Life is unpredictable. There's no way to know what's going to happen in the near future, whether it be minutes or days away. That being said, it's hard to be completely prepared. Ideally, we always try to be ready to handle any situation that comes our way, but there are just too many possibilities that it's hard to cover all of the bases 100%. That's where our gut feeling comes in—more often than not, trusting our instincts can get us out of messy situations. Just ask the people below—their last-minute decisions that ended up saving their lives. Perhaps their stories will open your eyes to the importance of doing things "just in case."
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#1 Recorded Evidence
About 10 years ago when I was married, my wife’s best friend kept flirting with me. One time, when she was being super aggressive, I recorded it on my cell phone. A few months later, she accused me of saying the very things that she actually said to me. I played the recording to my wife and it completely exonerated me. She was trying to ruin my marriage because her own marriage was failing.
#2 Always Flip Your Shoes
I flipped over my shoe and shook it, cause I had found a spider in it the night before, just to make sure. There was another spider in there. Always do this when visiting hot and arid climates. Spiders love shoes. Scorpions love shoes. They don't love your feet. Never have I not checked when in hot climates. Even when the shoes are on an elevated or covered shoe rack off of the floor. You can never be too careful.
#3 Keep Your Receipts!
I saved a receipt for a campus parking ticket I paid for during my freshman year of college. They do this thing where they double the ticket amount after a month of not paying. I paid for it the week I got it, stuffed the receipt in my bag and forgot about it. Apparently, whoever was in charge of clearing me didn’t, and I was told I had an unpaid, doubled parking ticket on my account after like three months when I tried to settle up tuition for the semester.
I disputed that and wore a smug-ass look on my face as I directly reached in my bag and pulled the receipt out to show them. I mean otherwise, I would’ve had to essentially pay that ticket three times. Something tells me it’s not the first time that’s happened to students there.
#4 Saved By Insurance
I booked a vacation for my wife's birthday in Cabo San Lucas months in advance. For some reason, as I was booking it, I decided to get the trip insurance. I had never done that before, but this time, I thought I better do it. Our trip was to be in October. I booked it in June. At the beginning of September, a Hurricane struck Cabo and did a lot of damage. I contacted the resort and they said they were not very badly affected. I left the reservation booked.
The day before we were to fly to Cabo, I checked the flights and everything was good to go. We got to the airport and as we were checking the woman checking in said, "Oh, there's a problem with your connecting flight" Yeah, the problem was the connecting flight had been canceled over a month ago. Expedia neglected to tell us that little bit of information. I was able to recoup all of the money we spent because of the insurance.
#5 A Close Call
I was remodeling my house, so I took out a loan and had to get the house appraised. I found out that my house was worth $100,000 more than I had it insured for. I raised my limits on the homeowner’s insurance to $50,000 more than the appraised value, in anticipation of the renovations. Two weeks later, the house burned to the ground due to a faulty bathroom fan that I did not touch.
#6 Tragedy: Averted
A tropical storm was blowing through my city a few months ago. We were projected to get some wind gusts and significant rain. Because our parking lot isn’t large enough for all the staff and our clients, a lot of us have to park on the street, which is lined with large, old trees. As I rolled up on the morning we were due to get the storm, I parked in my usual spot down the block.
Before I shut the car off, though, I noticed that the particular spot I was in was located directly across the street from one of the largest trees on the block. Thinking, “You know what, just to be safe…” I put the car in reverse and backed up about ten feet, safely out of the direct line from any trees.
In the middle of that afternoon, in the midst of the howling wind and driving rain, we heard a huge “thud” down the street. We went to investigate and that same tree I had been parked across the street from fell across the road and missed my car by about eight feet.
#7 Protected By Kevlar
I spent extra money on kevlar motorcycle gloves. They're a lot more expensive than regular motorcycle gloves, but five times more durable. When I later crashed my sports motorcycle, I slid the first stretch of meters on the palms of my hands before I started rolling. Those gloves are the reason I still have two hands.
#8 Almost Crushed
I had a car sitting on jack stands because I needed to do some transmission work. Before getting under it, I thought it’d be a good idea to rock the car around, just to check for stability. One of the jack stands was not in the right spot and the car slipped off of it, slamming down on the front disk brakes. It would have ended me.
#9 One Mistake
I was working in an electric panel yesterday. I went over to check and make sure that the disconnect switch was off. It wasn’t. I was being careful either way, not getting near the high-voltage stuff, but it didn’t need to be on and could have easily ended myself with one mistake.
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#10 Pilot Dangers
I was undergoing pilot training and was pretty new to the whole thing. I walked out to do my pre-flight checks before my solo flight. After doing my walk around, I checked the oil. Cessna 172’s have a dipstick that is attached to a cap that screws into the engine. You have to unscrew the cap and remove dipstick along with it to check the oil.
After I unscrewed the cap, there didn’t seem to be a dipstick attached to it. Long story short, the dipstick had broken off during the previous flight that had landed just minutes before. It had slid straight into the engine, where the crank-case had been chomping away metal from the tip. That metal was now circulating in the engine.
At that point, the aircraft was grounded because it was extremely dangerous to fly. At massive cost, it had to be stripped down, with the entire engine disassembled, and they actually had to find every bit of metal missing from the dipstick before the plane could be re-assembled and made flight worthy again. If in a moment of stupidity I’d taken off in that plane, I’d probably not be here today.
#11 On A Whim
I went to the doctor on a whim. It turns out, I have testicular cancer, but they caught it early. I'm getting it removed Friday. Don't disregard any off feeling or sensation, no matter how small! Even the tiniest, slightly persistent pain is a reason enough to go to the doctor. It could be the difference between life and death...
#12 The Usefulness Of A Warranty
I bought a used Subaru Baja that was five years old at the time and had 75k miles for $12k. The salesman offered an extended warranty that covered the engine for $2,500. It would last three years for 36k miles. That was kind of a lot, and I usually don't buy those. I don't know what got into me that day, but I said sure.
One month and 750 miles later, after an oil change at a mechanic shop, the oil started shooting where it wasn't supposed to go. It completely ruined the engine and turbo. The dealer had to keep it for three weeks. The warranty company flew someone out to inspect the car, and eventually approved a replacement engine, turbo, and any other affected parts. Total repairs cost almost $11k, and the warranty then applied to all the new parts too.
The car drove like it was brand new! I later discovered the car had five previous owners before me, but I couldn't find any accident or serious repair history. This is probably the only time buying an extended warranty on something actually worked out in my favor.
#13 Slipped Out
I arrived in San Francisco a week into a trip. As we gathered our things during a moment of downtime, I went back to check the bus because, you know, it never hurts. I found my passport wedged in my seat, and I had no idea I had even dropped it.
#14 Hats Off To Ya
This one is a bit more light-hearted. A few years ago, I went on a trip to Venice. It was going to be sunny, and I knew I had terrible luck. There are many pigeons, so I took an old white baseball hat with me and put it on. Of course, a pigeon did its business right on my head. Right on the hat I had with me just in case.
#15 Bear Scare
I was out solo hiking and camping. It was the end of a long day and I really didn’t feel like taking the time to tie up a bear bag (a bag with all your food tied up in a tree far away from your camp). But I said, “You know what, just to be safe… I’ll go set one up.” Cut to the middle of the night–I’m woken up to the sound of a black bear walking 30 feet away from my hammock and heading straight to where I tied up my food.
#16 Take Ten Before You Send
"Take ten before you send" has saved my butt countless times. It means to take 10 seconds to re-read your email, post or whatever written communication you've typed up before you hit send. Emails, especially in the workplace, last forever.
#17 Handy Flashlights
I went hiking in the middle of the day with a friend and his girlfriend. I brought flashlights for us. Well, the hike took a lot longer than expected and my buddy’s girlfriend sprained her foot near the end. It took us nearly three times as long to get back and it was already really dark. Those flashlights saved our bacon. I can’t even fathom how long it would have taken stumbling in the dark otherwise.
#18 Lucky Roommate
I got insurance for a moving van. It was $50, and I thought, " Why not, just in case." It turned out, my roommate wasn't paying attention and caused one of the walls of the van to be ripped up. It would have cost near $3,000 in damages, but since I paid the $50, I didn't owe anything. When you're renting a van that's always worth it. Barely anybody is used to maneuvering such a big vehicle so something can always happen.
#19 A Proper Reaction
I was driving on the highway headed back to college when I saw a flatbed semi coming in the opposite direction that looked to be carrying railroad ties (big square logs basically). I thought to myself, "Huh, it sure would be bad if one of those things fell off." I held my gaze on the semi and you can guess what immediately fell off and started tumbling right down the center of my lane. I'm convinced I wouldn't have been able to react to it properly if I hadn't JUST thought of that exact circumstance.
#20 Good Ol' Fashioned Maps
We recently went driving around Wales. We always use Google Maps for navigation. Last week, The O2 network went down for most of the day, while we were smack in the middle of nowhere, which would have made searching for destinations impossible. But I had the forethought that, even with a perfectly working cellular network, Wales is full of countryside, so the signal may be lost. I ended up downloading the entire northern half of Wales onto my phone before we set off so a data connection wasn't required to navigate. I think we'd still be driving now if I didn't do that!
#21 Trail Of Breadcrumbs
I used to be a banner tow pilot. I was often tasked to fly banners over the New York City area, especially over the Hudson River. I would pick them up at an airport in New Jersey and make my way over from there. Typically, if I were to run into some kind of engine problem, I’d have a fair number of places where I could theoretically land. Just not so much over the New York City metro area.
So I picked out a “trail of breadcrumbs,” if you will, of specific places I could try to land my plane if I ever had to. On the one year anniversary of the Miracle on the Hudson, I was given the job to fly a large banner over a boat on the Hudson that would be carrying the crew and some passengers from the flight.
On the way there, my engine failed while I was less than 1,000 feet above the ground. Sinking quickly, I needed to find a place to land right away. Fortunately, my previously selected spot was just to my left—a landfill on Staten Island. I put the plane right on the top of it.
#22 Bring The Floor Pump
I was going on a road trip. We packed everything in the trunk. Then I realized that I forgot to check the air in the spare tire. Faced with unpacking and repacking, I thought, "What are the odds? We've had the car for years, never had a flat, we probably won't have a flat now." Then I thought "screw that" and tossed the floor pump I use for my bicycle into the trunk, "just in case." We ended up with a flat tire in the middle of freaking nowhere. The spare was too flat to drive on. The floor pump saved my butt. It gets packed on every trip now.
#23 Always Call Mom
At a small farm town about 20 minutes away from my actual town, everyone was out partying. I didn’t realize that our designated driver had been drinking all night. When it was time to go, I couldn’t even tell she was tipsy. But something wasn’t right, so I didn’t want to drive back with them.
For whatever reason, I opted to get picked up by my mom instead. I put up with the verbal tongue-lashing from her when she came to pick me up. Well, my friends in the first car were apparently veering across the road, got picked up by the cops, and all of them had to spend the night in jail. Glad I opted for my mom.
#24 Totally Worth It
I had originally booked a rental car for a trip to Iceland using my credit card points. Two days before, I canceled the reservation and booked it again with my credit card, which provides rental vehicle coverage. It looked like the weather wasn’t going to be great while we were there and I wanted the extra protection.
While there, we got into an accident for which we were not at fault. The car was almost a total loss and I had to pay $12k out of pocket to the company. It took a few months and a ton of paperwork, but the credit card company refunded all of it. I still think about how lucky I was that I changed the booking. I would have been ruined for a very long time otherwise.
#25 The Useful Diaper
For years, I kept an old hospital-issued diaper bag in the trunk of my car, with a full set of clothes for each of my boys, and a spare t-shirt for me. It got significant use for years and saved us countless times. I'd switch out clothes every six months or so when they hadn't been used—trading up a size or two, and from one season to another. I kept it up until a couple of months ago when I sold my last car.
#26 Pulling Up The Receipts
I saved an email where a lead developer told me to do something stupid. A couple of years later, once he was promoted to a managerial position, we were talking about the incident and he yelled, “Well, why did you do that?!” I pulled up the email that showed him clearly instructing me to do the stupid thing. He sputtered and walked off, speechless.
#27 Found By Mistake
When I was 17 years old, I got a hit in the head while I was surfing some waves. The injury turned out to be a concussion and I went to the hospital with my mom. We met with the doctor in A&E and he said I could do a CT scan if wanted, but that there was probably no need. I was unsure, so I just said yes to the scan anyway.
After the scan, I was told that they didn’t see anything but the radiographer would be checking the results in the morning. The next day, I got a call saying that I needed an MRI because they found a tumor in my brain. If they didn’t catch it there, I would have lost my vision from the tumor and it would have been too late to do anything.
#28 The Lucky Pencil
When I was five years old, my parents took my sister and me to a planetarium show. Every kid got a souvenir pencil that had the distances of the planets from the Sun written on it (Mercury, Venus, Earth, etc.). The guy running the planetarium show said something like, "Hang on to these pencils until 7th-grade kids, and you can use them to cheat on your astronomy tests." He was joking but I never forgot, and sure enough, it was the exact pencil I used to cheat in astronomy in 7th grade.
#29 Avoiding A Flood
Before going on an extended winter vacation, I turned off the water main valve for our house, just in case a plumbing issue developed while we were away. Turning off the water supply paid off big when we discovered a pipe that was close to an outside wall had frozen and burst during several nights of near-zero temperatures while we were gone. If the water main valve hadn’t been closed, the basement would’ve been flooded.
#30 Crossing The Tracks
When I was a kid, I would cross the train rails every day on my way home from school. I was always listening to my Creative mp3 at the time, of course. An important detail: the intersection was in a curved shape, so visibility was very poor. One day, I thought to myself, "Just to be safe, let me take these off," just before reaching the rails. I immediately heard the sound of a train five seconds away. I would have been a goner if I didn't take the earphones out.
#31 Baking Soda Saves Lives
I went shopping to prepare for my long-distance girlfriend who was staying over and I saw boxes of baking soda at the market. I thought, “Oh yeah, it’s smart to keep baking soda around in the kitchen in case you have a grease fire,” so I grabbed a box. She was cooking breakfast the next morning while I was in the shower when I heard her yelling for me. I came out and the stove was on fire. Like a champ, I yelled, “I’m ready for this!” I grabbed the baking soda and put out the fire. Always keep baking soda in the fridge, kids.
#32 Mom Always Knows
When I was 18, I went on vacation to Mexico with some friends. My mother gave me a copy of my birth certificate before I left because she was worried that they wouldn't let me back in the country. This was patently ridiculous, but I folded it up and stuck it in my wallet Two years later, I was applying for an expedited passport for an emergency trip abroad. I had everything that I needed to go to the County Recorder's office, but there was some problem with one of my identity documents. Fortunately, I had a certified copy of my birth certificate in my wallet, and the passport request was successfully submitted. Thanks, Mom.
#33 That's So Gross
I stayed up late one-night playing video games, but I left an unfinished can of soda out overnight. When I woke up the next morning, I picked it up, held it about an inch away from my mouth and was about to drink it. Then I thought, “Wait a minute, I don’t want this lukewarm soda,” so I walked over to the sink to pour out what was left. As I poured it, a huge cockroach crawled out of the hole of the pop-top... I promptly high fived myself.
#34 Spidey Senses
Always wear safety glasses. It’s easy to talk yourself into doing something really quick without putting them on, despite the voice in your head warning you. In the middle of grinding something, I stopped to put on my glasses. When I continued, a chunk of metal flew up and cracked the right lens. Spidey senses: 1, Murphy’s Law: 0.
#35 Prepared When Tipsy
Tipsy me can take better care of myself than sober me. If I get too tipsy on a weeknight, I always wake up, without fail, showered, shaved, with clothes, keys and everything I’ll need laid out. Usually there's some food ready to grab and go too, though I always have little to no memory of handling all that. But damn do I appreciate it when I wake up.
#36 In Case Of Emergency
I had a guest speaker who was in the World Trade Center when it was hit say that he took the stairs all the way down 74 floors because he didn't trust the elevators. He was in a meeting with 55 other people, and he was one of four to survive. He said as he was heading down the hall to escape, he turned around and noticed everyone cramming in the elevators from the meeting. Only the people in the meeting that took the stairs survived.
#37 Not A Single Penny
I took my first ever solo vacation when I was 24 to Ireland. When I got there, I was tired from the flight and confused by the car rental system (I had never rented a car before). I accidentally overpaid for the total coverage Cadillac insurance package. When I got to the place where I was staying, I called my dad about it.
He called the car company, figured things out, and told me that the next day I could drive back to the airport and get my money back for a less crazy insurance package. At the last second, I figured I’d never driven in another country, much less switching to the opposite side of the road, so I decided to just keep the insurance. Halfway through the trip, I made a boneheaded mistake, hit another car, and totaled my rental car. I didn’t pay a penny.
#38 A Medical Near-Miss
A nurse coworker of mine hung a beta-blocker for a woman with a cerebral hemorrhage to lower her blood pressure, as per protocol. I need to co-sign for these types of things. He started the drip, but I had a gut feeling something was off, so I went back to check...
Long story short, “mcg” is NOT the same as “mg”... I shut it down immediately. In a matter of 15 seconds, her BP dropped from 210 systolic to 115. If another 15 seconds had passed, her pressure would have bottomed out. She was in the process of being dosed 1000 times what she should have been. It was a nice reminder for why we have double checks in place!
#39 A Laptop Spared
I moved back into our empty house. I went to visit a friend and decided to take my luggage and computer with me in case the neighborhood still thought the house was empty. I came home to the empty house broken into. The front door had been unlocked from the inside. My computer would've been stolen.
#40 Whistle Call
I was on my way out the door for a trip to the Rocky Mountains with some friends. I saw a whistle sitting randomly in my junk drawer. When I went out to the car to leave, I thought, “Well, I guess if I get lost it could come in handy.” I went back in and put it in my pocket. Guess who got lost in the mountains and got saved by having a very loud whistle with me?
#41 Crisis Averted
One morning, I woke up with a bit of a sniffle. It wasn’t really enough for a reasonable person to take the day off, but I had a super long commute if I went in—two buses, then the Metro to the Pentagon bus transit center, then ANOTHER bus to my job—and I didn’t want have to make that ridiculous commute while I was sick. So I told myself I didn’t want to risk making anybody in my office sick, and I was just going to stay home. That was September 11, 2001. I would have been at the Pentagon the exact moment it was struck.
#42 Sometimes, Insurance Isn't A Scam
My friends and I rented a car to drive from Toronto to Florida for my wedding. The plan was to waive the coverage because "my credit card has insurance," but while picking it up, my friend had a last-minute change of heart and signed up for full coverage. We were pretty angry at the extra cost but about six hours into the drive, we hit a deer that completely crippled the van. Just a few hours later, we were on our way in a replacement van at no extra cost. I still wonder how we would have gotten the van back to Toronto if we hadn't gotten the full coverage.
#43 Always Dress Accordingly
I am an avid motorcyclist that advocates wearing gear. I had a friend that didn’t really care about gear of any kind, saying “It was too hot in the summer” to wear it. I was finally able to convince him to get gloves and a helmet after a few years of riding. Not an hour after he bought the helmet and the gloves, someone turned left in front of him and he went down.
He was able to reduce his speed before the crash but he still went flying over the hood of a Camry at about 30 mph, landing hands and face-first on the asphalt. He had a nasty gash on his leg and some pretty bad road rash on his legs and arms, but his hands and head were A-OK. The bike was a total loss; insurance paid for it and the helmet and gloves. Once he was shipshape to ride again, he had me help him pick out a complete suit.
#44 Playing With Fire
My cousins and I liked to build small little campfires close to dark while we played out in the woods. We usually just covered them up with dirt before we went home. It had been particularly dry that summer and one time, I thought to myself after I got home that a douse over the fire we made earlier wouldn’t be a bad idea. I went back and the fire had spread to roughly a 10-by-10 area. I contained it by making a mixture of mud with the water and raking around it.
I often give my mother cash to hold on to for me. It always ends up saving my butt in a financial emergency.