19 Life-Saving Facts That Everyone Should Know

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Chris Weller

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Just about everyone knows that you should never text and drive, and that you should stop, drop, and roll if you catch on fire.

But life can also throw situations at us for which we don't have a quick, handy response.


Commenters in a recent Quora thread about life-saving facts offered their best tips, which are easy to remember and could have a huge impact if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation.

You might want to save these for later.

Your brain can't handle walking and using your phone at the same time — so look up

Flickr / Robert Couse-Baker


Safety adviser Murali Krishnan points out that walking and using your phone both demand large amounts of cognitive effort. 

As a result, you can't fully focus on both at the same time in the same way you can with walking and gum-chewing, for instance. You'll suffer "inattention blindness," where you may see an object but not process that it's a car speeding toward you.

Eliminate your car's blind spots by adjusting your mirrors properly

Reuters/Olivia Harris


Blind spots aren't inevitable in all vehicles, argues user Kristen Rush. 

By adjusting your mirrors so that you barely see the edges of your own car, you can effectively eliminate the blind spots on the sides of the vehicle. The rear-view mirror should be able to locate any car behind yours. It's worth the few seconds it takes to adjust these when you get in the driver's seat.

Heat transfers faster through liquid than gas, so keep warm by staying dry



There's a connection between being wet and getting cold, and vice versa for heat, says engineer Lia Lavoie

To ensure your body temperature doesn't fall too quickly in cold environments, invest in clothes made of wool instead of cotton — they'll absorb more moisture so that dampness doesn't linger on your skin. And, of course, do your best to stay dry.

Don't eat snow for hydration unless you absolutely have to

Brian Cavan/Flickr


Lavoie also points out that your body uses a great deal of energy to convert matter from one state to another.

That's why he says you should only eat snow as a substitute for water as a last resort. In gaining that small amount of hydration, you'll give up precious body heat.

If your plane makes a water landing, your best bet is to inflate your life jacket after you exit the plane

Flickr / Barbara Eckstein


User Alvin Yip warns against the impulse to inflate your life jacket immediately if a plane is making an emergency landing on water. The water that could rush into the cabin makes it harder to move if you're more buoyant. 

So swim to an exit, then inflate your jacket to stay afloat.

You can perform the Heimlich maneuver on yourself

Wikimedia Commons


Few people realize that they don't need someone else to dislodge a piece of food from their throat.

Naman Mitruka explains how to perform the Heimlich on yourself:

  1. Form a fist with your stronger hand below your rib cage and just above the navel. Place your other palm over the fist to push more firmly.

    2. Drive your fist in and up in the diaphragm area (the top of your stomach) forcefully and repeat several times until the object that's stuck in your throat gets dislodged.


Keep maximum-strength antihistamines in your wallet or bag when you go somewhere new


Scott Olson / Getty Images

You never know when you'll encounter something that you didn't know you're allergic to, especially when camping or hiking, according to user Ryan Borek.

Hitting someone with a stick could prevent them from fatal electrocution

Reuters/Andrew Burton


Electrocution instantly causes the muscles in a person's body to tense up. This is dangerous because it means a person holding a live wire can't let go. 

Ideally, you'll be able to turn off the source of the electricity in this kind of situation, Alex Elderfield explains. But if that's not possible, you can help the person (without getting electrocuted yourself) by breaking the circuit. The simplest way to do that is to find a long hard object, like a stick, and give the person a firm whack.

The limits of the human body tend to follow a "Rule of 3"



Survivalists have a shorthand for knowing their limits, Ruchin Agarwal says.

People can generally go three minutes without air, three hours without shelter in extreme weather environments, three days without water, and three weeks without food.

If cooking oil catches fire, turn off the burner and cover the pot

State Farm/Flickr


Ruchin Agarwal also explains that people should never use water to put out grease fires. The water molecules sink to the bottom of the hot pan, evaporate instantly, and shoot the flames even higher.

Instead, you can put an oil fire out by cutting the heat and taking away the oxygen.

If you get stabbed or impaled by a sharp object, leave it be



Pulling out an object that has been lodged in your body will increase the rate of blood loss, Thomas Mei explains. Instead, try to cover the wound and do anything you can to stop the bleeding until you find a medical professional.

Most airplane crashes happen within the three minutes after take off or eight minutes before landing

Adnan Abidi/Reuters

According to Sanket Shah, aviation safety abides by the +3/-8 rule, which encourages people to be vigilant immediately after take off and right before landing — 80% of crashes happen during those times.


You can use those short periods of time to stay alert and locate exits rather than getting lost in a podcast or movie.

Most deaths in house fires are caused by smoke inhalation, not burns


Stay low to the ground to avoid breathing in too much smoke, says Harsh Sharma.


If you get hurt in a public place, single out one person for help to avoid the bystander effect

Getty Images

Sharma also notes the well-studied psychological phenomenon in which crowds of people fail to help somebody because they all think someone else will intervene.

If you're not too hurt to call out for help, pick one person and direct your pleas to them. You'll be more likely to get the aid you need.


A bright flashlight could be your greatest weapon against an attacker

Markus Tacker/Flickr

Instead of using mace or a weapon, an extremely bright flashlight can also effectively ward off a mugger, user Sanket Shah claims.

"If you have someone approaching you that seems aggressive, in the gravest extreme, a blast of300+ lumen to the eyes (especially at night) will give you the opportunity to get out," he says. "And suppose you miss-read the situation; no one is really harmed and you can't get in trouble for it."


If you get lost on a hike, try to find a fence or stream

Thomson Reuters

"The stream always flows downhill and invariably will reach a larger tributary or a body of water," says user Jon Mixon.

Meanwhile, the fence will almost always lead to a road or a structure.


Use condoms as makeshift water storage

Adam Jones/Flickr

Condoms are incredibly elastic. As user Janis Butevics points out, you can use that to your advantage if you need a quick way to store large volumes of water. They essentially act like bladders and are capable of holding a gallon of water.

"They can also be used to protect against water, as a stretchable cover for valuable items like matches and walkie-talkies," Butevics says.


Picking out exits ahead of time will cut through your "normalcy bias"

Angelo Giampiccolo/Shutterstock

When local governments send out warnings about natural disasters, many people stay put even when told to evacuate. As John Ewing explains, psychologists call the phenomenon the "normalcy bias." It refers to people's tendency to think everything will turn out OK even when they're clearly in danger.

Ewing says people can break out of their normalcy bias cycle by locating multiple exits when they're out in public, such as at the movies or in a restaurant. Mentally preparing for a dangerous situation will train you to be vigilant.


Downed power lines are lethal


As Cal DeBouvre explains, the voltage in a downed power line is high enough to push electricity through the dirt nearby. "If you spot a downed power line walk the other way and call the police immediately," he says.

If a line falls near you, keep your feet together and jump or shuffle away. If you take normal steps, you're at risk of conducting electricity in your body since the current can flow through both legs separately.



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