The Survivors Club – The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life


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This book explores the variables that affect people’s chances of survival in life-threatening situations, by examining both survivors and non-survivors, and connecting their stories with expert opinion. The takeaway is to be knowledgeable about things you can do to increase your chances of survival, should you find yourself in circumstances likely leading to death.


General Advice when things go wrong

  • Everyone in the military is taught to remember this when they find themselves in life-threatening situations: Maintain 98.6 and 3.
    • Don’t let body temperature drop below 98.6° Fahrenheit.
    • 3 refers to common ways the human body can die:
      • Die in 3 seconds without hope and spirit.
      • Die in 3 minutes without air.
      • Die in 3 hours without shelter in extreme conditions.
      • Die in 3 days without water.
      • Die in 3 weeks without food.
      • Die in 3 months without companionship or love.
  • Do not panic. 10-80-10 rule. 10% of people will react and make solid decisions in times of chaos. 80% will become statues, mentally unable to process and believe what is happening. 10% will become hysterical or do stupid things that will get them killed.
  • Do not be overly optimistic. You will continually have your expectations unmet and suffer mentally, eventually losing the will to survive. Understand you have a need to survive but be realistic about being saved.


  • When there’s smoke, you only have 90 seconds to get out before toxic gases kill you.
  • You only have a few minutes to put on the oxygen mask before you die.
  • Plus three / minus eight rule: 80% of all plane crashes occur during first 3 and last 8 minutes of the flight. Be extremely alert during these times.
  • Know where every exit is in case the closest one is blocked by fire. Count the number of rows away from you in case smoke obstructs your vision.
  • Sit in an aisle seat within 5 rows of an exit, the closer the better.
  • Buckle safety belt low and tight across hips, and keep them on after landing, in case other planes crash into you.
  • Go over an action plan with loved ones and friends before the flight to save time during an emergency. A few seconds makes the difference between life and death.
  • Stay in the brace position during takeoff and landing: feet flat on floor, head on or near the surface it will likely hit, and lean forward. This minimizes crash impact.
  • Bring a bulky, easy to hear and to put on smoke hood that offers carbon monoxide protection.
  • Always abandon luggage.
  • Wear shoes to avoid stepping on broken glass and burning metal. Wear clothing that keeps body fully covered. Don’t wear high heels, shorts, skirts, stockings, or synthetic fabrics that can melt the skin.


  • Better to be in rear facing seat so that on impact, force is distributed evenly over a large area such as your back.


  • There was a case where many died due to taking around 30 seconds just to react to a fire and start moving. Every second is important because temperature and toxic gases can kill you in approximately 90 seconds.
  • 80% of fire deaths are due to inhalation of toxic smokes and fumes.
  • Always bring a smoke hood to flights, hotels, and other places where a fire can break out. Keep one at your home’s bedside. Smoke hoods filter and provide protection from toxic fumes and gases, buying you 15-30 minutes more time to evacuate compared to only 90 seconds. Make sure they can also convert deadly carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide through a catalytic process. One-time use that lasts about 5 years, implying a cheap $1-$2 per month life insurance given the extremely low probability you will use it. has good smoke hood choices. I’ve personally decided on the iEvac.

Large objects stuck deep within the body

  • Do not take it out or move it, as you are more likely to die from doing so.
  • Do not get in a friend’s car to go to the emergency room, because too much movement will kill you.
  • Call 911 and wait for paramedics to come pick you up.

Freezing weather

  • Do not fall asleep since you can become too cold and never wake up.

Why some people are more lucky

  • More open and receptive to unexpected possibilities, tend to be more relaxed about life, and operate with heightened awareness of the world around them.
    • Psychology experiments that measured people’s luck beforehand to find commonalities:
      • Count number of photographs in a newspaper. Some sections had large font headlines such as “STOP COUNTING — THERE ARE 43 PHOTOGRAPHS IN THIS NEWSPAPER,” and “STOP COUNTING, TELL THE EXPERIMENTER YOU HAVE SEEN THIS AND WIN $250.” Lucky people were more likely to see these messages.
      • Lucky people were more likely to read it as “opportunity is now here” instead of “opportunity is nowhere.”
    • Be open to unexpected possibilities. Check for red light runners every time you cross a street.
  • More social.
    • People know about 300 other people on a first-name basis, meaning everyone has 90,000 people only two introductions away.
  • Listen to their hunches and gut instinct.
    • Anecdote: Motorcyclist was following a dancer to her destination at night. She got suspicious, and immediately sped away as soon as she stopped and saw him also stop. Two days later, the same motorcyclist had pulled out a gun and killed a cop who tried to stop him.
    • Over and over, survivors recount how gut feelings and intuition helped them overcome adversity. Their instincts are often surprisingly accurate and even more amazingly, they have no idea what lies behind their success. To them it just looks like luck, but in reality, it is all due to the remarkable inner workings of our unconscious minds.
  • Persevere in the face of failure.
    • Lucky people expect good things to happen. They’re convinced life’s most unpredictable events will consistently work out for them. They have an uncanny knack of making their wishes come true.
    • Puzzle experiment – an impossible puzzle given to lucky and unlucky people. After spending time trying to solve it, 60% of unlucky people thought it was impossible while only 30% of lucky people thought it was impossible.
    • Would you feel lucky or unlucky if you were standing in line at the bank when an armed robber enters, fires one shot, and hits you in the arm? How about slipping on loose stair carpet, falling down a flight of stairs, and twisting your ankle? Many unlucky people saw nothing but misery and despair when they imagine themselves experiencing the bad luck described in the imaginary scenarios. Lucky people were the opposite. They consistently looked on the bright side of each situation and spontaneously imagined how things could have been worse.
    • Try to be an optimist over a pessimist. See the glass half full instead of half empty.
  • Reduce accidental proneness.
    • People most prone to accidents are hyperactive, impulsive, neurotic, extroverted, and tend to use alcohol or drugs.
    • To use the word accident is to admit ignorance about the cause of something.
    • Some car crashes might qualify as indirect form of suicide. You’re depressed, angry, and not happy with your life. You neglect to take care of yourself and your car. You drive a little too fast. You make a reckless turn that’s too sharp. Wham. Your time blows out. Is it really an accident, or was it a death wish?
    • To live well and dodge bad luck, you need to focus on the state of mind of safer possibilities. Did you check the tire air pressure? Did you replace the smoke detector batteries? Did you check ski bindings? Did you tighten straps of your child’s car seat? Are you in denial about your partner’s addiction problems?
    • Take responsibility for what happens. Next time something unexpected happens, ask yourself whether it was really an accident, and whether there truly was nothing you could have done to potentially mitigate or prevent it from happening.


  • When you encounter one, try to look as large as possible, wave your hands to help it identify you’re human, avoid eye contact, speak in quiet monotone voice, and back away slowly.
  • Never turn your back, run away, or show signs of fear and weakness, as this will make them think you’re prey. Bears can run faster and catch you on any terrain.
  • Bring bear spray if you know you’ll be near bear territory.


  • Baskerville Effect: Chinese and Japanese found to have statistically significant higher cardiac deaths on the 4th day of the month, because the word four means death in Chinese and Japanese.
  • Hug the monster. Wrap your arms around fear, wrestle it under control, turn it into a driving force in your plan of attack. Survival is not about bravery and heroics. Survivors aren’t fearless. They use fear by turning it into anger and focus.

Lost on a hike

  • Stay where you are or find an open place nearby. Try to set up shelter and wait for people to find you.
  • Do not wander around for too long. You are more likely to get lost and spend unnecessary energy.

Information seekers

  • When survivors go to the movies and ball games, they notice the exit signs.
  • When they stay in high-rise hotels, they make note of the fire escapes.
  • When they face tough medical problems, they educate themselves with facts and different opinions.

Burglar alarm

  • Do not turn off the alarm. The noise can help scare intruders away.
  • Do not try to figure out why the alarm went off. You will run into the intruder if there really is one.
  • Barricade yourself with your loved ones in a safe place such as a locked door in your bedroom, bathroom, or closet. Next, call 911 and wait for assistance.

Action Items

  1. When you find yourself in a life-threatening situation, do your best to get out of the disbelief state as soon as possible, and remember to maintain 98.3 and 3. This means priorities are hope & spirit > air > shelter > water > food > companionship. Do not fall asleep in freezing situations.
  2. On airplanes, sit as close to an exit row as possible. Know where they are and count rows. Wear shoes and clothes that cover your body. Always buckle up. Get in brace position before takeoff and during landing. Be extremely alert during these two times.
  3. Sit on rear-facing seats on trains.
  4. Buy a smoke hood and bring to planes, hotels, offices, and anywhere you think a fire could start. Keep one at your home’s bedside.
  5. When an object is stuck deep in you, call 911 and wait for paramedics. Don’t try to take the object out. Don’t get on your friend’s car to go to the emergency room. Minimize movement.
  6. When you encounter a bear, appear large and wave hands, speak in quiet monotone voice, avoid eye contact, and back away slowly. Do not turn back or run away. Showing signs of fear or weakness will make bear think you’re prey.
  7. When lost on a hike and you’ve been wandering for a while, lean towards setting up shelter instead of continually trying to find your way back.
  8. When burglar alarm goes off, barricade you and your loved ones in a locked room or closet, call 911, and wait.
  9. Increase your luck by being more open and receptive to unexpected possibilities. Live everyday with heightened awareness of your environment and surroundings. Every time you cross the street, check for red light runners. Be more optimistic and social, listen to your gut instincts, and reduce accident proneness.

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