Saturday, September 24, 2005

Take the Quiz: How Panic-Proof Are You?

Prayers are continuing to be offered for the folks enduring Hurricane Rita on the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast and inland. The winds and rain will take their toll, but at this point, it appears the impact will not be a worst-case event.

Nonetheless, those who evacuated the coastal regions did the right thing, given the potential of the storm as it was assessed a few days ago. All in all, the people of Texas in particular have again showed themselves to be some of the most resilient and resourceful Americans anywhere.

Now, it seems the worst of Rita in the end will be the criminal element taking advantage of the situation ... and perhaps the ripple effect of national gas prices going up and the subsequent impact on prices throughout the economy.

Fear and Panic are Never a Positive

In any crisis or expected crisis, or even in merely possible problem situations, there are going to be people who are going to lose "it" ... that is, their ability to think rationally and react accordingly in a timely fashion to the conditions they find themselves presented with. In a truly life-threatening situation, that can mean the difference between survival and terminal failure.

Obvious relevant example: a panicking person in the water is not only a probable drowning victim, but is a danger to any potential rescuers as well.

Panic is a real, worst-case result of a major event both in terms of an individual's reaction and a population's mass disposition. On a recent preparedness news program, an expert mentioned that the human brain stops functioning normally when the heart rate hits the 110-130 level. That is a medical milestone for actually measuring panic.

If you can control your heart rate and your emotions, you're a strong candidate for surviving any crisis. If you're prone to overreacting, then take steps now to learn how to remain calm.

In theory at least, being physically and materially prepared should provide an edge to anyone in terms of knowing they have done what they can to mitigate their own risks. It works for many, but for some, a key preparedness action will be to gain better control over their emotions.

Test Yourself

Here's an interesting page on pbs.org where you can take a 1950s era test that measures a person's susceptibility to panic. It may not meet psychoanalytical standards today, but at the very least, it's a way for you to get yourself thinking about how important self control is and how you might be able to improve your "score" in that regard.


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