,
what is hovering above, what is swimming
beneath the surface. You never know when you
might to be called upon to perform an act of
extreme bravery and to choose life or death with
your own actions.
But when you are called, we want to be sure
that you know what to do. And that is why we
wrote this book. We want you to know what to
do when the pilots pass out and you have to land
the plane. We want you to know what to do
when you see that shark fin heading toward you.
We want you to know how to make fire in the
wilderness without any matches. We want you to
know what to do in these and in dozens of other
life-threatening situations, from being forced to
jump from a bridge to being forced to jump
from a car, from taking a punch correctly to
outsmarting a charging bull, and from escaping
a sniper to treating a bullet wound.
We were not survival experts ourselves when
we undertook this project—just regular, everyday
folk like you. Joshua grew up in the East—a
street-smart city boy. David grew up in the West
and spent his youth hiking and camping and fishing (even though his family used a Volkswagen
van most of the time). We were just a couple of
inquisitive journalists from different backgrounds
who worried a lot and were interested in knowing
how to survive a variety of crisis situations, likely
or unlikely (mostly the latter). Together, we consulted experts in a variety of fields to compile the
handbook you have before you. The information
in this book comes directly from dozens of expert
sources—stuntmen, physicians, EMT instructors,
bomb squad officers, bullfighters, survival experts,
scuba instructors, demolition derby drivers,
locksmiths, sky divers, alligator farmers, marine
biologists, and avalanche rescue patrol members,
to name a few.
Within this book, you will find simple, stepby-step instructions for dealing with 40 life- and
limb-threatening situations, with instructive
illustrations throughout. We've also provided
other essential tips and information—marked
with red bullets—that you must know. Any
and each of them could save your life. Ever
wonder how you would deal with the kinds of
situations that usually only come up when you
are a movie action hero? Now you can find
out. And then, like the Boy Scouts, you too will
So keep this book on hand at all times. It is
informative and entertaining, but useful, too. Get
a copy and keep it in your glove compartment.
Take it with you when you travel. Give a copy
to your friends and loved ones. Because the Boy
Scouts know what they're talking about.
And you just never know.
—Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht
HOW TO ESCAPE
When walking in quicksand country, carry
a stout pole—it will help you get out should
you need to.
As soon as you start to sink, lay the pole on the
surface of the quicksand.
Flop onto your back on top of the pole.
After a minute or two, equilibrium in the quicksand
will be achieved, and you will no longer sink.
Work the pole to a new position: under your hips
and at right angles to your spine.
The pole will keep your hips from sinking, as you
(slowly) pull out first one leg and then the other.
Take the shortest route to firmer ground,
How TO AVOID SINKING
Quicksand is just ordinary sand mixed with upwelling
water, which makes it behave like a liquid. However,
quicksand—unlike water—does not easily let go. If
you try to pull a limb out of quicksand, you have
to work against the vacuum left behind. Here are a
•The viscosity of quicksand increases with
shearing—move slowly so the viscosity is as low
• Floating on quicksand is relatively easy and is
the best way to avoid its clutches. You are more
buoyant in quicksand than you are in water.
Humans are less dense than freshwater, and
saltwater is slightly more dense. Floating is easier
in saltwater than freshwater and much easier in
quicksand. Spread your arms and legs far apart
and try to float on your back.
When in an area with quicksand, bring a stout pole
and use it to put your back into a floating position.
Place the pole at a right angle from your spine
to keep your hips afloat.
HOW TO BREAK
DOWN A DOOR
Give the door a well-placed kick or two to the lock
area to break it down.
Running at the door and slamming against it with
your shoulder or body is not usually as effective as
kicking with your foot. Your foot exerts more force
than your shoulder, and you will be able to direct this
force toward the area of the locking mechanism more
succinctly with your foot.
(if you have a screwdriver)
Look on the front of the doorknob for a small
hole or keyhole.
Most interior doors have what are called privacy sets.
These locks are usually installed on bedrooms and
bathrooms and can be locked from the inside when
the door is shut, but have an emergency access hole in
the center of the door handle which allows entry to
the locking mechanism inside. Insert the screwdriver
or probe into the handle and push the locking mechanism, or turn the mechanism to open the lock.
If you are trying to break down an exterior door, you
will need more force. Exterior doors are of sturdier
construction and are designed with security in mind,
for obvious reasons. In general, you can expect to see
two kinds of latches on outside doors: a passage- or
entry-lock set for latching and a dead-bolt lock for
security. The passage set is used for keeping the door
from swinging open and does not lock. The entrylock set utilizes a dead latch and can be locked before
closing the door.
Exterior doors are of
Kick at the point where
the lock is mounted.
Give the door several well-placed kicks at the point
where the lock is mounted.
An exterior door usually takes several tries to break
down this way, so keep at it.
(if you have a sturdy piece of steel)
Wrench or pry the lock off the door by inserting
the tool between the lock and the door and prying
back and forth.
(if you have a screwdriver, hammer, and awl)
Remove the pins from the hinges (if the door opens
toward you) and then force the door open from the
Get a screwdriver or an awl and a hammer. Place the
awl or screwdriver underneath the hinge, with the
pointy end touching the end of the bolt or screw.
Using the hammer, strike the other end of the awl or
screwdriver until the hinge comes out.
ASSESSING AMOUNT OF FORCE REQUIRED
Interior doors in general are of a lighter construction
than exterior doors and usually are thinner— 1 3/8"
thick to 1 5/8" thick—than exterior doors, which generally are 1 3/4" thick. In general, older homes will be
more likely to have solid wood doors, while newer
ones will have the cheaper, hollow core models.
Knowing what type of door you are dealing with will
help you determine how to break it down. You can
usually determine the construction and solidity of a
door by tapping on it.
HOLLOW CORE. This type is generally used for
interior doors, since it provides no insulation or
security, and requires minimal force. These doors
can often be opened with a screwdriver.
SOLID WOOD. These are usually oak or some other
hardwood, and require an average amount of force
and a crowbar or other similar tool.
SOLID CORE. These have a softwood inner frame
with a laminate on each side and a chipped or
shaved wood core, and require an average amount
of force and a screwdriver.
METAL CLAD. These are usually softwood with
a thin metal covering, and require average or above
average force and a crowbar.
HOLLOW METAL. These doors are of a heavier
gauge metal that usually has a reinforcing channel
around the edges and the lock mounting area,
and are sometimes filled with some type of
insulating material. These require maximum force
and a crowbar.
HOW TO BREAK
INTO A CAR
Most cars that are more than ten years old have vertical, push-button locks. These are locks that come
straight out of the top of the car door and have rods
that are set vertically inside the door. These locks can
be easily opened with a wire hanger or a Slimjim, or
picked, as described below. Newer cars have horizontal locks, which emerge from the side of the car door
and are attached to horizontal lock rods. These are
more difficult to manipulate without a special tool but
can also be picked.
HOW TO BREAK INTO A CAR
WITH A HANGER
Take a wire hanger and bend it into a long J.
Square off the bottom of the J so the square is
l 1/2 to 2 inches wide (see illustration).
Slide the hanger into the door, between the
window and the weather stripping.
Open the door by feel and by trial and error. Feel for
the end of the button rod and, when you have it, pull
it up to open the lock.
Take a wire
hanger and bend
it into a long ].
Slide hanger in
door between glass
and weather stripping. Feel for the
end of the button
rod and lift up.
HOW TO BREAK INTO A CAR
WITH A SLIMJIM
A Slimjim is a thin piece of spring steel with a notch in
one side, which makes it easy to pull the lock rod up.
They can be purchased at most automotive supply stores.
Slide the tool gently between the window and the
Some cars will give you only a quarter of an inch of
access to the lock linkage, so go slowly and be patient.
Do not jerk the tool trying to find the lock rod.
This can break the lock linkage, and on auto-locks it
can easily rip the wires in the door.
Move the tool back and forth until it grabs the lock
rod and then gently move it until the lock flips over.
Slide the Slimjim between the glass and the weather stripping.
Feel for the lock rod. Move the tool back and forth gently until
the lock flips over.
How TO PICK A CAR LOCK
You will need two tools—one to manipulate the
pins or wafers inside the lock core and one to turn
You can use a small Allen wrench to turn the lock and
a long bobby pin to move the pins and wafers. Keep
in mind that many car locks are harder to pick than
door locks. They often have a small shutter that covers and protects the lock, and this can make the
process more difficult.
While the bobby pin is in the lock, exert constant
and light turning pressure with the wrench.
This is the only way to discern if the pins or wafers—
which line up with the notches and grooves in a
key—are lined up correctly. Most locks have five pins.
Move the bobby pin to manipulate the pins or
wafers until you feel the lock turn smoothly.
Use a key from a different car from the same
There are surprisingly few lock variations, and the
alien key may just work.
We of course assume you are seeking to enter your
HOT-WIRE A CAR
Hot-wiring a car without the owner's permission is
illegal, except in repossessions. Hot-wiring can be
dangerous; there is a risk of electrical shock. Hotwiring will not work on all cars, particularly cars
with security devices. Some "kill switches" can prevent hot-wiring.
Open the hood.
Locate the coil wire (it is red).
To find it, follow the plug wires, which lead to the coil
wire. The plug and coil wires are located at the rear of
the engine on most V-8s. On six-cylinder engines, the
wires are on the left side near the center of the engine,
and on four-cylinder engines, they are located on the
right side near the center of the engine.
Run a wire from the positive (+) side of the battery
to the positive side of the coil, or the red wire that
goes to the coil.
This step gives power to the dash, and the car will not
run unless it is performed first.
Locate the starter solenoid.
On most GM cars, it is on the starter. On Fords, it is
located on the left-side (passenger-side) fender well.
Run a wire from the positive (+) side
of the battery to the red coil wire.
to positive battery cable
Cross the terminals with a screwdriver or pliers (Ford).
An easy way to find it is to follow the positive battery
cable. You will see a small wire and the positive battery cable. Cross the two with a screwdriver or pliers.
This cranks the engine.
Unlocking the Steering Wheel
at top center of
If the car has a standard transmission, make sure
it is in neutral and the parking brake is on.
If it has an automatic transmission, make sure it is
Unlock the steering wheel using a flat blade
Take the screwdriver and place it at the top center of
the steering column. Push the screwdriver between
the steering wheel and the column. Push the locking
pin away from the wheel. Be very firm when pushing
the pin; it will not break.
PERFORM A FAST
WITH YOUR CAR
Put the car in reverse.
Select a spot straight ahead. Keep your eyes on it,
and begin backing up.
Jam on the gas.
Cut the wheel sharply ninety degrees around
(a quarter turn) as you simultaneously drop the
transmission into drive.
Make sure you have enough speed to use the momentum of the car to swing it around, but remember that
going too fast (greater than forty-five miles per hour)
can be dangerous and may flip the car (and strip your
gears). Turning the wheel left will swing the rear of
the car left; turning it right will swing the car right.
When the car has completed the turn, step on the
gas and head off.
up, jam on
the gas. Cut the
wheel a quarter
drop into drive.
The momentum of the
car effectuates the turn.
at speeds no greater than 45mph
While in drive, or a forward gear, accelerate to a moderate
rate of speed (anything faster than forty-five miles per hour
risks flipping the car).
Slip the car into neutral to prevent the front wheels
Take your foot off the gas and turn the wheel ninety degrees
(a quarter turn) while pulling hard on the emergency brake.
As the rear swings around, return the wheel to its original
position and put the car back into drive.
Step on the gas to start moving in the direction from
which you came.
• The 180-degree turn while moving forward is more
difficult for the following reasons:
• It is easier to swing the front of the car around, because it is
heavier and it will move faster with momentum.
• It is harder to maintain control of the rear of the car—it is
lighter and will slip more easily than the front. Spinning
out of control, or flipping the car, are potential dangers.
• Road conditions can play a significant role in the
success—and safety—of this maneuver. Any surface without sufficient traction (dirt, mud, ice, gravel) will make
quick turns harder and collisions more likely.
RAM A CAR
Ramming a car to move it out of your way is not easy
or safe, but there are some methods that work better
than others and some that will minimize the damage
to your vehicle. Keep in mind that the best way to hit
a car blocking your path is to clip the very rear of it,
about one foot from the rear bumper. The rear is the
lightest part of a car, and it will move relatively easily.
Hitting it in the rear can also disable the car—with
the rear wheel crushed, you have time to get away
without being pursued.
Disable your air bag, if you can.
It will deploy on impact and will obstruct your view
after it deploys.
Wear a seat belt.
Accelerate to at least twenty-five miles per hour.
Do not go too fast—keeping the car at a slow speed
will allow you to maintain control without slowing
down. Then, just before impact, increase your speed to
greater than thirty miles per hour to deliver a disabling
crunch to the rear wheel of the obstacle car.
Ram the front passenger side of your car into the
obstacle car at its rear wheel, at a ninety-degree
angle (the cars should be perpendicular).
If you are unable to hit a car in the rear, go for the
Avoid hitting the car squarely in the side; this will not
move it out of your way.
The car should spin out of your way—hit the gas,
and keep moving.
Ram the obstacle car with the
passenger side of your car, and
deliver a disabling crunch to its
If you are unable to hit the car in
the rear, go for the right corner.
A SINKING CAR
As soon as you hit the water, open your window.
This is your best chance of escape, because opening
the door will be very difficult given the outside water
pressure. (To be safe, you should drive with the windows and doors slightly open whenever you are near
water or are driving on ice.) Opening the windows
allows water to come in and equalize the pressure.
Once the water pressure inside and outside the car is
equal, you'll be able to open the door.
If your power windows won't work or you cannot
roll your windows down all the way, attempt to
break the glass with your foot or shoulder or a heavy
object such as an antitheft steering wheel lock.
Do not worry about leaving anything behind unless it
is another person. Vehicles with engines in front will
sink at a steep angle. If the water is fifteen feet or
deeper, the vehicle may end up on its roof, upside
down. For this reason, you must get out as soon as
possible, while the car is still afloat. Depending on the
vehicle, floating time will range from a few seconds to
a few minutes. The more airtight the car, the longer it
floats. Air in the car will quickly be forced out
As soon as you hit the water open your window. Otherwise, the
pressure of the water will make it very difficult to escape.
If you were unable to exit before hitting the water, attempt to
break a window with your foot or a heavy object.
through the trunk and cab, and an air bubble is
unlikely to remain once the car hits bottom. Get out
as early as possible.
If you are unable to open the window or break it,
you have one final option.
Remain calm and do not panic. Wait until the car
begins filling with water. When the water reaches your
head, take a deep breath and hold it. Now the pressure
should be equalized inside and outside, and you should
be able to open the door and swim to the surface.
How TO AVOID BREAKING
THROUGH THE ICE
• Cars and light trucks need at least eight inches of
clear, solid ice on which to drive safely.
• Driving early or late in the season is not advisable.
• Leaving your car in one place for a long period of
time can weaken the ice beneath it, and cars should
not be parked—or driven—close together.
• Cross any cracks at right angles, and drive slowly.
• New ice is generally thicker than old ice.
• Direct freezing of lake or stream water is stronger
than refreezing, freezing of melting snow, or
freezing of water bubbling up through cracks.
• If there is a layer of snow on the ice, beware: a
layer of snow insulates the ice, slowing the freezing
process, and the snow's weight can decrease the
bearing capacity of the ice.
• Ice near the shore is weaker.
• River ice is generally weaker than lake ice.
• River mouths are dangerous, because the ice near
them is weaker.
• Carry several large nails in your pocket, and a
length of rope. The nails will help you pull yourself
out of the ice, and the rope can be thrown to
someone on more solid ice, or can be used to help
HOW TO DEAL
WITH A DOWNED
High-voltage power lines, which carry power from
plants and transformers to customers, can come crashing down during severe storms. If you are in a car when
a pole or line falls, you are much safer remaining inside
a grounded vehicle than being on foot. If the wire falls
on the car, do not touch anything—wait for help.
Assume that all power lines, whether sparking or not,
Stay far away from downed lines.
Current can travel through any conductive material, and
water on the ground can provide a "channel" from the
power line to you. An electrical shock can also occur when
one comes in contact with the charged particles near a
high-voltage line; direct contact is not necessary for electrocution to occur. Never touch a vehicle that has come in
contact with a live wire—it may still retain a charge.
Do not assume that a nonsparking wire is safe.
Often, power may be restored by automated equipment,
causing a "dead" wire to become dangerous. Stay away
from downed lines even if you know they are not electric
lines—the line could have come in contact with an electric line when it fell, causing the downed line to be "hot."
If a person comes into contact with a live wire, use a
nonconductive material to separate the person from
the electrical source.
Use a wooden broom handle, a wooden chair, or a dry towel
or sheet. Rubber or insulated gloves offer no protection.
Avoid direct contact with the skin of the victim or
any conducting material touching it until he or she is
disconnected; you may be shocked also.
Check the pulse and begin rescue breathing and
CPR if necessary.
Never touch a vehicle that has come into contact with a live wire.
Even when the wire is removed, it may retain a charge.
Do not assume that
a nonsparking wire is safe.
Current can travel through any
conductive material such as water.
THE BEST DEFENSE
HOW TO SURVIVE
Because poisonous snakes can be difficult to identify—
and because some nonpoisonous snakes have markings
very similar to venomous ones—the best way to avoid
getting bitten is to leave all snakes alone. Assume that
a snake is venomous unless you know for certain that it
How TO TREAT A BITE
Wash the bite with soap and water as soon as
Immobilize the bitten area and keep it lower than
This will slow the flow of the venom.
Get medical help as soon as possible.
A doctor should treat all snakebites unless you are willing to bet your life that the offending snake is
nonpoisonous. Of about eight thousand venomous
bites a year in the U.S., nine to fifteen victims are
killed. A bite from any type of poisonous snake should
always be considered a medical emergency. Even bites
from nonpoisonous snakes should be treated professionally, as severe allergic reactions can occur. Some
Mojave rattlesnakes carry a neurotoxic venom that can
affect the brain or spinal cord, causing paralysis.
Immediately wrap a bandage tightly two to four
inches above the bite to help slow the venom if you are
unable to reach medical care within thirty minutes.
The bandage should not cut off blood flow from a vein
or artery. Make the bandage loose enough for a finger
to slip underneath.
If you have a first aid kit equipped with a suction
device, follow the instructions for helping to draw
venom out of the wound without making an incision.
Generally, you will need to place the rubber suction
cup over the wound and attempt to draw the venom
out from the bite marks.
WHAT NOT TO DO
• Do not place any ice or cooling element on the
bite; this will make removing the venom with
suction more difficult.
• Do not tie a bandage or a tourniquet too tightly.
If used incorrectly, a tourniquet can cut blood flow
completely and damage the limb.
• Do not make any incision on or around the
wound in an attempt to remove the venom—there
is danger of infection.
• Do not attempt to suck out the venom. You do not
want it in your mouth, where it might enter your
Snakes coil before they strike.
Snakes can strike at a distance approximately half their length;
half their body does not leave the ground.
How TO ESCAPE FROM A PYTHON
Unlike poisonous snakes, pythons and boas kill their
prey not through the injection of venom but by
constriction; hence these snakes are known as constrictors. A constrictor coils its body around its prey,
squeezing it until the pressure is great enough to kill.
Since pythons and boas can grow to be nearly
twenty feet long, they are fully capable of killing a
grown person, and small children are even more vulnerable. The good news is that most pythons will
strike and then try to get away, rather than consume
a full-grown human.
This will minimize constriction strength, but a
python usually continues constricting well after the
prey is dead and not moving.
Try to control the python's head and try to
unwrap the coils, starting from whichever end
How TO AVOID AN ATTACK
• Do not try to get a closer look, prod the snake to
make it move, or try to kill it.
• If you come across a snake, back away slowly and
give it a wide berth: snakes can easily strike half
their body length in an instant, and some species
are six feet or longer.
• When hiking in an area with poisonous snakes,
always wear thick leather boots and long pants.
• Keep to marked trails.
• Snakes are cold-blooded and need the sun to
help regulate their body temperature. They are
often found lying on warm rocks or in other
HOW TO FEND
OFF A SHARK
If a shark is coming toward you or attacks you, use
anything you have in your possession—a camera,
probe, harpoon gun, your fist—to hit the shark's eyes
or gills, which are the areas most sensitive to pain.
Make quick, sharp, repeated jabs in these areas.
Sharks are predators and will usually only follow
through on an attack if they have the advantage, so
making the shark unsure of its advantage in any way
possible will increase your chances of survival.
Contrary to popular opinion, the shark's nose is not
the area to attack, unless you cannot reach the eyes or
gills. Hitting the shark simply tells it that you are not
How TO AVOID AN ATTACK
• Always stay in groups—sharks are more likely to
attack an individual.
• Do not wander too far from shore. This isolates
you and creates the additional danger of being too
far from assistance.
• Avoid being in the water during darkness or
twilight hours, when sharks are most active and
have a competitive sensory advantage.
Strike with your fist
at the eyes or the gills.
The nose is NOT as sensitive as the above-mentioned areas,
a common misconception.
• Do not enter the water if you are bleeding from an
open wound or if you are menstruating—a shark is
drawn to blood and its olfactory ability is acute.
• Try not to wear shiny jewelry, because the
reflected light resembles the sheen offish scales.
• Avoid waters with known effluents or sewage
and those being used by sport or commercial
fishermen, especially if there are signs of bait fish
or feeding activity. Diving seabirds are good
indicators of such activity.
• Use extra caution when waters are murky and
avoid showing any uneven tan lines or wearing
brightly colored clothing—sharks see contrast
• If a shark shows itself to you, it may be curious
rather than predatory and will probably swim on
and leave you alone. If you are under the surface
and lucky enough to see an attacking shark, then
you do have a good chance of defending yourself
if the shark is not too large.
• Scuba divers should avoid lying on the surface,
where they may look like a piece of prey to a
shark, and from where they cannot see a shark
• A shark attack is a potential danger for anyone
who frequents marine waters, but it should be
kept in perspective. Bees, wasps, and snakes are
responsible for far more fatalities each year, and
in the United States the annual risk of death
from lightning is thirty times greater than from
a shark attack.
THREE KINDS OF SHARK ATTACKS
"HIT AND RUN" ATTACKS are by far the most
common. These typically occur in the surf zone,
where swimmers and surfers are the targets.
The victim seldom sees its attacker, and the shark
does not return after inflicting a single bite or
"BUMP AND BITE" ATTACKS are characterized by
the shark initially circling and often bumping the
victim prior to the actual attack. These types of
attacks usually involve divers or swimmers in
deeper waters, but also occur in nearshore shallows
in some areas of the world.
"SNEAK" ATTACKS differ: the strike can occur
without warning. With both "bump and bite"
and "sneak" attacks, repeat attacks are common
and multiple and sustained bites are the norm.
Injuries incurred during this type of attack are
usually quite severe, frequently resulting in death.
Most shark attacks occur in nearshore waters, typically inshore of a sandbar or between sandbars where
sharks feed and can become trapped at low tide. Areas
with steep drop-offs are also likely attack sites. Sharks
congregate in these areas, because their natural prey
congregates there. Almost any large shark, roughly six
feet or longer in total length, is a potential threat to
humans. But three species in particular have repeatedly attacked man: the white shark (Carcharodon
carcharias), the tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvieri), and
the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas). All are cosmopolitan in distribution, reach large sizes, and consume
large prey such as marine mammals, sea turtles, and
fish as normal elements of their diets.
HOW TO ESCAPE
FROM A BEAR
Lie still and quiet.
Documented attacks show that an attack by a mother
black bear often ends when the person stops fighting.
Stay where you are and do not climb a tree to
escape a bear.
Black bears can climb trees quickly and easily and will
come after you. The odds are that the bear will leave
you alone if you stay put.
If you are lying still and the bear attacks, strike
back with anything you can.
Go for the bear's eyes or its snout.
WHAT TO Do IF You SEE A BEAR
Make your presence known by talking loudly,
clapping, singing, or occasionally calling out.
(Some people prefer to wear bells.) Whatever you
do, be heard—it does not pay to surprise a bear.
Remember, bears can run much faster than humans.
Keep children close at hand and within sight.
There is no guaranteed minimum safe distance
from a bear: the farther, the better.
If you are in a car, remain in your vehicle. Do not
get out, even for a quick photo. Keep your windows
up. Do not impede the bear from crossing the road.
While all bears are dangerous, these three situations
render even more of a threat.
to human food.
a fresh kill.
How TO AVOID AN ATTACK
• Reduce or eliminate food odors from yourself,
your camp, your clothes, and your vehicle.
• Do not sleep in the same clothes you cook in.
• Store food so that bears cannot smell or
• Do not keep food in your tent—not even a
• Properly store and bring out all garbage.
• Handle and store pet food with as much care
as your own.
• While all bears should be considered dangerous
and should be avoided, three types should be
regarded as more dangerous than the average bear.
Females defending cubs.
Bears habituated to human food.
Bears defending a fresh kill.
There are about 650,000 black bears in North
America, and only one person every three years is
killed by a bear—although there are hundreds of
thousands of encounters. Most bears in the continental U.S. are black bears, but black bears are not always
black in color: sometimes their fur is brown or blond.
Males are generally bigger than females (125 to 500
pounds for males, 90 to 300 pounds for females).
• Bears can run as fast as horses, uphill or
• Bears can climb trees, although black bears
are better tree-climbers than grizzly bears.
• Bears have excellent senses of smell and hearing.
• Bears are extremely strong. They can tear cars
apart looking for food.
• Every bear defends a "personal space." The
extent of this space will vary with each bear and
each situation; it may be a few meters or a few
hundred meters. Intrusion into this space is
considered a threat and may provoke an attack.
• Bears aggressively defend their food.
• All female bears defend their cubs. If a female
with cubs is surprised at close range or is separated
from her cubs, she may attack.
• An aggressive reaction to any danger to her cubs is
the mother grizzly's natural defense.
• A female black bear's natural defense is to chase
her cubs up a tree and defend them from the base.
• Stay away from dead animals. Bears may attack to
defend such food.
• It is best not to hike with dogs, as dogs can
antagonize bears and cause an attack. An
unleashed dog may even bring a bear back to you.
A MOUNTAIN LION
Do not run.
The animal most likely will have seen and smelled
you already, and running will simply cause it to pay
Try to make yourself appear bigger by opening
your coat wide.
The mountain lion is less likely to attack a larger
Do not crouch down.
Hold your ground, wave your hands, and shout. Show
it that you are not defenseless.
If you have small children with you, pick them up—
do all you can to appear larger.
Children, who move quickly and have high-pitched
voices, are at higher risk than adults.
Back away slowly or wait until the animal
Report any lion sightings to authorities as soon as
Upon sighting a mountain lion, do not run.
Do not crouch down. Try to make yourself appear
larger by opening wide your coat.
If the lion still behaves aggressively, throw stones.
Convince the lion that you are not prey and that you
may be dangerous yourself.
Fight back if you are attacked.
Most mountain lions are small enough that an average size human will be able to ward off an attack by
fighting back aggressively. Hit the mountain lion in
the head, especially around the eyes and mouth. Use
sticks, fists, or whatever is at hand. Do not curl up
and play dead. Mountain lions generally leap down
upon prey from above and deliver a "killing bite" to
the back of the neck. Their technique is to break the
neck and knock down the prey, and they also will rush
and lunge up at the neck of prey, dragging the victim
down while holding the neck in a crushing grip.
Protect your neck and throat at all costs.
How TO AVOID AN ATTACK
Mountain lions, also called cougars, have been known
to attack people without provocation; aggressive ones
have attacked hikers and especially small children,
resulting in serious injury. Still, most mountain lions
will avoid people. To minimize your contact with
cougars in an area inhabited by them, avoid hiking
alone and at dusk and dawn, when mountain lions are
HOW TO WRESTLE
FREE FROM AN
If you are on land, try to get on the alligator's back
and put downward pressure on its neck.
This will force its head and jaws down.
Cover the alligator's eyes.
This will usually make it more sedate.
If you are attacked, go for the eyes and nose.
Use any weapon you have, or your fist.
If its jaws are closed on something you want to remove
(for example, a limb), tap or punch it on the snout.
Alligators often open their mouths when tapped lightly.
They may drop whatever it is they have taken hold of,
and back off.
If the alligator gets you in its jaws, you must prevent
it from shaking you or from rolling over—these
instinctual actions cause severe tissue damage.
Try to keep the mouth clamped shut so the alligator
does not begin shaking.
Seek medical attention immediately, even for a small
cut or bruise, to treat infection.
Alligators have a huge number of pathogens in their
To get an alligator to release something it has
in its mouth, tap it on the snout.
How TO AVOID AN ATTACK
While deaths in the United States from alligator
attacks are rare, there are thousands of attacks and
hundreds of fatalities from Nile crocodiles in Africa
and Indopacific crocodiles in Asia and Australia. A
few tips to keep in mind:
• Do not swim or wade in areas alligators are known
to inhabit (in Florida, this can be anywhere).
• Do not swim or wade alone, and always check out
the area before venturing in.
• Never feed alligators.
• Do not dangle arms and legs from boats, and avoid
throwing unused bait or fish from a boat or dock.
• Do not harass, try to touch, or capture any
• Leave babies and eggs alone. Any adult alligator
will respond to a distress call from any youngster.
Mother alligators guarding nests and babies will
• In most cases the attacking alligators had been
fed by humans prior to the attack. This is an
important link—feeding alligators seems to
cause them to lose their fear of humans and
become more aggressive.
HOW TO ESCAPE
FROM KILLER BEES
If bees begin flying around and/or stinging you,
do not freeze.
Run away; swatting at the bees only makes them
Get indoors as fast as you can.
If no shelter is available, run through bushes
or high weeds.
This will help give you cover.
If a bee stings you, it will leave its stinger in
Remove the stinger by raking your fingernail across it
in a sideways motion. Do not pinch or pull the stinger
out—this may squeeze more venom from the stinger
into your body. Do not let stingers remain in the skin,
because venom can continue to pump into the body
for up to ten minutes.
Do not jump into a swimming pool or other body of
water—the bees are likely to be waiting for you
when you surface.
If bees begin flying around and/or stinging you,
DO NOT freeze; DO NOT swat them. Run away.
If no shelter is available, run through bushes or high -weeds.
If a bee stings you, remove the stinger by raking your fingernail
across it in a sideways motion. Do not finch the area.
RISK OF ATTACK
The Africanized honeybee is a cousin of the run-ofthe-mill domesticated honeybee that has lived in the
United States for centuries. The "killer bee" moniker
was created after some magazine reports about several
deaths that resulted from Africanized bee stings some
years back. Africanized honeybees are considered
"wild;" they are easily angered by animals and people,
and likely to become aggressive.
Bees "swarm" most often in the spring and fall.
This is when the entire colony moves to establish a
new hive. They may move in large masses—called
swarms—until they find a suitable spot. Once the
colony is built and the bees begin raising their young,
they will protect their hive by stinging.
While any colony of bees will defend its hive,
Africanized bees do so with gusto. These bees can
kill, and they present a danger even to those who are
not allergic to bee stings. In several isolated instances,
people and animals have been stung to death. Regular
honeybees will chase you about fifty yards. Africanized honeybees may pursue you three times that
Most often, death from stings occurs when people are not able to get away from the bees quickly.
Animal losses have occurred for the same reasons—
pets and livestock were tied up or penned when they
encountered the bees and could not escape.
To MINIMIZE RISK
• Avoid colonies by filling in holes or cracks in
exterior walls, filling in tree cavities, and putting
screens on the tops of rainspouts and over water
meter boxes in the ground.
• Do not bother bee colonies: if you see that bees
are building—or have already built—a colony
around your home, do not disturb them. Call a
pest control center to find out who removes bees.
DEAL WITH A
Do not antagonize the bull, and do not move.
Bulls will generally leave humans alone unless they
Look around for a safe haven—an escape route,
cover, or high ground.
Running away is not likely to help unless you find an
open door, a fence to jump, or another safe haven—
bulls can easily outrun humans. If you can reach a safe
spot, make a run for it.
If a safe haven is not available, remove your shirt,
hat, or another article of clothing.
Use this to distract the bull. It does not matter what
color the clothing is. Despite the colors bullfighters
traditionally use, bulls do not naturally head for red—
they react to and move toward movement, not color.
If the bull charges, remain still and then throw your
shirt or hat away from you.
The bull should head toward the object you've thrown.
If you cannot find safe cover from a charging bull, remove
articles of clothing and throw them away from your body.
The bull will veer and head toward the moving objects.
IF YOU ENCOUNTER A STAMPEDE
If you encounter a stampede of bulls or cattle, do not
try to distract them. Try to determine where they are
headed, and then get out of the way. If you cannot
escape, your only option is to run alongside the stampede to avoid getting trampled. Bulls are not like
horses, and will not avoid you if you lie down—so
HOW TO WIN
A SWORD FIGHT
Always keep your sword in the "ready" position—held
in front of you, with both hands, and perpendicular to
the ground. With this method, you can move the
sword side to side and up and down easily, blocking
and landing blows in all directions by moving your
arms. Hold the tip of the sword at a bit of an angle,
with the tip pointed slightly toward your opponent.
Picture a doorway—you should be able to move your
sword in any direction and quickly hit any edge of the
How TO DEFLECT AND COUNTER A BLOW
Step up and into the blow, with your arms held
against your body.
React quickly and against your instincts, which will tell
you to move back and away. By moving closer, you can
cut off a blow's power. Avoid extending your arms,
which would make your own counterblow less powerful.
Push or "punch" at the blow instead of simply trying
to absorb it with your own sword.
If a blow is aimed at your head, move your sword
completely parallel to the ground and above your
head. Block with the center of your sword, not the
end. Always move out toward your opponent, even if
you are defending and not attacking.
How to Deflect a Blow
If a blow is aimed at your head,
move your sword parallel to the
ground and above you.
How to Attack
Wait for your attacker to make a mistake.
Deflecting a blow to the side will throw
your opponent off balance.
How TO ATTACK
Move the sword in steady, quick blows up and down
and to the left and right.
Assuming you must disable your attacker, do not try
to stab with your sword. A stabbing motion will put
you off balance and will leave your sword far out in
front of you, making you vulnerable to a counterblow.
Do not raise the sword up behind your head
to try a huge blow—you will end up with a sword
in your gut.
Hold your position, punch out to defend, and
Wait for your attacker to make a mistake.
Stepping into a blow or deflecting it to the side will
put him/her off balance. Once your opponent is off
balance, you can take advantage of their moment of
weakness by landing a disabling blow, remembering
not to jab with your sword but to strike up and down
or from side to side.
TAKE A PUNCH
A BLOW TO THE BODY
Tighten your stomach muscles.
A body blow to the gut (solar plexus) can damage
organs and kill. This sort of punch is one of the best and
easiest ways to knock someone out. (Harry Houdini
died from an unexpected blow to the abdomen.)
Do not suck in your stomach if you expect that a
punch is imminent.
Shift slightly so the
blow hits your side.
Absorb the impact
with your obliques.
If possible, shift slightly so that the blow hits your
side, but do not flinch or move away from the punch.
Try to absorb the blow with your obliques: this is the
set of muscles on your side that wraps around your
ribs. While a blow to this area may crack a rib, it is
less likely to do damage to internal organs.
A BLOW TO THE HEAD
Move toward the blow, not away from it.
Getting punched while moving backward will result
in the head taking the punch at full force. A punch to
the face can cause head whipping, where the brain
moves suddenly inside the skull, and may result in
severe injury or death.
Tighten your neck muscles and clench your jaw to
avoid scraping of the upper and lower palettes.
Tighten your neck and jaw.
Clench your teeth.
A punch can be absorbed most
effectively by the forehead.
Deflect the blow
with your arm.
A STRAIGHT PUNCH
The straight punch—one that comes straight
at your face—should be countered by moving
toward the blow.
This will take force from the blow.
A punch can be absorbed most effectively and
with the least injury by the forehead.
Avoid taking the punch in the nose, which is extremely
Attempt to deflect the blow with an arm.
Moving into the punch may result in your attacker
missing the mark wide to either side.
(optional) Hit back with an uppercut or
A ROUNDHOUSE PUNCH
Clench your jaw.
A punch to the ear causes great pain and can break
Move in close to your attacker.
Try to make the punch land harmlessly behind your
(optional) Hit back with an uppercut.
Clench your neck and jaw.
An uppercut can cause much damage, whipping your
head back, easily breaking your jaw or your nose.
Use your arm to absorb some of the impact or
deflect the blow to the side—anything to minimize
the impact of a straight punch to the jaw.
Do not step into this punch.
If possible, move your head to the side.
(optional) Hit back with a straight punch to the face
or with an uppercut of your own.
LEAPS OF FAITH
HOW TO JUMP
FROM A BRIDGE OR
CLIFF INTO A RIVER
When attempting a high fall (over twenty feet) into
water in an emergency situation, you will not
know much about your surroundings, specifically the
depth of the water. This makes jumping particularly
If jumping from a bridge into a river or other
body of water with boat traffic, try to land in the
channel—the deepwater area where boats go under
the bridge. This area is generally in the center, away
from the shoreline.
Stay away from any area with pylons that are supporting the bridge. Debris can collect in these areas
and you can hit it when you enter the water.
Swim to shore immediately after surfacing.
How TO JUMP
Jump feet first.
Keep your body completely vertical.
Squeeze your feet together.
Jump feet first in a vertical position; squeeze your feet together;
clench your backside and protect your crotch.
After you enter the water, spread your arms and legs wide and
move them back and forth, which will slow your plunge.
Attempt to slow your descent.
Enter the water feet first, and clench your buttocks
If you do not, water may rush in and cause severe
Protect your crotch area by covering it with
Immediately after you hit the water, spread
your arms and legs wide and move them back and
forth to generate resistance, which will slow your
plunge to the bottom.
Always assume the water is not deep enough to keep
you from hitting bottom.
• Hitting the water as described above could save
your life, although it may break your legs.
• If your body is not straight, you can break your
back upon entry. Keep yourself vertical until you
hit the water.
• Do not even think about going in headfirst unless
you are absolutely sure that the water is at least
twenty feet deep. If your legs hit the bottom, they
will break. If your head hits, your skull will break.
JUMP FROM A
How TO JUMP
Jump straight down.
If you leap off and away from the building at an angle,
your trajectory will make you miss the Dumpster.
Resist your natural tendency to push off.
Tuck your head and bring your legs around.
To do this during the fall, execute a three-quarter revolution—basically, a not-quite-full somersault. This
is the only method that will allow a proper landing,
with your back facing down.
Aim for the center of the Dumpster or large box
Land flat on your back so that when your body
folds, your feet and hands meet.
When your body hits any surface from a significant
height, the body folds into a V. This means landing
on your stomach can result in a broken back.
l.Jump straight down.
2. Tuck your head and bring
your legs around, executing
a three-quarter somersault.
3. Aim for the center of
the Dumpster and land
flat on your back.
• If the building has fire escapes or other protrusions, your leap will have to be far enough out
so you miss them on your way down. The landing
target needs to be far enough from the building
for you to hit it.
• The Dumpster may be filled with bricks or
other unfriendly materials. It is entirely possible
to survive a high fall (five stories or more) into
a Dumpster, provided it is filled with the right
type of trash (cardboard boxes are best) and you
TOP OF A MOVING
TRAIN AND GET
Do not try to stand up straight (you probably will
not be able to anyway).
Stay bent slightly forward, leaning into the wind. If
the train is moving faster than thirty miles per hour,
it will be difficult to maintain your balance and resist
the wind, so crawling on all fours may be the best
method until you can get down.
If the train is approaching a turn, lie flat; do not try
to keep your footing.
The car may have guide rails along the edge to direct
water. If it does, grab them and hold on.
If the train is approaching a tunnel entrance,
lie flat, and quickly.
There is actually quite a bit of clearance between the
top of the train and the top of the tunnel—about
three feet—but not nearly enough room to stand. Do
not assume that you can walk or crawl to the end of
the car to get down and inside before you reach the
tunnel—you probably won't.
Crouch low and move slowly
forward, swaying with the
side-to-side motion of the train.
Look for a ladder
Move your body with the rhythm of the train—from
side to side and forward.
Do not proceed in a straight line. Spread your feet
apart about thirty-six inches and wobble from side to
side as you move forward.
Find the ladder at the end of the car (between two
cars) and climb down.
It is very unlikely that there will be a ladder on the
side of the car—they usually appear only in the
movies, to make the stunts more exciting.
The sizes and shapes of the cars on a freight train may
vary widely. This can either make it easier or significantly more difficult to cross from one car to another.
A twelve-foot-high boxcar may be next to a flatbed or
a rounded chem car. If on this type of train, your best
bet is to get down as quickly as possible, rather than
to try a dangerous leap from car to car.
HOW TO JUMP FROM
A MOVING CAR
Hurling yourself from a moving car should be a last
resort, for example if your brakes are defective and your
car is about to head off a cliff or into a train.
Apply the emergency brake.
This may not stop the car, but it might slow it down
enough to make jumping safer.
Open the car door.
Make sure you jump at an angle that will take you
out of the path of the car.
Since your body will be moving at the same velocity as
the car, you're going to continue to move in the direction the car is moving. If the car is going straight, try
to jump at an angle that will take you away from it.
Tuck in your head and your arms and legs.
Aim for a soft landing site: grass, brush, wood chips,
anything but pavement—or a tree.
Stuntpeople wear pads and land in sandpits. You won't
have this luxury, but anything that gives a bit when the
body hits it will minimize injury.
Roll when you hit the ground.
After you have applied the emergency brake and the car has
slowed, open the car door.
Jump out at an angle away from the direction in which the car
LEAP FROM A
TO A CAR
If you are planning to enter the car through one of its
windows, remember that in many newer cars, only the
front windows roll all the way down. You should
attempt to be on the front passenger side.
Wear a high-quality helmet and a leather jacket
plus leather pants and boots.
Make sure both vehicles are moving at the
The slower the speed, the safer the move. Anything faster than sixty miles per hour is extremely
Wait for a long straight section of road.
Get the vehicles as close as possible to each other.
You will be on the passenger side of the car, so you
will be very close to the edge of the roadway. Be careful not to swerve.
Stand crouched with both of your feet on either the
running board or the seat.
Grab the handle
inside the car.
Attempt to leap into the front passenger window.
Make sure the window is rolled down all the way, and move
at the same speed as the car. Get as close as possible.
Hold the throttle until the last instant.
Remember, as soon as you release the throttle the bike
speed will decrease.
If the car has a handle inside (above the door)
grab it with your free hand.
If not, simply time the leap so your torso lands in
the car. If someone can grab you and pull you in, all
Have the driver swerve away from the bike as soon
as you are inside.
Once you have released the handlebars, the bike will
go out of control and crash. It may also slip under the
rear passenger-side wheel of the car.
If you miss the window, tuck and roll away from
the vehicles (see page 82 for jumping from a
The move is much easier if two people are on the
motorcycle so that the non-jumper can continue
In the movies and in stunt shows, these transfers
are usually performed at slow speeds, and in fact often
employ the use of a metal step installed on one side of
the bike or car, which allows the rider to step off
while keeping the bike balanced. You are not likely to
have this option.
This procedure, technically called a cricothyroidotomy, should be undertaken only when a person with
a throat obstruction is not able to breathe at all—no
gasping sounds, no coughing—and only after you
have attempted to perform the Heimlich maneuver
three times without dislodging the obstruction. If
possible, someone should call for paramedics while
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
• A first aid kit, if available
• A razor blade or very sharp knife
• A straw (two would be better) or a ballpoint
pen with the inside (ink-filled tube) removed.
If neither a straw nor a pen is available, use stiff >
paper or cardboard rolled into a tube. Good
first aid kits may contain "trache" tubes.
There will not be time for sterilization of your tools,
so do not bother; infection is the least of your worries
at this point.
Find the indentation
bet-ween the Adam's apple
and the cricoid cartilage.
Make a half-inch
horizontal incision about
one half inch deep.
Pinch the incision or
insert your finger inside
the slit to open it.
Insert your tube
into the incision, roughly
one-half to one inch deep.
How TO PROCEED
Find the person's Adam's apple (thyroid cartilage).
Move your finger about one inch down the neck
until you feel another bulge.
This is the cricoid cartilage. The indentation between
the two is the cricothyroid membrane, where the incision will be made.
Take the razor blade or knife and make a half-inch
The cut should be about half an inch deep. There
should not be too much blood.
Pinch the incision open or place your finger inside
the slit to open it.
Insert your tube in the incision, roughly one-half
to one inch deep.
Breathe into the tube with two quick breaths.
Pause five seconds, then give one breath every five
You will see the chest rise and the person should
regain consciousness if you have performed the
The person should be able to breathe on their own,
albeit with some difficulty, until help arrives.
HOW TO USE
TO RESTORE A
Defibrillation is the delivery of a powerful electrical
shock to the heart. (The defibrillator is the device
used in movies and TV shows: two handheld pads are
placed on the victim's chest while an actor yells
"Clear!") In the past, defibrillators were very heavy,
expensive, needed regular maintenance, and were
mostly found only in hospitals. Now there are more
portable units available. A defibrillator should be used
only for a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), an electrical
problem that cannot be helped by CPR.
How TO USE A DEFIBRILLATOR
Turn on the defibrillator by pressing the green button.
Most machines will provide both visual and voice
First, remove the person's shirt and jewelry, then
apply the pads to the chest as shown in the diagram
displayed on the machine's LED panel.
One pad should be placed on the upper right side of
the chest, one on the lower left.
Apply one pad to the upper right of the patient's chest,
the other pad to the lower left.
Plug the pads into the connector.
The defibrillator will analyze the patient and determine if he needs a shock. Do not touch the patient at
If the machine determines that a shock is
needed, it will direct you—both audibly and with
visual prompts—to press the orange button to
deliver a shock.
Do not touch the patient after pressing the button.
The machine will automatically check to see whether
or not the patient needs a second shock and if so will
direct you to press the orange button again.
Check the patient's airway, breathing, and pulse.
If there is a pulse but the patient is not breathing,
begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. If there is no
pulse, repeat the defibrillation process.
A defibrillator should be used for a person experiencing sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), a condition where
the heart's electrical signals become confused and the
heart ceases to function. A person experiencing SCA
will stop breathing, the pulse will slow or stop, and
consciousness will be lost.
IDENTIFY A BOMB
Letter and package bombs can be very dangerous and
destructive. However, unlike a bomb that goes off
suddenly and with no warning, they can be identified.
Observe the following procedures and warning signs.
How TO DETECT A LETTER BOMB
If a carrier delivers an unexpected bulky letter or
parcel, inspect it for lumps, bulges, or protrusions,
without applying pressure.
Check for unevenly balanced parcels.
Handwritten addresses or labels from companies
Check to see if the company exists and if they sent a
package or letter.
Be suspicious of packages wrapped in string—
modern packaging materials have eliminated the
need for twine or string.
Watch out for excess postage on small packages
or letters—this indicates that the object was not
weighed by the post office.
It is no longer legal to mail stamped parcels weighing
more than sixteen ounces at mailboxes in the United
States—they must be taken to a post office.
string or twine
no return address
Watch out for leaks, stains (especially oily stains),
protruding wires, or excessive tape.
Watch out for articles with no return address or a
nonsensical return address.
How TO SEARCH FOR A BOMB
Government agencies use well-defined search procedures for bombs and explosive devices. After a bomb
threat, the following can be used as a guide for
searching a room, using a two-person search team.
Divide the area and select a search height.
The first searching sweep should cover all items resting on the floor up to the height of furniture;
subsequent sweeps should move up from there.
Start back-to-back and work around the room,
in opposite directions, moving toward each other.
Search around the walls and proceed inward in
concentric circles toward the center of the room.
If you find a suspicious parcel or device, do not
touch it—call the bomb squad.
There are several types of devices and methods that
can be used to identify bombs, including metal and
vapor detectors, as well as X-ray machines. Several
devices are portable and inexpensive enough for an
individual to obtain.
Particulate Explosives Detector
• Detects modern plastic explosive constituents as
well as TNT and nitroglycerin.
• Detects RDX (used in C4, PE4, SX2, Semtex,
Demex, and Detasheet); PETN (used in
certain military explosives and Semtex); TNT
(trinitrotoluene), and NG (nitroglycerin).
• Uses IMS (ion mobility spectroscopy) to detect
micron-size particles used in explosives. A sample
size of one nanogram is sufficient for detection.
• To use, swipe the suspect material with a
sample wipe or a cotton glove. Analysis time is
approximately three seconds. A visual display
contains a red warning light and an LCD, giving
a graphic display with a relative numerical scale
of the target materials identified. An audible
alarm can be triggered based on a user-defined
• Requires AC or battery.
• Approximately 15 x 12 x 5 inches.
Portable X-Ray System
• Uses a Polaroid radiographic film cassette and
processor to create detailed radiographs of parcels
• Requires AC or a rechargeable battery.
• To use, simply point the lens at the suspect
item and use the processor to view the image
on the film.
Spray Bomb Detector
This portable aerosol spray is used in conjunction
with laminated test paper to detect explosives—both
plastic and traditional TNT—on parcels and on
hands and fingerprints. The test kit includes test
paper and two spray cans, E and X.
First, rub the white paper over the desired surface
(briefcase, suitcase, etc.) and then spray with the E
canister. If TNT is detected, the paper turns violet. If
no reaction occurs, spray the paper with the X canister. The immediate appearance of pink indicates
Expray can also be sprayed directly on paper and
parcels. The procedure and results are identical.
Bomb Range Detector
This detector of radio-controlled explosives is mounted
in a car.
The unit automatically scans and transmits on
every radio frequency in a one-kilometer radius.
When a radio-controlled explosive is in the area, the
device jams it to render it harmless.
All bomb experts stress that avoidance is the key concept when dealing with explosives. Your best chance
of survival lies with the bomb squad, not with one of
DELIVER A BABY
IN A TAXICAB
Before you attempt to deliver a baby, use your best
efforts to get to a hospital first. There really is no way
to know exactly when the baby is ready to emerge, so
even if you think you may not have time to get to the
hospital, you probably do. Even the "water breaking"
is not a sure sign that birth will happen immediately. The water is actually the amniotic fluid and the
membrane that the baby floats in; birth can occur
many hours after the mother's water breaks. However,
if you leave too late or get stuck in crosstown traffic
and you must deliver the baby on your own, here are
the basic concepts.
Time the uterine contractions.
For first-time mothers, when contractions are about
three to five minutes apart and last forty to ninety
seconds—and increase in strength and frequency—for
at least an hour, the labor is most likely real and not
false (though it can be). Babies basically deliver themselves, and they will not come out of the womb until
they are ready. Have clean, dry towels, a clean shirt,
or something similar on hand.
As the baby moves through
the birth canal, guide it out
by supporting the head.
Support the body as it moves out.
Go not slap its behind to make it cry;
the baby will breathe on its own.
After you have dried off the baby, tie the umbilical cord with a
shoelace or apiece of string several inches from the body.
Leave the cord alone until the baby gets to the hospital.
As the baby moves out of the womb, its head—
the biggest part of its body—will open the cervix so
the rest of it can pass through.
(If feet are coming out first, see next page.) As the
baby moves through the birth canal and out of the
mother's body, guide it out by supporting the head
and then the body.
When the baby is out of the mother, dry it off and
keep it warm.
Do not slap its behind to make it cry; the baby will
breathe on its own. If necessary, clear any fluid out of
the baby's mouth with your fingers.
Tie off the umbilical cord.
Take a piece of string—a shoelace works well—and
tie off the cord several inches from the baby.
It is not necessary to cut the umbilical cord, unless
you are hours away from the hospital.
In that event, you can safely cut the cord by tying it
in another place a few inches closer to the mother and
cutting it between the knots. Leave the cord alone
until you get to a hospital. The piece of the cord
attached to the baby will fall off by itself. The placenta will follow the baby in as few as three or as
many as thirty minutes.
IF THE FEET COME FIRST
The most common complication during pregnancy is
a breech baby, or one that is positioned so the feet,
and not the head, will come out of the uterus first.
Since the head is the largest part of the baby, the danger is that, if the feet come out first, the cervix may
not be dilated enough to get the head out afterward.
Today, most breech babies are delivered through
cesarean sections, a surgical procedure that you will
not be able to perform. If you have absolutely no
alternatives (no hospital or doctors or midwives are
available) when the baby begins to emerge, you can
try to deliver the baby feet first. A breech birth does
not necessarily mean that the head won't be able to
get through the cervix; there is simply a higher possibility that this will occur. Deliver the baby as you
would in the manner prescribed above.
HOW TO TREAT
Frostbite is a condition caused by the freezing of
water molecules in skin cells and occurs in very cold
temperatures. It is characterized by white, waxy skin
that feels numb and hard. More severe cases result in
a bluish black skin color, and the most severe cases
result in gangrene, which may lead to amputation.
Affected areas are generally fingertips and toes, and
the nose, ears, and cheeks. Frostbite should be treated
by a doctor. However, in an emergency, take the following steps.
Remove wet clothing and dress the area with warm,
Immerse frozen areas in warm water (100—105° F)
or apply warm compresses for ten to thirty minutes.
If warm water is not available, wrap gently in
Avoid direct heat, including electric or gas fires,
heating pads, and hot water bottles.
Never thaw the area if it is at risk of refreezing;
this can cause severe tissue damage.
Do not rub frostbitten skin or rub snow on it.
Take a pain reliever such as aspirin or ibuprofen
during rewarming to lessen the pain.
Rewarming will be accompanied by a severe burning
sensation. There may be skin blistering and soft tissue swelling and the skin may turn red, blue, or purple
in color. When skin is pink and no longer numb, the
area is thawed.
Apply sterile dressings to the affected areas.
Place the dressing between fingers or toes if they have
been affected. Try not to disturb any blisters, wrap
rewarmed areas to prevent refreezing, and have the
patient keep thawed areas as still as possible.
Get medical treatment as soon as possible.
After thawing the skin in warm water,
sensation will return and it may be painful.
Apply sterile dressings to the affected areas,
placing it between toes or fingers,
if they have been frostbitten.
Severe frostbite may cause the
skin to blister or swell. Wrap
area to prevent refreezing, and
seek medical treatment.
How TO TREAT FROSTNIP
Frostnip is the early warning sign of frostbite.
Frostnip is characterized by numbness and a pale coloring of the affected areas. It can be safely treated
Remove wet clothing.
Immerse or soak affected areas in warm water
Do not allow patient to control water
temperature—numb areas cannot feel heat and
can be burned.
Continue treatment until skin is pink and
How TO AVOID FROSTBITE AND FROSTNIP
• Keep extremities warm and covered in cold
• Use layered clothing and a face mask.
• Wear mittens instead of gloves, and keep the
• Take regular breaks from the cold whenever
possible to warm extremities.
HOW TO TREAT A
Most leg injuries are only sprains, but the treatment
for both sprains and fractures is the same.
If skin is broken, do not touch or put anything on
You must avoid infection. If the wound is bleeding
severely, try to stop the flow of blood by applying
steady pressure to the affected area with sterile bandages or clean clothes.
Do not move the injured leg—you need to splint
the wound to stabilize the injured area.
Find two stiff objects of the same length—wood,
plastic, or folded cardboard—for the splints.
Put the splints above and below the injured area—
under the leg (or on the side if moving the leg is
Tie the splints with string, rope, or belts—whatever
Alternatively, use clothing torn into strips. Make sure
the splint extends beyond the injured area.
Do not tie the splints too tightly; this may cut
Do not move the injured leg.
Find two stiff objects of the same length—
wood, plastic, or folded cardboard.
Place the splints above and below
the injured area.
Tie the splints with string, rope, or belts—
whatever is available.
Do not tie the splints too tightly—you should be able to slip
one finger under the rope, belt, or fabric.
You should be able to slip a finger under the rope or
fabric. If the splinted area becomes pale or white,
loosen the ties.
Have the injured person lie flat on their back.
This helps blood continue to circulate and may prevent shock.
SYMPTOMS OF A FRACTURE, SPRAIN,
• Difficult or limited movement
• Bruising of the affected area
• Severe pain
• Severe bleeding
• A visible break of bone through the skin
WHAT TO AVOID
• Do not push at, probe, or attempt to clean an
injury; this can cause infection.
• Do not move the injured person unless
absolutely necessary. Treat the fracture and then
go get help.
• If the person must be moved, be sure the injury
is completely immobilized first.
• Do not elevate a leg injury.
• Do not attempt to move or reset a broken bone;
this will cause severe pain and may complicate
HOW TO TREAT
A BULLET OR
Do not immediately pull out any impaled objects.
Bullets, arrows, knives, sticks, and the like cause penetrating injuries. When these objects lodge in the vital
areas of the body (the trunk or near nerves or arteries) removing them may cause more severe bleeding
that cannot be controlled. The object may be pressed
against an artery or other vital internal structure and
may actually be helping to reduce the bleeding.
Control the bleeding by using a combination of
direct pressure, limb elevation, pressure points, and
tourniquets (in that order).
DIRECT PRESSURE. You can control most bleeding by
placing direct pressure on the wound. Attempt to
apply pressure directly to bleeding surfaces. The scalp,
for instance, bleeds profusely. Using your fingertips to
press the edges of a scalp wound against the underlying bone is more effective than using the palm of your
hand to apply pressure over a wider area. Use the tips
of your fingers to control bleeding arterioles (small
Attempt to apply pressure
directly to bleeding surfaces.
Using fingertips rather than
the palm is more effective for
Attempt to promote clotting.
Press on bleeding arterioles
(small squirting vessels).
If injury is in a limb, use pressure to control bleeding, and
elevate limb. Dress the wound to prevent spread of infection.
LIMB ELEVATION. When a wound is in an extremity,
elevation of the extremity above the heart, in addition
to direct pressure, may reduce the bleeding further.
Never make people who are in shock sit up simply to
elevate a bleeding wound.
PRESSURE POINTS. To reduce blood flow you usually
have to compress an artery (where you can feel the
pulse) near the wound against an underlying bone.
Just pressing into the soft belly of a muscle does not
reduce blood flow by this mechanism.
TOURNIQUETS. A tourniquet is a wide band of cloth
or a belt that is placed around an extremity and tightened (usually using a windlass) until the blood flow is
cut off. The blood supply must be compressed against
a long bone (the upper arm or upper leg) since vessels
between the double bones in the lower arm and lower
leg will continue to bleed despite a tourniquet. The
amount of pressure necessary typically causes additional vascular and nerve trauma that is permanent. A
tourniquet should only be used as a last resort—to
save a life at the expense of sacrificing a limb.
Immobilize the injured area.
Using splints and dressings to immobilize an injured
area helps protect from further injury and maintain
clots that have begun to form. Even if an injury to a
bone or joint is not suspected, immobilization will
promote clotting and help healing begin.
Dress the wound, and strive to prevent infection.
Use sterile (or at least clean) dressings as much as
possible. Penetrating injuries may allow anaerobic
(air-hating) bacteria to get deep into the tissue. This
is why penetrating wounds are typically irrigated with
sterile or antibiotic solutions in surgery. While this is
rarely practical outside of the hospital, it is important
to remember that smaller penetrating wounds (nail
holes in the foot and the like) should be encouraged
to bleed for a short period to help "wash out" foreign
material. Soaking an extremity in hydrogen peroxide
may help kill anaerobic bacteria as well. Do not apply
ointments or goo to penetrating wounds as these may
actually promote infection.
Some data indicate that pure granular sugar poured
into a penetrating wound can decrease bleeding, promote clotting, and discourage bacteria. You are not
likely to see it used in your local emergency department, but it might be worth consideration if your
circumstances are dire.
Get medical attention as soon as possible.
It should be noted that tourniquets are rarely helpful—it is uncommon to have life-threatening
bleeding in an extremity that cannot be controlled by
the methods described above. The areas that cause
fatal bleeding (like the femoral arteries or intraabdominal bleeding) do not lend themselves to the
use of a tourniquet. Even most complete amputations
do not bleed all that much, and are controlled by
direct pressure. Arteries that are severed only part of
the way through tend to bleed more profusely than
those that are completely severed.
HOW TO LAND
These instructions cover small passenger planes and
jets (not commercial airliners).
If the plane has only one set of controls, push, pull,
carry, or drag the pilot out of the pilot's seat.
Take your place at the controls.
Put on the radio headset (if there is one).
Use the radio to call for help—there will be a control
button on the yoke (the plane's steering wheel) or a
CB-like microphone on the instrument panel.
Depress the button to talk, release it to listen. Say
"Mayday! Mayday!" and give your situation, destination, and plane call numbers, which should be printed
on the top of the instrument panel.
If you get no response, try again on the emergency
channel—tune the radio to 121.5.
All radios are different, but tuning is standard. The
person on the other end should be able to talk you
through the proper landing procedures. Follow their
instructions carefully. If you cannot reach someone to
talk you through the landing process, you will have to
do it alone.
Get your bearings and identify the instruments.
Look around you. Is the plane level? Unless you have
just taken off or are about to land, it should be flying
YOKE. This is the steering wheel and should be in front
of you. It turns the plane and controls its pitch. Pull
back on the column to bring the nose up, push forward
to point it down. Turn left to turn the plane left, turn
right to turn it right. The yoke is very sensitive—move
it only an inch or two in either direction to turn the
plane in flight. While cruising, the nose of the plane
should be about three inches below the horizon.
ALTIMETER. This is the most important instrument,
at least initially. It is a red dial in the middle of the
instrument panel that indicates altitude: the small
hand indicates feet above sea level in thousand-foot
increments, the large hand in hundreds.
HEADING. This is a compass and will be the only
instrument with a small image of a plane in the
center. The nose will point in the direction the plane
AIRSPEED. This dial is on the top of the instrument
panel and will be on the left. It is usually calibrated in
knots, though it may also have miles per hour. A small
plane travels at about 120 knots while cruising.
Anything under 70 knots in the air is dangerously close
to stall speed. (A knot is 1 1/4 miles per hour.)
THROTTLE. This controls airspeed (power) and also
the nose attitude, or its relation to the horizon. It is a
lever between the seats and is always black. Pull it
toward you to slow the plane and cause it to descend,
push it away to speed up the plane and cause it to
ascend. The engine will get more or less quiet
depending on the direction the throttle is moved.
FUEL. The fuel gauges will be on the lower portion of
the instrument panel. If the pilot has followed FAA
regulations, the plane should have enough fuel for the
amount of flying time to your intended destination
plus at least an additional half hour in reserve. Some
planes have a reserve fuel tank in addition to the primary one, but do not worry about changing tanks.
FLAPS. Due to their complexity, wing flaps can make
the plane harder to control. Use the throttle to control airspeed, not the flaps.
Begin the descent.
Pull back on the throttle to slow down. Reduce power
by about one-quarter of cruising speed. As the plane
slows, the nose will drop. For descent, the nose should
be about four inches below the horizon.
Deploy the landing gear.
Determine if the plane has fixed or retractable landing gear. Fixed landing gear is always down so you
need do nothing. If it is retractable, there will be
another lever between the seats near the throttle, with
a handle that is shaped like a tire. For a water landing, leave the landing gear up (retracted).
Look for a suitable landing site.
If you cannot find an airport, find a flat field on
which to land. A mile-long field is ideal, but finding
a field of this length will be difficult unless you are in
the Midwest. The plane can land on a much shorter
strip of earth, so do not bother to look for the "perfect" landing site—there is no such thing. Bumpy
terrain will also do if your options are limited.
Line up the landing strip so that when the
altimeter reads one thousand feet the field is off
the right-wing tip.
In an ideal situation, you should take a single pass
over the field to look for obstructions; with plenty of
fuel, you may want to do so. Fly over the field, make
a big rectangle, and approach a second time.
When approaching the landing strip, reduce power
by pulling back on the throttle.
Do not let the nose drop more than six inches below
The plane should be one hundred feet off the
ground when you are just above the landing strip,
and the rear wheels should touch first.
The plane will stall at fifty-five to sixty-five miles per
hour, and you want the plane to be at just about stall
speed when the wheels touch the ground.
Pull all the way back on the throttle, and make sure
the nose of the plane does not dip too steeply.
Gently pull back on the yoke as the plane slowly
touches the ground.
Using the pedals on the floor, steer and brake the
plane as needed.
The yoke has very little effect on the ground. The
upper pedals are the brakes, and the lower pedals control the direction of the nose wheel. Concentrate first
on the lower pedals. Press the right pedal to move the
plane right, press the left pedal to move it left. Upon
landing, be aware of your speed. A modest reduction
in speed will increase your chances of survival exponentially. By reducing your groundspeed from 120
to 70 miles per hour, you increase your chance of survival threefold.
• A well-executed emergency landing in bad terrain
can be less hazardous than an uncontrolled landing
on an established field.
• If the plane is headed toward trees, steer it between
them so the wings absorb the impact if you hit.
• When the plane comes to a stop, get out as soon
as possible and get away—and take the pilot
HOW TO SURVIVE
If you are indoors, stay there!
Get under a desk or table and hang on to it, or move
into a doorway; the next best place is in a hallway or
against an inside wall. Stay clear of windows, fireplaces, and heavy furniture or appliances. Get out of
the kitchen, which is a dangerous place. Do not run
downstairs or rush outside while the building is shaking or while there is danger of falling and hurting
yourself or being hit by falling glass or debris.
If you are outside, get into the open, away from
buildings, power lines, chimneys, and anything else
that might fall on you.
If you are driving, stop, but carefully.
Move your car as far out of traffic as possible. Do not
stop on or under a bridge or overpass or under trees,
light posts, power lines, or signs. Stay inside your car
until the shaking stops. When you resume driving
watch for breaks in the pavement, fallen rocks, and
bumps in the road at bridge approaches.
If you are in a mountainous area, watch out for
falling rocks, landslides, trees, and other debris that
could be loosened by quakes.
Places to take shelter and to avoid
NOT near windows
NOT near fireplace
NOT in kitchen
After the quake stops, check for injuries and apply
the necessary first aid or seek help.
Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons
unless they are in further danger of injury. Cover
them with blankets and seek medical help for serious
If you can, put on a pair of sturdy thick-soled shoes
(in case you step on broken glass, debris, etc.).
Check for hazards.
• Put out fires in your home or neighborhood
• Gas leaks: shut off main gas valve only if you
suspect a leak because of broken pipes or odor.
Do not use matches, lighters, camp stoves or
barbecues, electrical equipment, or appliances
until you are sure there are no gas leaks. They
may create a spark that could ignite leaking gas
and cause an explosion and fire. Do not turn on
the gas again if you turned it off—let the gas
company do it.
• Damaged electrical wiring: shut off power at the
control box if there is any danger to house wiring.
• Downed or damaged utility lines: do not touch
downed power lines or any objects in contact
• Spills: clean up any spilled medicines, drugs, or
other harmful materials such as bleach, lye, or gas.
• Downed or damaged chimneys: approach with
caution and do not use a damaged chimney
(it could start a fire or let poisonous gases into
• Fallen items: beware of items tumbling off shelves
when you open closet and cupboard doors.
Check food and water supplies.
Do not eat or drink anything from open containers
near shattered glass. If the power is off, plan meals
to use up frozen foods or foods that will spoil quickly.
Food in the freezer should be good for at least a couple
of days. If the water is off you can drink from water
heaters, melted ice cubes, or canned vegetables. Avoid
drinking water from swimming pools and spas.
Be prepared for aftershocks.
Another quake, larger or smaller, may follow.
• Use your telephone only for a medical or fire
emergency—you could tie up the lines needed for
emergency response. If the phone doesn't work,
send someone for help.
• Do not expect firefighters, police, or paramedics to
help you immediately. They may not be available.
How TO PREPARE
Being prepared for an earthquake is the best way to
survive one. Make sure each member of the household knows what to do no matter where they are
when a quake occurs:
• Establish a meeting place where you can
• Find out about earthquake plans developed by
your children's school or day care.
• Transportation may be disrupted, so keep
emergency supplies—food, liquids, and
comfortable shoes, for example—at work.
• Know where your gas, electric, and water main
shu toffs are and how to turn them off if there is a
leak or electrical short. Make sure older members
of the family can shut off utilities.
• Locate your nearest fire and police stations and
emergency medical facility.
• Talk to your neighbors—you can help one
another during and after an earthquake.
• Take Red Cross first aid and CPR training
HOW TO SURVIVE
ADRIFT AT SEA
Stay aboard your boat as long as possible before you
get into a life raft.
In a maritime emergency, the rule of thumb is that
you should step up into your raft, meaning you should
be up to your waist in water before you get into the
raft. Your best chance of survival is on a boat—even a
disabled one—not on a life raft. But if the boat is
sinking, know how to use a life raft. Any craft that
sails in open water (a boat larger than fourteen feet)
should have at least one life raft. Smaller boats may
only have life jackets, so these vessels should stay
within easy swimming distance of land.
Get in the life raft, and take whatever supplies
you can carry.
Most importantly, if you have water in jugs, take it
with you. Do not drink seawater. A person can last for
several days without food at sea, but without clean
water to drink, death is a virtual certainty within several days. If worse comes to worst, throw the jugs of
water overboard so that you can get them later—they
Many canned foods, particularly vegetables, are
packed in water, so take those with you if you can. Do
not ration water; drink it as needed, but don't drink
more than is necessary—a half-gallon a day should be
sufficient if you limit your activity.
Objects you can use to signal for help
If you are in a cold water/weather environment,
You are more likely to die of exposure or hypothermia
than of anything else.
Put on dry clothes and stay out of the water.
Prolonged exposure to saltwater can damage your skin
and cause lesions, which are prone to infection.
Stay covered. Modern life rafts have canopies,
which protect passengers from sun, wind, and rain. If
the canopy is missing or damaged, wear a hat, long
sleeves, and pants to protect yourself from the sun.
Find food, if you can.
Life rafts include fishing hooks in their survival kits.
If your raft is floating for several weeks, seaweed will
form on its underside and fish will naturally congregate in the shade under you. You can catch them with
the hook and eat the flesh raw. If no hook is available,
you can fashion one using wire or even shards of aluminum from an empty can.
Try to get to land, if you know where it is.
Most rafts include small paddles, but life rafts are not
very maneuverable, especially in any wind above three
knots. Do not exhaust yourself—you will not be able
to move any significant distance without great effort.
If you see a plane or boat nearby, try to signal them.
Use a VHF radio or a handheld flare kit to get their
attention. A small mirror can also be used for signaling.
How TO PREPARE
Never go out on a boat unprepared. Most boats
should have at least one type of emergency signaling
device, which is called an Emergency Position Radio
Beacon, or EPiRB. These devices send out global
marine distress signals and come in two forms: 406
MHz and 125 MHz. Both will send your boat identification and position, but the 406 goes to other
ships, passing airplanes, and satellites, while the 125
only goes to ships and planes. People without one
of these devices can drift for months before they
Always carry a "go bag" that contains:
• Warm, dry clothes and blankets
• A hat
• Food (canned goods, backpacking foods,
• A handheld VHF radio
• A small, handheld GPS (Global Positioning
Satellite) tracking unit
• Drinking water in portable jugs
• A compass
• A flashlight with extra batteries
• Handheld flares
• A handheld watermaker
HOW TO SURVIVE
WHEN LOST IN
Do not panic, especially if people know where you
are and when you are scheduled to return.
If you have a vehicle, stay with it—do not wander!
If you are on foot, try to backtrack by retracing
Always move downstream or down country. Travel
along ridges instead of in washes or valleys, where it
is harder for you to see and for rescuers to see you.
If you have completely lost your bearings, try to get
to a high vista and look around.
If you are not absolutely sure you can follow your
tracks or prints, stay put.
Build smoky fires during daylight hours (tires work
well) but keep a bright fire burning at night.
If fuel is limited, keep a small kindling-fire burning
and have fuel ready to burn if you spot a person or
If a car or plane is passing, or if you see other people
off in the distance, try to signal them with one of
the following methods:
In a clearing, you can use newspaper or aluminum foil
weighed down with rocks to make a large triangle;
this is the international distress symbol.
• A large I indicates to rescuers that someone is
• An X means you are unable to proceed.
• An F indicates you need food and water.
• Three shots from a gun is another recognized
To avoid heat prostration, rest frequently.
Deserts in the United States can reach temperatures
upwards of 120 degrees during the day, and shade can
be scarce. In the summer, sit at least twelve inches
above the ground on a stool or a branch (ground temperatures can be thirty degrees hotter than the
surrounding air temperature).
When walking during daylight hours:
• Walk slowly to conserve energy and rest at least
ten minutes every hour.
• Drink water; don't ration it.
• Avoid talking and smoking.
• Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
• Avoid alcohol, which dehydrates.
• Avoid eating if there is not a sufficient amount of
water readily available; digestion consumes water.
• Stay in the shade and wear clothing, including
a shirt, hat, and sunglasses. Clothing helps
ration sweat by slowing evaporation and prolonging cooling.
• Travel in the evening, at night, or early in the day.
• In cold weather, wear layers of clothing, and make
sure you and your clothes are dry.
• Watch for signs of hypothermia, which
include intense shivering, muscle tensing, fatigue,
poor coordination, stumbling, and blueness of
the lips and fingernails. If you see these signs,
get dry clothing on immediately and light a fire
if possible. If not, huddle close to companions
Try to find water. The best places to look are:
• The base of rock cliffs.
• In the gravel wash from mountain valleys,
especially after a recent rain.
• The outside edge of a sharp bend in a dry
streambed. Look for wet sand, then dig down
three to six feet to find seeping water.
• Near green vegetation. Tree clusters and other
shrubbery, such as cottonwood, sycamore, or
willow trees, may indicate the presence of water.
• Animal paths and flocks of birds. Following them
may lead you to water.
Find cactus fruit and flowers.
Split open the base of cactus stalks and chew on the
pith, but don't swallow it. Carry chunks of pith to
alleviate thirst while walking. Other desert plants are
inedible and will make you sick.
The outside edge of
Gravel wash from
Green vegetation such as sycamore
trees or other shrubbery
Cactus fruit or flowers can
be eaten. Split open the base
and chew on the pith.
How TO PREPARE
When planning a trip to a desert area that is sparsely
populated, always inform someone of your destination, the duration of the trip, and its intended route.
Leaving without alerting anyone and getting lost
means no one will be looking for you.
If traveling by car, make sure your vehicle is in
good condition, and make sure you have:
• A sound battery
• Good hoses (squeeze them: they should be firm,
not soft and mushy)
• A spare tire with the proper inflation
• Spare fan belts
• Reserve gasoline and oil
• Water (five gallons for a vehicle)
How TO DRIVE SAFELY
Keep an eye on the sky. Flash floods can occur in a
wash any time thunderheads are in sight, even though
it may not be raining where you are. If you get caught
in a dust storm while driving, get off the road immediately. Turn off your driving lights and turn on your
emergency flashers. Back into the wind to reduce
windshield pitting by sand particles. Before driving
through washes and sandy areas, test the footing. One
minute on foot may save hours of hard work and prevent a punctured oil pan.
If your vehicle breaks down, stay near it; your
emergency supplies are there. Raise the hood and
trunk lid to denote "help needed." A vehicle can be
seen for miles, but a person is very difficult to find.
• Leave a disabled vehicle only if you are positive of
the route to help.
• If stalled or lost, set signal fires. Set smoky fires in
the daytime, bright ones for the night. Three fires
in a triangle denotes "help needed."
• If you find a road, stay on it.
WHAT TO BRING
WHEN TRAVELING BY FOOT
• Water (one gallon per person per day is adequate;
two or more gallons is smarter and safer)
• A map that shows the nearest populated areas
• Waterproof matches
• A cigarette lighter or flint and steel
• A survival guide
• Strong sunscreen, a hat, warm clothes,
• A pocket knife
• A metal signaling mirror
• Iodine tablets
• A small pencil and writing materials
• A whistle (three blasts denotes "help needed")
• A canteen cup
• Aluminum foil
• A compass
• A first aid kit
How TO AVOID GETTING LOST
When hiking, periodically look back in the
direction from where you have come. Taking a
mental picture of what it will look like when
you return helps in case you become lost.
Stay on established trails if possible and mark
the trail route with blazes on trees and brush, or
by making ducques (pronounced "ducks"),
which are piles of three rocks stacked on top
of one another.
SURVIVE IF YOUR
FAILS TO OPEN
As soon as you realize that your chute is bad, signal
to a jumping companion whose chute has not yet
opened that you are having a malfunction.
Wave your arms and point to your chute.
When your companion (and new best friend)
gets to you, hook arms.
Once you are hooked together, the two of you will
still be falling at terminal velocity, or about 130
miles per hour.
When your friend opens his chute, there will be no
way either of you will be able hold on to one another
normally, because the G-forces will triple or quadruple your body weight. To prepare for this problem,
hook your arms into his chest strap, or through the
two sides of the front of his harness, all the way up to
your elbows, and grab hold of your own strap.
Open the chute.
The chute opening shock will be severe, probably
enough to dislocate or break your arms.
Hook arms with your companion. Then hook
your arms into his chest strap, up to the elbows,
and grab hold of your own.
Steer the canopy.
Your friend must now hold on to you with one arm
while steering his canopy (the part of the chute that
controls direction and speed).
If your friend's canopy is slow and big, you may
hit the grass or dirt slowly enough to break only a leg,
and your chances of survival are high.
If his canopy is a fast one, however, your friend
will have to steer to avoid hitting the ground too fast.
You must also avoid power lines and other obstructions at all costs.
If there is a body of water nearby, head for that.
Of course, once you hit the water, you will have to
tread with just your legs and hope that your partner is
able to pull you out before your chute takes in water.
How TO PREPARE
Check your chute before you jump. The good news is
that today's parachutes are built to open, so even if
you make big mistakes packing them, they tend to
sort themselves out. The reserve chute, however, must
be packed by a certified rigger and must be perfect as
it is your last resort. Make sure that:
• The parachute is folded in straight lines—that
there are no twists.
• The slider is positioned correctly to keep the
parachute from opening too fast.
HOW TO SURVIVE
Struggle to stay on top of the snow by using a
freestyle swimming motion.
If you are buried, your best chance of survival is if
someone saw you get covered.
The snow in an avalanche is like a wet snowball: it is
not light and powdery, and once you are buried, it is
very difficult to dig your way out.
If you are only partially buried, you can dig your
way out with your hands or by kicking at the snow.
If you still have a ski pole, poke through the snow in
several directions until you see or feel open air, then
dig in that direction.
If you are completely buried, chances are you will be
too injured to help yourself.
However, if you are able, dig a small hole around you
and spit in it. The saliva should head downhill, giving
you an idea of which direction is up. Dig up, and do
• Never go hiking or skiing alone in avalanche
• Carry an avalanche probe—a sturdy, sectional
aluminum pole that fits together to create a probe
Struggle to stay on top of the snow by using
a freestyle swimming motion.
six to eight feet in length. Some ski poles are
threaded and can be screwed together to form
• Know where and when avalanches are likely
• Avalanches occur in areas with new snow; on the
leeward side of mountains (the side facing away
from the wind); and in the afternoons of sunny
days, when the morning sun may have loosened
the snowpack. They occur most often on mountainsides with angles of thirty to forty-five
degrees—these are often the most popular slopes
• Avalanches can be triggered by numerous factors,
including recent snowfall, wind, and sunlight.
As new snow accumulates with successive storms,
the layers may be of different consistencies and
not bond to one another, making the snow
• Loud noises do not cause avalanches except if they
cause significant vibrations in the ground or snow.
• The activity with the highest avalanche risk is
now snowmobiling. Snowmobiles—sometimes
called mountain sleds—are powerful and light,
and can get high into mountainous terrain,
where avalanches occur.
• Carry a beacon. The beacon broadcasts your
position by setting up a magnetic field that can be
picked up by the other beacons in your group.
If skiing on a dangerous slope, go down one at a
time, not as a group, in case a slide occurs.
How TO RESCUE OTHERS
If you have witnessed others being buried by an avalanche, contact the ski patrol as soon as possible.
Then search first by trees and benches—the places
where people are most commonly buried. All
searchers should have small, collapsible shovels to
help them dig quickly if they find someone.
HOW TO SURVIVE
IF YOU ARE IN THE
LINE OF GUNFIRE
IF You ARE THE PRIMARY TARGET
Get as far away as possible.
An untrained shooter isn't likely to be accurate at any
distance greater than sixty feet.
Run fast, but do not move in a straight line—weave
back and forth to make it more difficult for the
shooter to draw a bead on you.
The average shooter will not have the training necessary to hit a moving target at any real distance.
Run in a
to make yourself
to hit. (B)
Try to turn a corner if possible. (A)
- - - - > (B)
Do not bother to count shots.
You will have no idea if the shooter has more ammunition. Counting is only for the movies.
Turn a corner as quickly as you can, particularly
if your pursuer has a rifle or assault weapon.
Rifles have much greater accuracy and range, and the
person may be more likely to either aim or spray bullets in your direction.
IF YOU ARE NOT THE PRIMARY TARGET
Get down, and stay down.
If the intended target is near you or if the shooter is
firing at random, get as low as possible. Do not
crouch down; get flat on your stomach and stay there.
If you are outside and can get to a car, run to it and
lie behind a tire on the opposite side of the car from
If no cars are present, lie in the gutter next to the
curb. A car will stop or deflect a small-caliber bullet
fired toward you. However, higher caliber bullets—
such as those from an assault rifle or bullets that are
designed to pierce armor—can easily penetrate a car
and hit someone on the opposite side.
If you are inside a building and the shooter is inside,
get to another room and lie flat.
If you cannot get to another room, move behind any
heavy, thick objects (a solid desk, filing cabinets,
tables, a couch) for protection.
If you are face-to-face with the shooter, do anything
you can to make yourself less of a target.
Turn sideways, and stay low—stray bullets are likely
to be at least a few feet above the ground. If the
shooter is outside, stay inside and stay away from
doors and windows.
Stay down until the shooting stops or until authorities arrive and give the all clear.
Attempt to keep large objects between you and the shooter.
HOW TO SURVIVE
WHEN LOST IN
The number one cause of death when lost in the
mountains is hypothermia—humans are basically
tropical animals. Staying calm in the face of darkness,
loneliness, and the unknown will greatly increase your
chances of survival. Eighty percent of mountain survival is your reaction to fear, 10 percent is your
survival gear, and the other 10 percent is knowing
how to use it. Always tell someone else where you are
going and when you will return.
Do not panic.
If you told someone where you were going, search and
rescue teams will be looking for you. (In general,
teams will search only during daylight hours for
adults, but will search around the clock for children
who are alone.)
Find shelter, and stay warm and dry.
Exerting yourself unnecessarily—like dragging heavy
logs to build a shelter—will make you sweat and make
you cold. Use the shelter around you before trying to
construct one. If you are in a snow-covered area, you
may be able to dig a cave in deep snow for shelter and
protection from the wind. A snow trench may be a
better idea—it requires less exertion. Simply use
In snow-covered country, build a snow cave
or a snow trench for shelter and warmth.
Use dead leaves and branches
something to dig a trench, get in it, and cover it with
branches or leaves. You should attempt to make your
shelter in the middle of the mountain if possible. Stay
out of the valleys—cold air falls, and the valley floor
can be the coldest spot on the mountain.
Signal rescuers for help.
The best time to signal rescuers is during the day,
with a signaling device or three fires in a triangle.
Signal for help from the highest point possible—it
will be easier for rescuers to see you, and any sound
you make will travel farther. Build three smoky fires
and put your blanket—gold side facing out, if it is a
space blanket—on the ground.
Do not wander far.
It will make finding you more difficult, as search
teams will be trying to retrace your path and may miss
you if you have gone off in a different direction.
Searchers often wind up finding a vehicle with no one
in it because the driver has wandered off.
If you get frostbite, do not rewarm the affected area
until you're out of danger.
You can walk on frostbitten feet, but once you warm
the area and can feel the pain, you will not want to
walk anywhere. Try to protect the frostbitten area and
keep it dry until you are rescued.
How TO PREPARE
You must dress properly before entering a wilderness
area. Layer your clothing in the following manner:
FIRST (INNER) LAYER: long underwear, preferably
polypropylene. This provides only slight insulation—
its purpose is to draw moisture off your skin.
SECOND (MIDDLE) LAYER: something to trap and
create warm "dead air" space, such as a down parka.
THIRD (OUTER) LAYER: a Gore-Tex or other brand
of breathable jacket that allows moisture out but not
in. Dry insulation is key to your survival. Once you
are wet, it is very difficult to get dry.
Make sure you have the following items in your survival kit, and that you know how to use them (reading
the instructions for the first time in the dark wilderness is not recommended):
A HEAT SOURCE. Bring several boxes of waterproof
matches, as well as a lighter. Trioxane—a small,
light, chemical heat source that the Army uses—is
recommended. Trioxane packs can be picked up in
outdoor and military surplus stores. Dryer lint is
also highly flammable and very lightweight.
SHELTER. Carry a small space blanket, which has
a foil-like coating that insulates you. Get one that
is silver on one side (for warmth) and orange-gold
on the other, which can be used for signaling. The
silver side is not a good color to signal with. It can :
be mistaken for ice or mineral rock. The orangegold color does not occur in nature and will not be
mistaken for anything else.
A SIGNALING DEVICE. A small mirror works well, as
do flares or a whistle, which carries much farther
than a voice.
FOOD. Pack carbohydrates: bagels, trail mix, granola
bars, and so on. Proteins need heat to break down
and require more water for digestion.
HOW TO MAKE
WHAT You WILL NEED
• Kindling. Several pieces, varying in size from small
• Wood to keep the fire going. Select deadwood
from the tree, not off the ground. Good wood
should indent with pressure from a fingernail, but
not break easily.
• Bow. A curved stick about two feet long.
• String. A shoelace, parachute cord, or leather thong.
Primitive cordage can be made from yucca,
milkweed, or another tough, stringy plant.
• Socket. A horn, bone, piece of hard wood, rock, or
seashell that fits in the palm of the hand and will be
placed over a stick.
• Lube. You can use earwax, skin oil, a ball of green
grass, lip balm, or anything else oily.
• Spindle. A dry, straight 3/4 to 1-inch-diameter stick
approximately 12 to 18 inches long. Round one end
and carve the other end to a point.
• Fire board. Select and shape a second piece of wood
into a board approximately 3/4 to 1 inch thick, 2 to 3
inches wide, and 10 to 12 inches long. Carve a shallow dish in the center of the flat side approximately
(bark or leaf)
(enlargement of V-shaped notch)
1/2 inch from the edge. Into the edge of this dish,
cut a V-shaped notch.
• Tray. A piece of bark or leaf inserted under the
V-shaped notch to catch the ember. The tray
should not be made of deadwood.
• Nest. Dry bark, grass, leaves, cattail fuzz, or
some other combustible material, formed into
a bird nest shape.
How TO START THE FIRE
Tie the string tightly to the bow, one end to each
end of the stick.
Kneel on your right knee, with the ball of your left
foot on the fire board, holding it firmly to the ground.
Take the bow in your hands.
Loop the string in the center of the bow.
Insert the spindle in the loop of the bowstring
so that the spindle is on the outside of the bow,
pointed end up.
The bowstring should now be tight—if not, loop the
string around the spindle a few more times.
Take the hand socket in your left hand, notch side
down. Lubricate the notch.
Tie a string tightly to the bow.
Loop the string in the center and insert the spindle.
Press down lightly on the socket. Draw bow back and forth,
rotating spindle. Add pressure to the socket and speed your
bowing motion until fire ember is produced.
Place the rounded end of the spindle into the dish of
the fire board and the pointed end of the spindle into
the hand socket.
Pressing down lightly on the socket, draw the bow
back and forth, rotating the spindle slowly.
Add pressure to the socket and speed to your bowing
until you begin to produce smoke and ash.
When there is a lot of smoke, you have created a fire ember.
Immediately stop your bowing motion and tap
the spindle on the fire board to knock the ember
into the tray.
Remove the tray and transfer the ember into your "nest."
Hold the nest tightly and blow steadily onto the ember.
Eventually, the nest will catch fire.
Add kindling onto the nest. When the kindling
catches, gradually add larger pieces of fuel.
You should not be dependent on any primitive fire
method to maintain life in a wilderness survival emergency. Making fire in this manner can be quite difficult
under actual harsh conditions (rain, snow, cold).
You should practice this method at home before you
attempt it in the wilderness to familiarize yourself with
the quirks of the process.
HOW TO AVOID
BEING STRUCK BY
Lightning causes more casualties annually in the U.S.
than any other storm-related phenomenon except
floods. No place is completely safe from lightning.
However, some places are more dangerous than others.
Loud or frequent thunder indicates that lightning
activity is approaching.
If you can see lightning and/or hear thunder, you are at
risk. High winds, rainfall, and cloud cover often act as
precursors to actual cloud-to-ground strikes. Thunderstorms generally move west to east and occur late in the
day or in early evening when humidity is highest.
When you see lightning, count the number of seconds until thunder is heard and then divide by five.
This will indicate how far the storm is from you in
miles. (Sound travels at 1,100 feet per second.)
If the time delay between seeing the flash (lightning)
and hearing the boom (thunder) is fewer than thirty
seconds, seek a safer location immediately.
• Avoid high places, open fields, and ridges above
the timberline. If in an open area, do not lie flat—
kneel with your hands on the ground and your head
low. If you are on a technical climb, sit on a rock
If you are in an open area, do not lie flat. Kneel with your
hands on the ground and your head low.
DO NOT stand under a tree.
or on nonmetallic equipment. Tie a rope around
your ankle; this will anchor you if a strike occurs
and you are knocked off balance.
• Avoid isolated trees, unprotected gazebos, and rain
or picnic shelters, as well as shallow depressions in
the earth—current traveling through the ground
may use you to bridge the depression.
• Avoid baseball dugouts, communications towers,
flagpoles, light poles, metal and wood bleachers,
and metal fences. If you are camping, avoid your
tent if it is in an open area or under a large tree.
• Avoid golf carts and convertibles.
• Avoid bodies of water: oceans, lakes, swimming
pools, and rivers.
Wait for the storm to pass.
The lightning threat generally diminishes with time
after the last sound of thunder, but may persist for
more than 30 minutes. When thunderstorms are in
the area but not overhead, the lightning threat can
exist even when it is sunny, not raining, or when clear
sky is visible.
• Large enclosed buildings tend to be much safer
than smaller or open structures. The risk for
lightning injury depends on whether the structure
incorporates lightning protection, the construction
materials used, and the size of the structure.
• Fully enclosed metal vehicles such as cars, trucks,
buses, vans, and fully enclosed farm vehicles with
the windows rolled up provide good shelter from
lightning. Avoid contact with metal or conducting
surfaces outside or inside the vehicle.
• When inside, avoid contact with conductive
surfaces with exposure to the outside, including
the shower, sink, plumbing fixtures, and metal
door and window frames.
• Avoid outlets, electrical cords, and wired electrical
devices, including telephones, computers, and
televisions (particularly cable TVs).
How TO TREAT SOMEONE STRUCK
Call 911 to report the strike and give directions to
With immediate medical treatment, victims can survive an encounter with lightning. If multiple people
have been struck, treat the apparently "dead" first.
People who are unconscious but still breathing will
probably recover on their own.
Move to a safer location to avoid getting struck
It is unusual for victims who survive a lightning strike
to have major fractures that would cause paralysis or
major bleeding complications unless they have suffered a fall or been thrown a distance. Do not be
afraid to move the victim rapidly if necessary; individuals struck by lightning do not carry a charge and
it is safe to touch them to give medical treatment.
In cold and wet environments, put a protective
layer between the victim and the ground to decrease
the chance of hypothermia, which can further
Check for burns, especially around jewelry and watches.
If the victim is not breathing, start mouth-tomouth resuscitation.
Give one breath every five seconds. If moving the victim, give a few quick breaths prior to moving.
Determine if the victim has a pulse.
Check the pulse at the carotid artery (side of the
neck) or femoral artery (groin) for at least twenty to
If no pulse is detected, start cardiac compressions.
If the pulse returns, continue ventilation with
rescue breathing as needed for as long as practical
in a wilderness situation.
If a pulse does not return after twenty to thirty
minutes of good effort, stop resuscitation efforts.
In wilderness areas far from medical care, prolonged
basic CPR is of little use—the victim is unlikely
to recover if they do not respond within the first
HOW TO GET
TO THE SURFACE
IF YOUR SCUBA TANK
RUNS OUT OF AIR
Do not panic.
Signal to your fellow divers that you are having a
problem—point to your tank or regulator.
If someone comes to your aid, share their regulator,
passing it back and forth while swimming slowly to
Take two breaths, then pass it back to the other diver.
Ascend together, exhaling as you go. Then take
another two breaths, alternating, until you reach the
surface. Nearly all divers carry an extra regulator connected to their tank.
If no one can help you, keep your regulator in your
mouth; air may expand in the tank as you ascend,
giving you additional breaths.
Look straight up so that your airway is as straight
Swim to the surface at a slow to moderate rate.
Exhale continuously as you swim up. It is very important that you exhale the entire way up, but the rate at
Keep your regulator
in your mouth.
Keep your airway
as straight as
possible by looking
toward the surface.
Swim at a slow to
moderate rate, exhaling
which you exhale is also important. Exhale slowly—
do not exhaust all your air in the first few seconds of
your ascent. As long as you are even slightly exhaling,
your passageway will be open and air can vent from
WARNING: If you do not exhale continuously, you
risk an aneurysm.
• Never dive alone.
• Watch your pressure and depth gauges closely.
• Make sure your fellow divers are within easy
• Share a regulator in an emergency. It is much
safer to use your partner's regulator than to try
to make a quick swim to the surface. This is
especially true the deeper you are, where you
need to surface gradually.
• Always use an alternate air source instead of
swimming up unless you are fewer than thirty feet
below the surface.
Source: "Mountain" Mel Deweese, a Survival
Evasion Resistance Escape Instructor, has trained
military personnel and civilians to survive in all
kinds of environments. He runs the Colorado
Survival Skills Tipi Camp.
GREAT ESCAPES AND ENTRANCES
How to Escape from Quicksand
Source: Karl S. Kruszelnicki, Julius
Sumner Miller Fellow at
the School of Physics of
the University of Sydney,
Australia, the author
of several books on
physics and natural
phenomena, including Flying
Lasers, Robofish, and Cities of Slime and other
brain-bending science moments.
How to Break Down a Door
Source: David M. Lowell, a certified Master
Locksmith and Education/Proficiency Registration
Program Manager of the Associated Locksmiths of
America, an industry trade group.
How to Break into a Car
Source: Bill Hargrove, a licensed locksmith
in Pennsylvania with 10 years of experience
How to Hot-wire a Car
Sources: Sam Toler, a
certified auto mechanic,
demolition derby driver,
and member of the
Cartalk, a weekly radio
program on car repair
broadcast on National
How to Perform a Fast ISO-Degree
Turn with Your Car
Sources: Vinny Minchillo, Internet Demolition
Derby Association; Tom and Peggy Simons.
How to Ram a Car
Sources: Sam Toler (see above); Tom and
How to Escape from
a Sinking Car
Sources: The U.S.
and Engineering Lab,
located in New Hampshire;
"Danger! Thin Ice," a publication of the Minnesota
Department of Natural Resources; Tim Smalley, a
boating and safety specialist at the Minnesota DNR.
How to Deal with a Downed Power Line
Source: Larry Holt, a senior consultant at
Eicon Elevator Controls and Consulting in
THE BEST DEFENSE
How to Survive a Poisonous Snake Attack
Sources: John Henkel, a writer for the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration and a contributor to
FDA Consumer magazine; Al Zulich, director of
the Harford Reptile Breeding Center in Bel Air,
Maryland; Mike Wilbanks, webmaster of the
How to Fend Off a Shark
Sources: George H. Burgess, director of the
International Shark Attack File at the Florida
Museum of Natural History at the University
of Florida; Craig Ferreira, board member, Cape
Town's South African White Shark Research
Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated
to research of the white shark and the preservation
of its environment.
How to Escape from a Bear
Sources: "Safety Guide to Bears in the Wild,"
a publication of the Wildlife Branch of Canada's
Ministry of Environment, Lands, and Parks;
Dr. Lynn Rogers, a wildlife research biologist
at Minnesota's Wildlife Research Institute and
a director of the North American Bear Center
in Ely, Minnesota.
How to Escape
from a Mountain Lion
Sources: The National Parks
Service; the Texas Park and
Wildlife Association; Chris
Kallio, backpacking guide for
About.com; Mary Taylor Gray,
a writer for Colorado's Wildlife
Company, a publication of the
Colorado Division of Wildlife.
How to Wrestle Free from an Alligator
Sources: Lynn Kirkland, curator of the St.
Augustine Alligator Farm; Tim Williams of
Orlando's Gatorland, who
has worked with alligators
for nearly 30 years and now
lectures and trains other
How to Escape from
Source: The Texas
How to Deal with a Charging Bull
Source: Coleman Cooney, director of the
How to Win a Sword Fight
Source: Dale Gibson, stuntman, teaches sword
fighting skills to Hollywood actors and stunt
people. He plays the knight in the Marine Corps
commercials, and performed sword fighting
stunts in The Mask of Zorro.
How to Take a Punch
Source: Cappy Kotz, a USA Boxing certified coach
and instructor, and author of Boxing For Everyone.
LEAPS OF FAITH
How to Jump from a Bridge or
Cliff into a River
Source: Chris Caso, stuntman, member of the
UCLA gymnastics team and the U.S. gymnastics
team, has produced and performed high-fall
stunts for numerous movies, including Batman
and Robin, Batman Forever, The Lost World, and
The Crow: City of Angels.
How to Jump from a
Building into a Dumpster
Source: Chris Caso
How to Maneuver on Top
of a Moving Train and
Source: Kim Kahana,
stuntman, stunt director, .
and filmmaker. He has
appeared in more than 300 films, including Lethal
Weapon 3, Passenger 57, and Smokey & the Bandit.
How to Jump from a Moving Car
Sources: Dale Gibson (see above); Chris Caso,
How to Leap from a Motorcycle to a Car
Source: Jim Winburn, the director and stunt coordinator for two amusement park shows: "Batman" and
the "Butch & Sundance Western Show."
How to Perform a Tracheotomy
Source: Dr. Jeff Heit, M.D., director of internal
medicine at a Philadelphia area hospital.
How to Use a Defibrillator to
Restore a Heartbeat
Sources: Dr. Jeff Heit, M.D. (see above); Tom
Costello, district manager of Hewlett-Packard;
Heartstream; the American Heart Association.
How to Identify a Bomb
Source: Brady Geril, vice president of Product
Management for the Counter Spy Shops, the retail
division of CCS International Ltd. of London. He is
an expert in both survival products and tactics, and
served as a supervising officer and undercover agent
in the New York Police Department's narcotics division for 10 years.
How to Deliver a Baby in a Taxicab
Source: Dr. Jim Nishimine,
M.D., obstetrician and
California. He has
babies for 30 years.
How to Treat Frostbite
Source: John Lindner, director of the
Wilderness Survival School for the Denver
division of the Colorado Mountain Club, runs
the Snow Operations Training Center, an
organization that teaches mountain survival
skills to power companies and search and
How to Treat a Leg Fracture
Source: Dr. Randall Simms, M.D.
How to Treat a Bullet or Knife Wound
Source: Charles D. Bortle, BA, RRT, NREMT-P,
Paramedic and GMS Educator.
How to Land a Plane
Sources: Arthur Marx, a pilot for more than
20 years, owns Flywright Aviation, a flight
training and corporate flying service on Martha's
Vineyard; Mick Wilson, author of How to Crash
an Airplane (and Survive!) has a gold seal flight
instructor certificate for both single- and
How to Survive
Sources: The U.S.
Geological Survey; The
How to Survive Adrift at Sea
Source: Greta Schanen, managing editor of Sailing
Magazine, has extensive experience both racing and
pleasure cruising in deep water.
How to Survive When Lost in the Desert
Sources: The Arizona State Association of
4 Wheel Drive Clubs; The Desert Survival Guide,
a publication of the City of Phoenix, Arizona.
How to Survive If Your Parachute Fails to Open
Source: Joe Jennings, skydiving cinematographer
and skydiving coordination specialist. He has
designed, coordinated, and filmed skydiving stunts
for numerous television commercials, including
Mountain Dew, Pepsi, MTV Sports, Coca Cola,
How to Survive
Source: Jim Frankenfield,
director of the Cyberspace
Snow and Avalanche
Center, a nonprofit
organization dedicated to
avalanche safety education
and information based
in Corvallis, Oregon.
Frankenfield has a degree
in snow and avalanche
physics and has led avalanche safety training for
10 years in Colorado, Montana, Oregon, and Utah.
How to Survive If You Are in
the Line of Gunfire
Source: Brady Geril (see above).
How to Survive When Lost in the Mountains
Source: John Lindner, Colorado Mountain Club,
director of the
School (see above).
How to Make Fire
How to Avoid Being Struck
Sources: John Lindner
(see above); The
Group of the
Society; the National Weather
Service Forecast Office in Denver, Colorado.
How to Get to the Surface
If Your Scuba Tank Runs Out of Air
Source: Graham Dickson, Professional
Association of Diving Instructors (PADI)
Master scuba instructor.
JOSHUA PIVEN is a computer journalist and freelance writer, and is a former editor at Ziff-Davis
Publishing. He has been chased by knife-wielding
motorcycle bandits, stuck in subway tunnels, been
robbed and mugged, has had to break down doors
and pick locks, and his computer crashes regularly.
This is his first book. He currently makes his
home in Philadelphia.
DAVID BORGENICHT is a writer and editor who
has written several nonfiction books, including
The Little Book of Stupid Questions (Hysteria,
1999) and The Jewish Mother Goose (Running
Press, 2000). He has ridden in heavily-armored
vehicles in Pakistan, stowed away on Amtrak,
been conned by a grifter, broken into several
houses (each for good reason), and has "borrowed"
mini-bottles from the drink cart on Delta. He
lives in Philadelphia with his wife—his best-case
Check out www.worstcasescenarios.com for
additional survival tips, updates, and more.
Because you just never know . ..