Survival is not something that we should think about only when we prepare for a hike or get ready for a merit badge. It is something we should think about all the time.
Recently I wrote about a couple of dads who got lost with their sons in a city park. A couple of weeks ago a father and his children went off to look for a Christmas tree. They kept searching for the right tree and wondered deeper and deeper into the woods. A snow storm blew in and covered all of their tracks. They were not a long way from safety, but they didn’t know which way to go. They spent a night using a storm drain for shelter. A surge of water through the drain washed away on of the kid’s shoes so the father wrapped the child’s foot in a jacket. The group was rescued just hours before a new storm was due to arrive.
Both incidents ended happily. In both cases these dads were going on a simple outing with their kids and survival was probably the furthest thing from their mind. Who thinks about survival for a walk in the park or a Christmas tree hunt? Probably no one. If both dads would have taken a few moments to orient themselves to their surroundings, kept general relative relationships to roads or civilization in mind, they could have avoided a very difficult situation.
When you go to a movie theater, do you ever ask yourself, “What will I do if there is a fire? Where are the alternate exits?” When you go to fill up your car at the gas station, do you think to take a second to locate the master shut off valve for the pumps? Do you know if there is a fire extinguisher nearby and where it is? For that quick trip to the store in the winter, do you jump in the car wearing a T-shirt and a pair of slippers or do you put on some shoes, socks and a jacket in case there is a car problem that might require you to stand in the cold?
All of these are simple, precautionary steps that we can all take in our daily routine that can help us survive difficult situations. The idea is not to become afraid of anything that might happen to you. The objective is to have thought about protecting yourself, to have analyzed your surroundings, to have begun to plan for alternatives. If an emergency occurs, you have a much better chance to survive if you have pre-programmed your mind to prepare for the unexpected.