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SEAL shares survival lessons in new book

SEAL tells you how to fight off animals, survive disasters

Dec. 27, 2012 - 10:03AM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 27, 2012 - 10:03AM  |  
Former SEAL Cade Courtley used his training in the military to write a survival book that gives step-by-step instructions on the best way to survive many disasters.
Former SEAL Cade Courtley used his training in the military to write a survival book that gives step-by-step instructions on the best way to survive many disasters. (Michael Dambrosia)
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8 situations and how to survive them

Below are eight scenarios from Cade Courtley’s book and a brief outline of his tips to survive them. For more details, check out "SEAL Survival Guide: A Navy SEAL’s Secrets to Surviving Any Disaster," available on Amazon.com for $13.59.
Sinking ship
Courtley’s not talking about your day job, although some of the advice might apply. He writes about a pleasure trip gone wrong. As usual, prevention is key: Know where the life preservers are, and don’t be afraid to ask if it’s not obvious. If there is a leak, do you fix the ship or abandon it? Courtley’s book outlines some factors to help you decide, such as whether there’s a fire onboard and if tools are available to plug the leak.
Locked in a trunk
Some newer models have glow-in-the-dark trunk-release handles to make your escape easy. Find your car’s handle and know how to use it. If there isn’t a handle, disconnect the rear brake light wiring to try to get police to pull over the car.
Thrown in jail
Wrongfully incarcerated? Facing a short time behind bars for a minor offense, such as not showing up in court for a traffic violation? Don’t discuss your crime, however minor, with fellow inmates, and don’t do anything to draw attention to yourself. Make friends with someone who seems to know the ropes and follow his lead. Also, don’t tattle to a guard unless you are in serious and immediate danger — there’s nothing criminals hate more than a snitch.
In a riot
If you’re near a march or protest that could turn violent, stay on the edge to allow a quick getaway. If you see riot police, put your arms up and open your hands to show that you’re unarmed.
Trapped in an elevator
Remain calm and keep everybody else calm — panic can trigger all kinds of problems, including a heart attack. Hold tight for emergency personnel to arrive, and save the climb-up-the-elevator-shaft heroics for the movies. Real-life elevator shafts house equipment that can be deadly to an untrained person.
Mountain lion attack
Avoidance is key: Travel in groups and make noise to keep the cat from attacking in the first place. If a confrontation is inevitable, raise your arms above your head with a coat over them to look as large as possible. And don’t run — it’s not a race you can win.
Polar bear attack
Courtley doesn’t leave much hope here: If you run into a polar bear, you likely won’t live to talk about it. But if you have to go down, go down swinging at the bear’s nose and eyes. And if you’ve heard that playing dead will confuse a bear and allow you to escape, you get partial credit — black bears might leave you alone, but polar bears will enjoy the free lunch.
Car bomb
It’s all about avoiding the "boom": Be on the lookout for cars parked in restricted spaces, vehicles that may be riding low due to extra weight or anything out of place, such as a stray wire. And don’t make your car an easy target by leaving it unlocked.

What should you do if you're trapped in an elevator? Caught in a riot? Confronted by a polar bear?

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What should you do if you're trapped in an elevator? Caught in a riot? Confronted by a polar bear?

Cade Courtley, a former SEAL, has a plan for these emergencies and many others. He shares them in a new book with instructions on living through almost anything.

"You need to stop thinking, ‘This won't happen to me,' and start thinking, ‘What am I going to do if and when this happens to me?'" Courtley said.

"SEAL Survival Guide: A Navy SEAL's Secrets to Surviving Any Disaster" came out Dec. 4 and was inspired by the former lieutenant's nine-year military career. Courtley served on both East and West Coast-based special warfare units, according to Navy records.

He has not, however, personally survived the numerous scenarios he writes about. For example, he's never been in a carjacking, weathered a nuclear explosion or fended off a mountain lion.

But he said his training has prepared him in the event any of these things happens.

"It's kind of all about survival when you're in the SEALs," said Courtley, who also hosted the SpikeTV show "Surviving Disaster," which lasted one season in 2009. "You're just trying to survive training and all the stuff we go out and do. I took that and applied it to some of the dangers we're facing today. It only made sense to me, that I could take all that training and all that experience and help other people."

Along with giving some step-by-step instructions for specific situations, the book discusses basic survival medicine, how to pack a "go-bag" and how to choose the right weapon for your predicament.

The book also includes anecdotes of Courtley's time as a SEAL, such as when one of his teammates killed an enemy with a toaster oven in Iraq — part of a chapter on improvised weapons.

Not all the information will be new for military members — the first chapter stresses situational awareness, for example — but Courtley said family members could benefit from his approach. And the specific cases the former SEAL reviews could help sailors apply their military skills in other settings.

"Somebody who is in the military … already understands some of the concepts I talked about," he said. "They'd be able to get into the meat of the book as far as, ‘I've never thought about that in terms of a home invasion: What would I do if someone busted in my door at 2 a.m.?' "

Some situations are all-too-familiar tragedies — a chapter on "active shooter" incidents, for example, and sections on natural disasters, such as floods and hurricanes. But there's also a passage on fighting a polar bear, and how to build a "solar still," which allows someone lost in the desert to evaporate and collect water from cactus pieces.

Though many of the emergency situations in the book may seem unlikely, Courtley said he takes safety and education very seriously because he knows it can save lives.

"I've already received a couple emails. Someone who read the book had a fire at his apartment. He and his two sons did everything I described in the book, and it helped people out," Courtley said. "I hope I get a lot more of those. It'll make everything worth it."

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