When faced with overwhelming circumstances and aspects of a disaster scenario, no matter whether in an urban or a natural environment, a lot of our previously gained knowledge and presumed preparedness can become nowhere to be found. The sheer pressure of a dangerous circumstance can leave us paralyzed with fear and unable to calmly employ our experience and proper steps for safe continuation. That is why it is crucial that we learn how to overcome our inherent fears and subconscious blockades, in order to safely conduct ourselves and find the best possible way out of a disaster scenario.
Minimize Fear, Eliminate Panic
One of the first and most important steps to take in order to reach a successful outcome, is to try and establish control over your emotions. Panic is the natural, automatic response to a dangerous situation, and you have to find a way to control it. Succumbing to panic is the number one danger in any survival situation and the number one cause for negative outcomes. This is why it is important to face the circumstances and get a hold of your senses, in order to carefully approach the situation and look for a way out.
Fear is the natural drive and the propellant for fighting through dire situations, but you should never allow yourself to be consumed by fear. Count to five, take a few deep breaths and start thinking. Retaining a calm and clear head will help immensely with saving yourself and those close to you.
Assess the Situation
No matter the surroundings you’re in, the setting or the nature of the disaster you found yourself in, remember to always take it easy and find an window of opportunity to access the situation. This is a crucial aspect of evaluating your chances for survival and acting accordingly to the situation that enfolds. Find a moment to observe. What options are available to you? Try to find an exit and distance yourself from immediate danger. Start moving towards safety and do not remain in one place if danger is imminent.
Remember the Facts
In case of urban disasters such as earthquakes, fires, and other natural threats, dangers often multiply due to numerous threats that are created in modern environments. Always keep these common dangers that can occur in buildings in mind if you find yourself in such situations:
- Earthquakes –
In case of earthquakes always remember the dangers that can be found in cities, houses and urban surroundings. Threat of collapsing walls, roofs and other structural elements is a number one threat to keep in mind. Move away from any large glass surfaces such as windows and mirrors. If seeking shelter, try to find a lower level, such as a basement, or a lower floor corner with good structural support. You can also seek shelter underneath sturdy desks or similar furniture that can provide overhead protection. Stay composed and look for opportunities.
- Fires –
When facing a threat of fire, always keep in mind the key, significant issues to address. If found in a building caught on fire, keep a damp cloth handy that you can put over your mouth and nose to help you breathe more easily. Cover yourself as best you can with a large blanket or similar material, damp if possible. If smoke is excessive, keep low to the ground. Try not to break windows in closed rooms, as this can cause an explosion and further fan the flames already present. Look for exit signs and avoid fierce blazes, instead searching for a weaker spot where you can possibly break through to a safer zone.
- Floods –
A logical routine with flooding in urban areas is to try and find a high place to shelter at. If you’re in a building during a flood, keep calm and gather any useful supplies and food that you can and try to reach an upper floor or the roof. On a sloping roof, tie yourself to support beams or the chimney, ensuring you won’t slide. Do not take unnecessary risks and attempt to cross waters of whose depth you’re uncertain. Murky flood waters are a danger to traverse, since you never know when the level will drop on the street level. If the water levels keep rising, try to fashion a raft from items at hand.
In the end, the very important aspect of surviving a high threat disaster scenario, is to try and retain composure and calm at any moment. This is the general principle in survival situations; where one needs to keep in mind the inherent dangers and hopelessness of a panic stricken mind. Keep this as your number one rule and guidance – eliminate panic, control the fear. Take a few seconds to breathe and compose yourself, and then think. Rational thoughts centered on finding the way out will usually help you to do so, and reach safety.