Introduction to Being Prepared
When the proverbial “shit hits the fan,” the first priority is your immediate and long-term safety and security. Whether you find yourself in a severe weather event such as a bad storm, stranded in your car due to mechanical trouble, at home during a home invasion, or confronted by a terrorist attack in a public space…you had better be able to think and act fast. The first thing you need to do is ensure the safety of yourself and those with you.
Just as developing a survival mindset, as discussed in the Basic Wilderness Survival Course, helps you prepare mentally and stay alert for impending crisis situations, so it is with safety and security. All too many people develop an attitude of complacency and fatalism, saying things like, “It can’t happen to me” and “There’s nothing I can do about it.” The bottom line is, and you need to know this – it can happen to you and your family, and you CAN do something to prevent or minimize your risk. Overcoming an attitude like this is definitely one of the biggest obstacles many must overcome to develop habits that prioritize personal safety and security. So, let’s start erasing that habit and developing new habits that will empower you to increase your situational awareness, make yourself and your home a “hard” target, and get you on the path to being a safety and security conscious person.
Personal safety must become a way of life for you, you should always be thinking of the following:
• Remain alert – To be alert means to be in a condition of heightened readiness, this heightened readiness will increase your reaction time if a dangerous situation arises. Even these split seconds can be the difference between life and death. See our video on Cooper’s Colors for more information on this subject.
• Be aware of your surroundings – Always be aware of your surroundings and note changing conditions or suspicious activities.
• Report suspicious activity – If you witness or suspect suspicious activity report it to local authorities immediately.
• Pay attention to your local crime reports – Take advantage of the experts in your neighborhood, visit your local police station and ask about crime in your neighborhood.
• Make preparedness part of your routine – This goes back to the beginning, Mindset. You need to have the proper mindset that helps you prepare mentally and stay alert for impending crisis situations.
• Don’t be time-place predictable – You should vary your routes and times to and from work and other routine destinations.
Lesson 1.2 – Understanding the Threat & Being Prepared
One of the main objectives of this course is to make you a “Hard Target.” If you start with the suggestions above, increasing your personal safety and getting in the right mindset, you will be well on your way to making yourself a “Hard Target.” Being a “Hard Target” is what you want to become because criminals and other bad guys will find other “softer” targets/victims to attack. To make yourself a “Hard Target” you need to understand the threat. Here are some questions that you and your family can ask yourselves to help you better understand the threat in your area:
• Are there any criminal gangs in the area?
• Are they violent?
• What are their methods of operations?
• How active are they?
• How sophisticated are they?
• Do they use weapons?
Now that you are armed with this information, let’s consider ways you might become a victim. To target you, criminals generally must perceive you, your behavior, or your location as a target. The key factors to keep in mind include the following:
Location: Avoid locations where criminal gangs operate, such as certain hotels, public transportation, or night clubs/bars.
Opportunity: We mentioned several steps in lesson one that will help increase your personal safety, if you follow those simple steps you would be well on your way to becoming a “Hard Target” – and remember criminals look for soft targets.
Predictability: It is well documented that criminal gangs look for routines and patterns of behavior. You should vary your routes and times to and from work and other routine destinations. Criminals look for patterns. Don’t be time-place predictable!
Once you understand the threat in your area there are four themes that you need to be familiar with to be prepared for anything!
Anticipate: Anticipate threats and make choices that reduce risk. Understand the tactics and techniques commonly used by criminals in your area. Once you do that you can develop security and emergency plans for your home and family.
This includes researching criminal activity in your area and knowing the types of targets and locations that have been selected for illegal activity in the past. The best sources to do this are local police reports, FBI crime statistics, Google, and open source media resources.
• Use your network: tell associates or family of your destination and expected time of arrival when leaving the office or home.
• Plan your itinerary and anticipate security conditions and measures at each stop.
• Memorize key phone numbers -- office, home, police, security, etc.
• If traveling overseas, learn and practice key phrases in the local language, such as "I need a policeman, doctor," etc.
• Maintain a family emergency preparedness kit. See our articles on Emergency Kits and Bug Out Bags.
⇒ or a means of treating water to consume as needed
⇒ Some means of starting a fire and cooking if necessary
♦ Shelter - If you are forced out of your home
⇒ Tarp or poncho
⇒ Bivy bag, sleeping bag or emergency blanket
⇒ Some means of starting a fire for heat if necessary
⇒ Weapon of choice (knife, multi-purpose tool, gun, etc)
⇒ A means of moving to another location (car, bike, boots)
⇒ / solar powered emergency band
Take these steps:
- Anticipate and avoid high crime areas.
- Identify appropriate security measures.
- Recognize possible threats and respond appropriately.
- Develop security and emergency plans for the home and family.
Be Alert: Always be aware of your surroundings and note changing conditions or suspicious activities. The first step is to learn your environment. Understanding your environment’s normal conditions, so that way when something is out place you will recognize it. If you are new to an area rely on locals, as they are familiar with what is normal and what is not. Think about people who live in downtown Detroit or Baltimore versus visitors – those who live there are familiar with what is “normal”, visitors may not be.
Don’t become a Target: Make yourself a “Hard Target” by blending in to your environment, being alert, and being unpredictable. See our article on the Gray Man. Remain low key and do not draw attention to yourself. Select places that are known to be safe and travel with a friend or small group. Don’t be time-place predictable, in other words be unpredictable. The following will also help in making you and your family a “Hard Target”:
Protect personal information:
- Instruct family and associates not to give strangers information about you or your family.
- Avoid giving unnecessary personal details to anyone.
- Do not give out information about family travel plans or security measures and procedures.
- Monitor family Internet acquaintances and information posted on social media sites. Limit your on line foot print.
- Do not open doors to strangers, talk to them through the locked door.
- Select places with security measures appropriate for the local threat.
- Avoid places of high criminal activity.
- Travel in conservative clothing blending in to the environment.
- Do not wear identified items such as cowboy hats or boots, baseball caps, logo T-shirts, jackets, or sweatshirts that could be gang affiliated.
- If traveling overseas, avoid wearing clothes that readily identify you as an American or with any specific group, religion, company, or organization. Wear a long-sleeved shirt if you have a visible US-affiliated tattoo. Try to look like a local.
Respond and Report: Respond appropriately and report suspicious or threatening activities to local law enforcement.
Response to Changing Threat:
- If you feel like there is an increased threat, you should review your personal activities to reduce exposure and increase awareness.
- Also you should brief your family and friends to increase everyone’s situational awareness.
Report Suspicious Behavior:
- Report suspicious persons or activities near your home or office; provide a complete description of the person and/or vehicle to local law enforcement.
If you are attacked:
- Small arms attack: ricocheting bullets tend to hug the floor and walls; crouching (not lying) on the floor may reduce exposure. Stay two or three feet off of the walls, as bullets tend to hit a wall and then “slide” down the wall.
- Attack with explosives: grenade shrapnel rises from the detonation; lying on the floor reduces exposure and having feet toward the blast may protect the head.
- Follow the instructions of emergency personnel and first responders.