Near Misses

By Peter Kummerfeldt

There have been times in my life, and I suspect in yours, that something has happened where your life was placed in danger but you managed to avoid a catastrophe by sheer luck. These are the “near misses” in our lives that we all experience from time to time. I suspect that for every accident that happens there are probably dozens, if not hundreds, maybe thousands, of “near misses.” Situations that we seldom hear about, but situations that we could learn from if we were made aware of the details.

When an accident happens, especially a serious accident where people are injured and sometimes killed, an investigation usually follows. An accident investigation board may be convened. Witnesses are called. Experts testify as to how the accident happened and how it could have been prevented. Then recommendations are published hoping that a similar situation can be avoided in the future. Seldom does the same sequence of events take place following a “near miss” in our lives – but it should!

Sometimes someone else causes the incident that leads to a “near miss” and there’s probably little that we can do about that except to be as observant as we can and then react quickly enough to avoid a problem. Sometimes the problem is of our own making, and when it is the situation is particularly dangerous because we are often completely unaware of what is about to happen. 

If we were honest we would admit that sometimes we just get lucky and nothing bad happens. But I for one don’t want to go through life depending on “luck” to keep me safe. I want to be aware of what’s going on around me. I want to be able to detect the precursors to life-endangering situations and then avoid them.I want to pay attention to the “near misses,” learn from them and then, in similar circumstances, recognize what is about to happen and back off before an accident happens! As much as possible I want to be in control of my destiny and not depend on chance or the activities of others to determine my future.

So the next time you have a “near miss,” take the time to analyze the events leading up to the incident. Identify the conditions that existed that played a role in creating a situation where you (or someone else) could have been injured or killed. Objectively and honestly determine your part in the scenario. And then, after you have evaluated the evidence, determine the “lessons learned.” Remember that unless those “lessons learned” result in a change in your behavior you may be doomed to have another “near miss” and this time you might not be so lucky!