Neil Strauss
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A fun and entertaining story about the author's life as he finds ways to tackle his sense of vulnerability and ill-preparedness to deal with situations ranging from natural disasters to full-on apocalypse.


There is a theory called memetics, which suggests that ideas move through culture much like viruses. Thanks to the catalysts of 9/11 and Katrina, the escapist meme had clearly spread from the minds of fringe extremists to early adopters in mainstream society.

Five criteria required of the host country (second citizenship):

  1. Must have a credible passport providing a wide network of visa-free travel.
  2. Must be politically and regionally stable, with a low crime rate.
  3. Must not significantly increase tax liability.
  4. Must not require more than two years of residency for citizenship.
  5. Preferably in a warm climate with beaches.

“Because this makes economic sense,” Spencer replied coolly. “Do you have insurance for fires, theft, and illness?” “Of course,” Howard replied. “Which means you agree that a certain portion of your income should be allocated to protect you against catastrophes, even if they’re low-probability events.”

And because the future is unknown, no matter how good or bad things may be today, it will always be a threat. So, ultimately, the sole arbiter of what’s paranoia and what’s common sense is what happens tomorrow. You’re only paranoid if you’re wrong. If you’re right, you’re a prophet.


Bugging out — slang for leaving your home to go somewhere safe.

  • Bug-out bag — full of survival supplies for the road.
  • Bug-out vehicle — to get you out of the impact zone and through traffic as quickly as possible.
  • Bug-out location — stocked with enough provisions to get you through whatever crisis is occurring.

The average person, I learned, needs three litres of water a day to survive.


The five second rule — if the fire doesn’t get smaller or go out within five seconds, evacuate immediately.

Putting out a fire — always aim the nozzle at the base of a fire, where the flames are interacting with the fuel.


B-NICE — an ancroym to remember the different types of terrorist threats: biological, nuclear, incendiary, chemical, explosive.

In the event of a nuclear attack — hole up in either a basement or the third-from-the-top floor of the highest building around, then cover all cracks and openings with plastic and duct tape.

If you're in a public area and someone sets of a dirty bomb — you have roughly thirty minutes to decontaminate. Cover your nose and mouth immediately with anything that wasn’t exposed. If you have to remove contaminated clothing, don’t pull it over your head. Cut it off.

  • If you rush toward the exits with everyone else, you risk not only being trampled but also getting injured by a secondary device planted there. Instead, head to the bathroom, find the sprinkler, bust it open, and decontaminate yourself.”

If you’re ever in a public area and someone starts spraying gunfire, get down on your stomach with your feet pointed toward the attacker, your face positioned away, and your hands covering your head. This way, it’s less likely that the bullets will hit your vital organs.


“One of the major rules of survival with all living things is conservation of energy.”

Tracking — Every movement people make affects their posture, balance, and weight distribution, which changes the pressure they put on the ground and alters their footprint.

When lost, individuals generally circle in the direction of their dominant hand. And though they may think they’re traveling in a straight line, they’re usually circling within the same square-mile area.

Tha sacred order of wilderness survival — shelter, water, fire, food.

Finiding water — Cutting a wild grapevine would produce water. Chewing thistle stalk (after removing the thorns, of course) would temporarily mitigate thirst. The small amount of liquid in cactuses is generally too bitter to drink. If stranded at sea, you could drink fish spinal fluid, the liquid around fish eyes, and turtle blood.

  • Don't eat meat when dehydrated, because breaking down food leads to further water loss.

How to build a solar still

  • Dig a hole roughly two-feet deep and placed a cup in the middle.
  • Scatter green leaves, grass (vegetation) in the hole around the cup.
  • If there’s no foliage available, the solar still will still work if you pee in the hole or use a puddle of sea water.

The three key qualities for wilderness survival nature awareness, physical fitness, and self-mastery.

The most important survival skill to have was faith. As Viktor Frankl put it, “Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on.” (see Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl)

Urban Escape and Evasion

Learn to hot-wire a car, pick locks, conceal your identity, and escape from handcuffs, flexi-cuffs, duct tape, rope, and nearly every other type of restraint.

e.g. using generic keys known as jigglers to open automobile doors, and starting cars by sticking a screwdriver in the ignition switch and turning it with a wrench.

Build caches — hiding places where food, equipment, and other survival supplies can be stored away from home, whether buried in the ground or stashed in a bus-station locker.

Extra Credit

Tsunami — Note that one visible sign of a coming tsunami is water suddenly receding from the shoreline.

Pandemic — The key to surviving an infectious disease outbreak is social distancing: Don’t go to work, public gatherings, social events, airports, and other confined public spaces unless absolutely necessary.

Emergency Preparedness Myths That Can Kill You

MYTH: If stranded in the desert, you can get water from a cactus.

MYTH: If attacked by a shark, punch it in the nose.

  • Instead, if an attack is otherwise unavoidable, strike the eyes and the gills as rapidly and hard as possible

MYTH: If stranded at sea with no water, you can drink your own urine to survive.

  • Legitimate sources of hydration in the ocean include rainwater, solar stills, turtle blood, and fluid from the spine and around the eyes of fish.

MYTH: In the event of an electrical fire, unplug the appliance immediately.

  • Go to the circuit box and trip the specific breaker

MYTH: If stabbed or impaled by something, pull out the knife or object.

  • This may look cool in movies, but never pull a knife or any other penetrating object from a wound. Call 911, leave the object in place, and pack a bulky dressing around it to keep it stabilized.