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I am reading the book Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales, which is a work several of you already know. In the book, the author draws common lessons for surviving emergency situations based on analyses of many different survival stories. While the stories are interesting in themselves, I think the book is plagued with "fluff" and long-winded writing.

At the end, Gonzales recaps all of the ideas, which I now present here for your review. The basic idea seems to be: Be prepared (mentally, emotionally, and materially), use your head at all times, stay positive, and never give up. Tell me what you think.

How to stay out of emergency situations in the first place:
1) Don’t partake in dangerous activities (rock climbing, bungee jumping, long trip in small boat, etc). Trust your instincts about people (their trustworthiness and their reliability in emergencies are major considerations) and situations and err on the side of caution.
2) Always be prepared with the necessary equipment and knowledge (like outdoorsman skills) to safely get out of situations that might become full-blown emergencies without prudent action. Knowledge of common mistakes people make in the same situations is particularly useful. Take it seriously if significant numbers of people have died in a certain area thanks to common causes (many people have fallen off the cliff). Also know about particular local threats (mountaintop has sudden bouts of extreme weather, calm beach actually has riptide, etc.).
3) Avoid impulsive behavior (think before you act), don’t hurry (be patient), and don’t stick to your original plan no matter what (be flexible).
4) Always be aware of your environment (includes having a basic idea of where you are at all times), and of changes that have happened or appear to be happening to it (especially relating to weather and terrain). Be flexible and adjust to these changes intelligently, even if changing your original plans is displeasing: Be prepared to call off the camping trip if a snowstorm suddenly threatens to move in, even if it will be very disappointing to everybody. Go with backup plans for escaping problems or doing alternative activities that will also be satisfying.
5) Never become overconfident in your own abilities: Know your limitations and understand that you can easily die from one mistake. Just because you have taken a bunch of survival classes and gone camping several times doesn’t mean you can blindly walk into the wilderness and automatically “figure out” how to surmount any problem. Your knowledge is always incomplete, and your competency is always imperfect.
6) If you get lost, the smartest thing to do is to admit it quickly and start retracing your steps. This will probably keep a minor mistake from becoming a major emergency. Assuming that you are smart enough to “figure it out” if you just keep going forward might lead to a survival situation.
7) Realize that sometimes, even if you do everything right, you might be plunged into an emergency situation anyway by forces beyond your control.

How to deal with emergencies once they happen:
1) Accept the situation. Don’t remain in denial.
2) Once you accept your misfortune, don’t panic or be overwhelmed by it. Use humor and be thankful for whatever went right (like you’re not dead yet). Don’t succumb to negative emotions, and never conclude that the situation is hopeless.
3) Sit down and calmly think for several minutes at least. Look around at your environment and think of what things could be useful to you. If lost, recall what you know about your area from maps, and then calmly look around the scene to see if anything matches. Make a plan for surviving or getting yourself out of the predicament. Even if escape seems hopelessly monumental, break it down into small, manageable tasks that you can handle. Remember that even a 1% chance of success is better than nothing. Once you are confident that your plan is the best one you can produce, begin execution, but don’t rush off without a good idea of what you’re doing.
4) Keep focused and don’t get sloppy during the execution of your plans (don’t have a second accident while escaping from the initial one). Be open to changing the plan, but only if you go have a very good reason to do so. Celebrate minor successes along the way to keep upbeat. Keep reminding yourself you’re lucky to be alive.
5) Don’t let your mind dwell on your current miseries. This will overwhelm you. Play mental games, relive old memories, think of something funny, etc. to keep occupied.
6) Even if things seem to be getting worse, never ever surrender to death and despair. Always try something to survive, even if it seems hopeless.
7) Never try to be a “macho man”: If you are tired, rest (probably a good idea to do this every hour). Always favor taking the path of least resistance (walk around the mountain rather than over it). Also, stay in tune with your body. Treat injuries as soon as possible. Eat and drink when you feel the urge. Build a fire and/or put on extra clothes when you are cold, etc.
8) Realize that, even if you do everything right to get out of an emergency situation, you might die anyway.
 
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