Life is precarious, and nothing makes you appreciate that fact quite like a Reddit-generated list of potential death traps. On the upside, one person’s anxiety-provoking tip might be another person’s life-saving knowledge.
Over on r/AskReddit, user u/luciflerfather demanded to know, “What fact could probably save your life?” Some of the answers were pretty surprising—apparently death can find us anywhere. Like in this tip from u/OnTime4SocialEvents, who made scuba diving terrifying on a number of levels:
If you’re scuba diving and you’re going to vomit, puke right into the regulator. Don’t take the regulator out of your mouth because after you vomit the natural instinct is to inhale. The puke will blow out of the exhaust valve with your bubbles.
We did a discovery dive and were not taught about this. Thankfully we were only a few feet down. It could’ve been one of those life changing days...
The responses to this indicate people puke while diving regularly—and that it attracts fish, so that’s a nice thing to focus on instead of drowning! What else can we be afraid of?
Fires and Burns
One of the biggest tips for fires is a very simple act: sleep with the door closed. U/iglooman500 initially posted this, saying it will prevent damage to your space (and you, sleeping in that space). This was backed up by u/-Moph-, who says that as an engineer they see a lot of fire-damaged properties:
It’s common to see rooms that are entirely livable in a residence that is otherwise extensively fire and soot damaged just because the door was closed.
Different story once the fire gets into the roof space and brings the roof and ceilings down, but hopefully you’d be well gone out the window by then.
Make sure you have a smoke alarm in your room if you sleep with the door closed though, and that your alarms are interconnected such that if one triggers, all of them set off.
Many mentioned that they keep a small fire extinguisher in the bedroom. That may seem like too much preparedness, but it won’t be when the flames are licking that closed door. However, u/Reluctant_username, who claims to a firefighter in the UK, had some more specific rules for how to engage with fire:
My advice would be close bedroom doors at night. If the alarm goes off, have a peek to see if it’s safe to get out. If it’s clear, get out. If it’s pretty smokey, it’s probably safer to stay put. Call 999/911 and tell them what room you’re in. Towels, sheets etc by the door cracks to block smoke getting in. Open your windows and shout for help and get fresh air for yourself. Assuming you live within 10-15 minutes from a fire station, you should be fine. If not, then think about escaping from the window. Fire extinguishers are for tackling small fires, not gas cooling a shit ton of smoke from a big remote fire.
Let’s segue into a completely different type of burning pain: if you’re not familiar with how chemicals burn skin, you might not recognise there’s a problem until it’s serious, as u/Caputtohsi writes:
Chemical burns are not like fire or heat burns. Many will not immediately trigger a reflex action of pain.
I lost a chunk of skin under my armpit because a industrial cleaner dripped under my rain suit. I had rinsed off my arm and didn’t receive so much as redness, but 30 minutes later I noticed my shirt was soaked in blood. No pain till the next day and by then a quarter size piece of skin had fallen off.
Read the labels and remove any chemical as quickly as possible using the recommended method. Water is not always the best way.
As someone who would never knowingly walk onto a frozen lake, this thread was extremely validating. There were many, many tips on what to do if ice breaks underneath you if you want to survive, starting with this from u/Breakfastdestroyer:
If you get trapped on thin ice, lie down on your stomach and crawl/wiggle your way back to shore from the direction you got there from. Chances are if the ìce held you then when you were standing up, it will continue to hold you with your weight dispersed over more surface area.
But wait, there’s more from u/Koyaanisthefirst, if you have already gone under and can’t find the initial breakthrough point:
And if the ìce fails swim to the spot with most colour difference. This means;
if there is snow on the ice all the unbroken ice will be dark (snow block the sun) and the hole/water bit will be light.
If there is no snow on the ice the hole/water bit will be lighter compared to the rest.
And if you can’t crawl out? Just freeze on the edge so they can find you, according to u/Wobbles42, who added some info established by hypothermia researcher Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht:
What you want to do is get as much of your body out of the water as you can. This will minimise the rate of heat loss. Then, put your arms on the ice and hold still. Your goal is to freeze the clothing on your arms directly to the ice. This will keep you from slipping beneath the surface when you inevitably lose conciousness.
It seems like giving up, but it is not. Once you have established that rescuing yourself is impossible, you maximise your survival odds by maximizing the chances of being rescued.
Stay off the ice!
Ah, so many ways to die in the woods. You can minimise them with a little know how and communication, according to u/TheCopenhagenCowboy:
If you get lost in the woods, stay where you are! The chances of finding the way out on your own are pretty slim and you’re just creating a larger search area for SAR.
Also, tell people exactly where you’re going and when you’ll be home. If you’re not home by X time, instruct someone to call for help.
Another rule from u/paddle_your_canoe is pretty good in most scary situations—don’t panic:
The rule is, if you think you’re lost, you have to sit down for five minutes. A lot of people get worried and start wandering in random directions looking for the trail, which gets them more lost and more worried. Oftentimes a little sit-down can help clear the head and let you remember details more clearly.
U/ArtigoQ added that as you go down a wooded path, “LOOK BEHIND YOU FREQUENTLY” so your brain will recognise the terrain better if you get confused or turned around. If you are lost and get thirsty, here’s what to do according to u/mufasa_lionheart:
If you are trying to decide whether to drink the unsafe “nature” water or risk the dehydration: giardia takes 5 days to set in, renal failure can take less than 5 hours, so if it comes down to it and you can get to safety soon(a few days), risk the water. A week of spewing from both ends from the safety of your own home is better than dying of dehydration.
And as long as you’re lost in the woods, u/bulletben7 has this piece of advice, “If you see a bear cub, a very angry mother isn’t to far behind.” So many perils. Enjoy your hike.
What’s the best thing to do when being attacked by another person? The general consensus is “run like hell.” You might think you can fight, but the reality is, few of us are actually trained to ward of an attacker, especially if it’s a group of people. And if the person has a knife, don’t even think about it, for the many horrible reasons explained by u/JDPhipps:
If you ever take a self defence class, always pay attention to what they say about defending against a knife. Anywhere reputable will tell you that any attempt to defend against a knife-wielding attacker is the absolute last resort if you get backed into a corner and can’t run. That’s the only time you should ever even attempt to fight someone with a knife.
If they tell you these will keep you safe from a knife, find a new place to take self-defence courses. No one worth their salt is going to recommend you go bare-handed against a knife unless your only other option is to sit there and get stabbed to death.
If you can’t run, give the person whatever they want, but don’t go anywhere with them for as long as you can help it, according to u/burmanzag:
My girlfriends father is a detective. He always told her and her twin sister that if someone is going to take you, fight as hard as you can, don’t give up. He always said if someone is physically taking you, odds are they’re never going to let you go, which means not only are they gonna rape you, they’re gonna kill you too.
A few people cited the idea that if you yell “fire,” you’re more likely to attract help than if you just yell “help,” because more people will run to investigate/aid in putting out the fire. This seemed like an urban legend, so we asked a representative of the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute.
There is no actual data on the effectiveness of yelling “fire” to get help, unsurprisingly; but she did confirm that closing your door is a great safety precaution against fire because “a closed door can be an effective barrier against deadly levels of carbon monoxide, smoke and flames to keep the room livable first responders arrive.”
Good luck out there, everybody.