How to Survive a Shark Attack, Plus Skills for 9 Other Emergencies
Last year, retired Navy SEAL Clint Emerson’s book 100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation struck a chord with an American public reeling from news of earthquakes in Nepal, a disappeared Malaysian airline, and terrorist attack in Paris that killed 130. The tips were often over the top (“Construct a Rectal Concealment” and “Steal a Plane,” for example) and sometimes verged on Islamophobic, but that didn’t stop Emerson from selling hundreds of thousands of copies to people fighting back paranoia.
A year after the first book’s success, Emerson is publishing a follow-up: Deadly Skills: Survival Edition—The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Surviving in the Wild and Being Prepared for Any Disaster. Emerson targeted the new skills at an insulated, distracted modern society that barely remembers how to use a map. While the situations in this book are slightly more practical than in the first edition, they are just as entertaining. We’ve put together a sampling of the new skills here. For those in dire straits, each card also features a BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front), the military version of TL;DR.
When Google Maps won’t load, do you know how to find your way? “It amazes me that people don’t know the basics anymore,” Emerson says. If it’s morning or evening, all you have to do is look at the direction of your shadow: it will point west in the morning and east in the evening. If it’s noon, or cloudy, then figuring out the cardinal directions becomes a little more involved. You can use your watch or a makeshift sundial. As a last resort, see the next skill.
“There was a time when every vehicle had a Thomas Guide atlas [with detailed street maps] and a compass in the glove box,” says Emerson. Chances are, you don’t carry one with you, but luckily if you have a battery from a flashlight and a sewing needle you can make your own.
Emerson emphasizes that readers should not to test this one out at home, but if the worst should happen, the lithium battery in a phone could be a lifesaver. “Just because your battery is dead doesn’t mean it can’t be used to signal for help,” says Emerson. Indeed, lithium is very reactive. See: Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall.
Todd Orr’s viral Facebook video— taken minutes after a grizzly attacked him—viscerally conveyed how gruesome a bear attack can be. Stick to these basics and lower your chances of death by Ursus. —
Emerson went to primary sources for this one, surveying friends from the Navy SEALs and elsewhere on how they acted during encounters with the predator. “Gills are the number one thing you want to go for,” Emerson concludes. “They are the best place to grab ahold of to rip or cause pain.”–
While a concerted effort to stop Somali pirates has been largely effective, you never know what could happen at sea. “Pirates’ goal is to get on board and take the ship hostage, knowing the insurance company will pay millions of dollars to get the ship back,” says Emerson. How should passengers stop them? Tampon molotov cocktails are one option, but the most effective weapon, if available, is a fire hose. “They act as huge whips: if they hit someone climbing up in the head, they will kill. If they hit the torso, they will break ribs,” says Emerson.
Hurricanes and tornadoes are very different animals (150 mile per hour winds versus 300, for starters), but preparation for both kinds of weather systems is pretty much the same. Know where you will head for shelter (hurricanes allow much more time for evacuation) and have an emergency kit ready. “If you’re prepared and know what your response is going to be, you will spend a shorter amount of time reacting in crisis and exponentially increase your survivability,” Emerson says. If you’re caught by surprise outside with no shelter, head for a car. “If you are going to get swept away, might as well be in a steel container with your seatbelt on.”
If you find yourself falling into a sinkhole (or falling off of anything, really) knowing the parachute-landing fall could save your life or at least decrease your chance of breaking bones. In Airborne School, paratroopers-in-training practice PLFs everyday.
The recent New Jersey Transit train crash in Hoboken—which killed one and injured dozens—highlighted the sorry state of many of our country’s public transportation systems. Necessary transit funding is probably going to take a while, so study up on Emerson’s pro tip for not getting launched out of a speeding train. “The old mantra is, ‘It’s not the speed that kills you, it’s the sudden stop,’” says Emerson. To prevent deadly ejection during collision, use your purse or messenger-bag strap to fasten a DIY seat belt.