Surviving life’s challenges

The scouts’ motto is to be prepared, but how can you ensure you’re ready for all the immediate dangers which lie ahead? With YOURLifeChoices handy survival guide to almost everything, you can rest assured that you will be prepared as well as you can.

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Every day when we leave our house, we could be faced with a situation that could spell our instant demise. While that may be the most morbid introductory sentence to an article in the history of YOURLifeChoices, the fact remains that it is better to be prepared than not. So the team has collated some interesting facts, notes and basic scientific principles which will help give you the edge when it comes to your next life and death situation, however unlikely.

1.tDriving your car into a body of water

A majority of car accidents are unavoidable, and if you happen to find yourself submerged in one of Australia’s many bodies of water in your vehicle, the key is not to panic. Count to five, settle down and collect yourself. Many people panic and use an adrenaline surge to perform huge feats of human strength by kicking out their windshield immediately. This is a huge mistake. The pressure caused by the immediate flood of water into the car will most likely harm you or in some cases, knock you unconscious. The secret to surviving this catastrophe is simply letting the water actually slowly fill your car. This makes the flow of water into the car much less severe. In some cases this flow can actually burst a window itself, allowing for an easy exit. If this is not the case, try opening a door or breaking a window (the window will be weakened because of pressure from the water) and swim to safety. However, it is important to note, do not let the car fill up completely with water, as it is far too late to escape by this point.

2.tHow to get out of quicksand

With a high majority of Australia’s land mass covered in sand, there is a slight chance that someday you may come across dreaded quicksand. Of course, the key is not to panic. Like many things which are feared, quicksand has been extremely misrepresented in the movies and the media. While dangerous, it can be escaped if you stay calm and follow some easy steps. Firstly, walk softly, and carry a large hiking stick. This stick can be used to test the ground in front of you and help extract yourself should you get caught. If you do get caught, drop everything you have on you. This will prevent the sand from further liquefying, as it will make you weigh less. Relaxing is again the key, as if you fight and struggle, you may sink further. If you relax and breathe deeply to put more air in your lungs, in some deep areas your body’s buoyancy may help you float. As soon as possible, lie down on your back. If you spread out your weight it will be harder to sink, and take less time. Take your time, rest frequently and extract yourself with the help of a stick if necessary.

3. Choking on food when alone

Many of us eat our food alone, and there is the omnipresent danger that you could in fact choke on your own food, with no one around to perform the fabled Heimlich manoeuvre. However, many solitary choking victims have begun to take their cues from Newton, and simply ram their abdomen into something hard, a lonely man’s Heimlich manoeuvre. Running yourself into the hard arm of the couch, if delivered into the right spot on your abdomen, is a perfectly acceptable replacement for the manoeuvre and in most cases will work. Aim to hit the top of the couch, chair or edge of a hard counter against your upper abdomen, in the soft part below the boney upside-down V of the ribs. Thrust up and inward. If this does not work after six times, call 000, even if you cannot talk, and leave the line open. Write the word choking somewhere near you for when the paramedics arrive. Another handy tip is to, if possible, is to open your front door and open it, and come to rest as close as possible to your house’s entry. This eliminates precious seconds and minutes that paramedics could have wasted trying to gain entry into your house and finding you.

4. Survive a heart attack

Experiencing a heart attack is unfortunately a pain all too common for many Australians, and a threat which is all too real for many more. There are many key factors which could influence your survival in a heart attack situation. Firstly, you must recognise the signs – a crushing chest pain, with or without pain in your left arm, and a shortness of breath – these indicate that you may be having a heart attack. (Women are more likely to have atypical symptoms such as severe fatigue, nausea, heartburn, and profuse sweating.) If you feel any of these symptoms, immediately chew on an aspirin tablet. Chewing ensures that it gets into the bloodstream faster, and has a greater chance of thinning your blood. If you feel as though you are going to pass out, simply lie down and force yourself to cough very deeply. This not only slows the heart rate down but also acts as a means of CPR, and can jolt the heart into a more normal rhythm.

For people helping heart attack victims, it is now recommended to give CPR without mouth to mouth resuscitation. Just call an ambulance, and press hard and fast on the person’s chest (approximately 100 times a minute) until it arrives.

5. Falling off a train platform into the path of an oncoming train

Train platforms all across Australia can be very dangerous, with many recorded cases of people falling on to the tracks. With the weight and velocity of the trains, it can be very perilous to tangle with these speed demons. If ever you find yourself or someone you know on the train tracks, it is of course imperative to get out of the way of the oncoming train. But it is not over once you do get out of the way. When the train passes, it creates a vacuum and sucks people towards it, no matter the person’s weight or relative strength. This is where many people fall victim to trains, so you must be careful. If you are hiding under the platform or on the other side of the tracks, it is important to brace yourself and try and hold onto something connected to the ground to prepare for the pull of the vortex created by the speed of the train.

6. Survive an earthquake

With catastrophic natural disasters seemingly a monthly occurrence these days, it makes sense to remain in a state of constant vigilance. While Australia does not have a great history of earthquakes, the world is changing, and it is always better to be safe than sorry. Here are some tips to help you survive an earthquake. Arranging your home for safety is imperative. Have a supply of fresh water in your bathtub (fill it when warned of a quake as you will have to turn off all utilities quickly when the earthquake hits). Store all heavy objects on lower shelves and store breakable objects in cabinets with latched doors, don’t hang heavy mirrors or pictures above where people frequently sit or sleep. When the actual earthquake hits, if you are indoors, stay there, but try and take cover near strategic structural strong points of the building. Stay away from mirrors, windows, large objects and fireplaces. Also, remember the ‘magic triangle’. While most people assume it best to take cover under a bed or table, it is in fact best to lie or crouch directly next to it, as a ‘triangle’ or protective field is created by the object that will not only protect you from falling objects but leave you free from being crushed underneath it. If you do find yourself outdoors, move to a large open area where falling objects are unlikely to strike. If you’re driving, stay away from powerlines and bridges. Slowly come to a stop in a large open area and stay in your car.

After the quake has finished, check for injuries and ensure the safety of the people around you. If you smell a gas leak, get everyone out of the building. And if the power is out, unplug all major appliances to prevent any further damage or fires when the power returns. Prepare for any after shocks in a similar manner as when the original earthquake hit.

7. Surviving a plummeting elevator

Every person who has ever used an elevator has thought, even in the back of their mind, ‘imagine if the elevator cable broke and we just started falling?’ Of course, there are some recorded incidents of this happening, so you should again be prepared for the worst. Don’t, that is, DO NOT, try and jump when the elevator hits the floor. There is no way you could actually work against the velocity of the elevator to jump high enough anyway, but if you were to somehow jump at the correct time and spring upwards, the elevator, compressing under its own weight would most likely hit your head and crush your skull. There are two ways you can increase your chance of survival. The best way is to lie flat on the floor. This will distribute the shock of the impact throughout the body. Also, lay your head on one arm, which can reduce the risk of head injury.

Good luck, and venture bravely into the world knowing you are ready for any situation!

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