Monday, July 17, 2017

Aubrey Hamilton Reviews: How to Survive Anything: From Animal Attacks to the End of the World (and Everything in Between)

Aubrey is back today with another interesting review…

I am taking a bit of a break from mysteries this week to talk about a book that I consider a good reference for everyone and an excellent resource for mystery authors who want to realistically extract their characters from whatever mayhem the plot has inflicted upon them. How to Survive Anything: From Animal Attacks to the End of the World (and Everything in Between) is one of several books written by Tim MacWelch and the editors of Outdoor Life Magazine (Weldon Owen, 2015).

Tim has run an outdoor survival skills training center in northern Virginia for about 20 years,, where he teaches archery, foraging, bushcraft, wilderness first aid, and similar courses to summer camps, law enforcement personnel, search and rescue teams, Boy Scouts, and all of the U.S. military services. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at a library program over the winter.

 How to Survive Anything is an oversized softbound book with metal reinforcements on the cover corners and full of color illustrations. It addresses nearly 50 dangerous situations in three groups: The Unexpected -- Everyday hazards such as severe weather, power failures, and car crashes; The Unpredictable – Earthquakes, home invasions, and plane crashes; and The Unthinkable – Kidnapping, pirates, and terrorism. The first pages in the book after the table of contents show a matrix plotting each situation on a Dangerous to Deadly/Be Prepared to Only in the Movies axis. Car crashes, for instance, are firmly on the Be Prepared side and zombie attacks are on the Only in the Movies end of the continuum. In some sections the matrix is repeated with more detail, thunderstorms are less deadly but more common than hail and flash floods are more dangerous than either.

Each section outlines the danger, lists the warning signs, and describes the appropriate response. (If you are on the beach and the water suddenly recedes well beyond its normal point, a tsunami is on the way. You have about 5 minutes to run as fast as you can.) Statistics related to the danger make interesting background reading – 50 children are mugged every day in London, usually for their mobile phones. The packing lists for emergency kits are especially useful, as are the references to essential equipment (radiation detector, car escape tool, fire extinguisher). 

 Some of the information is not new (change the batteries in smoke detectors twice a year) but it isn’t wrong and bears repeating for thoroughness. Some of the information is definitely new to me, for instance the guidance to stand in a doorway during an earthquake has been determined to be flawed.  I didn’t know black bears are more aggressive than grizzly bears either. Quite worrying considering the recent number of black bear sightings in suburban back yards. The answer? Bear spray. An illustration shows the safest seats on an airplane and the most dangerous. Another shows how to wash your hands thoroughly if you’re in the midst of a pandemic.

I could wish the book were not so flippant in spots but perhaps that says more about me than the book. Highly recommended resource for anyone who lives in a house, drives a car in the snow or on ice, flies in an airplane, goes camping or hiking in the wilderness, swims at a beach, or simply walks down the street.

  • Publisher: Weldon Owen (2015)
  • ISBN-10: 1616289503 
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616289508

Aubrey Hamilton © 2017
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal IT projects by day and reads mysteries at night.


Caroline Clemmons said...

This sounds like an interesting book to have even if it were never needed. I just wrote a book in which there was a tornado, so I needed this survival book before now. LOL Thanks for the recommendation.

Terry W. Ervin II said...

Interesting choice. Sounds like it might be worth picking up.