Survival of the fittest

Do you know what to do if a dangerous situation presents iteself?
By: Jenifer Gee, Journal Staff Writer
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When you come across a bear in the woods, do you run? What should you do if you’re cruising down Interstate 80 and the cars in front of you collide? Is it OK to eat a bumblebee? There are numerous emergency situations locals can find themselves in whether driving on a busy highway or hiking along scenic trails. March is noted as American Red Cross month and volunteers – as well as other emergency experts in the area – say there are plenty of resources to help residents be prepared for the worst-case scenario. “Preparedness is our goal,” said Bob Thornton, district outreach manager for the American Red Cross Sacramento Sierra Chapter. Thornton said the local Red Cross chapter, located on 457 Grass Valley Highway, Suite 8, in Auburn, offers a variety of classes including wilderness first aid, disaster preparedness and CPR. The chapter’s annual free CPR Saturday event March 7 is already full with a growing wait list. Thornton said CPR can be a very crucial, life-saving skill. He said over half a million people die each year from cardiac arrests who could possibly be assisted if someone responded. “Each minute that goes by is a 10 percent less chance of someone surviving a cardiac arrest,” Thornton said. “If you can respond, you can make the difference.” For more information, call (530) 885-9392 or visit, sacsierrared Lions, and tigers and bears - be prepared Imagine taking a scenic hike on one of the Auburn area’s many beautiful trails and a large predatory animal appears. Kyle Orr, spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Game headquarters, said one of the most important things people should remember is to not act like prey when they encounter a wild animal in its habitat. Orr stressed that mountain lion attacks are very rare – 14 have been verified in the state since 1890 – but they can occur as residential areas continue to encroach on wildlife’s backyard. Officials estimate that between 4,000 and 6,000 mountain lions roam California. Orr said a lot of people ask how they can tell they are in mountain lion country. “One rule of thumb is wherever there are plentiful deer, there is likely a healthy population of mountain lions,” Orr said. For more information, call (916) 445-0411 or visit How to react when a mountain lion is near: • Avoid hiking or jogging at dawn, dusk or night when mountain lions are most active • Do not approach a mountain lion • Don’t run if you encounter one. Running emulates a prey response • Face the animal, make noise, appear bigger by waving your arms and throwing rocks or other objects • Pick up small children • Fight back if attacked How to react when a bear is near: • Do not approach a bear • Do not pick up a bear cub in the wild • Do not run •Face the animal, make noise and try to appear large • Fight back if attacked • Make noise while hiking to avoid a surprise encounter Accidents happen Roadways are a “very dangerous” place, cautions California Highway Patrol spokesman Dave Montijo. Accidents can happen in an instant, and, if you’re following too closely, you’re likely going to become a part of the gnarly scene unfolding in front of you, Montijo said. Also, traffic related stops are the primary reason for on-duty deaths for CHP officers, he said. Don’t want to become another highway statistic? Montijo offers some advice for motorists. For more information, call (800) TELL-CHP or visit How to react when a vehicle accident happens immediately in front of you: • No tailgating. Follow the vehicle in front of you at a safe distance. The two-second rule applies in dry, visible conditions. If it’s raining or snowing, increase the time between you and another vehicle to three seconds. • If an accident happens and traffic has come to a stop and you can do so safely, exit your vehicle and see if you can render any aid. Call 911 immediately. • Once the situation is stabilized, get in your car and pull off to the side of the road to a safe area if you wish to provide witness assistance. • “If you can, keep going,” Montijo said. “The fewer people around means less of a chance of another collision happening.” Survival food Not only can getting lost be a scary scenario in itself, lost with no food could potentially be worse. Fortunately, there are a variety of plants, fruits and nuts that people can eat to sustain themselves should they be far out of range of any dinning establishment. Jim McAfee, Placer School for Adults teacher and certified clinical nutritionist, will hold a survival class May 9 showing people what they can eat when they are in the wilderness. McAfee said many things are on the menu ranging from cattails, which are considered the “supermarket of the swamp,” to wild plums, to grasshoppers. McAfee said when it comes to eating wild-grown plants size does matter. “For wild, edible plants, the younger they are, they better they taste,” McAfee said. “You don’t want to look for the thing that’s the biggest and oldest because it’s going to be bitter.” For a full list and images of what plants and insects are good to eat – and which ones to avoid – sign up for McAfee’s class by calling the adult school at (530) 885-8585. Quick list of edible wild plants, insects: • Wild plums • Black walnuts • Grasshoppers • Crickets • Bees • Earthworms