It is dark, dead silent, every tiny sound reverberating through the woods. Then you hear it, voices, your senses are immediately in tune to this possible threat. What is your brain telling you? Freak out and run, no wait, what is going on, run definitely run! Inciting a feeling of panic, should you really run?
You know this creepy feeling, you’ve had it in the grocery store parking lot, or the mall, or the first time sleeping alone in your tent overnight!
DO NOT PANIC!
Panic can set in when we feel threatened; this only leads to one possibility, tunnel vision, making irrational decisions and harmful results from the actions we took.
The key to survival is maintain your composure and confidence and preparation from training and practice.
You may ask, how do we do this if we’ve never been in that kind of situation?
You might think, it is hard to say what kind of action will take over your brain, if you will either fight or flight, so to speak. Being prepared however increases your odds of survival, ensures you know what to do, and how to react to the situation. This is due to the brains ability to learn and retain information, making it readily available when you need it.
In a scary situation it will automatically do what you have trained it to do! A good example is a toddler learning to walk, at first fear is imminent they cling to couches, coffee tables, legs anything to keep from falling. However, they keep at it until they have it mastered and now as adults, no longer even think about it, we just do it.
The same thing happens to us in fight or flight situations. A good example of this is a recent conversation I had with a friend on Facebook. She asked the question, “What weather disaster would you rather be in?” I mentioned I would rather be in an earthquake, and she said tornado.
Upon further evaluation, it dawned on me; our decisions are based upon the areas where we grew up. How common this is could be debatable; however, the only thing I kept going back to when I made that decision, is training and experience.
Growing up on the Wasatch Fault Line meant, as a kid we were drilled, it feels like weekly, but I am sure it was more like quarterly, on what to do in the event of an earthquake. Does this make me more comfortable in an earthquake than I am in say, a tornado? YES, YES it does!
I can say this for a fact because I have been exposed to both and I freaked out about the tornado, but was totally cool with the earthquake that made my second story bedroom feel like a roller coaster. Okay not perfectly fine, but I knew what to do and instincts took over. The tornado, not so much… I hid in the basement corner, freaking out like a little baby for hours, and we didn’t even have the tornado, it hit south of us.
This is just one example of how training and practice affects our brains and our response to stressful and sometimes dangerous situations. Considering, many elements of disaster are predictable and survivable as long as you don’t panic and have a general idea of what to do, PREPARE and PRACTICE.
If you know you’re going to be out late at night, anticipate your situation and train to defend yourself. Depending how you want to approach the scenario, you could take a video course, do it at home and involve your family.
Keep tools with you that will help keep you safe, for example this self-defense pen.
You can even get a card game to practice with your kids. Make learning how to survive a fun experience!
In the event of a disaster such as a car accident, be prepared. Carry at the very minimum a first aid kit in your car.
Do you know how many simple flat tires turn into survival situations? Seriously Google it, article after article comes up, some highlighting deaths reported from simply changing a car tire.
Practice changing your tires, carry water DON’T PANIC.
On the subject of panic and natural disasters such as our most recent, Hurricane Harvey, there are numerous reported deaths. I feel so terrible about these deaths and the destruction caused, not only because I am sad for them but because I know it can be preventable.
If we plan and train for these events, keeping a level head and having procedures in place will keep us safe.
We have composed a list of what to do in the event of for you to memorize, carry in your grab bag, and practice with your kids.
In the event of an Earthquake:
Earthquakes are not predictable, they just happen with no warning. This, above all can cause panic because you’re not expecting it. We have experienced two over 4.5, both in the middle of the night. It is super scary to awake to the rocking and rolling of the earth, because you have no idea what is going on, but training kicks in and the panic fades.
In another instance, we were in our RV we barely even noticed we had a quake, and the only reason we knew is because we had gone outside during it and the ground was shaking. That wasn’t scary at all, but more amusing.
The point is it is all about how your brain processes the information, if you get scared and don’t have a plan to fall back on there is a big chance for panic.
Remain calm, and rely on the plan you created and practiced. Your plan should include at the least the following ideas.
Pick a safe place, this could be under a table with STURDY legs, in a sturdy doorway, next to a wall away from windows, next to a bed as low to the floor as possible, the whole idea is you don’t want to be crushed. If you’re outside, stay away from buildings, trees, street lights, anything that can fall on you.
Practice stop, drop and hold on at these pre-designated areas at least twice a year.
Fire is a major risk, as is electric shock. Stay away from downed power lines, and stay alert for possible broken gas lines and explosions.
If you’re in a Tsunami Zone, get to higher ground immediately after the shaking stops. Expect tremors you will likely feel at least one if not more depending on the magnitude of the quake.
Designate a safe area to meet up with loved ones and make sure everyone is accounted for.
Keep a first aid kit in accessible areas. You might need it; if not for yourself it could be to help others in need.
In the event of a Tornado:
The tornado scenario is a bit different than that of an earthquake. They are generally predictable. Does that mean no matter what you’re safe? NO you need to have a plan.
Statistics show the majority of tornado fatalities and injuries are from flying debris. When the warning sirens go off, get to a safe place.
Safe places include a basement or storm cellar; this is the safest place to be as long as you have a way to pump out water in the event of a flood during the storm. Other areas include being away from windows and doors, in the center of a building, on the lowest level possible. Your work and frequent locations should have designated tornado areas. Find out where these are and plan a route to get there.
If you’re driving in a car, the best thing to do is drive away from the predicted path. If you are caught in the storm path put on your seatbelt and cover your head. Keep it as low below the window as you can without unbuckling.
Pick out the safe areas in your home and teach your loved ones to practice going there.
Designate a safe meeting place to evaluate any injuries or damage
All you can do is wait for the storm to pass, so getting in a panic will only do you harm while you wait it out.
In the event of a Hurricane:
Hurricanes like tornado’s are predictable; they come with massive wind speeds, topple trees, break glass and wreak havoc with flooding and structural damage.
To prepare for this type of event, determine if your home sits at flood elevation, this will help you determine your evacuation timeliness.
If it is in a flood zone follow all evacuation orders. Know the routes to get you from danger to a safe zone. Do not wait!
Identify your safe zone and know how you will get there in advance.
Be sure you and your family are on the same page!
Invest in permanent storm shutters for all windows, if not at the least use marine plywood and precut it to enable quick installation.
The idea is to be as prepared as possible, if you are ready and practice your plan chances are you will not panic and you will successfully stay safe and out of danger.
Things to consider for your Emergency Preparation Strategy
The age of those in your family (Do they know what the alarms are and what to do?)
Medical conditions (Can everyone get safe on their own?)
Daily Medications (Do you have enough to get through the storm?)
What will you do with your pets?
Is there a possibility you could be separated, what will you do and expect your family to do?
Training schedule (commit to training at least every 6 months)
Invest in a First Aid Class, get CPR certified
This guide is meant to help you be prepared. We cannot guarantee you’re not going to panic and not every disaster is predictable. Just be prepared and do what you can to minimize your risk.