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14 Survival Mnemonics That Could Save You From Big Trouble

If only all of life's emergencies came with a mnemonic device. Fortunately, these—from heart attack signs to how to save someone drowning—do.

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To identify signs of a heart attack, remember:

PULSE. Persistent chest pain. Upset stomach (nausea, vomiting). Lightheadednes (or dizziness). Shortness of breath. Excessive sweating. Here’s what else to know about a heart attack before you have one.

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To use a fire extinguisher, remember:

PASS. Pull the pin. Aim at the base of the fire. Squeeze the trigger. Sweep across the fire.

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To save someone who’s drowning, remember:

First, hold on to the boat or dock and reach for the victim. Then throw something that floats toward him or her. If you’re in a boat, row (don’t use a motor) to get closer to the person in trouble. And remember, don’t go into the water. Call for help instead. Read these tips lifeguards desperately want you to know.

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To treat shock:

“Face is red, raise the head. Face is pale, raise the tail.”

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To diagnose hypothermia, remember:

Does the person stumble, fumble, mumble, and grumble? If so, it’s time to move him/her to a warm place and call for help. Here are 12 ways your body copes with freezing weather.

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To avoid poisonous berries:

“White and yellow, kill a fellow. Purple and blue, good for you. Red could be good, could be dead.”

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To stop major bleeding, remember:

PEEP. Position the person on the floor if possible. Expose the injury. Elevate the wound. Apply Pressure. These first aid mistakes are more dangerous than you think.

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To survive a terrorist attack, remember:

In its report on dynamic lockdowns, the U.K. government’s advice is to run from danger if there is a safe route out. If you can’t run, hide, taking hard cover and making yourself as small as possible. If you escape, immediately tell an official what’s happening, and warn others to avoid the danger zone. Here are other essential tips for surviving a terrotist attack when you least expect one.

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To identify a poisonous plant:

“Leaves of three, let it be.”  To identify poison ivy in particular, remember: “Hairy Vine, Danger Sign!” or “Hairy Rope, Don’t be a Dope!” If you get it wrong, try one of these poison ivy home remedies to feel better fast.

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To survive being stranded, remember:

Generally, an average person in reasonable physical condition can survive at least three minutes without air,  three hours without some kind of shelter (depending on weather conditions and appropriate clothing), three days without water, and three weeks without food (in cold situations, food can serve as “shelter” by stoking your inner fire to burn calories). These are all general estimates, but can still guide you when prioritizing your first steps for survival.

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To identify the compass directions, remember:

The compass directions, starting at the top and going clockwise, are North, East, South, and West—NESW. If you can figure out East or West from the movement of the sun, you can always figure out all four directions.

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To diagnose dehydration, remember:

“No spit, no sweat, no need to go? Fix it all with H2O!” Staying hydrated is perhaps the most important thing you can do in nature; keep yourself honest with this mnemonic. These are sneaky ways you could make yourself dehydrated.

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To survive a fire, remember:

This is classic school advice, but it holds up. Of course, you won’t need to test it at all if you remember one other mnemonic…

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To be ready for a fire or home disaster, remember:

Exit Drills In The Home. If you practice an evacuation before you have to, you’ll be calm and collected when you finally need to.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest