Greetings once again. I received some sad news this week; a man I spent time in the military with died in his car, when he drove off an embankment and into the water. He apparently fell asleep at the wheel and then got trapped in his car. The worst part of this is that he knew better, yet he still died.
There are actually a couple of separate things that worked together to make this tragedy happen. It started when he decided to drive home, a lengthy distance, even though he knew he was too tired to drive. Now, I’ve got to say that I’ve made that mistake many a time myself. I’m probably one of the world’s true champions at falling asleep at the wheel. Not a distinction I really want to have.
But I’ve learned my lesson. First of all, I avoid driving when I’m tired. If I have to sleep overnight in my car, rather than fall asleep at the wheel, then that’s what I’ll do. There’s nothing so important that it’s worth dying over, and a few hours sleep is usually enough to get back on the road again.
In addition, I’ve learned a number of tricks to help keep myself awake. Music helps with this, as well as eating something like sunflower seeds. I’m a good customer of the sunflower seed companies. But I’ve also found that smoking a pipe helps.
Now, I don’t actually smoke a pipe. I did so years ago. But I gave that up. While pipes aren’t as unhealthy as cigarettes, they’re still not healthy. So what I do is “smoke” a cold pipe. In other words, there’s no tobacco in it and it’s not lit. All I’m doing is putting a pipe in my mouth. The thing is, because I used to smoke it, I fiddle with the pipe, just as if I was smoking it. That’s enough to keep me awake.
The second problem with my friend is that he apparently wasn’t prepared for that emergency. You know, having the knowledge isn’t enough, if you don’t use it. I’m quite sure that my friend knew to wait for the car to fill with water, knew that he needed to break the window, instead of trying to open the door and knew that he needed something to break the glass with. But for some reason, he didn’t do it.
Now, there are several reasons why he might not have done what he was supposed to do, and I’m not really sure which one he messed up on. But as I was sharing this story with another buddy, he popped open his glove box and showed me his combination glass breaker and belt cutter. He was ready… at least he thought he was.
But I don’t think he was ready. When he popped open the glove box, it looked like many a glove box I’ve seen before; stuffed to the gills with papers, maps, spare fuses for his car and who knows what else. His handy-dandy survive driving your car into the water tool was buried. It took him a while to find it.
I couldn’t help thinking that his all-in-one survival tool wasn’t going to do him much good if he ever needed it. But what he was doing was the same thing that a lot of people do. He was thinking that just having it was enough. He hadn’t thought the crisis through. Because of that, he didn’t really have a plan for using that rescue tool, he just assumed that he could.
It would be extra sad if my Army buddy died for the same lack of forethought. You see, it took several minutes to find the rescue tool, even though we were sitting in his driveway in broad daylight. How much harder would it be to find that tool, if it was night time and the car was sinking in the water? He would have to find it by feel, which would be quite a task, considering all the other junk he had to dig through.
As we discussed it, my buddy mentioned moving the tool to the console. That idea lasted about ten seconds; just long enough for me to look inside the console. It was about as bad as his glove box. Then he mentioned putting it in an open tray behind the gear shift. That sounded pretty good, until we walked through the scenario. Chances are that the tool wouldn’t stay in place. We finally came to the realization that the only practical place to keep the tool, was firmly clipped to the driver’s seatbelt.
While that may sound a bit odd, it really makes sense. That’s the one place that the driver can be sure of finding, no matter what. Not only that, it’s within reach, without having to stretch. Considering that the seat belt needs to be cut too, it ensures that the tool and the need are close together. Finally, it was a place where the tool couldn’t get lost. It was the ideal location.
This wasn’t the only such situation I’ve run across like this. All too many of us think that just having the right stuff is enough. But a lot of that right stuff has to be in the right place, or it’s really not going to do us a whole lot of good.
It’s like having a gun in your nightstand, when a criminal kicks in your front door. They’re not going to wait for you to run to the bedroom and get your gun. You’d better have it on you or within reach, or that gun isn’t going to do you a bit of good. In fact, the crook will probably just steal it.
Survival is more than just buying fancy toys and stockpiling supplies, it’s a way of life. More than that, it has to become a way of thinking. If you can’t think through how you’ll survive a situation when things are calm, you won’t be able to do so, when everything goes to pot. The mental exercise of thinking through scenarios and how you’ll deal with them, is an important part of your survival. Make sure that you take the time to do so.
In the mean time, keep your powder dry and your survival equipment close at hand (like on your seatbelt),
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