M4S 029: Personal Safety and Security Tips

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Whether in the woods or the city, these tips will help you keep yourself safe

Personal safety and security tips are essential. People must understand that tragedy can befall anyone. Therefore, it is up to each of us to enhance our personal security posture as much as possible. In so doing, we will be less likely to experience problems, as in the case of Kevin Hamby of Lancing, TN.

While the situation with Kevin Hamby is not known, what is known is that people who take their personal security seriously tend to fare better than those who don’t.

Personal Safety and Security Tips When Out Alone

What habits can we develop to increase our own personal security when we venture out alone, perhaps in dark, remote areas?

Whenever possible, the best personal safety and security tip is to avoid going too dark, remote areas on your own. Whether you encounter bad guys or have an accident, your chances are better when you’re not alone.

When you are alone, you reduce your potential courses of action should you have an accident. After all, it’s not like you can send yourself to get help if you break a leg while hiking, right? So, do yourself and your personal security a favor, don’t go solo.

Also, when you are with others, you become a less likely target for bad guys. Their ability to harm someone diminishes as more people come into the equation.

If you can’t find someone to go with you, consider taking your dog. A dog will often alert you ahead of a dangerous situation. Plus, if your dog is a decent size, they may intimidate knuckleheads looking to cause you trouble.

If you can’t find anyone, consider rescheduling until you do.

GOTWA

When you go somewhere, even if it is to the store, tell family, trusted friends, etc., what your plans are.

The five-point contingency plan is an excellent way to remember what information to give someone when you tell them you’re going somewhere.  Another name for the five-point contingency plan is GOTWA.

GOTWA stands for:

  • G – Where I’m Going
  • O – Others I’m taking with me
  • T – Time of my return
  • W – What to do if I don’t return
  • A – Actions to take if something happens while I’m gone

Letting people know when and where you will be is an integral part of your safety plan

Personal Safety and Security Tips for Situational Awareness

The skills for maintaining proper situational awareness are all great personal safety and security tips.  The number one way to maintain your situational awareness is to pay attention.

In other words, keep your head up and out of the phone. Notice what is going on around you. Beware of blind corners, turns, and unknown danger areas.

Trust your instincts

Our instincts don’t lie and are nature’s way of helping our personal security. When something is wrong, our gut may give us a funny feeling, the hairs on our neck may stand up, or we may get goosebumps. All of those and others are nature’s way of helping us to survive. That is called instinct, and it’s good to listen to. A great book to read on this topic is The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.

Plan Ahead

Thinking through possible scenarios helps us to be more resilient when things go wrong. Playing out “what if” scenarios in our minds or talking them through with others helps improve the quality and speed of our reactions.

Perform a Self-Assessment

You mustn’t overestimate your abilities. When you do, you can negatively impact your personal security. Therefore you need to perform a realistic self-assessment. If you aren’t 21 anymore, don’t plan as if you are.

Be honest with yourself. Normalcy bias also affects preppers. Preppers suffer from normalcy bias when we aren’t realistic about our capabilities.

Flight or Fight

Flight first. It’s always best for your personal security to avoid an altercation whenever possible. When people fight, the potential for all involved to be injured or worse exists.

No matter how awesome you think you are, you can still lose a confrontation.

As you move throughout your day, you should always plan your exit strategy and escape routes. You never know when you might need them. This doesn’t mean that you should be paranoid. Instead, make mental notes of things in passing. Over time, you’ll subconsciously be set to make a quick exit when it’s needed.

How Do We Balance Being Friendly with Opsec?

Operational Security is good. We don’t need to tell every detail of our lives to every Tom, Dick, and Harry. However, we can also worry too much about our privacy.

The fact is, the vast majority of people out there are good. So, while you don’t want to air every detail of your life, you do want to identify family and friends you can trust. It is these people who you want to keep in the loop in case something happens to you.

Personal Safety and Security Tips for Better Communication in Remote Areas

Remote is remote. You’ll either have cell coverage, or you won’t. Therefore, the best course of action is to plan for your cell phone to fail you. When you do, you’ll come up with alternatives to your cell phone.

Leave a Note

Leave a note in your car if hiking or heading out for an extended period. When filling out the note, include your name, what day and time you left your car. Also, add your planned route, destination, and anticipated time you’ll be back to your vehicle. If you become lost, this will help point search teams in the right direction and help improve your chances of survival.

goTenna

If traveling with another person, consider the goTenna off-grid communication tool. Its range is limited to four miles, but that’s better than nothing, especially when you’re out of options.

Texting

Another method of communicating with others is to use pre-coordinated texting codes. For example, texting 9-1-1 to a family member can tell them you’re in trouble. You could set up codes for different locations or your status. The great thing about texting is that you don’t need to have a cell connection for a long time. Reception for only a few seconds may be enough to send and receive texts.

Satellite Phones

Satellite phones are expensive but an excellent option to help you communicate when out in the boonies. If you can get a GPS signal, you should get through on a satellite phone. Beware, though, in addition to the cost of the phone; you’ll need to purchase minutes for the phone. The minutes aren’t cheap, and they expire, so do your research before buying.

Portable Ham

Portable Ham radios, etc., are another excellent option. Depending on the terrain, your radio, and antennae setup, you may be able to reach people during an emergency. Additionally, you may be able to hear rescuers radios should you be lost in the backcountry. If you can hear them, they may hear you, which will help find you that much faster.

SPOT GPS

Lastly is the very convenient SPOT GPS. SPOT costs about $125, plus it requires a yearly subscription. However, with SPOT, you will have the ability to send text and location updates to others. You’ll also be able to send out your location along with an emergency beacon if you end up in a jam. For those of you who spend a lot of time in the backcountry, this is a great safety option.

How Much Gear to Have

How much gear should we have, even if we are just popping to the end of our long rural driveway to get the mail? People often let their guard down when they’re at home, and some criminals rely on that.

What and how much gear you carry is always a personal choice. Not only is it a personal choice, but it is also situationally dependent. In other words, it’s up to you to know what you need as part of your everyday carry and when you need to carry it. You may be in a place where certain parts of your everyday carry are not allowed. 

Personal Safety and Security Tips for Women

If a big, strapping guy can just vanish, does the average gal have a chance? Yes, a gal has a chance. In today’s world, with the available training, many women can win in an altercation with a man. Ultimately, your chances of survival can be significantly increased by training, education, and mindset.

Maintaining proper situational awareness can also keep you out of many problems. Always listen to your gut, the hairs on your neck, and the goosebumps.

Be confident, don’t doubt your instincts, and your personal security will benefit.

The Bottom Line on Personal Safety and Security Tips

Many crimes are crimes of opportunity. Therefore, the harder you make yourself as a target, the less likely you are to be targeted. You achieve this by making other targets seem softer and more vulnerable. The intent is to have the bad guys go elsewhere, leaving you alone.

So what does that mean? It means, don’t be a soft target. Secure yourself, your family, friends, and property. You don’t need to be paranoid, but you do want to be aware of what is happening in your personal environment. Once you are aware, you then want to be ready to deal with something should it occur.

And if you have limitations, the key to managing them is being honest with yourself. Again, you want to perform a realistic self-evaluation. With your self-evaluation complete, you’ll want to work to your strengths and minimize the impact of your weaknesses. By planning ahead of time, you can work around your weaknesses and become as ready and resilient as possible.

 

Stay safe, secure, and prepared,

Brian-Duff-Mind4Survival

Brian Duff

Brian began his preparedness life at the age of three after surviving the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake. Since then, Brian has made a life of responding to emergencies as a firefighter paramedic, conducting special operations as a U.S. Army Ranger, and providing high threat protection to overseas diplomats. Brian holds a bachelor's degree in security management, a master's of business administration, and numerous certifications from the safety, security, and emergency medical industries.

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