The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: How to Escape from Quicksand, Wrestle an Alligator, Break Down a Door, Land a Plane...

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: How to Escape from Quicksand, Wrestle an Alligator, Break Down a Door, Land a Plane...

by Joshua Piven, David Borgenicht


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Danger! It lurks at every corner. Volcanoes. Sharks. Quicksand. Terrorists. The pilot of the plane blacks out and it's up to you to land the jet. What do you do? The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook is here to help: jam-packed with how-to, hands-on, step-by-step, illustrated instructions on everything you need to know FAST-from defusing a bomb to delivering a baby in the back of a cab. Providing frightening and funny real information in the best-selling tradition of the Paranoid's Pocket Guide and Hypochondriac's Handbook, this indispensable, indestructible pocket-sized guide is the definitive handbook for those times when life takes a sudden turn for the worse. The essential companion for a perilous age. Because you never know...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780811825559
Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date: 10/01/1999
Series: Worst Case Scenario Series
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 579,114
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.12(h) x 0.62(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Joshua Piven is a writer, editor, and Web site designer who lives in Philadelphia. He's ready for anything.

David Borgenicht is a Philadelphia-based writer whose own worst-case scenario involved a heavy-armored vehicle in Pakistan.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



[1] When walking in quicksand country, carry a stout pole—it will help you get out should you need to.

[2] As soon as you start to sink, lay the pole on the surface of the quicksand.

[3] Flop onto your back on top of the pole. After a minute or two, equilibrium in the quicksand will be achieved, and you will no longer sink.

[4] Work the pole to a new position: under your hips and at right angles to your spine. The pole will keep your hips from sinking, as you (slowly) pull out first one leg and then the other.

[5] Take the shortest route to firmer ground, moving slowly.

How to Avoid Sinking

Quicksand is just ordinary sand mixed with upwelling water, which makes it behave like a liquid. However, quicksand—unlike water—does not easily let go. If you try to pull a limb out of quicksand, you have to work against the vacuum left behind. Here are a few tips:

· The viscosity of quicksand increases with shearing—move slowly so the viscosity is as low as possible.

· Floating on quicksand is relatively easy and is the best way to avoid its clutches. You are more buoyant in quicksand than you are in water. Humans are less dense than freshwater, and saltwater is slightly more dense. Floating is easier in saltwater than freshwater and much easier in quicksand. Spread your arms and legs far apart and try to float on yourback.


Interior Doors

[1] Give the door a well-placed kick or two to the lock area to break it down.

Running at the door and slamming against it with your shoulder or body is not usually as effective as kicking with your foot. Your foot exerts more force than your shoulder, and you will be able to direct this force toward the area of the locking mechanism more succinctly with your foot.

Alternate Method (if you have a screwdriver)

* Look on the front of the doorknob for a small hole or keyhole.

Most interior doors have what are called privacy sets. These locks are usually installed on bedrooms and bathrooms and can be locked from the inside when the door is shut, but have an emergency access hole in the center of the door handle which allows entry to the locking mechanism inside. Insert the screwdriver or probe into the handle and push the locking mechanism, or turn the mechanism to open the lock.

Exterior Doors

If you are trying to break down an exterior door, you will need more force. Exterior doors are of sturdier construction and are designed with security in mind, for obvious reasons. In general, you can expect to see two kinds of latches on outside doors: a passage- or entry-lock set for latching and a dead-bolt lock for security. The passage set is used for keeping the door from swinging open and does not lock. The entry-lock set utilizes a dead latch and can be locked before closing the door.

[1] Give the door several well-placed kicks at the point where the lock is mounted.

An exterior door usually takes several tries to break down this way, so keep at it.

Alternate Method (if you have a sturdy piece of steel)

* Wrench or pry the lock off the door by inserting the tool between the lock and the door and prying back and forth.

Alternate Method (if you have a screwdriver, hammer, and awl)

* Remove the pins from the hinges (if the door opens toward you) and then force the door open from the hinge side.

Get a screwdriver or an awl and a hammer. Place the awl or screwdriver underneath the hinge, with the pointy end touching the end of the bolt or screw. Using the hammer, strike the other end of the awl or screwdriver until the hinge comes out.

Assessing Amount of Force Required

Interior doors in general are of a lighter construction than exterior doors and usually are thinner—1 3/8" thick to 1 5/8" thick—than exterior doors, which generally are 1 ¾" thick. In general, older homes will be more likely to have solid wood doors, while newer ones will have the cheaper, hollow core models. Knowing what type of door you are dealing with will help you determine how to break it down. You can usually determine the construction and solidity of a door by tapping on it.

Hollow core. This type is generally used for interior doors, since it provides no insulation or security, and requires minimal force. These doors can often be opened with a screwdriver.

Solid wood. These are usually oak or some other hardwood, and require an average amount of force and a crowbar or other similar tool.

Solid core. These have a softwood inner frame with a laminate on each side and a chipped or shaved wood core, and require an average amount of force and a screwdriver.

Metal clad. These are usually softwood with a thin metal covering, and require average or above average force and a crowbar.

Hollow metal. These doors are of a heavier gauge metal that usually has a reinforcing channel around the edges and the lock mounting area, and are sometimes filled with some type of insulating material. These require maximum force and a crowbar.


Most cars that are more than ten years old have vertical, push-button locks. These are locks that come straight out of the top of the car door and have rods that are set vertically inside the door. These locks can be easily opened with a wire hanger or a SlimJim, or picked, as described below. Newer cars have horizontal locks, which emerge from the side of the car door and are attached to horizontal lock rods. These are more difficult to manipulate without a special tool but can also be picked.

How to Break into a Car with a Hanger

[1] Take a wire hanger and bend it into a long J.

[2] Square off the bottom of the J so the square is 1 ½ to 2 inches wide (see illustration).

[3] Slide the hanger into the door, between the window and the weather stripping.

Open the door by feel and by trial and error. Feel for the end of the button rod and, when you have it, pull it up to open the lock.

How to Break into a Car with a SlimJim

[1] A SlimJim is a thin piece of spring steel with a notch in one side, which makes it easy to pull the lock rod up. They can be purchased at most automotive supply stores.

Slide the tool gently between the window and the weather stripping.

Some cars will give you only a quarter of an inch of access to the lock linkage, so go slowly and be patient.

[2] Do not jerk the tool trying to find the lock rod.

This can break the lock linkage, and on auto-locks it can easily rip the wires in the door.

[3] Move the tool back and forth until it grabs the lock rod and then gently move it until the lock flips over.

How to Pick a Car Lock

[1] You will need two tools—one to manipulate the pins or wafers inside the lock core and one to turn the cylinder.

You can use a small Allen wrench to turn the lock and a long bobby pin to move the pins and wafers. Keep in mind that many car locks are harder to pick than door locks. They often have a small shutter that covers and protects the lock, and this can make the process more difficult.

[2] While the bobby pin is in the lock, exert constant and light turning pressure with the wrench.

This is the only way to discern if the pins or wafers—which line up with the notches and grooves in a key—are lined up correctly. Most locks have five pins.

[3] Move the bobby pin to manipulate the pins or wafers until you feel the lock turn smoothly.

Alternate Method

* Use a key from a different car from the same manufacturer.

There are surprisingly few lock variations, and the alien key may just work.

Be Aware

We of course assume you are seeking to enter your own car.


Hot-wiring a car without the owner's permission is illegal, except in repossessions. Hot-wiring can be dangerous; there is a risk of electrical shock. Hot-wiring will not work on all cars, particularly cars with security devices. Some "kill switches" can prevent hot-wiring.

[1] Open the hood.

[2] Locate the coil wire (it is red).

To find it, follow the plug wires, which lead to the coil wire. The plug and coil wires are located at the rear of the engine on most V-8s. On six-cylinder engines, the wires are on the left side near the center of the engine, and on four-cylinder engines, they are located on the right side near the center of the engine.

[3] Run a wire from the positive (+) side of the battery to the positive side of the coil, or the red wire that goes to the coil.

This step gives power to the dash, and the car will not run unless it is performed first.

[4] Locate the starter solenoid.

On most GM cars, it is on the starter. On Fords, it is located on the left-side (passenger-side) fender well. An easy way to find it is to follow the positive battery cable. You will see a small wire and the positive battery cable. Cross the two with a screwdriver or pliers. This cranks the engine.

[5] If the car has a standard transmission, make sure it is in neutral and the parking brake is on.

If it has an automatic transmission, make sure it is in park.

[6] Unlock the steering wheel using a flat blade screwdriver.

Take the screwdriver and place it at the top center of the steering column. Push the screwdriver between the steering wheel and the column. Push the locking pin away from the wheel. Be very firm when pushing the pin; it will not break.


Table of Contents

Forward, by "Mountain" Mel Deweese
Great Escapes and Entrances
How to Escape from Quicksand
How to Break Down a Door
How to Hot
wire a Car
How to Perform a Fast 180
Degree Turn with Your Car
How to Ram a Car
How to Escape from a Sinking Car
How to Deal with a Downed Power Line
The Best Defense
How to Survive a Poisonous Snake Attack
How to Fend Off a Shark
How to Escape a from a Bear
How to Escape from a Mountain Lion
How to Wrestle Free from an Alligator
How to Escape from Killer Bees
How to Deal with a Charging Bull
How to Win a Sword Fight
How to Take a Punch
Leaps of Faith
How to Jump from a Bridge or Cliff into a River
How to Jump froma Building into a Dumpster
How to Maneuver on Top of a Moving Train and Get Inside
How to Jump from a Moving Car
How to Leap from a Motorcycle to a Car
How to Perform a Tracheotomy
How to Use a Defibrillator to Restore a Heartbeat
How to Identify a Bomb
How to Deliver a Baby in a Taxicab
How to Treat Frostbite
How to Treat a Leg Fracture
How to Treat a Bullet or Knife Wound
Adventure Survival
How to Land a Plane
How to Survive an Earthquake
How to Survive Adrift at Sea
How to Survive When Lost in the Desert
How to Survive If Your Parachute Fails to Open
How to Survive an Avalanche
How to Survive If you Are in the Line of Gunfire
How to Survive When Lost in the Mountains
How to Make Fire Without Matches
How to Avoid Being Stuck by Lightning
How to Get tot the Surface If Your Scuba Tank Runs of Air
The Experts
About the Authors

What People are Saying About This

Jean Heine

The book is somewhat tongue-in-cheek but includes some helpful advice you hope you'll never need.

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The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook- How to Escape from Quicksand, Wrestle an Alligator, Break Down a Door, Land a Plane... 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
oh, such a nice little book to read when bored.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was great for entertainment purposes. For true survival information (meaning not written for entertainment) the best I have seen is the U.S. Army Survival Manual. But to see how some of this information was put to good use in real life, the book 'Danger Close' is a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For my brother, he loved it
Guest More than 1 year ago
i love this book it is fun to read and very helpful I take it every were .
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very interesting. Reading the book was a breeze. I also found the book to be quite comical becasue of certain situations described. I definately recommend this book for the person on the go. Never leave home without
Guest More than 1 year ago
The only thing that beats this book is the suggestion by Dr. Carl Baugh that you can counteract a venomous snake bite by giving yourself a few seconds of shock from a stun gun on the bite. YeOuch!! I suggest that you either stungun the snake first or remove yourself out of the area. Where do these guys get this stuff?!?! LOL
Sandydog1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm feeling pretty smug that I already have a pretty good idea of how to escape from a sinking car, quicksand, treat a snake bite, survive a shipwreck, deal with a bear or cougar, avoid getting shot at (run away as quickly as possible - it actually says that). I chose not to study the section on landing an airplane. It sounded easier-said-than-done. A very short, somewhat amusing (without trying to be) book.
bkleinwort on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Entertaining, but I'm sad it became so popular and spawned a ton of spin-offs.
HoraceSPatoot on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I agree with bkleinwort -- the spin-offs degrade the original.I think this is a very entertaining little book. It's fun to read, and unlike other books of the type it cites credible references for the advice given. It is certainly not complete enough to be a "survival handbook" -- I'm sure that's intended as a joke -- but apart from the select pieces of practical advice it offers, I like the fact that it encourages a person to think about what could go wrong in a given situation. This book will be more likely to save your life if it causes you to remember where the fire exits are when you enter a room than by telling you how to kick a shark in the nose. (Unless you're like my nephew!)
MerryMary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't anticipate running into an alligator in Nebraska (although you never know!), but there are a number of things in here that are surprisingly useful.
sweetiegherkin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was all the rage as a graduation gift during my last few years of high school, so predictably I received a copy when I graduated high school. I was never sure whether it was supposed to be serious or a spoof until I finally read it. Indeed, the book is meant to be serious (well, mostly serious), although I think the giving of it to me in particular was meant to be a spoof. The book is chock full of information that I would never need (or never remember if by some bizarre chance I would need it), like how to fend off a mountain lion attack. Still, I found it oddly entertaining and couldn't put it down once I finally started reading it. It's probably of greatest benefit to hikers, campers, and other outdoors-y people, but I still reserve a space for it on my shelves, too.
tripleblessings on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This one does contain some useful information, but is mostly written for entertainment. More silly than helpful.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The Worst Case Scenario Handbook is a groovy survival book and it even looks cool too! This book tells you how to do misc. things such as land a plane, wrestle a alligator, pick a car lock door, and it came in real handy when I delivered a baby in a taxicab! JK! That would be a worst case scenario wouldnt it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is the best book ever. There is no other better book in the world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a great book! If I had this book years ago, I'd certainly be better off now than I am. I just read another book about survivors (U.S. Customs, Badge of Dishonor), that I'm certain that the authors in that book sure could have used the secrets in this book as much as I needed them. You know what they say, 'Hind sight is 20/20.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
When first looking at the cover, I thought it might have been a joke or a satire book. I was wrong. It has some useful and not so useful (i.e. how to maneuver on top of a moving train and get inside) information. It was a fun read, and could really get some conversations started if placed on a coffee table.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first saw this book, I thought it would have information on how to build fires, how to make a fishing pole, etc... I was wrong. It has amazing survival tips that are fun to read. This one is for the ultimate survivor.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This selection is not only hilarious, but I've actually used some of the instructions. (Picking my lock when locked out of my house.) Although the instructions are real, they are written in a very tongue-in-cheek way. My friend bought it for me as a gift and all our guests love it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The one thing that I did NOT like about this book is that it was so short. So, when in the sequel coming out?