SURVIVAL: 3 Big Mistakes People Make in Survival Situations


In this article I will identify what I feel are the 3 biggest mistakes that people make in survival situations.  Before you read on realize that the term “Survival Situation” does not mean a Collapse scenario, it means a Collapse scenario, lost in the woods, a gunman in your building or even a burglar in your home. 


This can also be phrased as “Wait for help or not wait for help”, I also realize that this seems like not the greatest advice since I am telling you two opposite things; let me elaborate.

Every situation will dictate your reaction to it, so there is NO real silver bullet for every survival situation.

Take for instance a Shooter in your building.  Say you work in a large office building selling insurance, there was a big set of layoffs 3 weeks ago and many people left with chips on their shoulder.  You start the day as you normally do, but a few hours after you get there you head 4 loud bangs on your floor, people start to scream in the hallway and your coworkers begin to freak out.  Months back your company had passed out a paper for what to do during emergencies, they recommended that in the case of a gunmen in the building that all workers were to shelter in place, that is to stay where they were get under their desks and hide.  The closest worker to the door was to lock it and then go to their shelter in place area.

In this scenario someone does lock the door to your area of cubicles, the gun shots get closer and then the door handle jiggles, then the door hand is shot out and the door swings wide open and you hear the shots begin to ring out every few seconds as the steps go from one cubicle to the next….

Now we saw how Shelter in Place did not work during the Navy Yard Shooting, as people made themselves non moving targets, the one thing you dont want to be when someone has a gun.

Anyone who has ever been trained to deal with being shot at knows that the best defense against a gunmen is having a gun yourself, the second best thing to do (and sometimes in conjunction with the first) is to make yourself a moving target away from them, zig zagging in different directions to complicate their ability to use accurate fire upon you.  Sheltering in place is not a good idea.  In reality shelter in place is more for the Cops than for you in my opinion, in a mass shooting scenario if everyone is sitting still then whoever is up and moving is more likely the target, and this way cops can more easily engage the target without having to pick them out of a crowd, this is fine for the cops and makes their job easier, but not for you as you hear the gunmen moving towards you as (s)he shoots everyone in the cubicles as he moves your way.

You need to identify exits wherever you are at all times, especially in places you spend a lot of time like work, have exit strategies. 

However on the flip side, say you were traveling in a small commuter plane going fishing in the back country, the plan loses power and you crash land, you survive the crash however you are 100 miles from the nearest town.  Now many people would instinctively think they should get up and start walking to find someone to get help.  In this case however your best chance of being rescued will be to stay with the wreckage; search planes will be dispatched once family and friends and the pilots company realizes you never came back, never checked in, etc.  Search planes will more easily see the wreckage than you walking through the woods. 

As I mentioned in the beginning every scenario will give you this decision to make, stay or go, and each will have a different correct decision to make.

There is no silver bullet decision, one size fits all, however the silver bullet to make that decision is available and it is simple.

“What will increase my survival” once you figure this out your decision can be made. 



p>The vast majority of folks have never been faced with a true survival situation, never been shot at, never seen death, never been truly tested.  It is a normal human reaction to feel revulsion at these things that clash with what they consider “normal” and have experienced their whole lives.

We see this even in those who have been trained to fight wars, spent years or even decades readying themselves to perform in combat, the first time they see a dead body they freeze, or the first time they have to pull the trigger they do not.  Now military/Police Training severely cuts down these numbers through training and desensitizing that individual to the horrible things they will have to do and see.  However if this can still happen to people with this level of training, don’t think it could happen to you in any situation.

The key to this is to recognize that you what you may see is not normal and your initial reaction may be to freeze or panic, recognize this and you will not be in this state for very long, dont deny it through machismo or bravado ideals of yourself.

The Greatest thing that you can do is to prepared yourself.

Clear thinking is the greatest weapon you can have in your arsenal of survival tools, Recognize the horror you see and move one

If we are not talking about a situation where there is a imminent threat to your life at that exact moment like a shooter or a fire that will surround you, take a moment and a couple deep breaths and think “what do i need to do next”.  Think back to the mental training that you have been giving yourself off these months and years since you decided to embrace preparedness instead of sticking your head in the sand, you WILL come up with the solution and you WILL survive.  Tell yourself “I WILL SURVIVE”.


Most people are inherently good (in my opinion), only a small percentage of folks are inherently evil (or bad if you prefer) and the others that are bad are so because of the situations they have been placed in and then become ingrained into that lifestyle.

As Good people we are often not ready to do what is needed to survive, and you need to ready yourself to be able to make those decisions.

I am not talking about looting or killing people for their food, I would never advocate becoming some immoral thief.

What I am talking about is making the decision to survive, for an example in the scenario i posted above about a shooter in your building, is not do what the “good” people do and follow directions, get up and run to the nearest exit, get out of there.  If you cannot grab the nearest object you can use as a weapon and take down that threat.  This is not something “good” people do, it is also not something “bad” people do, it is something that someone who has a will to survive does.

Within this category we can talk about being a prepper in a generalized sense, however more than likely you have already made this decision and have some food socked away, etc.  In this way you have the mindset in partial of what is needed to survive, but this is not enough.

However many of us focus on the bigger things, the bigger disasters and yet we disregard the smaller things that can happen to us, in this way we are not recognizing what is needed to survive.  That is to embrace the full spectrum of survival, to recognize that the smaller things are more likely to happen and more likely to happen NOW vs the bigger crisis that MAY happen later.

Do you have what is needed to survive a few days in your car if it broke down on a back country road? Or In a Snowstorm?  could you fix a busted tire, refill with gas?  Do you have what is needed to keep yourself warm?

Do you have a small go bag available at work with a method to use a defense weapon (whatever is legal in your area or office place)?  Do you have maps?

Recognize that you are not prepared in all areas, I know I am not, And then refocus yourself on what is needed to cover your deficiencies in those areas, instead of making the less likely more redundant.

I am not saying STOP stocking up food, I am saying that you are not really “ready” to survive if you have 3 years of food in your garage but a disaster strikes while you are visiting family hundreds of miles away and you don’t know how to read maps or find your way back.

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Updated: April 22, 2014 — 5:13 pm

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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