Just about everyone knows that you should never text and drive, and that you should stop, drop, and roll if you catch on fire. But life can also throw situations at us for which we don’t have a quick, handy response. Here are 15 facts that might just save your life during specific emergencies.
Commenters in a recent Quora thread about life-saving facts offered their best tips, which are easy to remember and could have a huge impact if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation.
A lot of these tips and pointers are fairly common – we imagine every one of you knows not to throw water on oil that’s caught on fire, for example. But there are quite a few kernels of knowledge that you might not have encountered before.
We suggest committing all of these to memory – just in case you ever need it!
Fact #1: Your brain can’t handle walking and using your phone at the same time — so look up.
Safety adviser Murali Krishnan points out that walking and using your phone both demand large amounts of cognitive effort.
As a result, you can’t fully focus on both at the same time in the same way you can with walking and gum-chewing, for instance. You’ll suffer ‘inattention blindness,’ where you may see an object but not process that it’s a car speeding toward you.
Fact #2: Heat transfers faster through liquid than gas, so keep warm by staying dry.
There’s a connection between being wet and getting cold, and vice versa for heat, says engineer Lia Lavoie.
To ensure your body temperature doesn’t fall too quickly in cold environments, invest in clothes made of wool instead of cotton — they will absorb more moisture so that dampness doesn’t linger on your skin. And, of course, do your best to stay dry.
Fact #3: Don’t eat snow for hydration unless you absolutely have to.
Lavoie also points out that your body uses a great deal of energy to convert matter from one state to another.
That’s why he says you should only eat snow as a substitute for water as a last resort. In gaining that small amount of hydration, you’ll give up precious body heat.
Fact #4: If your plane makes a water landing, your best bet is to inflate your life jacket after you exit the plane.
User Alvin Yip warns against the impulse to inflate your life jacket immediately if a plane is making an emergency landing on water. The water that could rush into the cabin makes it harder to move if you’re more buoyant.
So swim to an exit, then inflate your jacket to stay afloat.
Fact #5: You can perform the Heimlich manoeuvre on yourself.
Few people realise that they don’t need someone else to dislodge a piece of food from their throat.
Naman Mitruka explains how to perform the Heimlich on yourself:
1. Form a fist with your stronger hand below your rib cage and just above the navel. Place your other palm over the fist to push more firmly.
2. Drive your fist in and up in the diaphragm area (the top of your stomach) forcefully and repeat several times until the object that’s stuck in your throat gets dislodged.
Fact #6: Keep maximum-strength antihistamines in your wallet or bag when you go somewhere new.
You never know when you’ll encounter something that you didn’t know you’re allergic to, especially when camping or hiking, according to user Ryan Borek.
Fact #7: The limits of the human body tend to follow a ‘Rule of 3.’
Survivalists have a shorthand for knowing their limits, Ruchin Agarwal says.
People can generally go three minutes without air, three hours without shelter in extreme weather environments, three days without water, and three weeks without food.
Fact #8: If cooking oil catches fire, turn off the burner and cover the pot.
Ruchin Agarwal also explains that people should never use water to put out grease fires. The water molecules sink to the bottom of the hot pan, evaporate instantly, and shoot the flames even higher.
Instead, you can put an oil fire out by cutting the heat and taking away the oxygen.
Fact #9: If you get stabbed or impaled by a sharp object, leave it be.
Pulling out an object that has been lodged in your body will increase the rate of blood loss, Thomas Mei explains. Instead, try to cover the wound and do anything you can to stop the bleeding until you find a medical professional.
Fact #10: Most deaths in house fires are caused by smoke inhalation, not burns.
Stay low to the ground to avoid breathing in too much smoke, says Harsh Sharma.
Fact #11: If you get hurt in a public place, single out one person for help to avoid the bystander effect.
Sharma also notes the well-studied psychological phenomenon in which crowds of people fail to help somebody because they all think someone else will intervene.
If you’re not too hurt to call out for help, pick one person and direct your pleas to them. You’ll be more likely to get the aid you need.
Fact #12: A bright flashlight could be your greatest weapon against an attacker.
Instead of using capsicum spray or a weapon, an extremely bright flashlight can also effectively ward off a mugger, user Sanket Shah claims.
‘If you have someone approaching you that seems aggressive, in the gravest extreme, a blast of 300+ lumen to the eyes (especially at night) will give you the opportunity to get out,’ he says. ‘And suppose you miss-read the situation; no one is really harmed and you can’t get in trouble for it.’
Fact #13: Use condoms as makeshift water storage
Condoms are incredibly elastic. As user Janis Butevics points out, you can use that to your advantage if you need a quick way to store large volumes of water. They essentially act like bladders and are capable of holding a gallon of water.
‘They can also be used to protect against water, as a stretchable cover for valuable items like matches and walkie-talkies,’ Butevics says.
Fact #14: Picking out exits ahead of time will cut through your ‘normalcy bias.’
When local governments send out warnings about natural disasters, many people stay put even when told to evacuate. As John Ewing explains, psychologists call the phenomenon the ‘normalcy bias.’ It refers to people’s tendency to think everything will turn out OK even when they’re clearly in danger.
Ewing says people can break out of their normalcy bias cycle by locating multiple exits when they’re out in public, such as at the movies or in a restaurant. Mentally preparing for a dangerous situation will train you to be vigilant.
Fact #15: Downed power lines are lethal.
As Cal DeBouvre explains, the voltage in a downed power line is high enough to push electricity through the dirt nearby. ‘If you spot a downed power line walk the other way and call the police immediately,’ he says.
If a line falls near you, keep your feet together and jump or shuffle away. If you take normal steps, you’re at risk of conducting electricity in your body since the current can flow through both legs separately.
This story originally appeared on Business Insider.