Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Caaaaaalm Down!

From Pam's Planet
Last night there was a fairly epic car accident outside my house. Only one car was involved (which was very lucky for the woman who happened to be driving there as well). I heard the screeching of suddenly braking tires just before the sound of the car hitting another object then the barrel sound of it rolling up the street. Not on its tires. Side over side!

I jumped up from my desk and ran to the window just in time to see the car roll out of sight. I threw some shoes on, ran downstairs and grabbed a jacket on my way out the door, and commanded my mother to call 9-1-1. I called over my shoulder on the way out the door, “Do it now! There is smoke coming from the car!”

The air was heavy with an acrid smelling mist. There was no smell of fire, so it was probably not smoke. Chances are good that my neighbors and I were inhaling fluids that vaporized as they escaped the up-turned vehicle. I let the other people know that emergency services had been called and were on their way (every household had probably called), then I checked on the girl who had been driving in the opposite direction. She was okay, but shaken up and gave me a brief account of what had happened.

The other vehicle had been speeding. She said he had to have been going at least fifty in the thirty mile an hour zone. As he came around the bend, he lost control of his car and fishtailed. His blue Buick was momentarily on the wrong side of the road and nearly rammed her silver Jeep. He veered away, but must have over compensated because he hit the sidewalk which caused the car to leap into the air, take out a mailbox and part of a stone wall before it started to roll.

I think he was going more than 50 MPH.

As you may have guessed, I live on a dangerous part of a busy street. Over the years, we have seen more than a few rather nasty accidents. As I reacted and watched the others react to the situation, something occurred to me: we stayed calm and worked as a team. (Well, most of us stayed calm. One neighbor, who is married with children and has dogs, was panicking and yelling about the state of his next-door neighbor’s wall and mailbox. He also noted that a similar lone car accident had happened last month. I’m sure part of his panic came from thinking of what would have happened had his kids been out there or his wife or even his dogs.)

Had the rest of us panicked
  • no one would have called for help;
  • no one would have thought to keep the car from falling over onto the roof;
  • no one would have tried to convince the driver of the overturned vehicle that he should stay put until emergency help arrived;
  • no one would have checked on the driver of the other car to make sure that she was okay; and 
  • no one would have thought to convince the other driver to give the police a statement about what happened.
The people of my neighborhood have a unique distinction: because of the accidents we’ve seen and the trouble that has spontaneously erupted in front of our houses, we stay calm in the face of horrific events as a matter of course.

Telling you to stay calm during an apocalypse would be like telling grass not to bend in a strong breeze.

However, you should try to stay as calm as you can. Panic is the enemy and could get you, or others, killed. It gets in the way of rational thought. Without rational thought, people wouldn’t get help, they help others, or know to maintain a situation or improve it if possible.

To combat panic, use a cliché: practice makes perfect. Don’t go running cars off of roads or setting your neighbors’ house on fire. Instead, play video games that simulate emergencies. This will help sharpen your reflexes, improve your reaction times, and give you the opportunity to come up with various plans of action.

If video games aren’t your thing or if you just want to get out of the house, take a survival course or role play with a group of friends. Simulate events that require the participants to keep calm and stay level. Paintball and Capture the Flag are great group activities that require the participants to think clearly, plan ahead, and avoid panic.

How will you prepare yourself to stay as calm and clear headed as possible during the apocalypse? Tell us in the comments!

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