Disasters can strike anyone at any time and in any place. And while some catastrophes may seem more likely to occur than others, it’s good to prepare for anything. So, encompassiing everything from nuclear war, through snake attacks, to kidnap attempts, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you try and stay safe in a wide range of perilous situations.
In the event of a nuclear attack, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some useful tips. Turn away from the blast, cover your eyes, and get on the ground, face-down, with your hands protecting your nose and mouth, ideally with a cloth. Stay inside as much as possible, preferably in brick or concrete buildings with as few windows as possible. When you can, remove clothing you feel may have been contaminated, and wash your body.
If you find yourself in deep water, the worst thing you can do is panic. Keep your head above the waterline and take in air as normal. Full lungs help you to float, but hyperventilating is a dangerous thing to do. Get rid of anything heavy in your pockets, and take off your shoes if you can. If you’re able, yell for help, flail your arms, splash water, and do whatever else you can to get rescuers’ attention, but don’t overexert yourself. If you’re exhausted, lay back, float, and keep your head directed upward. Stay calm and keep breathing normally. Rescue, hopefully, should arrive soon.
Stranded in the desert
The desert is a brutal place. If you end up lost in one, keep your skin out of the sunlight. Never take off your clothes, no matter how hot you get. Try to find shade and keep yourself from sweating, as that’s even more important than conserving whatever drinking water you have. On that point, don’t drink water from cacti! It can be dangerous, even though there are myths to the contrary. As for the nighttime, conditions change drastically: it gets cold. You’ll need to light a fire using things like dry brush and dried-out animal droppings. This will both keep you warm and serve as a signal to potential rescuers.
There’s a famous rhyme that really is a good rule of thumb in the case of a bear attack. It goes, “If it’s brown, lay down. If it’s black, fight back. If it’s white, goodnight.” What that means is that defending yourself against a brown bear is likely to end badly. Protecting your head and playing dead is the safest thing to do. With black bears, you should act confident and go for the creature’s face, ideally with a weapon of some kind: you might just scare it off. But if it’s a polar bear, well, they’re unlikely to be deterred from attacking you. So, fight with everything you have and aim for its face.