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Tips to survive disasters

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December 23, 2008

What should you do in case of a chemical attack, a tear gas attack or a terrorist attack?

How should you protect yourself and your family in case of a natural calamity: be it floods, earthquake or a tsunami?

What precautionary steps you should take if there is -- God forbid -- a war between Indian and Pakistan tomorrow?

Captain (retired) Vinod Nair answered these and many other questions related to surviving during a disaster in a chat with Get Ahead readers on December 23.

For those of you who missed the chat, here's the unedited transcript:

ayushi asked, hi vinod , wat u do if u c car crash

Vinod Nair answers, do not just pull people out of a car. Moving an injured person may cause more harm than good. So move victims only if there is fear of more danger (like the car exploding or burns, etc) call emergency services imdtly.

pradeep asked,  if a person met with heart attack what to do in first -aid hello vinod answer

Vinod Nair answers, pradeep in case of heart attack, call doctor first, loosen tight clothing and then provide if patient becomes unconscious, CPR imdtly. Keep doing CPR till ambulance or doc arrives

ashuragini asked, In case of terrorist attack

Vinod Nair answers, whenever you walk into a place, as an automatic setting, always scan for exit routes and escape avenues. In case terrorists suddenly walk in, take cover imdtly. make sure its behind solid structures, not thin wooden tables etc

amrit asked, what to do in case u r in a house under fire?

Vinod Nair answers, 1. Try to douse the fire. 2. Call afire brigade 3. Get your family, valuables and get out of there. 4. Dont stay long, smoke can choke you to lose consciousness

Sameeragr asked, Sir, Please tell me the exact procedure of CPR.

Vinod Nair answers, here sameer: Important: this is a brief guide to the emergency help that can be given in the event of a heart attack or cardiac arrest before the arrival of emergency services. It is not intended as a replacement for a first aid or resuscitation course. What should you do if someone has a heart attack? If someone has a cardiac arrest or heart attack, there are only a few minutes to act before it is too late. It is vital to know what to do beforehand. To perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and artificial respiration (mouth to mouth resuscitation) effectively, training and frequent practice on resuscitation dummies are essential. How can you tell if someone is having a heart attack? If the person is unconscious:
� Are they breathing? Look at the patient's chest to see if it is rising and falling.
� Do they have a pulse? Place two fingers on one or other side of the person's voice box in their throat to feel if they have a carotid pulse. If the patient has a pulse but is not breathing:
� Could it be because of suffocation? Feel inside the mouth with a finger to see if there is anything blocking it or the windpipe and remove any food or other objects. Provided that dentures are not broken, it is better not to remove them.
� Call for help immediately, stating that the casualty is not breathing, and provide resuscitation (see below) until the patient begins to breathe or the ambulance arrives. If there is no breathing or pulse, the patient has had a cardiac arrest. What help is needed?
� If possible, raise the legs up 12 to 18 inches to allow more blood to flow towards the heart
� Immediately place the palm of your hand flat on the patient's chest just over the lower part of the sternum (breast bone) and press your hand in a pumping motion once or twice by using the other hand. This may make the heart beat again. If these actions do not restore a pulse or if the subject doesn't begin to breathe again:
� Call for help, stating that the casualty is having a cardiac arrest but stay with the patient.
� Find out if anyone else present knows CPR.
� Provide artificial respiration immediately.
� Begin CPR immediately. How to give artificial respiration
� Tilt the head back and lift up the chin.
� Pinch the nostrils shut with two fingers to prevent leakage of air.
� Take a deep breath and seal your own mouth over the person's mouth.
� Breathe slowly into the person's mouth - it should take about two seconds to adequately inflate the chest.
� Do this twice.
� Check to see if the chest rises as you breathe into the patient.
� If it does, enough air is being blown in.
� If there is resistance, try to hold the head back further and lift the chin again.
� Repeat this procedure until help arrives or the person starts breathing again.

sd asked, Do you think in a hostage situation that a group getting together and taking on the criminals is a good idea?

Vinod Nair answers, sd thats a fantastic question but the answer is too subjective to give here. We'd need a lot more specifics like who and how the terrorists are, what kind of location it is, what time of the day or night it is, how many hours of being a hostage and what the profile of the hostages are.

sd asked, what if somebody barges into your house in the middle of the night? what should you do to save yourself and your family?

Vinod Nair answers, sd, dont open the safety door without double checking. So you wont land in that kind of situation.

Vikki asked, Hi Vinod, I spoke top one of the attack victims at the Taj.. He was shut inside his room and did not know whether to open the door and go out or not.. As he feared the terrorists to be there. which ultimately led him to miss the rescue team which had come knocking on the door. How is one supposed to react to such situations where commonsense does not really come immediately

Vinod Nair answers, Vikki, whatever your friend did is correct. Thats a decision he took and thank God he is alive today. These kind of situations are very liquid, anything can happen. Your friends actions were correct.

ashuragini asked, Sir, I reside in Mathura (a place on hit list of terrorist). I wants to initiate steps to educate Mathurities in this regard. Please guide me.

Vinod Nair answers, ashuragini, i'll be happy to help. you can write to me at:

amrit asked, if someone stabs me & my intestine comes out, noone there to help me,what first aid should i take?

Vinod Nair answers, pad your stomach from outside with a shirt or cloth. lie down, call emergency services, dont put ur hand inside your stomach. Ive seen this kind of injury several times, its not as bad as it looks.

Sameeragr asked, Sir, Talking abt an accident, If one happnes to see a road accident, is it advisable to take the victim immediately to a hospital in a taxi or should one wait for the ambulance? what Precautions to take in that case?

Vinod Nair answers, sameer, if the patient is conscious, keep them talking and awake. do not move them till the ambulance comes.

sd asked, Do you think that civilians have the capability to overpower trained, hardened criminals?

Vinod Nair answers, yes sd, definitely. terrorists are not trained soldiers and they are not very rational either.

Mike asked, Hi.. It's always said that you shud first save yourself and then try and save others in a disaster situation. But at times is it really reasonable?.. I mean there are times when one really does not think about oneself and just jumps ahead to help smone. So why is it that disaster specialists always tell people to save themselves first?

Vinod Nair answers, mike simply becasue you will be no good to anyone if you are dead. So keep yourself alive and well to help others :)

lakshmanks asked,  have severe blood presure,when i heard mumbai attack i got in to shivering .when i come cross such situation what can i do give your best advice

Vinod Nair answers, lakshmanks, please consult your family doc for medication

abhay asked, vinod in case of person trying to suside wat u do

Vinod Nair answers, Abhay talk them out of it. In most cases, they just need an emotional outlet and suicide is a desire that passes by in a bit

Carla asked, Is choking on food really dangerous?.. If Yes what's the correct procedure to save the person

Vinod Nair answers, yes its very dangerous, eat small morsels at all times thats the best preventive measure.

rajiv asked, when a terrorist ask you to obey his orders...what should be done...obey or try for closest escape route if available?

Read these features?
How have the terror strikes affected your life?
An NSG commando's advice to the common man
How to keep safe in these unsafe times
Your emergency checklist

Vinod Nair answers, rajiv, dont challenge a terrorist when his gun is in your face, there's no benefit in that.

bhumika asked, Is it a good idea to do a course in civil defence?

Vinod Nair answers, yes bhumika, its a good idea

Sameeragr asked, And what if the patient is not conscious in case of a road accident? Should we take him/her to hospital as time plays an important factor? what precautions to take?

Vinod Nair answers, sameer, after an accident, a victim may have multiple internal and external injuries and hemmoraging. Its best not to move them unless you are professional or if there is more danger thats iminent. Also, you can post your queries to: or keep getting disaster survival tips from my blog at:

abhay asked, vinod wat u do if someone has dog bite

Vinod Nair answers, for dog and snake bites, I'd suggest identifying the animal and going staright to a doc

abhay asked, and lastly wat i do my daughter age 10 after terror attack in mumbai gets nervous she does not sleep alone she is still scared even 2 day if she hears any news about it on tv

Vinod Nair answers, abhay, please send your daughter for counseling imdtly. Or else she maybe scarred for a longtime.

ratan asked, is there a disaster management course for professionals for office safety?

Vinod Nair answers, yes ratan, you can mail me and I'll send you details

NihalMoraes asked, I'm a seafarer and i'm looking towards shifting to Disaster and emergency management. Unfortunately few institutes offer specialisations that we need. Is there a move being made towards improvement in the education options in this field?

Vinod Nair answers, niha, you can mail me and I'll respond with details of our DST course

Sriram asked, What should we do if a person has an Astma Attack?
Vinod Nair answers, here sriram: How to Help Someone Having an Asthma Attack
* During a bout of asthma, patients find it easier to breathe while sitting up than lying down. So help them get into a comfortable sitting position.
* Most asthma patients know what they need to do to deal with an attack. So it is best to ask them. Ask if they have an inhaler and where it is. If they don't have one, ask them if you should call for help.
* Many asthma patients carry not only an inhaler, but a written instruction card as well. An asthma attack can temporarily rob the patient of his ability to speak.
* In such situations, an instruction card explaining what needs to be done can be invaluable. If there is such a card, just do as it says.
* Help them use the inhaler. An inhaler is designed to deliver a specific dose of asthma medication. The medication relaxes the patient's airways and helps restore normal breathing.
* Medication is so important that in case the patient doesn't have his or her inhaler available, most doctors say that it is ok to use someone else's. Nothing else you can do has nearly the same effect as taking the right medication.
* In general, you should give two to four puffs of the inhaler and then wait for about five minutes for the next dose.
* Position the mouthpiece of the inhaler between the patient's lips. Let him know when you are about to give a puff so that he can breathe in at the same time.
* Wait for several seconds before you deliver another puff. Or until he lets you know he is ready for the next one.
* You can use a spacer to help the person inhale the medicine over the course of several breaths, instead of one breath. This device sits between the inhaler and the person's mouth and can hold the medicine in place between breaths. If a spacer is not available, you can make one by rolling up some paper to create a tube.
* Once you've given medication, observe the patient for several minutes. Is it getting easier for him to breathe?
* If it appears that they are not responding to the medication within ten minutes, call an ambulance. And continue to deliver about four puffs of medication every five minutes while waiting for the ambulance. The medication will help prevent the asthma attack from getting worse even if it doesn't seem to provide immediate relief.
* Stay calm throughout the episode. This will help the patient remain calm as well. If he panics, it will worsen the asthma attack and make it far more difficult for him to breathe. So talk to him calmly, to reinforce the feeling that everything is under control. This is vital.

smriti asked, hello vinod, I am really shocked in my area called lokandwala there is absolutely no security measure, and even in the society I live although we have employed a security agencies, he is hardly in his seat, this area has seen so many shootings and so many murders and this is an easy target for terrorrists, what do you suggest vinod?

Vinod Nair answers, smriti, i agree with you, i was there 2 days back to assess threat. something really needs to be done urgently

Dev asked, What should one do if there is a tear gas attack ?

Vinod Nair answers, dev, wet a towel or cloth and cover your nose, & mouth

mohit_icat asked, Vinod sir what should i do ? if i find any person suspicious among the public ? is there a way i can immediatly inform anyone or , should i move away from that place immediatly and then inform someone ? or should i with help of some people catch him and wait until he is got checked ?

Vinod Nair answers, yes mohit, if some one looks suspicious, call the cops imdtly. but do not let them know that u find them suspicious

mohit_icat asked, Vinod sir what should i do ? if i find any person suspicious among the public ? is there a way i can immediatly inform anyone or , should i move away from that place immediatly and then inform someone ? or should i with help of some people catch him and wait until he is got checked ?

Vinod Nair answers, mohit, if the suspicious person is a suicide bomber, realising that theyve been identified my make them press their detonate button so stay calm and keep a distance. Do NOT try to over power them unless u r a tarined professional.

Sriram asked, Vinodji r u there, I would like to know what should we do if a person has got Astma attack

Vinod Nair answers, sriram, i have already ansered ur asthama question. please scroll down. If u need more dteails, plz mail me at:

Dev asked, Waht steps can corporates take for Disaster Management ?

Vinod Nair answers, hi dev, i am currently training over 20 corporates, they seem to have woken up to this clear & present danger. you can get in touch with me.

smriti asked, HI VINOD again it is smriti I feel politicians are involved with terrorism or they know about terror attacks before it is carried out, how come none of the politicians ever die in these terror attacks they are warmly sitting at home with wife and kids.

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Vinod Nair answers, smriti, i am not competent to anser about politics or politians. I can answer queries on combat or safety.

smriti asked, HI VINOD again it is smriti I feel politicians are involved with terrorism or they know about terror attacks before it is carried out, how come none of the politicians ever die in these terror attacks they are warmly sitting at home with wife and kids.

Vinod Nair answers, smriti, i am not competent to anser about politics or politians. I can answer queries on combat or safety.

mohit_icat asked, Vinod sir do you feel , army training should be made compulsary for young adults so that during these situation we could act more briskly and show terrorist they cannot attack us when and where they want ? :)

Vinod Nair answers, no mohit, i feel army training shud NOT be made compulsory but a different level of training and discipline is a must for every civilian.

Udaykumar asked, We are plenty ppl waiting for your answers but u r answering your favourates

Vinod Nair answers, uday ask away am here to answer whatever I can

Vinod Nair says, I genuinely believe that military training should NOT be made compulsory.

rajiv asked, What does one do if hit by a bullet?

Vinod Nair answers, Rajiv, if someone is hit by a bullet, do not dig it out like they show in movies

we asked, What to do if a person gets stroke due to heart problem?

Vinod Nair answers, we, i have answered that question in the first half, plz scroll down to find it :)

VENKAT asked, Captain, it feel great to chat with people like you. Tell me one thing not related to expertise. Can you please tell me What is the procedure as per constitution to handle National flag if it is torn or old or put on dead body. Pl advice

Vinod Nair answers, thanks venkat. I am not an authority on the national flag. I do know that it cannot be demeaned. For than that, you'll have to ask an expert

Kalpesh asked, Hi sir some freedome for self defence rule should be there for protect againce desaster do you agree with me???

Vinod Nair answers, Yes Kalpesh, I am providing that training to companies and institutes. You can contact me at:

huma asked, Sir, Why do you say NO to compulsory military training? wont that discipline the youth?

Vinod Nair answers, Huma I say that because the nature of military training and its requirements are different from the need of the hour.

amit_bhasin2000 asked, Hi Captain I want to know that how do u feel after winning on the terrorist

Vinod Nair answers, Amit, every terrorist down is a temporary relief.

bomb1 asked, sir what should we do in war situation..!! as pakistan is likely to attack his fighter were around our all borders...!!! so suggest what should we do if there will be chemical and bio war..??

Vinod Nair answers, Bomb1: pakistan cannot and will not ever attack India Just as India will never attack pakistan. There are too many forces and complexities to allow it either way.

bomb1 asked, sir what should we do in war situation..!! as pakistan is likely to attack his fighter were around our all borders...!!! so suggest what should we do if there will be chemical and bio war..??

Vinod Nair answers, The max that can happen is that India may conduct surgical air strikes on training camps in pak

Mumbaikar asked, Hello Captain....Do you think Mumbai [Images] will ever be safe? DO you think it will be get back it's past glory?

Vinod Nair answers, Mumbaikar: Yes Mumbai will never lose its glory. Mumbai is and always will be Mumbai :)

Dev asked, What should one do if he/she is stabbed with a knife ?

Vinod Nair answers, 1. Do not try to take the knife out! In doing so, you are likely to cause additional damage. The knife must be treated as a foreign object.
2. Do not try to relocate unless you are in danger of further injury (in a road or in the line of fire).
3. Try to raise the injured limb if possible to help stem the bleeding. If another person is available, have them gently squeeze together the edges of the wound alongside the knife blade. If the wound is bleeding profusely, apply indirect pressure to the major artery or arteries leading to the area, such as the brachial (inside upper arm) or femoral (groin) arteries, for an arm or leg injury respectively.
4. Place suitable sterile dressings or soft clean material to hand, it is essential to cover the wound as soon as possible. Apply padding around the knife (gauze, if available) and secure with a bandage or other suitable material.
5. Call emergency services or get someone to do it for you if possible and inform the operator of your injury and the actions you have taken to prevent further damage. Arrange transport to hospital.
6. Beware of anything that could cause the knife to be jolted, moved, hit or knocked out. If the injury is to your chest and the knife is still present, sit in a half-sitting position and treat as above. If the knife has been removed, immediately seal the open wound with your palm. Position yourself in a half-sitting position against an object or have someone support you. Lean slightly to the injured side so your sound side is uppermost. Cover the wound carefully with a sterile dressing, then form an airtight seal (if possible) over the dressing. Use clean cling film, aluminium foil, or a plastic bag if need be. Sling the arm on the injured side, but be careful not to let the arm rest on the wound. Put soft material between the wound and the arm.
7. Look to see if the injury is to your abdomen and the knife is present, lie on your back with bent knees and treat. If the knife has been removed, lie on your back with bent knees, and dress the wound with sterile dressing. If the intestines are protruding, apply extra padding. Secure with a bandage or other suitable material. If you need to cough or vomit, apply light pressure to the dressing to prevent the intestines protruding (further). It is important that you treat the wound as soon as possible to prevent infection.
8. If the wound isn't very deep and the knife slips out easily, remove the knife carefully and apply immediate direct pressure to the wound.
9. Being stabbed is no joke, it can cause more damage than getting shot. A bullet cauterizes everything it goes through but the stomach. But a knife leaves everything open and bleeding.
10. Use gloves to prevent transmission of any possible diseases.
11. Use a First Aid kit if possible. If not, soft clean material will suffice.

anant asked, What are the measures that can beimplementedto prevent a disaster??Uknow that recent legislations and other acts of government are responses to the particular attacks but they are not responses to the Ehole..

Vinod Nair answers, anat, the best preventive measure is to make sure you and and your family are always protected and safe. Attend a disaster survival training and you will be a lot better off

bomb1 asked,  captain . tell me .. i am in some buisness.. and earned very good income.. but i am not satisfied with my life ..!! i want to do something for my country ...!!i am 30 ..and wearing glasses..! so is there any chance that i can join army or save my nation..????

Vinod Nair answers, Bomb1: Army and NSG are out for you :)

Mumbaikar asked, Thanks for replying.... Am 40, and fit. I say fit cos i do a lotta adventure and even run the Half Marathon every year. How can i join the territorial army? and is the training similar to the regular army or even the police?

Vinod Nair answers, Mumbaikar: Glad to know that you take care of yourself. Please feel free to mail in at: I would appreciate fit young who volunteer to help.

Vinod Nair says, Absolutely loved this chat, thank you everyone :) For detailed articles, plz visit my blog: and for your queries, plz mail me at: Thank you, signing out now bye bye :)

Captain Vinod Nair, an ex army officer, has undergone commando training and has served in Jammu & Kashmir for two years (during which he saw plenty of action) and has a Sainya Seva Medal for meritorious service. Currently, he runs Kimmaya, a consulting and training solutions company.

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