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Survival Tip: Leave FIRST. Ask questions later.


Silver Belt
Mar 4, 2006
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As I've read up on various disasters over the years...one recurring theme has emerged. At the first sign of trouble...before it's entirely clear what's going on, before they even talk to anyone else who's standing there...a small number of people just get the hell away from the situation. THEN, from a safe-distance, they try to figure out what's happening. Those people, historically, tend to survive.

Some examples:

Pompeii, 79 A.D.

As seen in the documentary, when the volcano erupts, it's quite the spectacle, and few people understand what it is. Some people just get the hell away from it. Most of the others stick around thinking it's a sign from the gods. The people who stuck around you might remember from their ash-preserved corpses. The people who left as soon as it happened, lived to see another day.

Jonestown, 1970's

As soon as Jim Jones said to his happy fan club, "Hey, let's all move to Guyana and form a special commune!" Most people said "Um, you're getting kind of weird, but okay, whatever." A few people left the group immediately and stayed in the United States. The leavers lived, the people who decided to stick around ended up dead a short-time later from drinking poisoned Kool-Aid.

September 11th, 2001

I don't want to mock this one. Obviously, the people who got the heck out of BOTH buildings as soon as the first one was hit survived.

Station Nightclub Fire, 2003

At about 6 minutes in, the pyrotechnics ignite the wall behind the singer. He says "that's not good." Most people just keep rocking out, thinking it's part of the show. The cameraman, you might notice, is the FIRST GUY TO LEAVE.

He survives quite easily.

Beslan School Hostage Crisis, 2004


According to the wikipedia article...

At first, some at the school mistook the guerrillas for Russian special forces practicing a security drill.[33] However, the attackers soon began shooting in the air and forcing everybody from the school grounds into the building. During the initial chaos, up to 50 people managed to flee and alert authorities to the situation.[34] A number of people also managed to hide in the boiler room.[16] After an exchange of gunfire against the police and an armed local civilian, in which reportedly one attacker was killed and two were wounded, the militants seized the school building.

The people who stuck around, thinking it was a military drill, or stayed in a hiding spot ended up stuck when the terrorists seized the building. The people who LEFT FIRST managed to avoid one of the most hellish and deadly hostage situations in recent history.

The Indian Ocean Tsunami, 2004

Prior to the striking of the wave, the ocean receded all along the Indonesian Coast. You notice that some people think it's interesting that the water has all disappeared and they stick around to stare at it. Other people JUST LEAVE. Guess who didn't get drowned by a giant wall of water?

I think that's enough examples for now. To summarize, history teaches us that...when confronted with a highly abnormal situation that probably feels a bit dangerous...your best bet is to get the hell away from that situation before you even figure out what it is.

That is all.
Pretty interesting post TS, (going back to watch the videos now)
I prefer SHOOT first, ask questions later, but still good theory.
Only if Mark Whalberg or a citizen with a right to carry permit were at these events.
Reminds me of a time I went camping with some friends. We were hanging out by the fire when we see something moving towards us. Turns out it was a skunk. My gf asked what the best way to shoo it away would be but as she turned to my direction all she saw was me running away.
The tsunami video a facepalm worthy.
The tsunami video a facepalm worthy.

Yeah, but it's sad when you realize that a quarter million people died... many of whom were probably savable if they had known to get away from the shore when the tide pulls back like that... I know some smaller islands were completely washed over and there was little to do there, I'm just saying some deaths could have easily been prevented.
I visited Thailand a year after the tsunami. One of the locals on one of the islands, might have been Phi Phi, told me he was there when it happened. Said he was yelling at people to run when the tide pulled back but not many people listened, especially tourists. Said he ran to high ground and watched as all the tourists on the beach got swept away. Crazy shit.

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