In part 1, we looked at our ditch bag and what to put in it. That’s only half of it; now we need to look at what to do and where to go. There are no hard and fast rules and no individual set of circumstances are ever the same. Generally, the safest place to be if the situation is extremely serious is outside in open wild areas; make the environment work for you, it’s very well equipped for the task. If you’re in a city try to get out early if you feel it’s going to be really serious; people often do irrational things when they panic and often multiply the level of danger with their actions.
Lifts –It may seem an obvious thing to say but don’t use the lifts if the danger is imminent. It may be a long way down but use the stairs. You’ll put yourself in a very compromising position if you get necessarily trapped in a lift.
Subway/Underground – Again, don’t use the subway/underground if the danger is imminent. Travel on the surface if possible. I know it may seem like hard work but you need to be able to control your situation as much as possible and not allow it to be controlled by other forces.
Buildings – Many think that they are safe inside buildings. Generally that is the case; however, if it does start to go wrong it is likely to go wrong big time. It’s always difficult to estimate the correct time to say ‘O.K., it’s time to go’, even when you know that the time has come the feeling to put it off can be strong. Get on with it and make it happen, any delay may decrease your chances of survival substantially.
Wind – Many don’t consider wind to be a serious threat and unless it blows you off your feet it isn’t a direct threat. The biggest danger by far with wind is the debris carried on it. They become projectiles, often with more kinetic energy than a bullet. This danger is increased by the fact that we all naturally cower away from the wind as we walk so we don’t see the debris coming. Be aware that the danger from above is immense; falling masonry, falling branches, falling trees, roof panels, power lines, roofing tiles, guttering, the list is almost endless. Get out in the open and use the landscape to give you shelter; you’ll be surprised at how nature will protect you when you know how to use it.
Rain – Torrential rain is not generally a problem; like the wind the main danger is what it produces next in the form of floods, mud slides, rock falls, disease etc. Rain cannot fall heavy enough to cause you a problem on its own; the danger is being swept away by the flood water or the resulting land movements. Even then, the problem is not so much drowning; it’s being smashed against all sorts of things and being smashed by all sorts of things resulting in injury/unconsciousness that will then lead to drowning. If you find yourself in this situation try to keep your feet in front of you so that you can use them to cushion yourself and push away. Your knowledge of the area is your best defence here along with leaving at the right time.
Fire – Dealing with this type of natural disaster breaks a few of the normal rules on being outside. The wilderness can provide solutions to this but you have to be very knowledgeable on what you can and can’t get away with. In the vast number of cases the danger to life is the inhalation of smoke and not the heat or flames. If you’re in the city the level of risk should be quite low as the emergency services have fixed plans for these events and will deal with the situation. It’s when you live further out that the risk is much higher; if this type of disaster is a real risk in your area you will need to be much more knowledgeable on the subject in order to stay safe.
Homework – Do your home-work on the area around where you live; elevations, ravines, dry riverbeds, river courses, flood plains, caves, outcrops, power lines, pylons, distances, ground composition, reservoirs, lakes, forestry tracks, paths, railway lines etc. will all give you an edge when the disaster strikes. Good accurate information will enable you to make sound, logical decisions on what to do next and when to do it. Think about how all these things can be of use to you in different natural disaster situations. These situations will overwhelm you with a vast number of negatives; make sure that you have the knowledge and ability to turn
many of them into positives that will work in your favour. This ‘homework’ is probably the most effective form of survival for the average person. It sounds a mammoth task but a few short walks and a large scale map of the area can give you an incredible amount of useful information.
Of course, you can’t have a separate set of rules for every situation as the amount of variables and how they react with each other are incalculable; however, what you can do is to develop a much better understanding of the likely situations and how they may react to each other It’s this understanding that will increase your
chances of survival very substantially indeed. A good start is to realise the dangers and where they are likely to come from, it’s then possible to manipulate the situation more in your favour.
Children– If you have children a useful addition for everyone is a climbing belt. With an 8mm (5/16″) kernmantle rope you can quickly clip/unclip your family to yourself or each other as the situation demands; the belt can also be used by other rescuers in an emergency. Clip a spring-gate karabina to each belt to make it quick and easy but never use two spring-gate karabinas together as they can twist and unclip. Keep loops on the rope and karabinas on the belt.
The last word
In the U.K. we very rarely have any bad weather to speak of and when we do it’s more of an inconvenience than a danger to human life. There are parts of the world that experience severe weather on a regular basis. If you live in one of those places a little knowledge and preparation will help your situation immensely. I hope that the information here will be of some use, certainly the fact that you’ve read it will give you an idea of what to look out for should you find yourself in this type of situation. You’ll find other articles I’ve posted that goes into certain subjects like water purification, shelter, fire and so on in much more detail should you be interested.