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Mayday!

What would you do in a disaster? Source: millzero.com hide caption

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Source: millzero.com

I've always been a big fan of movies like Twister and Dante's Peak and The Day After Tomorrow. You see mankind pushed to the limit from the safety and comfort of a movie theater, or your living room. But when I watch these movies, I can't help but wonder how I would respond if I ever found myself in the middle of torrential floods or a harrowing tornado or an explosive volcano. I envision what I might do, or fail to do, in that crucial moment when escape is possible.

Journalist Amanda Ripley, who covers disasters for Time magazine, says that most people facing disaster act in surprising ways. It's not the hysterical, every-man-for-himself mentality we often see in the movies. On the contrary, people often remain surprisingly calm. She interviewed survivors from Hurricane Katrina and the attacks on the World Trade Center — as well as survivors of fires, plane crashes, stampedes, massacres and earthquakes — to find out what they learned from the experience. The result is a new book called The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes — and Why. She joins us today to talk about how to think clearly — and get out alive — in crisis situations.

And we want to hear from disaster survivors. If you've survived a fire, flood, earthquake, shooting spree, tsunami, or plane crash — what went through your head at the time? And how'd you get out alive?