It was easy to be prepared for emergencies when there were only two, and all you had to do was make a note of the nearest fire exit and to crouch under the desk at school in the event of a nuclear attack. Guys didn’t have to be told (after the first emergency) to keep a condom in their wallets and girls (after one surprise mishap) figured out it’s wise to carry tampons in their purses. But emergencies, like drugstore chains, increased almost daily, making it harder to feel you’re up to speed.
We learned the Heimlich Maneuver (when and how to do it), CPR (with and then without the breathing), to toss off high heels if being chased by a rapist or pickpocket, how to slide out of a plane, which alarm system to install in our homes and pets, how to launch an Amber Alert, when it’s appropriate to call 911 and give Ipacac to our children, to sleep with a flashlight next to the bed if in an earthquake area and, more recently, how to handle an out-of-control Prius — though not yet told what to do if one is coming directly at us. For most other things, we turn to our nearest ER or Tech Support.
Adding to the overcrowded list, however, an article in a recent issue of Newsweek, by Raina Kelley, offered 12 ways to deal with being taken hostage, something I hadn’t — even in my most anxious state — considered. The head of the New York Police Department’s hostage-negotiation team advises:
1. Don’t be a hero
2. Do what you’re told
3. Don’t speak unless spoken to
4. Get comfortable, but never turn your back on the captor
5. Don’t make suggestions
6. Don’t try to escape
7. Let medical needs be known
8. Be observant
9. Answer only "yes" and "no"
10. Signal the police if your captors are listening in on the line
11. Don’t be argumentative
12. Hit the floor
This list should be memorized by anyone like to go on a boring date or attend a contentious family dinner.