Are you in a car? Maybe boarding a flight? What about just lying on the couch? No matter where you are, you could be one breath away from a catastrophe. What you do in the second after disaster strikes will decide if you and your loved ones survive or not. Get ready.

Number 10: Car Crash

It’s a beautiful day and you’re taking a relaxing drive when you realize that your brakes aren’t working. You’re hurtling out of control into a busy intersection. A crash is imminent. You have less than a second to decide if you should brace for impact. What should you do? Research has shown that pushing your body back into your seat is a good thing for your spine. Always keep your eyes on the road in front of you, since turning your head will put added strain on your neck. And tense up those muscles and limbs. You might break a bone or two, but your internal organs will have some much-needed extra protection.

Number 9: Bear Attack

You’re enjoying a hike, reconnecting with nature when suddenly you see an unexpected furry creature approach. Quickly identifying what type of bear is coming for you could save your life. If you’re facing off against a grizzly, stay calm. If it doesn’t pounce on you, try talking to it in a calm but strong voice and move slowly to higher ground. But if it comes after you, your best bet is to play dead. Lie on your stomach to protect your vital organs, keep your backpack on to protect your back and cover your head with your hands. You might still get a hefty paw swipe from the bear, just make sure you’re not a threat. Unfortunately, black bears are known to be more aggressive. If you’re attacked by one, don’t play dead. Look for a safe place to hide, like a car or building. Don’t try to run too far away. Trust us, you can’t outrun a bear. Also, they are fantastic tree climbers.

Number 8: House Fire

Any small flame can turn into a major fire in a matter of seconds. By the time you hear the fire alarm, you’ll only have a few seconds to react. Don’t jump up head straight for the exit. Smoke can obstruct your vision and asphyxiate you even before the flames can touch your skin. Get down to the ground to avoid breathing smoke. Crawl to the door and touch the knob. If it’s hot, it means that the fire may be worse on the other side. In that case, put a towel under the door to prevent more smoke from entering the room and look for another way out, such as a window. If you have your phone handy, call emergency services immediately. Remember, staying close to the ground and crawling is critical to surviving a fire.

Number 7: Caught in a Rip Current

Every year, about 30,000 people need to be rescued from rip currents in the United States. Unfortunately, about 100 people die from this unexpected but common phenomenon. If you feel the current pulling you into the ocean, don’t try to fight it. You’ll only exhaust yourself and drown. Instead, focus on staying afloat and swimming parallel to the shore. It might feel like it’s taking forever, but you’ll get yourself out of the current. After you escape its pull, you can begin to swim back to the shore.

Number 6: Falling Through the Ice

Walking on ice is always a gamble. If it breaks, you have a split second to make a decision. A sudden dunking in freezing water will leave you breathless as your body endures severe pain and fights off going into shock. Panic will start to set in, but you must remain calm. Don’t try to pull yourself out of the water with your hands, you’ll only tire yourself out and break the edge of the ice. Instead, try to float and push yourself out of the water like a seal. Lie horizontally on the ice to evenly distribute your weight and crawl back in the direction you came from. That ice supported your weight before, so it may hold you on your way back to safety.

Number 5: Locked in a Car Trunk

After years of petitioning by several organizations concerned about the safety of young children, seniors and crime victims, starting in 2002 all new-model cars in the U.S. have come equipped with a glow-in-the-dark safety handle in the trunk. If you’re in an older car with no built-in safety feature, you can kick out the taillights to get someone’s attention.

Number 4: Human Stampede

On Halloween night of 2022, more than 100,000 people were gathered in a narrow party alley in Seoul when things got out of control and a human stampede formed. They began to move uncontrollably, crushing people who fell to the ground. More than 150 people perished in the ensuing chaos. To survive a situation like this, you’ll need to hold your arms in front of you, like a boxer, to avoid being crushed and losing your breath. Also, plant your feet firmly on the ground, but don’t push against the crowd. Move with it to avoid falling and exhausting yourself. Try to work your way to the edge of the street or alley and pull yourself onto anything you can find to get out of the stream of panicking people.

Number 3: Trapped in a Falling Elevator

A common misconception is that if you manage to jump at the precise moment an elevator hits the ground, you will avoid serious injury. What would really happen is even if you could time your jump perfectly, your head would be crushed under the elevator roof, killing you almost instantly. Your best chance for survival will be to lie on your back so that the force of impact is distributed across your entire body. Use whatever soft objects you have on hand to protect your head. Jackets, a backpack, even the clothes you are wearing can cushion the blow. It won’t be easy to do, but it’s the only chance you’ve got.

Number 2: Falling on subway tracks

In 2020, 14 people were pushed onto New York subway tracks. If this ever happens to you, being quick on your feet can save your life. Look for the third rail and avoid it like the plague. It’ll be a little higher than everything else on the tracks, and touching it will electrify you. If you don’t see lights coming down the tunnel, dash to the end of the platform to use a service ladder. If all else fails, hit the ground with your head to the side. There should be just enough room for the train to pass over you.

Number 1: Shockwave

You’re relaxing at home when you hear a huge explosion. You’re far enough away that you haven’t been killed by the initial blast, but what you do next will decide your fate. The shockwave is coming. After the explosion, the ensuing fireball will push the air toward you faster than the speed of sound, generating enough force to level buildings. And maybe even you. Stay away from windows, as they’ll be instantly shattered. If you’re outside, look for the most stable structure you can to hide in and hold your breath. The overpressure caused by the blast wave could rupture the tissue of your lungs. Blast lung injury is the leading cause of death for victims near an explosion.

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