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The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holidays

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holidays

by Joshua Piven, David Borgenicht

Turkey on fire? No plans for New Year's Eve? Obnoxious relatives headed your way? The authors of the best-selling The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook are here to help you survive the dangers of the holiday season, from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. Learn how to rescue someone stuck in a chimney, survive the office holiday party, and escape a runaway


Turkey on fire? No plans for New Year's Eve? Obnoxious relatives headed your way? The authors of the best-selling The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook are here to help you survive the dangers of the holiday season, from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. Learn how to rescue someone stuck in a chimney, survive the office holiday party, and escape a runaway parade balloon. Expertly deal with a meddling parent, silence a group of carolers, and treat a tongue stuck to a frozen pole. Illustrated, step-by-step instructions guide you through these and dozens of other festive scenarios. With a helpful appendix of holiday excuses, last-minute gift ideas, and creative drink recipes for when the liquor runs out, this is truly the perfect gift. Gleaming silver cover. Fits all sized stockings.

Editorial Reviews

This is the book that every holiday reveler craves. The season of good cheer comprises, as we all know, several weeks of rapidly escalating disasters: unwanted visitors; loudmouth carolers; missing gifts; Christmas party pratfalls; Yuletide kitchen catastrophes. Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht come to the rescue with The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holidays, a delightful Worst-Case Scenario assemblage and a surefire way to divert Uncle Harry as you extract him from the chimney.
Publishers Weekly
The unstoppable Piven and Borgenicht are at it again, producing another in the seemingly endless series of "Worst-Case Scenario" books. This time, the authors turn their attention to the potentially disastrous holiday season, and the result is more or less the same-an entertaining quick read in the bookstore aisle. To be fair, though, this volume does contain some interesting information: for instance, it's good to know how to extinguish a burning turkey, put out a grease fire, drive in a blizzard, handle a canceled flight, "repurpose" a fruitcake, and resize a Christmas tree. Some readers will welcome this addition to the Worst-Case family, as the books make reliable all-purpose gifts and their oddball advice (how to dodge an angry reindeer, how to "thwart gift snoopers") is always good for a few chuckles. Those who've reached their saturation point with the genre, though, may very well wonder when someone will release a book explaining how to repurpose one of Piven and Borgenicht's ubiquitous guides. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
Worst Case Scenario Series
Product dimensions:
1.00(w) x 1.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook

By Joshua Piven

Chronicle Books

Copyright © 2002 Joshua Piven
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0811835995

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 your back.


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 3/4" 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.


Excerpted from The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook by Joshua Piven Copyright © 2002 by Joshua Piven. Excerpted by permission.
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.

Meet the Author

Joshua Piven, writer, editor, and fixture on the holiday party circuit, is co-author of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook series. He lives in Philadelphia.

David Borgenicht is a writer, editor, husband, and father who has survived dozens of holiday traumas. Co-author of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook series, he lives in Philadelphia.

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