Modern Survival: How to Cope When Everything Falls Apart

Modern Survival: How to Cope When Everything Falls Apart

by Barry Davies


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Tornadoes, floods, and terrorism—frightening events like these are in the news every day, and it’s likely you already know someone who’s been affected by such a terrifying ordeal. Modern Survival is the ultimate guide for all you need to know about surviving in the modern world. Barry Davies, who spent eighteen years in the British Special Air Service, teaches readers how to go on living with the bare necessities when everything you knew as normal suddenly slips away. From war to earthquakes, Davies will help you prepare so that you’re not only able to survive, but are also able to continue on with your life healthily and successfully once the dust has settled.

Be prepared for anything and everything, including:

Natural disaster
Biological and chemical warfare
Government shutdown
And much more!

This is the guide to keep by your side when all else fails.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781616085520
Publisher: Skyhorse
Publication date: 04/01/2012
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Barry Davies, BEM spent eighteen years in the British Special Air Service serving around the globe. He participated in the storming of the hijacked Lufthansa plane at Mogadishu in 1977 and was awarded the British Empire Medal. He is the author of The Complete SAS Survival Manual and The SAS Self-Defense Handbook. Davies lives in England.

Read an Excerpt



When a major disaster happens and you are caught in the middle of it, you quickly realize that you're nothing more than a speck of dust at the mercy of nature. The aim of writing this book is to provide some clear guidelines which, in the worst case scenario, will act as a catalyst, should the reader find themselves in a disaster situation, either natural or man-made. In the past, I have written several survival books, and while I am proud of these, they are more formal in their structure towards survival techniques. With Modern Survival, I want to go beyond this structure and offer genuine advice that will help and assist anyone who is caught up in an unforeseen situation.

So what situations are we talking about? Well, you could have been a tourist on the beaches of Thailand in 2004. You may have been an aid worker in Haiti during the massive earthquake of 2010; likewise, you may have been a fisherman on the Northeast coast of Japan on March 11, 2011. Conversely, you could simply be a soldier doing your patriotic duty in Afghanistan, Iraq, or any of the many countries currently in conflict. It is not just the soldiers that are in danger, as each year, thousands of families and ordinary people become ensnared in various 'War Zones.' In all of these cases, you would have experienced a disaster first-hand.


Make no mistake, we are in danger because natural and man-made disasters (including wars), seem to be escalating and affecting an increasingly large number of people throughout the world. Major efforts have been made to make sure we are better prepared for, and are able to prevent serious deaths from, such disasters. While the cause of many natural disasters has not been accurately established, the role of humans in climate change is starting to come to the forefront.

The world's climate varies naturally as a result of three main attributes:

1. The way the ocean and the atmosphere interact with each other.

2. Changes in the earth's orbit.

3. Changes in energy received from the sun.

Now there is strong evidence that global warming is not due just to natural causes, but as a result of human behavior.

In 1966 I would fly to Asia, and, to alleviate the boredom of such a long flight, I would often look out the aircraft window. On occasion, I could see a small cluster of lights indicating a small village or town. By comparison, in 2011, if you took the same flight to Asia, all you would see are billions of burning lights from homes and floodlit streets. Have you ever felt the amount of heat a single light bulb generates? Imagine the heat from several billion light bulbs. I am not saying light bulbs are responsible for global warming, I merely wish to point out the difference in the amount of heat being produced over the past forty-five years, from one single source. Thus, the concentration of CO in the earth's atmosphere is now higher than at any time than in the past 800,000 years.

Additionally, since the 1960s, there has been a massive rise in population, especially in the developing nations, up to tenfold in the past 100 years. For example, in 1950, there were around two and one-half billion people on the planet. Today, we are touching seven billion, with almost a third living in India and China.

Author's Note: I am not a scientist, and I do not proclaim to be an alarmist on climate change, but one thing I do know is that people are producing too much heat. We are told that the planet is becoming hotter due to the so-called 'greenhouse gases,' which are necessary to sustain life on earth. Like the glass walls of a greenhouse, they let the sun's rays enter, but stop some of the heat from escaping, keeping the planet warm enough to sustain life. The problem is that the number of people is increasing, which causes more greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere thus encouraging the greenhouse effect to become stronger. More heat is trapped, and the earth's climate begins to change unnaturally.

There is also some disparity in the amount of deaths caused by disasters. For example, between 1980 and 2002, India experienced fourteen earthquakes that killed a total of 32,117 people, while the United States experienced eighteen earthquakes that killed only 143 people. A disproportionate share of the deaths caused by such environmental disasters took place in nations whose incomes were below $760 per-capita (IPCC 2001). In 1999, Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, made this statement:

Nuclear plant at Prypait, Ukraine. (Source: Russian Government) "Ninety percent of the disaster victims worldwide live in developing countries where poverty and population pressures force growing numbers of poor people to live in harm's way on flood plains, in earthquake prone zones and on unstable hillsides. Unsafe buildings compound the risks. The vulnerability of those living in risk prone areas is perhaps the single most important cause of disaster casualties and damage."

As for man-made disasters, we have had the odd nuclear reactor meltdown, the odd chemical leak, and more than the odd war or two. The largest industrial disaster on record happened in Bhopal, India, when a faulty tank containing poisonous methyl isocyanate escaped at the American-owned Union Carbide plant. The death toll was estimated to be between 4,000 and 20,000. Those that have visited India will understand why these estimated figures are so wide, as there are people everywhere, and many so poor that they are not even counted. In April 1986, the Russians lost control of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Prypait, Ukraine. Some fifty people were killed by a steam explosion, and an estimated 4,000 additional cancer deaths in the years that followed. While we have learned not to stage world wars, we still face many small and costly (in terms of lives) wars around the planet. Most are to depose a dictator, or what the Western nations would term as 'repressive regime,' or some invader looking for more territory or assets (such as oil). For whatever reason, wars, no matter how big or small, kill many innocent people and disrupt millions of lives.

So here we are, faced with a disaster, injury, or death, and an uncertain future. The question then lies, "What are we to do?" Remember the motto, 'Knowledge Dispels Fear.' If nothing else, this should be a catalyst to get you thinking.


Thousands Killed

Millions Homeless

The Threat of Disease

Costs Running into the Billions

These are the headlines we read or watch daily on our television sets. What we don't get from the media is the feeling that these poor souls are actually suffering. For some people, such as those living in Mogadishu, war, famine, and death are an everyday nightmare. They are forced by circumstance to live and bear with it, as they have no other options.

When disasters hit people who live in an organized and serene society, the effect is one of amplified disbelief. Your mind goes into shock, you can't believe what just happened, and chaos continues to happen all around you. Your head clears only to be confronted by a mass of dead people swirling around you, and you feel like you should do something, but what can you do? Others join you and you don't feel so bad. You talk eagerly to each other, telling of your experiences; you relish in the fact that you're not the only one left alive.

Then the darkness falls. There is no power and no lights, except for an odd torch or lantern that someone has managed to get going. The darkness seems to be pitch black, and to make matters worse, there is no sound, no cars, no radios, or music blasting. There's near silence, and the only thing you can hear is the crying of a baby. The babies cry all the time. You stay with the others to be safe. Around 11:00 p.m. there is another aftershock, a warning that it's not over yet. In the dark, your mind plays tricks on you. It's cold and you want to sleep, to rid yourself of the nightmare; even for a few hours. You rest your head on the hard surface of the park, with nothing but the clothes you stand up in for protection. You are cold.

During the night, you hear someone crying. The reality is that their family and home are gone, and their emotions are overcome and they need comfort. You do not move, as you have your own problems to deal with. Thoughts of your mother and father suddenly fill your mind — did they survive, and if so, where are they? Now you want to cry. You get some sleep but it is restless and you awake early to the sound of a helicopter passing overhead. More have joined your group in the night; some are jumping and waving in order to attract the pilot's attention. It does not stop.

The man next to you has a small bottle of water from which he drinks; it suddenly dawns on you that you have no food or water. You convince yourself that you are neither hungry nor thirsty. Later on, your stomach lets you know that it's time to eat, and you search your pockets, finding nothing; you need to find food and water. Your group has now grown to almost thirty members, two of which are seriously injured. There is still no sign of the emergency services or the army. A few of your group are huddled together; you join them to see what is happening. They want to send a few people out to find water and food and possibly some medical supplies. You volunteer.

The 7/11 store is gone, but several self-service machines, although damaged and lying on their side, look full. You make a grab for a brightly colored candy bar and instantly rip away the paper. It's like eating the most wonderful food on earth. One of the others offers you a bottle of water; you smile for the first time since the disaster struck. It does not cross your mind that you are looting. The weather is warmer today and the sun shines.

Later on, you find a café that is untouched and the owner is serving around a dozen people; your group rushes over to eat and drink. The owner is happy to serve you, but you have no money. Thankfully enough, he will give you what he has. Soon, a large number of people arrive and the café is overwhelmed. The owner shuts up shop to angry exchanges and cries from the people who are hungry.

You spend a second night in the open, made possible by the use of some blankets you found in the ruins of someone's abandoned home. You wake to the smell ... it hits your senses like a steam train. The dead are starting to decay. The rotting animal and plant life smell is overpowering and the group decides it must move. While they are discussing where to move to, the flies start to thicken, and within minutes you just want to run. The thought that they feed on dead bodies and then crawl on your face nauseates you.

The steady thud of helicopter blades suddenly breaks the silence. It comes closer; they have seen you and are looking for a suitable place to land. Everyone runs towards the helicopter. You are rescued.

That is the reality you can expect.


If you live in a country or area prone to natural disasters, it makes sense to formulate a contingency plan. You would be surprised to know that less than 20% of people who live in a disaster prone area actually prepare for such an event. Less than 10% discuss the possibility with their family, and hardly anyone makes a 'Disaster Grab Bag.' It is estimated that 100 million people still live in an earthquake zone, and over 500 million are affected by war and civil strife. It is now July 2011 and more than 13,000 people have been killed in the civil conflict in Libya, but I am pleased to say that it looks like Gaddafi is beaten.

For those that live in an area prone to natural disaster, it is also essential to know and understand the warning sounds and systems that are in place within your country. Likewise, you should also learn how and when the emergency services provide announcements, in particular to the severity and impact that you can expect. You should know how to contact your emergency services, and know who the local coordinator is. But most importantly, you, your family, and your neighbors need to have a reunification plan. It is also prudent to train members of your family and neighbors in basic life saving techniques and first aid.

Equally, wars do not start without some warning, and while this warning may be just a few days' notice, you will know it's coming. When it starts, the basic principles that apply to a natural disaster will still be applicable. If you live in a major town or city, especially one close to a government or military installation, the chances are that you and your family will be unwillingly prompted to take some sort of safety measures. The build up to war is now becoming very clear; political rhetoric, troops deployed, finalizing with shock and awe bombardment. If you wait until the bombs fall, it's most certainly too late.

It does not matter if it's a natural or man-made disaster, as the following points (which will be discussed in detail later in this book) offer you the best solution to survival.

• Emergency Plan.

• Reunification Plan.

• Survival Kit.

• Disaster Grab Bag (for forced evacuation).

Author's note: When making an emergency plan, always take into consideration the following facts: You generally sleep for eight hours in your bed.

You will generally spend eight hours in your place of employment.

You will spend at least four hours on average in transit, traveling to and from work, shopping in the supermarket, visiting the cinema, etc.

Keep this in mind when you build your emergency plan and base it on your own lifestyle. A reunification plan is needed to reconnect families and friends once the effects of the disaster have subsided or passed. Its main object is to bring together your loved ones, or to know that they are safe.

The survival kit is based on where you are, what type of disaster you are expecting, and how many people you are catering to. Your Disaster Grab Bag is a simple rucksack that contains necessary items, should you be forced out of your home by the authorities or other unforeseen circumstances.


How we behave before, during, and particularly after a disaster is so important to our chances of survival. When a natural or man-made disaster occurs, many male (very few female) individuals turn into predatory animals, preying on those unable to defend themselves. Gangs or thugs, mainly from poor areas, see the disaster as an open license to steal, rape, and murder without consequence.

There was also a marked contrast in behavior between the survivors of the tsunami in Japan compared to those people suffering as a result of the Haiti earthquake or Hurricane Katrina in America. In Haiti and New Orleans, there was an almost immediate descent into barbarity; while after the tsunami in Japan, the Japanese people maintained excellent civil order.

After the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, the situation in New Orleans became so bad that the National Guard had to carry weapons to enforce order. Evacuation centers became nightmares of violence and lawlessness, and televisions screened images of looters making off with shopping trolleys full of plasma televisions and other luxury items. In Haiti, tent cities set up for the quake victims became scenes of mass rape and murder. During my research, these are just a few of the personal eyewitness accounts.

"We drove around once and it was like the Wild West," she said. "There were looters everywhere. I went in a convenience store looking for hand wipes and there were these guys in there breaking down the walls trying to get to the safe."

"It was during the return walk that I personally observed several hundred people engaged in the act of looting. They were all around us that afternoon, pushing grocery carts full of athletic shoes, clothing and electronics toward the Memorial Convention Center. One guy had a brand new football still in the box that he was so proud of it; he held it up for my camera. Throughout all of this, I personally observed New Orleans police officers standing by, doing nothing."

Author's Note: It is not up to me to say if looting is good or bad, but during my research, I came across this written by a student on the Internet who posed the same question, "The morality of an action can be determined only by the motives behind it and not by the action itself. We would like to think that stealing is always bad, but when we consider circumstances, everything changes. To steal food from collapsed shops when starving is nothing less than natural — would any of us honestly choose starvation as an alternative?"


Excerpted from "Modern Survival"
by .
Copyright © 2012 Barry Davies.
Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction and Outline Concept,
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),
FEMA's Mission Statement,
Chapter 1 — Personal Requirements for Disaster Survival,
Chapter 2 — Surviving in a Theatre of War / Civil Unrest / Terrorism,
Chapter 3 — Earthquake and Tsunami,
Chapter 4 — Forest & Wild Fires,
Chapter 5 — Major Flooding,
Chapter 6 — Extremes of Weather — Hot & Cold,
Chapter 7 — Tornadoes,
Chapter 8 — Mudslides and Landslides,
Chapter 9 — Additional Disasters,
Chapter 10 — Rescue and NGOs and Technology,
Chapter 11 — Water and Food,
Chapter 12 — Disaster First Aid and Emergency Care,
Chapter 13 — Modern Survival Equipment,
Appendix A — General Disaster Survival Advice,
Appendix B — List of Useful Websites for Disasters, Weather and War,
Appendix C — List of Useful Mobile Phone and iPad Applications,

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Modern Survival: How to Cope When Everything Falls Apart 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
RJDNH More than 1 year ago
More of a pamphlet than book.  Less than 80 pages.  Interesting, but not worth the cost, there are as well written books that have some detail to them.  You can find a better investment.