Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Survival Wednesday - Alligator Attack

My current WIP, Bayou Blue, takes place in the fictional Bayou La Foudre, a sleepy parish in southern Louisiana. A large portion of the action scene near the climax occurs in the swamp. 

To celebrate spine-tingling adventure in the muck...I decided to make todays post about surviving an alligator attack. Get your notepads out, my friends, because you may someday need this stuff.

In The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook, by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht, they give some great tips on how to avoid being in the situation all together.  

And of course, never try to wrestle an alligator in real life...All this information is for fiction writing purposes only. I am not an expert and neither are you.

But, lets say, for argument's purposes, that your hero is in the dank and dripping dark of a bayou swamp, face to giant snout-full-of-teeth with a bull alligator. The gator charges, the low rumble of his roar spiking the hair on your MC's arms....what does he do?

  • Well, first of all, I would run screaming and probably pass out from fright, thus becoming lunch.  HOWEVER, the book says to try to get on the alligator's back if you're on dry land.  Sort of a bull-riding defensive move I guess.

  • Then you are supposed to cover the alligator's eyes because apparently, that makes them docile.  Clearly, Peek-A-Boo has its uses outside of confusing your infant.

This next piece of advice yanked a disbelieving snort-laugh out of me...

  • If its jaws are closed on something you wish to remove -- like your arm -- then "tap" or punch it on the snout.

I'm not the expert here...but "tapping" seems inadequate. I doubt I'd be that polite anyway. I tend to panic.

  • Seek medical attention, even if for a scratch. There can be infection. 

I'd like to add that losing buckets of blood is also an indicator that medical help is a good idea.

The best way to avoid this scenario is to not swim where there are NO WHERE, in Florida.  Also swamps named "Dead Man's Gulch."  Don't dangle your limbs from boats. Don't harass or touch the alligators - they frown upon that kind of disturbance. Don't pick up their babies for a photo-op.

Alligators are beautiful, precious, and ferocious animals. They're wild. Leave them alone and give them space.  Unfortunately, my MC does everything right and still has an unpleasant encounter...but that's the fun of fiction.

Until next time...Go Write!


Laura Marcella said...

YIKES for your character! Great advice here, though. If I'm ever in a Florida swamp I'll feel slightly more confident (or scared, haha!).

Amos Keppler said...

Yeah, bull-riding the alligator is the ticket... and avoid its smashy tail, of course.

Elena Solodow said...

Run away. Check.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Avoid the golf courses in Florida as well!

Creepy Query Girl said...

Yikes. I actually prefer to know these kinds of things...just in case. Any idea how to get away from sharks? lol.

Hart Johnson said...

Your commentary had me snorting--excellent! LOVED this--and it actually makes some sense--if you're on it's back it can't get you with teeth or tail--the two parts you really want to avoid. That punching thing is ALSO supposed to work with sharks. (though preferably before it bites)--learned from a scuba-diving former boyfriend.

AND: I had a grad student from Lousiana several years ago, and she said alligators are shy, so making a lot of noise will often make them leave before you even see them. (though probably not a nesting mama)