I've just started playing the original Fallout (and hopefully Fallout 2 when I'm ready), and am loving it. However, I have to admit that I'm getting my butt kicked. I seem to do OK against cave rats, but if there's more than one mole rat or rad scorpion, my best tactic seems to be that of Brave Sir Robin: Run away!
I have a combat knife and a 10MM pistol, so I'm not terribly underarmed. But I've already died once from a random encounter of multiple mole rats, almost died from a mole rat with several cave rats surrounding me in Vault 15, and I think (?) I'm poisoned from a rad scorpion random encounter where I ran like Forrest Gump to get out of there.
What can I do to increase my survivability, short of leveling up a few times?