It could be that my most favoritest guilty pleasure is the consumption of disaster movies. Mostly because of what I learn so that I may be prepared when that next Meteor/Tsunami/Alien Invasion/Tornado/Earthquake/Monster/Climate Change comes along. How else are we going to be ready? I don't see any real guides out there. Who else do we have to turn to except these masterworks? Watch and learn... so the next time your windows start to shake or a giant fireball appears perfectly framed on the horizon, you will know just what you need to do to survive.
Own A Dog
If you look at the evidence - and I have - the odds are the greatest that your dog will survive whatever terrible set of life-threatening circumstances any given disaster offers. Sure, owning that dog will put your own life in danger for when the time comes you have to go save it -- but trust me, it may seem impossible that you be able to save your dog in time... but you will. Dogs cannot die in disasters. They can outrun fireballs, survive F5 tornados and sniff out invading aliens. So hang on to Fido, because as long as he's with YOU, you're going to be ok.
Note: Whatever you do, don't hand him over a closing pressurized saftey gate! You're toast as soon as he leaves your hands.
This could tehnically fall into the same category as dogs. If you have a kid, there's no way that kid is going to die. Just trust me. Kids can't die in disasters. Stick close. Possibly duct-tape that child to your torso if you need to.
If you have neither a dog, nor a child, I recommend finding a family with one or both... preferably a family where the parents are divorced and (this is important), the ex is not nearby.
Press The Accelerator
The evidence shows that it pays to drive really, really fast in any given disastrous situation.
I know and you know that things like pyroclastic flow travels at upwards of 700 mph... that your tires would melt if you drove anywhere near lava... but don't worry. Press the accelerator. You'll make it. Is it a bus or a camper? Don't worry. Gun it. You can jump over caverns, buckling asphalt, falling bridges... you can outrun a shockwave in a station wagon if you just. Press. The. Accelerator. Same applies for airplanes, boats and trains. Give it a little more gas, grit your teeth in a panicky way.... it won't matter if the Earth is literally splitting open behind you. Buildings can be falling around you... just tilt the planes wings and push that handle-thingy harder. You're going to be fine.
Wait For It
Did your plane just get engulfed by flames and smoke as it was trying to take off? Sit back and have a drink. Give it a count of three and your plane will burst out of danger and fly to safety. Did someone in your party just spend 3 full minutes underwater? I know that it SEEMS like they should have run out of air and died, but not to worry. If the person you are waiting on is an authority figure like a dad or ex-cop or a plucky scientist... just wait. A hand will reach up and grasp the edge of the crevice or a head will break the surface of the water with a gasp. Totally fine.
Just wait for it.
Enjoy The View
While it seems counter-intuitive, when you are given the opportunity to witness destruction on a large scale, you can totally stand there and watch. Is a Supervolcano opening up in the valley in front of you? Sure, the smart person would turn and run (see rule #4) ... but you will have time to see it in action first. Stand there... you can drop your jaw open a little if you want, or even better -- have a moving moment with your estranged wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend ... but even though logic dictates a swelling caldera that, when it blows, will wipe out 75% of the earths population,would be something you should probably not be near? When are you going to get another opportunity to witness such a thing? Go ahead and watch the F5 tornado approaching or the continental shelf snapping off a few feet away. It's ok if a Tsunami wave is literally on the horizon.
You have time. You can always get in/on your camper/car/dirt bike and drive away (see #3).
Stay Away From National Monuments
Anyone who has watched even a few disaster movies knows this one.
If you live in a city with a well-known national monument... you might want to consider relocating. Disasters LOVE national monuments. Places to steer clear of? A partial list would be Paris, New York, DC, Hollywood, San Francisco, Seattle, Cairo, London and St. Louis. If you are in a place like Denver, Omaha or Boise, you are probably cool.
Bonus note: In the event of a disaster, the first thing you should definitely do is make sure you are nowhere near the White House.
Choose Your Disaster Companions Wisely
Face it, your odds are poor if you don't have a dog or children. Sorry.
But you can mitigate this as best as possible by following the above rules carefully. One issue... if you happen to be married to someone who had children with a previous spouse, and the spouse shows up during that disaster? There's nothing we can do for you. I'm sorry. You're going to die. If, at any time, you act selfishly or express impatience or don't want to listen to the ex-spouse...that is the road to being horribly killed by debris of various kinds. Instead, you should always be selfless. If you know how to do something useful that no one else can do? You might last a little longer. It's helpful to hang out with folks who ARE jerks. Odds of your survival go up exponentially for every jerk in your party. Make friends with the kids or the dog. Stick close. There's still a really good chance you will end up giving your life for either or both, but I guess that's a better way to go out than being ironicallly crushed by something from space.
If you follow all these rules.... you still don't have that great of a chance unless you have those kids. So get spawning. It will be worth it in the long run. Plus you're going to have the experience of a lifetime. You're going to be able to break several laws of physics. You're going to be able to outrun actual freezing air. Not too many people ever get to see a train being literally chased by a crack opening up in the earth... or an aircraft carrier being dropped on the White House. Enjoy it.