The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Expert Advice for Extreme Situations

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Expert Advice for Extreme Situations

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Expert Advice for Extreme Situations

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Expert Advice for Extreme Situations


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Notes From Your Bookseller

There are many "worst case scenarios" the world can throw at you, and this book makes sure you’re ready for all of them, no matter how ridiculous. It’s hilarious and practical, which is such a delightful combination.

The 20th anniversary edition of the international bestseller, perfectly timed for everyone needing extra help to be adequately prepared for dire situations in today's world.

Danger! It lurks at every corner. Quicksand. Sharks. Cyberbullies. Super Flu. From wrestling an alligator to evading drones to landing an airplane if the pilot passes out, The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook is here to help with expert, illustrated, step-by-step instructions for the best ways to tackle life's sudden turns for the worse.

Needed now more than ever, this revised and expanded edition of the international bestseller delivers frightening and funny real advice readers need to know fast, including crucial information added from across the Worst-Case series and 20 all-new scenarios for 21st-century threats, from extreme weather and "fake news" to dropping a cell phone in the bathroom toilet.

EMERGENCY INSTRUCTION FOR ANXIOUS TIMES: This ultimate survival book is packed with expert—and humorous—advice for extreme situations, including tips on great escapes and entrances (how to escape from a sinking car), hacks for technical trouble (how to survive an out-of-control autonomous car), skills for adventure survival (how to survive an avalanche), and more.

INFORMATION ANYONE CAN USE: From your nephew who loves camping in the wilderness to your great aunt who became a doomsday prepper during the pandemic, this complete survival guide is the ultimate preparedness tool for people of all ages.

A FAVORITE BOOK TO SHARE WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY: Readers rave about the reactions this entertaining volume elicits, sharing that it's "an absolute hit" as a gift and a "great tabletop item for guests to pick up and browse for a few minutes." One reviewer notes this is "one of the best gifts that I have ever purchased" while another calls the book "a fun read and conversation starter."

Perfect for:
  • Kids, teens, and adults interested in learning how to survive anything, from a sudden natural disaster to a zombie apocalypse
  • Anyone who enjoys funny books
  • Birthday, holiday, or graduation gag gifts

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452172187
Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date: 04/30/2019
Series: Worst-Case Scenario Series
Pages: 328
Sales rank: 51,126
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

David Borgenicht is the coauthor and creator of the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook series. He lives in Philadelphia.

Joshua Piven is the coauthor, with David Borgenicht, of the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook series. He lives in Philadelphia.

Read an Excerpt


Great Escapes and Entrances



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

Kicking is more effective than running at the door and slamming against it — 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 specifically.

Newer Construction

In newer construction, "contractor-grade" hollow-core doors may be primarily corrugated cardboard covered in vinyl, with only thin strips of wood along the edges. (Tap on the door; if it sounds hollow, it's cheap.) For these doors, a swift kick in the middle of one of the door "panels" should easily make a hole, allowing you to reach through and open it from the inside.

If You Have a Screwdriver

Probe the emergency access hole.

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 that allows entry to the locking mechanism inside. Insert a thin screwdriver or probe into the handle and push the locking mechanism, or turn the mechanism to open the lock.


Breaking down an exterior door requires more force, as they are of sturdier construction and are designed with security in mind. You can generally expect to see two kinds of latches on outside doors: a knob lock for latching and light security, and a dead-bolt lock for added security. (On older homes they may be part of a single lockset called a thumb turn.) The knob lock keeps the door from swinging open, and will also keep the door handle from turning. The dead bolt set is used in conjunction with a knob lock and forces a steel bolt into the doorframe.

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.

If You Have a Sturdy Piece of Steel

Remove the lock.

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

If You Have a Hammer and a Screwdriver or Awl

Remove the hinge pins.

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. Remove the pins from the hinges and then force the door open from the hinge side. (The method works only on doors that open out.)


Interior doors in general are of a lighter construction than exterior doors and usually are thinner — one and three-eighth inches thick to one and five-eighth inches thick — than exterior doors, which generally are one and three-quarter inches thick. 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 only for interior doors, since it provides no insulation or security, and requires minimal force. These doors can often be opened with a screwdriver, or easily penetrated with a well-placed kick.

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.


These instructions cover small passenger planes and jets (not commercial airliners).

[1] If the plane has only one set of controls, push, pull, carry, or drag the pilot out of the pilot's seat.

[2] Take your place at the controls.

[3] Put on the radio headset.

Use the radio to call for help — there will be several control buttons on the yoke (the plane's steering wheel) or a CB-like microphone on the instrument panel. Depress the button to talk, release it to listen. Say "Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!" and give your situation, destination, and plane tail number, which should be printed on the top of the instrument panel. Say you have an emergency, there is no pilot, and you need to land as soon as possible.

4 If you get no response, try again on the emergency channel–tune the radio to 121.50.

All radios are different, but tuning is standard. The person on the other end should be able to talk you through the proper landing procedures. Follow their instructions carefully. If you cannot reach someone to talk you through the landing process, you will have to do it alone.

[5] Get your bearings and identify the instruments.

Look around you. Is the plane level? Unless you have just taken off or are about to land, it should be flying relatively straight. If the autopilot is on, leave it on. If it is off, look for a blue button known as level-off. This newer technology automatically engages the autopilot and places the plane into a straight and level attitude.

YOKE This is the steering wheel and should be in front of you. It turns the plane and controls its pitch. Pull back on the column to bring the nose up, push forward to point it down. Turn left to turn the plane left, turn right to turn it right. The yoke is very sensitive — move it only an inch or two in either direction to turn the plane in flight. While cruising, the nose of the plane should be about three inches below the horizon for a person of average height. Measure using your fingers if necessary: The horizon should be about four-to-five finger widths above the cowling (hood) or glare-shield (dashboard) of the plane.

ALTIMETER This indicates the plane's altitude. It sits in the middle of the instrument panel and has three hands. The hand with the triangle at the tip indicates 10,000's of feet, the widest hand indicates 1,000's of feet, and the long skinny hand indicates 100's of feet.

HEADING This indicates direction of travel and will have a small image of a plane outlined in the center. The nose will point in the direction the plane is headed.

AIRSPEED This dial is on the top of the instrument panel, has colors, and will be on the left. It is usually calibrated in knots, though it may also have miles per hour. A small plane travels at about 120 knots while cruising. Anything under 50 knots in the air is dangerously close to stall speed. (A knot is one and a quarter miles per hour.)

THROTTLE This controls airspeed (power) and also the nose attitude, or its relation to the horizon. It is a lever between the seats and is always black. Pull it toward you to slow the plane and cause it to descend, push it away to speed up the plane and cause it to ascend. The engine will get more or less quiet depending on the direction the throttle is moved, just like a car.

FUEL The fuel gauges will be on the lower portion of the instrument panel. If the pilot has followed FAA regulations, the plane should have enough fuel for the amount of flying time to your intended destination, plus at least an additional half hour in reserve. Some planes have a reserve fuel tank in addition to the primary one, but do not worry about changing tanks.

FLAPS Due to their complexity, wing flaps can make the plane harder to control. Use the throttle, not the flaps, to control airspeed.

[6] Begin the descent.

Pull back on the throttle to slow down. Reduce power by about one-quarter of cruising speed. As the plane slows, the nose will drop. For descent, the nose should be about four inches below the horizon, or five-to-six finger widths.

[7] Extend the landing gear.

Determine if the plane has fixed or retractable landing gear. Fixed landing gear is always down so you need do nothing. If it is retractable, there will be another lever between the seats near the throttle, with a handle that is shaped like a tire. For a water landing, leave the landing gear up (retracted).

[8] Look for a suitable landing site.

If you cannot find an airport, find a flat field on which to land. A mile-long field is ideal, but the plane can land on a much shorter strip of earth, so do not bother to look for the "perfect" landing site — there is no such thing. Bumpy terrain will also do if your options are limited. If there is an unoccupied beach, land close to the water's edge where the sand is firmer. If landing in water, land close to a boat or near shore, and keep landing gear retracted. Never attempt to land a plane with fixed landing gear in water.

[9] Line up the landing strip so that when the altimeter reads 1,000 feet, the field is off the right-wing tip.

In an ideal situation, you should take a single pass over the field to look for obstructions; with plenty of fuel, you may want to do so. Fly over the field, make a big rectangle, and approach a second time.

[10] When approaching the landing strip, reduce power by pulling back on the throttle.

Do not let the nose drop more than six inches below the horizon.

[11] The plane should be 100 feet off the ground when you are just above the landing strip, and the rear wheels should touch first.

The plane will aerodynamically stall — also called an airfoil or wing stall, distinct from the engine stalling — at 55–65 miles/knots per hour. You want the plane to be at just about stall speed when the wheels touch the ground.

[12] Pull all the way back on the throttle, and make sure the nose of the plane does not dip too steeply.

Bring the nose up to meet the horizon. Gently pull back on the yoke as the plane slowly touches the ground.

[13] Using the pedals on the floor, steer and brake the plane as needed.

The yoke has very little effect on the ground. The upper pedals are the brakes, and the lower pedals control the direction of the nose wheel. Concentrate first on the lower pedals. Press the right pedal to move the plane right, press the left pedal to move it left. Upon landing, be aware of your speed. A modest reduction in speed will increase your chances of survival exponentially. By reducing your groundspeed from 120 to 50–60 miles per hour/knots, you increase your chance of survival threefold.


* A well-executed emergency landing in bad terrain can be less hazardous than an uncontrolled landing on an established field.

* If the plane is headed toward trees, steer it between them so the wings absorb the impact if you hit.

* When the plane comes to a stop, get out as soon as possible and get away – and take the pilot with you.

* Move away from the plane toward the direction of the tail, and at least 15 feet beyond it.

* Most "six-pack" flight instrument layouts are as follows, from left to right: top row, Airspeed, Attitude, Altimeter. Second row: Turn Coordinator, Heading, Vertical Speed.



[1] Secure all loose items.

Turbulence may occur with little or no warning, causing anything not stowed to fly around the cabin. Keep any in-flight items you are not using — and particularly heavy items like books and electronics — in a closed bag, and place the bag under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin. Put smaller items in the seat pocket. Do not leave potentially dangerous items (unopened cans of soda, for example) on your tray table.

[2] Fasten your seat belt.

It should be as snug as possible without being uncomfortable. Extreme turbulence may cause sudden drops in the aircraft, resulting in unbelted passengers hitting the bottom of the overhead bins or the cabin ceiling, and causing severe injury.

[3] Raise the tray table.

Make sure it is locked in place.

[4] Protect your head.

Once you are safely belted into your seat, protect your head from projectiles. Hold a pillow, thick jacket, or folded blanket tightly over your head and face. If available, use an inflatable neck pillow to protect your neck. Do not use anything hard or heavy: if you lose your grip, it may become a projectile.

[5] Assume crash position.

Lean over and put your head as close to your lap as possible while holding protective gear in place.

[6] Be alert for oxygen mask deployment.

Oxygen masks are designed to drop upon changes in cabin pressure, but may deploy during turbulence. Do not panic if you see them released. Do not use one unless directed by the flight crew.

[7] Prepare for drops.

Light to moderate turbulence can cause the aircraft to drop tens of feet, while more severe turbulence may result in hundred-foot drops, or potentially more. The pilot will typically try to avoid turbulent air by getting reports from preceding aircraft and changing altitude.

[8] Breathe through a bag.

If you begin to hyperventilate, grab the air sickness bag, gather it at the top, bring it to your mouth, and inhale and exhale slowly through your mouth and into the bag. This procedure increases carbon dioxide levels in the blood, which may be depleted during hyperventilation. Note, however, that this solution may be dangerous if the hyperventilation is caused by a medical condition such as heart attack or asthma, not anxiety.

[9] Chat.

In most cases, talking to a fellow passenger will promote more controlled breathing.


There are four classifications for turbulence.

* Light turbulence momentarily causes slight changes in altitude and/or attitude (roll, pitch, or yaw). You may feel slight strain against your seat belt, and objects might be slightly displaced.

* Moderate turbulence causes changes in altitude and attitude but the pilot still maintains positive control of the aircraft. You will feel strain against the seat belt.

* Severe turbulence causes large, abrupt changes in altitude and/or attitude, and you will feel violent forces against the seat belt.

* Extreme turbulence causes the aircraft to be tossed about, making it impossible to control, and can result in structural damage.

Both severe and extreme turbulence may cause significant damage to the aircraft: If the sudden drops increase the load factor on the wings to a degree that exceeds the limits of the plane, the wings and other surfaces can be shorn off the fuselage.


[1] Move.

The more distance between you and the tantrum, the better. If the tantrum is already in progress during boarding, quickly scan the plane for potentially empty seats. When you spot one, immediately inform the flight attendant that you would like it. The instant you hear the aircraft door close, move. This strategy has its own risks: you may be crammed into a middle seat; behind an extreme seat recliner; closer to the lavatory and its constant foot traffic; or next to the passenger eating the sub with onions.

[2] Use headphones.

Noise-canceling or other headphones may help to block out a screamer a few rows away, but are unlikely to work if the child is within a few seats. (The flight attendants may offer cheap headphones for a nominal fee if you don't have yours.) Over-ear headphones are more effective than ear buds.

[3] Make ear plugs.

Chew two to four pieces of gum. When completely soft, form gum into two round balls, each approximately the size of a gumball. Rewrap the gum in foil wrappers and place one makeshift earplug over the opening of each ear, but not down the ear canal. Keep hair away from gum-plug.

[4] Use an inflatable neck pillow.

Place a T-shirt on top of your head so each side hangs down over one ear. Take a neck pillow and place it on your head vertically: the bottom of the "u" should be against the crown of your head, with the sides against your ears, holding the T-shirt in place. Close your eyes and imagine your happy place.

[5] Consider alcohol.

A few stiff cocktails may help you pass out.


Do not offer parenting advice. It is rarely appreciated.


Take the following steps, in order, to deal with a passenger in front of you who fully reclines their seat.

[1] Try kindness.

Tap the extreme recliner on the shoulder and politely ask if they would mind moving the seat-back forward. While doing so, shift your body so your knees are pressed against the seat-back (if they aren't already) to demonstrate your severe discomfort.


Excerpted from "The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook"
by .
Copyright © 2013 Quirk Production, Inc..
Excerpted by permission of Chronicle Books LLC.
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

Foreword, 12,
Preface, 14,
Experts and Sources, 316,
About the Authors, 328,

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