Monday, January 30, 2012

End of the World?

One of the themes in my book, Code Name Viper, deals a little bit with the end of the Mayan calendar, which takes place this coming December 21st. The whole business about the Mayan calendar is pretty complex, but it has some folks running scared, thinking that it marks the end of the world.

So, what do I think about that?

Here's what I think — it's a waste of time trying to predict the "end of the world." We can spend our time and effort chasing around worrying about something that might or might not happen (I've already seen more than one previous "end of the world" prediction crash and burn). Or we can spend our time and energy getting ready for events that are more likely to happen within our lifetime.

In all honesty, the end of your world (or mine) doesn't depend on the end of THE world. If we get careless, or an accident overtakes us, our world can come to an end regardless of what the calendar says. That's just reality.

If we don't want that to happen, we need to start paying attention to the real risks in life. Let me make myself clear about that — I'm not saying don't take risks. Heck, I've gone bungee jumping before, and enjoyed it. Would do it again if I had the chance. I'm a scuba diver. I've jumped out of airplanes, rappelled out of helicopters, and was a demolition sergeant on a Special Forces A-Team. Does that sound like a guy who doesn't like taking risks? Trust me, I don't want to die in a rocking chair. Life is for living, not just for seeing how long I can prevent death from overtaking me.

But, at the same time, I'm not willing to take "unacceptable" risks. An unacceptable risk is one for which you are not prepared. I won't bungee jump until after the bungees are strapped around my ankles. I won't jump out of an airplane until I have the parachute on. I won't blow things up until I've been trained in the proper use of the explosives. Get it? Taking those kinds of risks would be stupid.

The real risks in life are those things we're either not paying attention to — so they surprise us and take us down — or they're the ones we're simply not prepared to deal with because we haven't become experienced or trained to handle them.

So the key to forestalling the end of your world is to pay attention to what's going on around you (so you don't get blindsided), get educated and go out and get some experience. Remember my motto: "Fill your head with the best information, fill your hands with skill, and fill your life with experience."

Forget about the Mayan calendar. Get out and live life.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Medical Emergencies

Life in the wilds is nothing like the Hollywood version. Mother Nature has teeth, claws, sharp rocks, bad weather, poisonous stuff, and all sorts of ways to trip you up and cause an injury. In some ways, that's what is so appealing about her — she challenges us to be alive and aware of what's going on around us.

But in spite of our best efforts, sometimes there is a medical emergency in the backcountry while you're miles from professional help. Often, the injuries are nothing more than painful inconveniences, but there are  times when they become downright life threatening. That's when it's good to have some reference material to help you through the crisis.

One of the best backwoods emergency medical references I can think of is a book called Wilderness First Responder by Buck Tilton. Buck is an old acquaintance of mine, and he is a man to be trusted. His resume for this kind of material is long and deep. He co-founded the Wilderness Medicine Institute of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), served as an advisor the Western State College's Mountain Rescue Team, and has written many books about outdoor medicine.

This book of his, Wilderness First Responder teaches you how to assess and treat everything from head injuries to allergic reactions to fractures, to bleeding, to cardiac arrest…and the list goes on. It's the manual you will want while you're waiting for the rescue helicopter and paramedics to arrive and take over the scene.  So I recommend you get it. Just click on this link and it will take you to Amazon where you can buy the book.

Then read the thing and stuff it in your backpack so you have it with you when you need it.

Nope, Mother Nature is not warm and fuzzy. But if you're prepared, you'll live long and have fond memories about visiting her.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Know When to Hold 'em — When to Fold 'em

Remember the song by Kenny Rogers that became the theme for the movie The Gambler? The repeating chorus was "You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run."

That is a perfect explanation of how to survive just about any kind of emergency. It alludes to the fact that you need to assess the situation before making a decision to hold, fold, walk or run. If you don't figure things out based on all the cards that are on the table (elements of the emergency), then you have no foundation for your decisions.

What you're trying to determine is which of all the elements poses the greatest threat to your physical welfare.
  • Is it starvation? 
  • Is it dehydration? 
  • Is it hypothermia? 
  • Is it that geyser of blood spurting from your femoral artery? 
  • Is it a drunken brawl at the local bar?
  • Is it that you're lost and have no idea which way to go?
  • Is it a raging bull charging at you from across the pasture? 
  • Is it the kid on drugs wildly pointing a gun at you and demanding your money? 
I could go on adding to the list of bullet points forever, but you probably get it. For any emergency, the first order of business is to assess the situation and figure out what is the highest priority that needs your attention. There are probably a lot of high priorities, but only one will rise to the highest position on the list. After you get that one handled, move on down the list.

Sometimes you multi-task, handling more than one priority at a time — like seeking to stay dry at the same time you're gathering materials for building a shelter. But both tasks are calculated to take care of the same core priority: avoid hypothermia.

In a disaster scenario (wildfire, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, etc.), you'll have to determine whether to "shelter in place" or evacuate. That's the "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em" part.

If the house is not in the path of a threatening storm or wildfire, or is not already so badly damaged by the event that it poses a risk if you stay there, standing your ground might be the right thing to do.

Sheltering in place (if the place is habitable) leaves you in possession of all your supplies. When you decide to evacuate, you can only take so much stuff with you, and you don't know for certain (although you should have a plan to work toward) where you're going to end up. You might wind up on your own, ducking and running for cover, or living in a refugee camp. In some circumstances, those are better options that trying to shelter in place. You have to figure that out.

If you're in the crosshairs of a lethal storm, or the fire is advancing toward your house, or some similar scenario is playing out with regard to urban unrest or war, it's probably time to fold 'em and walk away (or run).

Start with assessing the situation and establishing priorities. Only then will you know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

True Survivor Celebrates Life

I want to dedicate this space to a young lady named Laura Dekker, a 16-year-old Dutch girl who has fought hard to celebrate life by accomplishing a dream she has held since she was 8 years old. Today, she will complete her solo circumnavigation of the world on a sailboat — a huge accomplishment for anyone. She becomes the youngest person ever to circle the globe alone on a sailboat. Congratulations Laura.

Why should I mention her on my survival blog site? Because she has what it takes — courage, determination, a can-do spirit — all of which are requisite to be a survivor. And she backs that up with preparation, clear thinking, a willingness to get her hands dirty and do the work. Most of all, she wouldn't give up, even when her own government tried multiple times to essentially put her in jail to prevent her from making her voyage. She is a true survivor.

As a sailor, I know intimately what it takes to operate a sailboat in rough conditions. A sailor doesn't just push the throttle down and point the boat where he wants it to go. It takes experience and thorough knowledge of the weather, water currents, and how to use the sails to best advantage. It requires strength and agility to raise and lower sails, change to different sails on a pitching deck, raise and lower the anchor, and perform maintenance on a boat that is continually wearing out under the ceaseless action of the ocean.

I've followed Laura's ship's log day by day since she began the voyage, paying close attention to how she handled emergencies at sea, and how she held up under weeks on end of total solitude. During her crossing of the Indian Ocean, she went dark for several weeks on the advice of experts who were telling her not to attempt any contact with the outside world, even by posting her log online, because it would give pirates in that region information about her location. She sailed without radio, without using lights on her boat, without radar — all of which could be tracked by pirates.

There were those in the sailing community who railed against the whole concept of a person so young attempting something so huge. And there were those who consistently stood behind Laura, giving expert advice and encouragement to help her along the way.

To those who fought against Laura's effort in the public media, I say, "Get a life yourself." It's all too easy to sit at your desk and fire off criticism based on your own personal prejudice or your condescending attitude that young people ought not to try to do anything challenging. Maybe those critics have lost the fire of youth and have forgotten what it's like to have a dream and then work toward its accomplishment.

After following Laura's adventure every step of the way by reading her log entries, all I can say is that she is one heck of a girl. Courageous, and able to back up her courage with action. Mature far beyond her chronological years, capable of handling emergency situations calmly, and with a spirit that will not be damped. Way to go Laura! You can be on my team anytime. With a spirit like that, you're a true survivor.

If you want to read her ship's log go to and click on the News link.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Ultimate Survival Manual

My latest book, The Ultimate Survival Manual, is about to roll off the press and is already in worldwide marketing. Because of the massive global marketing effort of publishing giant Weldon Owen, this book is going to be enormously popular. And I recommend that if you want one without the delay of having to wait for a second or third printing you should pre-order it today.

The release date is May 15th, perfect timing to give as a Father's Day gift. It's on Amazon, and you can find it by using this link:

This 256-page manual is heavily illustrated and is subdivided into three major sections — Wilderness, Urban, and Disaster.  It delivers advice for advance preparation and in-the-moment techniques to help you survive everything from a bear attack to a tsunami to a carjacking to a hostage situation. These are the skills that will get you out alive.

Weldon Owen publishes extremely high quality books. This one not only has a perfect blend of survival information and lavish illustrations, but is packaged so nicely that it will make a fantastic gift.

This book is a perfect companion to my other book, Rich Johnson's Guide To Wilderness Survival, also available on Amazon.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dangerous Signal Fire

A lost hiker in Australia accidentally sparked a wildfire while trying to use a signal fire to alert authorities to his predicament. When the rescue helicopter arrived over his position, the downdraft from the rotors caused the fire to flare up and spread into surrounding brush. The incident could have become tragic, but was fortunately brought under control quickly by a small team of fire fighters.

Two types of lessons can be learned from this incident — what the hiker did right, and what he did wrong.

What he did right:
  • He climbed to a high point where he could be seen from a distance by rescuers.
  • He decided to aid the rescuers by using a visible signal.
What he did wrong:
  • He chose fire as his visible signal device. A mirror would have been much more effective and less hazardous. A PLB would be the very best choice, because it transmits the distress signal along with exact GPS coordinates so the rescue team doesn't have to waste time searching empty ground.
  • Evidently, he didn't clear the area sufficiently to prevent his signal fire embers from straying into dry fuel.
  • When the helicopter arrived and the hiker could see that the crew had spotted him, he failed to bury the fire with dirt to prevent the rotor downdraft from spreading embers into the brush. 
Wildfire is exceptionally dangerous and destructive. Even if you're in a dire survival situation and your life is at risk, don't light the world on fire just to call attention to yourself. It's your responsibility to not only save yourself, but protect everything else around you.

If you decide to use a signal fire (or a fire for any reason):
  • Build it on mineral soil so underground organic material doesn't start to burn and spread the fire underground. 
  • Clear the area both around the fire and overhead, so there is no possibility that embers can ignite dry material. 
  • Keep the fire small so it's easy to control.
  • Have loose dirt or water nearby to extinguish the fire.
  • As you feed wood into the fire, do it gently so as not to send a bunch of sparks into the air. 
Your actions while trying to save yourself can end up putting the lives of others at risk. The very act of calling for rescue puts the lives of the SAR team at risk, so don't add to it by creating a more dangerous situation. Before you use your matches, use your brains.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day Hike Gone Bad

What happens when you go out for a simple day hike but then, because something goes wrong, you end up spending the night, or maybe two? That's never a good thing and, depending on the weather, it can be downright tragic. And it results from what I call "day hike syndrome."

Day hike syndrome is the mistaken assumption that your little hike into the woods or the desert will just take a couple hours and then you'll get back to your car and drive home and everything will be fine. The unfortunate truth is that it doesn't always work out that way. What looked like a good plan on paper turns out to be totally wrong on the ground.

That's what happened to 66-year-old snowshoer Yong Chun Kim of Tacoma, Washington. An experienced snowshoer, Kim was leading a group of 16 other snowshoers on a hike through deep snow on Mount Rainier when he became separated from the rest of the group after sliding down a slope. That was the last time the group saw him.

Kim survived the fall down the slope and used his radio to let the rest of his party know that he was alright. Apparently he planned to meet up with the group at a parking lot later on, but he never showed up. When he failed to arrive as planned, a search was initiated. That was on Saturday afternoon.

Search teams consisting of park rangers with search dogs, and other volunteers scoured the snowy slopes of Mount Rainier on that Saturday, Sunday and Monday without any sign of Kim. The group Kim had been leading was unable to pinpoint the exact location where he had fallen, and it took until Sunday afternoon for them to find the spot.

Kim's sister-in-law told reporters that her brother-in-law was a strong hiker and had food in his backpack, and was well equipped for a day of snowshoeing but didn't have any overnight gear.

Uh-huh! That's exactly what happens with day hike syndrome. You put a few granola bars in your pocket then head out with a confident belief that you'll be back safely before the end of the day. Then something goes wrong. For Kim, it was a slip off the trail. Sometimes it's a turned ankle, inadvertently taking the wrong fork in the trail, sudden bad weather, a broken crosscountry ski binding…whatever. The causes for delay in your plans are numerous and varied.

My question for Mr. Kim is this: If you had a backpack, why didn't you carry overnight gear? I already can hear the answer he would give me — in fact, I've heard myself use the same excuse. It's because he had so much experience with snowshoeing and knew the area well, so he didn't think anything could go wrong.

I remember hiking miles out of steep mountains in waist-deep snow after one of my ski bindings failed. Actually, it wasn't the binding — it was the boot at the point where it connected with the binding. Since I couldn't ski in those conditions on one ski, it meant I had to remove the other one and wade for miles through the snow. That could very easily have turned into an unanticipated overnight in survival conditions. It happens. Someday it might happen to you.

So, what do we take away from this little discussion?
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Be prepared to stay longer than you planned
  • Have overnight shelter in your pack
  • Have redundant fire starting equipment in your pack and pockets
  • Carry signaling methods - radio, mirror, whistle, or best of all a PLB (personal locator beacon).
  • Pack extra clothing and food
  • Let someone know exactly where you're going and when you plan to return
Do those things and you'll improve your survival position greatly. 

End of the story? They found Mr. Kim on Monday. He was alive. Lucky man. And I'll bet the next time he goes out he'll be better prepared. It's the old story — that which does not kill us strengthens us (or makes us smarter). 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Nightmare At Sea

Have you ever wondered what it was like on that fateful night in the North Atlantic when the Titanic struck an ice berg and sank?

One of the surviving passengers on the cruise ship Costa Concordia, made the comparison. "It was like a scene from the Titanic." Journalist Mara Parmegiani was talking about the experience she had just lived through when her cruise ship struck a reef off the coast of Italy, ripping a 160-foot gash in the hull. The ship rapidly took on water, and laid over on her side.

Imagine being one of the more than 4,000 passengers on that ship. What would you do to get out alive?

As I write this, a day after the accident, the report is that there are 3 known dead, dozens injured (some gravely), and 69 still missing. More than 4,000 were evacuated to shore through the use of lifeboats, the efforts of five Italian military helicopter crews, local ferries, and other boaters who saw the incident and came to assist with the rescue throughout the night.

One of the problems was that, as the ship continued to roll onto its side, passengers and crew became trapped and couldn't use the remaining ship's lifeboats. On the port side, the boats were at such a high angle they were unable to be lowered into the water, and the lifeboats on the starboard side were already underwater.

"It was so unorganized. Our evacuation drill was scheduled for 5 p.m.. We joked what if something happened today," said passenger Melissa Goduti.

Ladies in elegant dinner clothes and high heels, and men in tuxedos and dress shoes were suddenly fighting for their lives to escape a ship that was falling over. Everything that wasn't bolted down crashed to the floor, then to the wall, leaving shards of glass and china to shred the feet and hands of those scrambling to find an exit.

Needless to say, it was chaos.

Trapped in a sinking steel multi-story floating hotel with thousands of other people, the situation is ripe for disaster. So…what would you do to get out alive?

  • By all means, attend the mandatory evacuation drills, and pay attention to what is said there. 
  • But be proactive. Don't wait for the official evacuation drill. As soon as you board a vessel, do a recon to find out where the lifeboats are and where the life vests are stowed. 
  • Read the emergency card on the back of your stateroom door to learn the location of the evacuation muster area for your cabin. Go to that spot ahead of time and discover at least two ways to get there from your room. 
  • Recognize that an emergency might happen when you are away from your cabin, and always be thinking of how you would get from wherever you are to the evacuation site.
  • In every room, pay attention to where the primary exits are. In a crisis, most people will rush for the most obvious exits, so plan secondary escape routes as well. 
  • Position yourself so you are near an exit and can be one of the first out of the room before the crowd forms.
  • Don't be a nervous Nellie, but if you suspect something is amiss, don't wait for the alarm — politely excuse yourself, take your loved-ones and get to a safer location. It's better to apologize later for your sudden departure if you were mistaken than to be late in taking action. 
  • In an emergency, the captain will sound the general alarm, consisting of 7 short blasts followed by 1 long blast. That's the cue for everyone to move to their designated lifeboat stations and stand by for instruction by the ship's personnel. 
  • If you must jump from the ship, put on a life vest first.  As the ship rolls over, don't worry about being sucked down — worry instead about being clobbered by something (or someone) falling from the deck. Swim away from the ship to a safe distance.
  • In the water, cluster together with your loved-ones and take the "huddle" position, facing each other to share body warmth to help ward off hypothermia. 
  • Do whatever you can to call the attention of lifeboats or other means of rescue. This is when it would be good to have a small LED flashlight in your pocket, as well as a mirror and a signal whistle. These are small items, but they can save your life. 
Now, relax and enjoy the cruise. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Caliber and Hiking

On Bud's Gun Shop Forums the question came up:  What is the smallest caliber you trust to protect yourself? Here was his response:

My personal favorite defense gun has always been a Beretta Jetfire in 22 short. 

Over all the years I've been hiking I never leave without it in my pocket.
Of course we all know too the first rule when hiking in the wilderness is to use the "Buddy System."
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this it means you NEVER hike alone, you bring a friend
or companion, even an in-law.  That way if something happens there is someone to go get help.

I remember one time hiking with my brother-in-law in northern Alberta. 
Out of nowhere came this huge brown bear and man was she ever mad. 
We must have been near one of her cubs. 

Anyway, if I had not had my little Jetfire I'd sure not be here today.
Just one shot to my brother-in-law's knee cap and I was able to escape by just walking at a brisk pace

That's one of the best pistols in my safe today!

Hmmm, a little humor. 

Along that same line, as a scuba diver I've heard the old joke many times that when diving in shark-infested waters you don't need to be able to swim faster than the sharks — you only need to be able to swim faster than your dive buddy. 

Of course, surviving in bear country or sharky waters involves "real" techniques that we can discuss another day. For now, just enjoy the joke. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Any Time of Year

In the temperate parts of the Northern Hemisphere, this is the time of year when people bundle up and sit in front of the fireplace drinking hot chocolate. It's cold outside. It's rainy or perhaps snowy. It's mukluks and mittens weather, with a parka and hood to keep the chill away. This is the time of year when folks become aware of how quickly hypothermia can happen.

But, what many don't understand is that hypothermia can happen anywhere and any time of year. Technically, hypothermia is a loss of body core temperature. The core is 98.6 degrees F., and that warmth is trying to escape by any means available. Here are the ways your body loses heat:

  • Conduction — direct contact with an object that is cooler than the core temp.
  • Convection — movement of air around your body carries away the warmth.
  • Radiation — your body radiates warmth away from itself.
  • Evaporation — damp clothing acts like a "swamp cooler" type of air conditioner for your body.
  • Exhalation — with each breath, you lose heat from inside and replace it with cold air.
  • Elimination — yup, even the bodily act of elimination transfers warmth from inside. 
All of these natural functions take place 24/7 no matter what part of the planet you're on, no matter what the season.

Of course, if you're in a hot environment and expose yourself to excessive heat and exercise, you can go the other way and end up with heat exhaustion or heat stroke (another issue for another post). But even in the desert or the tropics, when the sun goes down so does the ambient temperature, leaving you vulnerable to hypothermia.

So, what can you do to counteract the body's natural tendency toward temperature loss?

  • Get dry. Stop whatever is making you wet. If you're in the water, get out. If you're in wet clothing, get out of them and dry your skin, then get into something (a shelter, dry clothing, etc.) to protect yourself from the breeze. When you're wet, your body will be working overtime on the deadly trio of convection, radiation and evaporation.
  • Take shelter from the wind. Dry your hair, because you lose a lot of body heat through the scalp. Cover your head. 
  • Get a fire started to completely dry your body, hair and clothing. 
  • Heat water for a warm drink. Add calories to the hot water — chocolate, a soup mix, etc.
  • Heat up some food an have a hot meal. 
  • Wrap in cloth a stone warmed by the fire, and tuck it into your jacket or sleeping bag.
  • Use the fire to signal for help — smoke by day, flames by night. The sooner you get rescued, the better. 
Hypothermia is not just a cold weather issue. It can happen in relatively mild temperatures when you get wet and fatigued. Swimmers in warm tropical water can become hypothermic if they stay in the water too long. Any time of year and any place on the planet, hypothermia is a deadly hunter that stalks human prey.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Collapse of Civilizations

Recent scientific findings around the ancient city of Angkor in Cambodia hint at some pretty disturbing news for great civilizations. And Angkor is not alone in the lesson it has to teach us about how major societies can collapse. The southwest American civilization of Anasazi — the famous cliff dwellers — disappeared from the scene after hundreds of years of being at the top of their game. Could the same thing happen to us?

Of course it can. Otherwise I wouldn't be writing about this.

So, what happened to Angkor and to the Anasazi that swept these well-developed societies off the scene? Actually, it was probably not just one thing, but a combination of events that led to the demise of these (and other) great civilizations. But thanks to recent archeological discoveries at Angkor, and similar discoveries made long ago in the land of the Anasazi, we know at least one factor was severe drought.

Angkor was a world-class empire (as were the Anasazi in their realm). In fact, Angkor was a major player in southeast Asia for nearly 500 years, and the great city itself spread across more than 385 square miles, three times the area of modern Philadelphia. The city boasted a complex network of channels, moats, embankments and reservoirs to collect and store water during the monsoon season so it could be used during times of drought. The largest Khmer reservoir could hold 1.87 billion cubic feet of water.

Researchers studied sediments from the floor of the reservoir, to determine what happened. They found that sediment deposits in the bottom of the reservoir were one-tenth of normal when the city fell. Scientists surmise that a prolonged drought overwhelmed even their best efforts at water management, using the technology available at the time (15th century).

Here was a society that was living at the highest level of efficiency, taking many steps to keep their civilization fed and watered — and yet it wasn't enough to survive the change of climate. Mary Beth Day, a paleolimnologist at the University of Cambridge in England said, "Angkor can be an example of how technology isn't always sufficient to prevent major collapse during times of severe instability. Angkor had a highly sophisticated water management infrastructure, but this technologic advantage was not enough to prevent its collapse in the face of extreme environmental conditions."

The Anasazi faced the same situation, and their agricultural efforts collapsed under the weight of a 26-year drought.

Notice that both of those climate change events took place before the industrial revolution, so I don't believe "manmade global warming" had anything to do with it. Fact is, the earth's climate has always been undergoing one kind of change or another. It happened in the past, it will happen in the future.

But the point I want to make is that any civilization, no matter how highly technological or how primitive, can be taken down by such a simple thing as a prolonged drought. Primitive people probably fare better because they are less dependent on someone else to deliver their necessities. Modern societies are particularly vulnerable because the populace doesn't know how to supply themselves with what they need to survive.

Our society is not immune to this kind of catastrophe. In fact, I'd say we're prime candidates. We've become an entitlement society that is dependent on government to give us what we need. That's not a good way to build a stabile civilization that can withstand something like a long-term drought, or a food shortage, or a shutdown of services for any reason.

A good New Year resolution is to work on becoming personally less dependent and more capable of taking care of ourselves.

And if you feel like taking a vacation, I suggest a trip to the ruins of the great city of Angkor. But if you don't want to travel all the way to Cambodia, why not stop by the four corners region of the U.S. southwest and take a tour of the Anasazi cliff dwellings. If you listen to the wind blowing through the slickrock canyons, perhaps you'll hear a warning voice.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Escape Story

Like something right out of the movies, a 24-year-old Chicago man was carjacked, shot three times in the chest, then dumped into the trunk of his own car while the carjackers drove around town.

What are the chances of getting out alive from a situation like that? Well, apparently, pretty good. The victim managed to escape from the trunk and sought help. He was taken to the hospital in serious condition. His car didn't fare so well — it was later found abandoned and on fire.

If you ever find yourself trapped in the trunk of a car, here are some options to help you escape:

  • Look for a glow-in-the-dark T-handle emergency trunk release to pop open the lid. 
  • Or look for the trunk release cable that runs from the driver's compartment back to the trunk latch and tug the cable toward the front of the car to unlock the latch.
  • Search around for tools that can help you pry open the latch — a screwdriver, a tire iron, etc.
  • Try using the vehicle jack to pry up one corner of the trunk lid so you can catch the attention of other drivers. 
  • Cut or tear loose the wiring that leads to the brake lights, so the police will notice something is amiss with the vehicle and pull it over. 
  • If you're abandoned in the trunk, kick through the back seat and crawl into the passenger compartment.