10 Basic Life Skills to Know in Case of Emergency
Recently I started thinking about survival and preparedness in case the apocalypse is right around the corner. The question came to mind about what would be essential if stuff really did hit the fan? Would I be capable of surviving in an emergency and be ready to aid those around me? I think so because I have mastered these ten basic life skills that will help increase the odds of survival in an emergency.
1. Help someone who is choking
Imagine this scenario: You are in a dining room, and halfway across the room a someone starts choking on their food. No one but you knows what to do. Yes, you can pull a Mrs. Doubtfire, shouting, “Help is on the way, dear!” But only if you really know how to do the Heimlich maneuver:
- Determine if the person is truly choking. This is usually obvious, especially if they are conscious;
- Get the person on two feet;
- Stand being the victim with your feet separated to form a “tripod” by reaching around them from behind. Circle your arms around their sides.
- Make a fist with your dominant hand. The thumb should point into the stomach. Place this fist just above the person’s belly button, under the breastbone. The other hand wraps around the fist.
- Pull inward and upward, shaping a letter “J” as you do so, to make quick, forceful thrusts.
- Repeat until the object is dislodged.
2. Perform CPR
Although CPR should never be done without first having received appropriate training and certification, there may come a time (like after a plane crash into the ocean) when you have no choice but to perform it. “Hands-only” CPR, also renowned as “compression-only” CPR, is done by pressing down about two inches deep on a person’s chest at a rate of 100 times per minute until a doctor arrives.
3. Discern a heart attack
Whether it is in you or someone else, knowing that a person is having a heart attack can save their life. The signs to look for are:
- Pressure, tightness, or pain in the chest
- Squeezing, aching pain throughout the back and shoulders
- Abdominal pain
- Cold sweat
- Pasty skin
- Shortness of breath
When you begin to feel this way, or suspect that an individual is having a heart attack, it is important to stay calm. Have the person (or yourself) sit down, call 911 or drive to the hospital. It is also beneficial to take an aspirin to keep blood in the heart from clotting.
4. Find north without a compass
Sometimes things happen, like the car breaking down, your GPS or cell phone dying or not having reception, and you not knowing your current location. Depending on the hour, you can use one of these two methods to help you find north.
Daytime Shadow Tip Method
- Take a stick and place it upright in the ground or dirt (preferably the latter). Make sure you can see the shadow.
- Mark the ground at the top of the shadow with a pebble.
- Wait 10-20 minutes then mark the tip of the shadow with another pebble or like object.
- Draw a straight line between the two pebbles. This is an East-West line. The first mark is west, the second is east.
- Stand with your left foot on the west, and your right on the east. The direction you are facing is North.
The North Star
- If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, you can rely on this method at nighttime.
- Locate either the Big Dipper or the Little Dipper.
- The North Star, known as Polaris, is the brightest star at the end of the Little Dipper’s handle.
- If you cannot find the Little Dipper but can locate the Big Dipper, locate the last star on the outermost edge of the Big Dipper’s cup. That star points upward to the North Star.
5. Treat a burn
Your toddler, or the one you are babysitting, happened to spill hot coffee all over themselves. Immediately after the burn, you need to run cold water over the affected skin for about ten minutes. Afterward, continue cooling the skin with a damp compress. Never put ice or anything else on burned skin – that is an old wives tale.
6. Saving someone who is drowning
There is a handy mnemonic that will help you remember what to do if you see someone struggling to stay afloat:
- Reach – Depending on where the person is, you may be able to lay flat on the ground to reach to them. Alternatively, use a resilient branch, rope, or towel to lengthen your reach.
- Throw – Toss the person a safety ring or another kind of flotation device.
- Row – Row out to them in a boat if possible.
- Go – Worst case scenario is to swim out to them. Bring a safety ring or rope to tow them in.
7. Getting free from a riptide
The important thing is not to panic. Never swim directly for the shore when you are caught in a riptide. These are dangerous currents that people have drowned to death in because they get pulled farther out to sea the more they struggle. Instead, swim parallel to the beach until you are beyond the current then make your way back into shore. The majority of riptides are about 20 to 60 feet wide so you will not have to go too far before you are free.
8. Use plants as medicine
Being that I am into the holistic and natural medicine stuff, knowing what plants can be used in place of pharmaceuticals can definitely come in handy. Here are some plants that can save your life or someone else’s:
- Aloe Vera – the juices contain a chemical that has healing properties for sunburn, cuts, scraps, and can also repel insects
- Ginseng – Treats respiratory problems and reduces fevers.
- Ginger – Great for migraines, motion sickness, nausea, and improves circulation.
- Catnip – Can treat cold symptoms, inflammation, and fever. Can stop bleeding when applied topically.
- Milk thistle – Acts as an antioxidant.
- Oak leaves and acorns – Great for open wounds when applied topically or stomach problems when boiled.
And many more. When you know what to look for, the world is full of natural medicines.
9. Know where the nearest safe point is
Living in Japan, it is mandatory to know where the safest location is in case of disastrous earthquake strikes. You should have the same plan for your roommates, family, and even at work.
What if a fire occurs? Do you know where to go? What about in an active shooter situation? There should be a “safe zone” on every floor or ways to fortify where you are stuck if not. Having a general idea about how to handle these situations and where to go is crucial when the emergency strikes.
10. How to care for minor injuries
Though it may seem silly, a lot of people do not know basic First Aid care. For example, if you sprain your ankle, do you know how to RICE it? That means “Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation,” by the way. Other skills include knowing how to sterilize cuts, bandage open wounds, and how to clean these areas effectively. Always carry some kind of First Aid kit with you, because you never know when you will need a Band-Aid.
Knowing how to survive or get through emergency circumstances is all about keeping cool and understanding the necessary steps. Once you have calmed down and assessed the situation, you can then go on to act accordingly. Having these ten tricks in your back pocket for when disaster strikes will definitely help, too.