Laurence Gonzales

Stay calm: What it takes to survive an emergency

Would you know how to think in a survival situation? Most of us like to believe survival is somehow embedded in our DNA, which to a certain extent it is. You can get by acting on impulse alone, but this will only carry you so far.

One of the better books I’ve read on survival is “Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why” by Laurence Gonzales.

Gonzales notes that when confronted with a life-threatening situation, 90% of people freeze or panic. Clearly the odds are not in our favor.

“Deep Survival” explores a variety of survival situations, examining how people responded along the way. Without giving away too much, those 10% who do survive tend to carefully assess their situation with a calm demeanor, no matter the circumstances.

This, of course, is easier said than done. When the proverbial shit is hitting the fan, staying calm and using your brain will be your greatest challenge.

Those who die? Well, they tend to do the exact opposite, as calm gives way to frantic. Victims lose touch with their mental clarity and thus the ability to think straight. Poor decision making is commonly responsible for people dying in survival situations.

Without trying to sound too macabre, you should contemplate what it takes to survive a potentially deadly situation. In theory, you’ll be a little more prepared should that moment ever come.

Technique is one thing. Practicing and familiarizing yourself with what it takes to survive is always a good idea. Survival philosophy, however, is just as important. Arm yourself with the knowledge that a calm demeanor just might make the difference between life and death.