The Survivors Club

The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that could save your life by Ben Sherwood. A Review of Sorts....

I read this while on vacation a couple of weeks ago and it made me check all my exits, where the oxygen panel was, I wore closed toed shoes, and checked for a life vest under my seat and made my wife check too. It is a pretty fast and compelling read. Was I really more safe on our 4 flights during the vacation? Probably... 

One of the most interesting things about the book was its examination of several types of accidents, the real statistics behind them, and trying to figure out what the critical factors are/were that allowed a handful of survivors to make it out alive when most perish.

Now the book does not offer a panacea on things you can do to survive all things in any circumstance, but it does come up with some key concepts that seem to consistently re-appear in case after case that can swing the pendulum of fate in your favour.

Let me quickly go over the airplane scenario. Most of us already know statistically that flying is much much safer than driving by a large large margin. We are not talking 50% safer, we are talking 6000% safer on average trip taken. Many of us also know, if you have read anything about "dread", that generally our societies' fear of flying generally comes from the systematic sensationalisation of the accidents that do occur during flight . If we paid any attention to the statistics, we should dread driving a car hundreds of times more than flying. Undue fear also arises from the helplessness of being a passenger on a large aircraft. In a car, we may feel we have some power over our fate because "I'm a safe driver" or "I have quicker reflexes" or whatever you think you have or can do diminishes the statistics to your favour.

The dread we collectively have of flying is perhaps not unjustifiable; when deadly accidents do occur on planes, they frequently kill most or all the passengers aboard. Most people, when interviewed, figure if the plane crashes or explodes or whatever, everyone or practically everyone on the plane will not stand a chance. The rare instances of survival are touted as "miracles". 

This book does a nice job of debunking that -- somewhat. Although most deadly accidents DO kill all or most passengers on airline flights, there ARE things you can do. The miracles that do occur are sometimes not so miraculous as they first appear. In fact, there are many cases where many many MORE people SHOULD have survived.

In particular, deadly accidents, which mostly occur during take off and landing, are killers not because the plane is obliterated, but because smoke can quickly fill the cabin and asphyxiate passengers. Another big factor is many many people in many types of situations (not just airplane incidents) freeze! They have already assumed they will die in case of a crash, or their brains are literally frozen because they just simply don't know what to do and can't formulate a plan of action based on the information they have archived up in the grey matter. 

This is where you have an advantage if you pay attention to the safety instructions, your exits, how to operate an oxygen mask, and make a mental plan on how to get out of the plane fast with you and/or your family. You typically have about ninety (90) seconds to exit before smoke and toxic fumes will put you down and out. 

So pay attention to the safety instructions, to the nearest 2 or 3 sets of exits, and have a back up plan if the first one is blocked. It could save your life!

There is a test to see what kind of "Survivor" you are. Here is an excerpt of some of the info from mine:

Certificate of Membership
This Certificate Recognizes
William Broadhead
As a Founding Member
Survivor Type: 
5/16/2010 7:48:06 PM

William, you are a THINKER

After analyzing all of your answers and calculating 152 billion different possible outcomes, the Survivor Profiler confidently declares: You are a Survivor. You've got a well-defined survivor personality and tools to help you overcome any crisis.

Here's a summary of the Profiler's key findings

Survivor Profiler Results: William Broadhead

Survivor Type: THINKER


Your Survivor Type: THINKER

Your Survivor IQ tells you precisely which kind you are. After analyzing your answers, it’s clear that you’re a Thinker. You use your mind to overcome your obstacles. Your intelligence has many dimensions. You rely on a combination of smarts, creativity and ingenuity to solve problems. Book learning isn’t your only resource. You’ve also got street smarts and common sense. You see your challenges clearly and are good at diagnosing the underlying nature of a problem. In tough times, you look at all the angles, generate new ideas and discover unexpected solutions. You don’t get distracted easily. You’re highly focused, analytical, and rigorous and you concentrate on what needs to get done. Your mind is practical, not up in the clouds. You’re good at turning ideas into action. When others get stuck, you can improvise and find a way out. Logic and reason help you understand the real facts of your situation and the consequences of your choices. Common sense helps you apply your knowledge and experience in creative and productive ways. While some people depend on muscle and brawn to win life’s battles, you rely on your mind. Above all, you’re a Thinker. To see what it really means to be a Thinker, consider the true story that appears in the Survivor Case Studies

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