Adequate Data: Specific Survival Situations

To see things at a distance, look through a pinhole with your fingers.

See things in low-light situations by using your peripheral vision.

In nature

Always tell someone where you’re going, when you expect to come back, and give a route/float plan:

  • Even if you’re not taking mobile devices, keep a GPS device.
  • If you’re traveling by sea, let the Coast Guard know your float plan.

If you’re lost, use the rule of 3 to call for help: 3 shouts, 3 horn blasts, or 3 whistles.

Walking on ice:

  • Waddle like a penguin.
  • If the ice breaks:
    1. Spread your arms, but don’t claw at the ice or it’ll break.
    2. Kick your legs until you’re horizontal on your stomach.
    3. Stay on your stomach and shimmy forward out of the ice.
    4. Keep laying on your stomach until you’re on thicker, safer ice.

If you’re in the ocean and feel you’re drifting out to sea, you’re caught in a riptide and need to swim or paddle parallel to the shore to escape it.

If you’re stuck in quicksand, slowly raise your legs and lie on your back to escape it.

If you’re disoriented underwater, blow bubbles and follow them.

Natural disasters

If the tide goes very far out, you’re about to see a tidal wave.

If you’re buried in an avalanche and don’t know which way to dig, spit and drool will follow gravity.

If you’re on the ground in a lightning storm, the electrical current will run through your entire body, so sit cross-legged for it to skip your vital organs or head for lower ground.

In case of an earthquake, ignore door thresholds and find a table.

For plagues, avoid rodents and bugs and shave your head and beard to avoid flea infestations.


  • Unless you’re using an oxygen tank, crawl to get below the smoke.
  • When opening a door, watch for smoke around the perimeter, since you may not be able to hear the fire behind it.
  • If you do open a door, back away and wait about 30 seconds, just in case there’s a backdraft.


  1. Seek shelter and close all windows, bring in all animals.
  2. Turn off anything that pulls in volcanic ash such as air conditioners, heaters, and fans.
  3. Since an eruption can contaminate water, fill up tubs, sinks, and containers with clean water.


  • Find shelter immediately, preferably anything that won’t create a wind tunnel (like an overpass) and won’t get flash flooded (like a ditch).
  • Since the most dangerous part of a tornado is its debris, board up your windows and doors.
  • Go to your basement if you have one, otherwise stay at the center of the ground floor to get as many walls between you and the tornado as possible.
  • Contrary to urban legends, you can outrun it if you can go faster than 70 mph and are driving away from it.

Wild Animals

Deodorants and perfumes attract bugs, and some scents will attract animals.

Animals generally run away if you walk and speak loudly.

Most dangerous bugs, such as wasps and bees, ignore you if you stay still.

  • If they land on you, blow on them, don’t swat.

Most animals are afraid of fire and jingling keys.

Try to avoid seals and moose, since they can be very territorial.

If a bear attacks:

  • If a brown bear attacks you, play dead.
  • If a black bear attacks you punch it in the nose.
  • If you have to shoot a bear, make sure you kill it by hitting its face, up its nose, in its ears, or in its chest.

If a moose attacks:

  • Never use a truck’s highway horn around a moose, since it sounds like a moose’s mating challenge call.
  • If you’re chased by a moose, stand up against a tree.

If a crocodile/alligator attacks:

  • Hit their nose.
  • If a crocodile bites you, gouge their eyes with your thumbs.
  • Sprint away as fast as possible, since they are very fast.

If a shark attacks:

  • If a shark attacks you, hit it in the nose.

If a whale has swallowed you:

  1. Turn on any light source.
  2. If you were swallowed whole, you’ll likely get spit out whole.
  3. Whales can swim deeply, so preserve what oxygen you can and head for the surface.


If you can’t jump out of the way from a car about to hit you, jump upwards.

Jumping from a fast-moving vehicle:

  • The sudden stop is what kills you, not the jump, so try to find something that will distribute the force, such as something soft.
  • Try to not jump down from a height (like a bridge), since you’re adding downward acceleration to your horizontal speed.
  • Try to slow your speed as you jump by launching yourself toward the back.
  • Ideally, jump with something you can slide on, like a sled, but otherwise try to land sideways and do a barrel roll.
  • Altogether with a train, it means jumping diagonally backwards from a running start onto a soft surface.

If you’re falling from several stories:

  1. Look for anything that will break your fall at least a little.
  2. Aim for something soft (but not water).
  3. Try to land on your feet and roll onto your sides while protecting your head.

Aircraft failure:

  • Stay in the aircraft if you don’t have a parachute.
    • Go to the back of a plane as it’s going down to increase your chances of surviving.
    • Cover your head and duck down as much as possible.
  • If you’re separated from the aircraft:
    • You’re traveling at about 120 mph, which is called “terminal velocity”.
    • Aim for a soft location to land.
      • Grass, haystacks, swamps, snow, and bushes are ideal.
      • Glass hurts, but breaks your fall.
      • Trees can help, but can also skewer.
      • Hitting a body of water at that speed is about the same as hitting a sidewalk.
    • Spread out your body as much as possible, like a skydiver.
    • If you absolutely must hit water, assume a straight-legged vertical position, like a needle, with your butt clenched.
      • Alternately, go face-down, with your hands clasped together and extended to protect your face.

Chairlift accident:

  1. Ditch any extra weight like skis or snowboards, but keep your gloves.
  2. Pull up onto the cable, first with your hands, then with your feet.
  3. Shimmy to the top if you’re close, otherwise shimmy down.
  4. Go slowly, to avoid exhausting yourself.

Falling elevator:

  1. Stack any belongings on the floor and stand on them.
  2. Spread your weight across any hand rails in the elevator.
  3. Slightly bend your knees (don’t jump, since it’s pointless).

If your car falls into a body of water:

  1. Brace for impact and stay buckled, since you don’t know what will happen.
    • Make sure you have a blunt object to break the window, in case the circuitry fails.
    • You might be able to use your car seat’s headrest, but time will be critical.
  2. Immediately unbuckle, open the car window, and get out before it goes underwater.
    • You have 30-60 seconds before it reaches the window.
    • The pressure against the car gets exponentially stronger as it goes deeper, so you will probably die if you reach for your cell phone.
    • If you have children, get the oldest children out and carry the smallest one.
  3. Once it’s underwater, you should be able to open the door, but will need to hold your breath under extreme stress.

Capsized boat:

  1. Use VHF Channel 16 to notify emergency services.
  2. Grab any signal devices you can such as flashlights, mirrors, whistles, flares, or retro reflective tape.
  3. Strap on a life jacket and make any other flotation devices such as water bottles or tied-up pants.
  4. Watch for and avoid cutting any tethers or ropes that could tangle you.
  5. Unless you see land you can swim to, stay with the vessel, since it may stay afloat.
  6. Huddle with other survivors to maintain body heat.
  7. If you have enough flotation devices, try to tie them together to improvise a raft.
  8. Avoid ever thrashing, since you might attract sharks.

Human conflicts

If someone might be following you while you’re driving:

  1. Confirm that you’re being tailed.
    • Make 4 left turns.
    • Drive erratically and unpredictably.
  2. Try to navigate somewhere they can’t follow you.
  3. If you need, drive to the police station and get out.

If people confront you in a crowd:

  • If your instincts tell you to, sprint away from the scene.
  • Don’t freeze up or change your behavior if others yell for you.

If you’re fighting someone twice your size:

  1. If you can outrun them, always run instead of fighting.
  2. Throw the first punch to use the element of surprise.
  3. Keep your arms by your face, fists clenched.
  4. Keep moving, to be harder to hit.
  5. If you can, choke them into submission.

If someone is breaking into your home:

  • Depending on the situation, it may make more sense to confront, hide, or run from them, so understand what your rights are beforehand.
  • Thieves often work in pairs.
  • Thieves don’t typically want to risk getting hurt or identified, and usually just want your laptop and valuable items.

If you’ve been abducted:

  • If your mouth is duck-taped and hands tied together, lick the tape until it falls off.
  • If you’re stuck in a car trunk, disconnect the taillight wires, then kick the trunk lid as hard as you can when a cop pulls them over.

If you’re getting buried alive:

  • Tie your shirt around your face to avoid suffocating.

If you’re about to be hit by a tear gas canister:

  • Cut a plastic water bottle to your face’s shape, then fit it over a surgical mask.

Crowd crush:

  1. Beforehand:
    • Your problem is that you can be packed tightly in a group of people to where you can’t breathe and may get trampled, and it can come from anything that delivers extreme mass excitement or fear.
    • Research how many people will be at the location (especially standing up) and the venue’s capacity, as well as the type of fans and music.
    • Go with a group of friends to keep track of each other.
    • Wear distinctive clothing to stand out, with comfortable shoes that are easy to move in.
    • Bring plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, and be careful with alcohol because it may dehydrate you.
  2. Arriving:
    • Park close to an exit, even if you have to walk farther, so you can quickly get to your vehicle.
    • Locate all nearby exits in the venue.
    • Have a general plan for where you’d go if something happened.
  3. At the venue:
    • Keep an eye out for existing chaos that may magnify later (e.g., the queuing system into the venue is chaotic).
    • Do not stand near the barriers in front of a stage or near balcony overlooks.
    • Mind that stairs and ramps take more room to go down from our hip movement than up.
  4. If stuck in a crowd:
    • Stand with one foot ahead of the other with knees slightly bent and hands protecting your chest and head (like a boxer) to absorb pressure from other people pushing against you.
    • Never resist the force of the crowd, and try to go with where they flow.
    • Instead of getting to the front or back, try to move diagonally to the sides of the crowd where there’s a lull in movement.
    • If you drop something, do not try to pick it up, since you’ll likely get trampled.
  5. If you fall down:
    • Crawl out to the side of the main pathway instead of trying to stand up again.
    • If you’ve fallen down completely, try to curl into a ball and stay calm, then get up as soon as you can.
    • If you can, try to lie on your left side to protect your heart and lungs, since lying on your back or stomach can prevent you from breathing if others fall on you.
    • Do not waste oxygen by screaming, since nobody will hear you and the air in a crush is often hot and muggy.
    • Stay calm and lift your head upwards for better access to fresh air.

If you may soon be in an active shooter situation:

  1. Before the event, make a premeditated escape plan of every exit you can leave through.
  2. Run as soon as you hear gunfire, according to that plan.
    • Since it’ll slow you down and you have very little time, don’t bother grabbing anything.
    • While you’ll likely feel compelled to, don’t try to assist the wounded.
    • People don’t leave for several reasons:
      • They’re cowering in fear.
      • They somehow believe they won’t get shot if they act normal.
      • While it’ll actually increase their chances of getting killed, they think hiding is their first priority.
    • To make yourself a more difficult target, run in a zig-zag pattern.
      • Even experienced marksmen have a difficult time with moving targets.
      • Move rapidly to create as much distance as you can.
      • Put barriers that stop bullets between you and the shooter (e.g., concrete pillars, vending machines or cars).
    • If others are at risk, tell them to come with you.
      • Warn others you run by about the threat to their lives.
      • If the government isn’t responsible call the police immediately, and don’t assume anyone has yet.
  3. Hide if you absolutely can’t run.
    • The shooter might be blocking or in clear view of the only exits, or you can’t escape out the window because you’re in a high-rise building.
    • Find a secure location.
      • Stay out of the shooter’s view.
      • Your cover should stop shots fired in your direction.
      • The shooter should have an extremely hard time getting to you.
        • If possible, find a room with a door lock.
        • If you can’t lock it, barricade the door with a table and chairs.
      • If you can’t secure yourself in a room, hide behind cover that conceals you from the shooter but lets you still see them.
    • Stay hidden.
      • Turn off the room’s lights and stay as quiet as possible.
      • Set your cell phone to silent, don’t put it on vibrate.
      • Stay away from the door and crouch behind cabinets or desks that could offer protection from bullets.
    • Call the police.
      • Don’t speak if the shooter can hear and leave the phone on to let the operator listen.
    • Only open the door if you’re sure who the person knocking on the door is.
      • Shooters often knock on doors or yell for help to convince hiding people to show themselves.
    • If the shooter passes you, you can run for it, but be prepared to fight.
  4. Fight, but only as your last resort.
    • By taking quick action against a shooter you can save lives, but you risk your life in the process.
      • You can increase your chances if you’re skilled in unarmed combat.
      • If you’re armed, return fire.
        • Don’t count shots, wait for them to stop firing and only show yourself enough to fire back.
        • Since you’re at a significant disadvantage when you run out of ammunition, conserve your shots.
    • A violent gunman assumes that people will flee or hide, so charging them gives you the advantage of surprising them.
      • Since your life depends on it, fight aggressively and violently.
      • Throw the maximum force of a punch by clenching your fist at the last possible moment.
    • Control the shooter’s weapon first, then control the shooter.
      • Without a gun, people are only as strong as their strength and skill.
    • Improvise any weapon that can multiply your force.
      • Sharp objects: glass bottles, pens, pencils, a loose tile
      • Blunt objects: coffee mugs, laptops, luggage, a brick
      • Unusual objects: scalding hot coffee, spilled motor oil
      • Create hesitation by throwing things at the shooter to give time to close your distance.
      • Find something to blind the shooter.
        • Shine a flashlight or mirror at their eyes.
        • Spray a fire extinguisher or chemicals in their face.
    • If possible, get help from others to attack as a team to take the shooter down.

Wartime disasters


  1. Since some mines are magnetic, get rid of anything metal.
  2. Follow any existing footprints or tire marks.
  3. Use a stick to check for mines by pointing at a diagonal angle (mines only respond to downward pressure).

Nuclear bomb:

  1. You’ll have some warning, so get to shelter.
    • Most people will die within 1-10 miles of the explosion from the blast wave and intense heat.
    • Ducking under cover after seeing a flash of light could save your life.
  2. Find the lowest, most interior room in a building with no windows (like a closet or bathroom)
  3. After the blast, seek the lowest shelter you can, such as a basement or underground floor of a building.
    • You’re trying to shield yourself from the gamma rays coming off whatever is settling on the roof and outside walls.
    • You don’t need lead, and mattresses and bulky furniture should be fine.
    • Fallout is a legitimate threat, but it tends to be overstated.
    • Nuclear power plant meltdowns and the ground burst give way more fallout.
    • Fallout isotope radioactivity drops to 1/10 within 6-8 hours, decreases to 1/100 within 2 days, and is likely safe to venture out after a week or two.
  4. When you do go outside:
    • Keep the trips short.
    • Wear disposable coveralls.
    • Don’t track any residues into your home.
  5. After a few months, it’s safe to still “live” in the same area where the bomb went off.
    • The big problem is the nuclear dust, as well as the isotopes getting into the local water and food.
    • Crops could be grown after removing several inches of topsoil, and most moving water will become safe rather quickly.
    • One of the biggest fallout issues comes from radioactive iodine, but if you take potassium iodide pills your thyroid will be saturated and won’t absorb irradiated iodine.
    • You can also get purroloquinoline quinone, diindolylmethane, melatonin, and n-acetylcysteine if you’re particularly worried.