While babies are particularly fragile, there are certain temperatures that should be avoided by anyone of any age who isn't wearing most of what used to be a reindeer. That's why things didn't look good for 13-month-old Erika Nordby back in 2001 when, in the early hours of the morning, she crawled out of bed and, due to a faulty door latch, was able to make her way outside. In Canada. In February. While wearing just a diaper.
Even the moose said "Fuck it, I'm staying in" that morning.
Erika had been outside for at least three hours, lying in the middle of her yard at around 4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 Celsius), when her mother found her. She called the paramedics, who determined that Erika was suffering from a number of potentially fatal symptoms, like already being clinically dead. She was so cold that her lips were frozen together and it was impossible to insert a breathing tube. By the time she got to the hospital, her heart had not been beating for around two hours. She was, at that point, little more than a Popsicle shaped like a human.
In most parts of the world, when you get a baby in that condition in your emergency room, you start drawing straws to decide who's gonna give the bad news to the parents. But this was Canada, where, as one doctor put it, "We don't declare somebody dead until they're warm and dead." And so the doctors put Erika under a warming blanket, presumably out of habit, only for her body to do what scientists have called "pulling a Captain America" -- she just unfroze back to life.
The bandages are to stop her from giving the finger to any other laws of nature.
Erika's heart started beating again and she was acting normally within a few days. It was described as a "one in a million chance" by her pediatrician.
An 11-year-old Erika and her mother gave an interview in 2011, and while the whole experience appears to be very emotional for her mom, Erika herself is much more nonchalant about it: "It was really cold and I walked outside," she said, glossing over the whole "and became lord of the elements" aspect. Today her tale has joined the legends of that mysterious land up north, and she even has her own folk song.
She seems pretty chill about it.
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Childbirth can be a pretty shocking event to witness, as we learned from that one eighth grade health class we'll never forget. Sure, the mother gets the shittier end of the deal, but it's still a traumatic experience for those whose genitals aren't currently passing a new human being. As long as there's a head emerging from someone in your vicinity, you're probably going to struggle to concentrate.
One activity that doesn't mix brilliantly with large distractions is driving. That was unfortunate for Mokhles Raheema of Sweden, who was hurrying his wife to the hospital when their baby was born right there in the passenger seat, causing the father to take his eyes off the road to look over and witness the miracle of life. Here's a handy 3D recreation of the scene:
But, precisely because Mokhles was busy being distracted/grossed out by the sight of the baby leaving his wife's vagina and dangling upside down, he didn't notice the crash barrier he had just swerved into. The car bounced and rolled over four times, crossing two lanes of highway, until it landed in a ditch. Besides Mokhles and his wife, their previous two offspring were sitting in the back seat of the car. Mokhles says that after the crash he thought the entire family might be dead, because of course he fucking did.
Finding his wife unconscious and his two other children rattled but unhurt, Mokhles panicked when he realized his seconds-old daughter "had disappeared from sight." However, as with every time you lose something important in your car, he found what he was looking for in the most classic hiding place: underneath the passenger seat. The little indestructibaby was completely fine.
Except for some mild exposure to an expired taco and a long-lost Mama Mia CD.
The mother had a few injuries, but the rest of the family was OK. The car itself was written off, but luckily for the parents they'd borrowed it from a friend. Presumably they'd ramped their own car into the ocean during conception or something.
Mississippi resident Michael Elliott was walking into the kitchen with his 10-month-old cousin, Oleandra, in his arms when an explosion knocked him down, along with the kitchen and the whole damn house. A gas leak had turned the entire two-story construction into a flaming pile of junk with a family trapped underneath (except the grandpa, who was -- no kidding -- ejected all the way to the neighbor's yard).
Firefighters got all of the adults out fairly quickly, but there was one little problem: No one knew where baby Oleandra had ended up. The explosion knocked her right out of Elliott's arms, and he lost track of her after that, what with the whole "having severe burns on his body" thing. All they knew was that the baby was somewhere in the house, which at this point looked like this:
Not pictured: much reason for hope.
To make matters worse, the only way the firefighters could remove the wreckage was by first dousing it with gallons of water -- for those of you with limited medical knowledge, "gallons" is definitely enough water to drown a baby.
At 5 a.m., after the fire department and half the neighborhood had been looking for 10 hours, they had to stop because it was raining too heavily (we should reiterate the fact that babies can drown very easily and that Oleandra's family aren't a race of amphibians). The search started again around 9:30 a.m., but obviously everyone's spirits had seen better times. It was about an hour later that they noticed something unusual: The house's basement had only half-collapsed. And in the non-collapsed part, there sat a non-charred, non-drowned baby.
The celebratory wave from the guy at the back didn't catch on.
It turns out that, in the best real-life demonstration of cartoon physics ever, the explosion made Oleandra fall through the floor before everything collapsed on top of her, in just such a way that it left a little gap that was both fire- and waterproof. The local residents promptly got together and raised thousands of dollars to cover Oleandra's medical bills, but we're not sure if that's because they're all kind and generous individuals or if they just think it's wise to make a good impression on the baby who's clearly got some sort of supernatural entity on her side.
Or, most likely, all of them.
Related Reading: Some stories of survival just seem too badass to be true, like this fighter pilot who flew his plane to safety while standing on the wing. And then of course there's the woman who survived a fall off the damn Empire State Building. And if all these stories weren't quite badass enough for you (somehow) you should check out the coolest survival traits ever designed by evolution.
And for more ways we underestimate children, check out 14 Things Kids Suspect About the Adult World.