Wilderness Survival For Dummies
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If you were aboard the Titanic when the ship sank, what would be your chances of surviving? The exact number of survivors and passengers who died when the Titanic sank is difficult to reckon. Thus, the numbers in this table should be looked at as illustrative — not definitive.

If you were a passenger, your chances of surviving depended greatly on the type of ticket you bought — a first-class, second-class, or third-class ticket. As this table shows, first-class passengers survived at a rate of 62 percent, which is more than twice the rate of third-class passengers.

Passenger Survival Rates by Class
Passengers Total Survived
First class 325 202 (62%)
Second class 285 118 (41%)
Third class 706 178 (25%)
Totals 1,316 498 (38%)

Even if you were a first-class passenger with a higher likelihood of getting a seat in a lifeboat, your chances of getting that seat increased if you were a woman or child. The “women and children first” rule applied when loading the lifeboats, although the rule wasn’t strictly or equally enforced. If a lifeboat was about to be launched on the starboard side and empty seats were available, men could take the seats if no women or children were at hand to take them. On the port side, however, it was more apt to be “women and children only” — very few men escaped the ship from this side. So if you were a man, your chances of survival were greatly increased by going starboard, as opposed to going port.

What’s particularly tragic about the numbers reported here is that human error caused many of the deaths. Not only was the number of lifeboats inadequate, but also, the lifeboats were only partially filled. More than 1,100 people could have been saved if the lifeboats had been filled to capacity.

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Cameron M. Smith, PhD, teaches in the anthropology department at Portland State University in Oregon. His anthropological experiences include searching for early human fossils in East Africa and learning about traditional hunting methods in arctic Alaska. His research has been published in The American Journal of Physical Anthropology and The Journal of Field Archaeology. He is the author of The Top Ten Myths About Evolution (endorsed by the National Center for Science Education) and coauthor of Anthopology For Dummies. John Haslett is a veteran expedition leader and adventure writer whose articles have been featured in National Geographic Adventure.

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