Twleve Tips for Staying Alive

Dr. Doug McGuff is an emer­gency phys­i­cian in South Car­o­lina. From this per­spect­ive, he has com­piled a list of twelve tips on avoid­ing what he calls ‘neg­at­ive Black Swan events’—an early death from things we con­sider unlikely (but are all-too-com­mon to emer­gency phys­i­cians).

  1. Drive the biggest vehicle you can afford to drive.
  2. Nev­er get on a 4‑wheeler ATV [quad bike].
  3. Do not road cycle or jog on pub­lic roads/roadsides.
  4. Do not fly a plane or heli­copter unless you are a full-time pro­fes­sion­al pilot.
  5. If you are walk­ing down a side­walk and are approach­ing a group of loud and appar­ently intox­ic­ated males, cross to the oth­er side of the street imme­di­ately. If con­fron­ted, run.
  6. If your gas grill won’t start… walk away.
  7. Nev­er dive into a pool or body of water (except in a pool diving area marked 9 feet or deep­er after you have checked it out feet-first).
  8. Nev­er get on a lad­der to clean your gut­ters, or on your roof to hang Christ­mas lights. Do not cut down trees with a chain­saw.
  9. If you are retire­ment age and plan on mov­ing to a new home… think twice.
  10. If any­one tries to force you into your car or car trunk at gun point, don’t coöperate.
  11. If you are in any per­son­al or pro­fes­sion­al rela­tion­ship that exhausts you or oth­er­wise causes you recur­rent dis­tress, then end the rela­tion­ship imme­di­ately.
  12. Don’t play the lot­tery… you might win.

From tip num­ber 8:

In gen­er­al, any house or lawn work that you can hire for an amount equal to or less than your own hourly wage is money well spent.

I use this advice for everything. For most of us money is more abund­ant than time—if a job will take an hour for me to com­plete but the hir­ing of a pro­fes­sion­al to do this (in 10 minutes) will cost me less than or equal to my hourly wage, out­source.

On play­ing the lot­tery (num­ber 12): it’s not just win­ning that you have to worry about—it’s the tak­ing part, too. From Leonard Mlodinow’s The Drunk­ard’s Walk (an excel­lent read and a deserved final­ist for this year’s Roy­al Soci­ety Prize for Sci­ence Books):

Sup­pose the state of Cali­for­nia made its cit­izens the fol­low­ing offer: Of all those who pay the dol­lar or two to enter, most people will receive noth­ing, one per­son will receive a for­tune, and one per­son will be put to death in a viol­ent man­ner. Would any­one enrol in that game? People do, with enthu­si­asm. It is called the state lot­tery. And although the state does not advert­ise it in the man­ner in which I have described it, that is the way it works in prac­tice. For while one lucky per­son wins the grand prize in each game, many mil­lions of oth­er con­test­ants drive to and from their loc­al tick­et vendors to pur­chase their tick­ets, and some die in acci­dents along the way. Apply­ing stat­ist­ics from the Nation­al High­way Traffic Safety Admin­is­tra­tion and depend­ing on such assump­tions as how far each indi­vidu­al drives, how many tick­ets he or she buys, and how many people are involved in a typ­ic­al acci­dent, you find that a reas­on­able estim­ate of those fatal­it­ies is about one death per game.

4 thoughts on “Twleve Tips for Staying Alive

  1. Pingback: How To Avoid Being Killed By a Black Swan » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog

  2. Pingback: Question for ER Docs and Nurse | Social Media, U.Va.

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