Thomas Coyne isn’t your typical survival instructor. His Survival Training School of California isn’t about canning yams for the apocalypse or sticking gold-filled socks under your floorboards. Rather, Coyne, 33, wants you to learn how to live off the land like your ancestors did. “There’s no fake military stuff in our training, no glorification of suffering and no philosophy of life.” The man is not without credentials: a former Eagle Scout, Coyne was also a firefighter on a helicopter in the middle of the forest and part of the rescue crew for the first civilian space flight. Want to survive all kinds of dicey situations? Read on.
In the best-case scenario you want to get out of the building and away from any structures. As that’s probably not possible, you want to get into an archway, door or any other support-bearing structure. “A big, heavy desk or heavy equipment is great,” says Coyne. As soon as the earthquake is over, get the hell out of the building and away from any structures as quickly as you can. Remember: earthquakes don’t kill—stuff falling on you kills. Even if a building remains structurally intact, you have to worry about things like falling panes of glass. And stay on your toes—don’t forget about the aftershocks.
True facts: for the most part you don’t have to worry about quicksand, as it’s rarely deep enough to drown in unless you do something stupid like bend over. Still, you shouldn’t wiggle around or struggle unless you want to get deeper in it. “Move slowly and make your body as flat as possible,” advises Coyne. That increases your surface area and decreases your rate of sinking. Oh, and Coyne adds, “yell for help.”
3. Bear Attack
This is another thing you don’t have to worry about all that much. Bears generally don’t attack humans unless they feel threatened or they’re running out of food. Still, if you see a bear, make yourself as big as possible. Put your arms up and make a lot of noise. Do not advance on the bear and do not back away unless the bear advances at you. “Bears will mostly treat humans like a dominant bear,” says Coyne who also calls black bears the “stray dogs of the forest” meaning that there’s about zero chance they’ll hurt you. If they do start charging, don’t turn your back and don’t run. Get down in a ball on the ground. This protects all of your arteries, as well as your eyes (that you need to see to get the hell out of there) and your windpipe (that you need for breathing). It might hurt a lot, but it’s not going to injure you seriously. “Animals don’t really fight to the death,” says Coyne, “once they’ve ‘punked’ you they’ll leave you be.” Most people survive bear attacks.
When you hit the water, paddle clear of the boat. Things might fall off and hit you, or the force of the boat might drag you down into Davey Jones’ Locker. If you have time, grab some life-saving equipment; once the ship goes down you can’t get anything from it. If you can find a piece of boat to float on, great. If not “you just have to tread water and hope for the best,” says Coyne, who says your mental state has a lot to do with surviving this one. “It’s all a mental thing. People have lived for hours in 50-degree water. Just don’t pass out and don’t sink.” Stay close to the site of the wreck. That’s where people will be looking for you. “Other than that you can’t do much but bob like a cork.” Oh, and don’t drink the salt water, which will only cause delusion, dehydration and death.
5. Bar Brawl
“Duck and cover,” says Coyne, laughing a bit. He advises that you cover your head and bash your way to the door. Whatever you do don’t fall to the ground. Charge like a fullback for the door. “Who cares if you shoulder someone or push them?” he asks, “Better to fight one person in the parking lot than a whole bar.” Adventurous men note: The cops will show up and you will be charged with a violent offense if you’re still there. So get out and go.