Two important factors in safely moving about our society and living our best lives continue to be Personal Security and Family Resilience. As much as we don’t want to worry about crime, civil unrest, active shooters, election day protests, and natural disasters; these are all issues our country is facing, and will continue to face for the foreseeable future.
In this year alone we have faced 40 school shootings according to Education Week. We continue to grapple with these tragic events around our children, the most recent in St. Louis, Missouri where one student and one teacher were killed by an armed intruder. By all accounts law enforcement responded quickly and effectively during this event; but we know that tragically that is not always possible.
The catastrophic damage in Florida from Hurricane Ian reminds us to prepare for the worst, maintain our awareness, and be ready to act if conditions change. As we approach winter, it’s forecasted to be a long, cold, snowy season.
We offer the following advice in order to improve your personal security and resilience as we move into mid-term elections, the holiday shopping season, and a heavy travel cycle. These recommendations can help you and your family be more resilient and go about your lives with confidence, knowing you have a plan in place.
- Maintain situational awareness. Know who is around you, where the your likely concerns may come from, what you will do if conditions change, and always be aware of your escape routes to safety. This works for shopping malls, and in preparation for storms.
- Preposition resources now (water, food, batteries, candles, clothing, defense items) – before the blizzard or other inclement weather, and ensure you have what you need in your vehicle and for all your family members’ needs (young, elderly, medical, or pets).
- Understand your evacuation options. Discuss ahead of time with family members when you will shelter in place, versus why and how you will relocate. Write down and share with all involved how and where you will all reconvene after an event.
- While traveling, maintain a low profile in and around areas that are known to have higher crime rates (e.g., train stations and parking garages). Dressing in a manner that does not draw attention to yourself (e.g., less visible jewelry, less “loud” clothing) is particularly helpful. This is especially true while traveling overseas.
- It is critical to stay informed by reliable sources – firsthand knowledge is always best – do not rely on social media, political websites, or radio shows for factual information. Better information allows you to make well-informed decisions.
- When traveling only rely on transportation that can be trusted. Ride hailing, unlicensed limousine or taxi services, and public transportation may not be safe. Plan ahead, use licensed services, or coordinate travel with friends or coworkers.
- While shopping or moving around areas with lots of people and distractions – remain aware of who is around you. Put away your phone and know that moving and from cars with packages, especially in dark parking lots, makes you a great target. Try to park in well-lit areas, and ask for an escort to your vehicle if uncomfortable.
- If violence appears imminent (a fight breaks out at a restaurant, during a protest, or at voting locations, for example), depart the area via the safest means possible – and be aware that this may not be possible by vehicle.
- Keep your phone charged, and have an ability to recharge handy – extra charger, charging cable, etc. A charged phone will allow you to call 911, let your family know you are safe, or help you navigate home from a bad situation.
- Whether at school, out to dinner, or at a holiday parade – always have a plan to get out of any situation, and trust your instincts when you begin to feel threatened or scared. Be prepared to defend yourself, or perhaps more effectively to escape the area on foot or by vehicle.