Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Are You Ready?

One small mistake, and your life is over. One decision made the wrong way — turning left when you should have turned right — going when you should have stayed — passing up the gas station — ignoring the oncoming signs of a storm can lead to disaster. Life is fragile, and it's easy to die.

Sixty-seven-year-old Louis Rogers decided to drive a remote road from the Flathead Lake area in Montana to Calder, Idaho. When the road became too snowy for his Cadillac to safely negotiate, he decided to turn around and return home. That's when his car got stuck.

Rogers had a history of heart problems, so he decided to wait in the car for someone to come along and rescue him, rather than straining his heart trying to hike out of the mountains. But rescue was slow in coming. For the next 4 days, Rogers melted snow to drink, and turned on his car engine so he could use the heater from time to time. By the 4th day, feeling sure he was going to die, Rogers wrote a "good-bye" letter. Then, as luck would have it, Scott and Penny Kalis of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho happened to drive by in their four-wheel-drive vehicle and rescued Rogers.

Nice ending to a survival story, don't you think? But the interesting thing is that during the time Rogers was stuck in the snow, more than 200 friends, relatives, and several law enforcement agencies had been searching for him. So why didn't all those rescuers find Rogers? And what would have happened if Scott and Penny Kalis had decided to take another route, or not to travel at all that day? I’d say Rogers was one lucky guy, and maybe he ought to buy a lottery ticket.

But surely there is a better way to ensure our survival than depending on blind chance. Actually, if we pay attention to what’s happening around us, and make proper preparations, we can shove dumb luck to the back burner and take greater control over whether we live or die.

Let’s explore some aspects of this incident, plugging you into the driver’s seat to evaluate your state of survival readiness. Use these questions as a checklist to find areas you might be able to improve.
  • Do you check the weather before taking a trip? 
  • Do you understand the limitations of your car on snow-covered roads? 
  • Do you enhance the capability of your vehicle by carrying chains that you have practiced installing beforehand? 
  • Do you let people know where you’re going, which route you’re taking, when you expected to arrive, and what to do if you don’t show up on time? 
  • Are you equipped to call for help — cell phone (with a power cord to plug into the 12-volt outlet in the car), SPOT Satellite Messenger, or a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)? 
  • Do you dress to survive whatever kind of weather might happen? 
  • Do you carry emergency survival supplies and equipment in your car that will allow you to live for an extended period without outside help? 
  • Are you physically capable of self-rescue? 
If you find yourself answering any of these questions in the negative, it's time to reevaluate your level of preparation and take steps to improve your chances.

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