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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

3 Survival Concepts That Could Save Your Life

The book, “The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why,” is an outstanding account of real life scenarios of people’s struggle to survive different disasters.  It also provides psychological reasons why we act the way we do in these situations. The author discusses that during any type of disaster, a person travels through three phases: denial, deliberation, and the decisive moment.  Reality is full of unforeseen events.  The end result of these unforeseen events depends on the choices the person makes during the three phases after the disaster occurs.

#1: Take Responsibility For Your Own Survival

In a disaster situation, the use of denial can be a good yet dangerous survival technique.  Studies have shown that in a disaster situation, people become bizarrely courteous.  Perhaps, it is because they are not wanting to look like they are “jumping the gun” as far as trying to run out first.  In a disaster, many are passive, and wait around because they do not know where to go, what to do.  It could also be that they never imagined they would be in this situation and cannot even fathom how to escape it.  It is a fact that fear distorts our behavior.  Fear is the most dangerous role to play when in a middle of a disaster. 
After the initial attack on 9/11 many of the workers in the World Trade Centers made phone calls, and even had time to turn their computers off.  They slowly made their way to the staircases.  This is part of the human condition to deal with a disaster.  The fight or flight response does not necessarily kick in immediately.  There will be times when some people ”wake up” and stops their non-chalant attitude, takes off the Mr. Nice Guy suit and becomes more aggressive in their pursuit to survive.  This will also assist others move out of their denial phase.  These people could save many lives, but look like the bad guys in the middle of the situation.  Bottom line is this: an emergency situation is an emergency - so treat it that way and take it seriously and get out of danger as swiftly as possible.

#2: Solely Relying on Someone Else To Save You Is Foolish and Naive

Emergency responders, city officials, police and fire departments are collectively present to protect the community.  It is only logical to believe that each emergency responders will, in some way be going through a disaster cycle of their own.  Coupled with them trying to do their job and risk their lives, they cannot possibly respond to every victim’s need at the same time.  The sooner a person in the disaster realizes that, the faster they can begin to take responsibility for their own survival.  To take control over their well being and safety, they need to wake up out of the denial phase and begin formulating a plan of action.  Try and calm down and use your senses to help you.
(Please understand that I am in no way implying that it is every man for himself.  But help the emergency responders by getting out of danger so they do not have to risk their lives to save you.)

Train Yourself To Act Without Fear

In any type of military training facility, they run drills.  This concept is the core lesson of the book, The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why:
“The best way to get the brain to perform under extreme stress is to repeatedly run it through rehearsals beforehand.  Or as the military puts it, the ‘Eight P’s’: Proper prior planning and preparation prevents piss-poor performance.”
There are ways to be more proactive in your emergency training:
  • Become more aware of your surroundings. 
  • Locate the emergency exits.
  • Time how fast your can get out of a building.
  • Ask security guards their emergency evacuation protocols.   
There is no doubt that every one has heard how important it is to prepare for a disaster.  It is said that 95% of disasters can be prepared for.  But, for one reason or another, this is put off or not taken seriously.  Many believe that “the worst case scenario” cannot happen to them.  They attempt to use logic and negotiation in order to believe  such atrocities would never happen to them.  They may think such thoughts as , ”Things can’t go wrong, I am a model citizen; I pay my taxes,” or “I go to work everyday, my family is well cared for.”  But unforeseen situations are not discriminating.  They can happen to the delinquents of society just as much as the model citizens.   The only ways to survive them is move through these phases as fast as possible to get out of harms way.

10 Things People Do Unintentionally That Can Impact Their Safety

NEWARK, NJ - JULY 1: One of 109 newly-installe...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
People do a lot of things almost automatically that they often don't give a second thought to. Some things, however, can have a negative impact on your safety. For example:
  1. When you turn your car keys over to the shop or detailer, don't give them your whole key ring. They will end up with a key to your house AND your address from the registration in the glove box.
  2. When you move into a new place, always change the locks. It is exciting to get a new set of keys to your new place but the locks need to switched out ASAP because you don't know who else has copies of said house key.
  3. When you pick up your mail, don't leave it laying on your dashboard or on the counter in your kitchen. Mail such as bank statements and credit card bills can have personal information on them that is easy for others to steal.
  4. If you need to call your credit card company (or any other place that needs you to tell them your personal information) do so in private. I can't count how many times I have overheard people on their cell phones in public divulging personal information.
  5. Keep your private life private at work. It's fine to tell close friends about your latest drama but doing so at work can compromise your safety in a number of ways: clients can overhear you, a stalker can over hear you, co-workers can use details (like of your recent DUI) to torpedo you at work, etc.
  6. Keep your private life private online. I am not a fan of FaceBook and don't have a MySpace or FaceBook page because people share too much information on these sites which is then sent out to everyone on the planet. If I am going on vacation, I will tell my housekeeper and a responsible neighbor, but I won't tell the entire world I WILL BE OUT OF TOWN FROM JUNE 5 TO JUNE 17--that's just asking to be burglarized.
  7. Keep your windows and doors locked as a habit. I don't even think my grandparent's house had exterior door locks because no one back then locked their doors. These days, it is just a basic safety precaution to always keep your windows and doors locked to keep random criminals from coming into your home.
  8. Shred everything. Many people simply toss personal paperwork into the trash. A good detective or a bored dumpster diver can open up said trash bag and strike a personal info goldmine this way.
  9. Beware who you let into your home. If you are selling something on Craigslist, meet the person at a different location or in the garage instead of letting them wander through your home. Ditto for door to door sales people, repair people, etc.
  10. Beware of where you take your car. Cars can provide lots of information about your whereabouts via toll pass deductions, video surveillance cameras on the street, license plate readers, etc.