Personal security is an essential topic for people to understand because 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.
In this episode on Personal Security
- Increasing Personal Security When Out Alone
- Setting Up Better Communication in Remote Areas
- Operational Security
- Preparing for the Absence of a Family Member
- How Much Gear to Have
- Women's Personal Safety
- Being A Soft Target
- Minimizing Limitations
Increasing Personal Security When Out Alone
What Are Some Steps We Can Get in the Habit of to Increase Our Personal Security When We Venture out Alone (In the Dark, Remote Areas, Etc.)?
Whenever possible, try to avoid going too dark, remote areas, etc., on your own. Whether you encounter bad guys or have an accident, being alone is never a good thing.
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 do that 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.
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 is something happens while I’m gone
Maintaining proper situational awareness is a great way to improve your safety and personal security. 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 natures way of helping us to survive. That is called instinct, and it's good to listen too.
Thinking through possible scenarios helps us to be more resilient when things go wrong. Playing out "what if" scenarios in our mind, or talking them through with others helps us to improve the quality and speed of our reactions.
Perform a Self-Assessment
It's essential that you don’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, you can lose a confrontation.
As you move throughout your day, you should always plan your exit strategy and escape routes. You never know when they might be needed. This doesn't mean that you should be paranoid. Instead, just make mental notes of things in passing. Over time, you'll subconsciously be set to make a quick exit when it's needed.
Setting Up Better Communication in Remote Areas
Are There Better Means of Communication in Remote Areas and How Can We Set up a System?
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.
Cell Phone Alternatives
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 will help improve your chances of survival.
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.
Another method of communicating with others is to use a 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 are expensive, but an excellent option to help you communicate when out in the boonies. If you can get a GPS signal, you should be able to 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 radios, etc. are another excellent option. Depending on the terrain, your radio, and antennae set-up 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 be able to hear you, which will help find you that much faster.
Lastly, is the very convenient SPOT GPS. SPOT cost 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 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.
Preparing for the Absence of a Family Member
What Can Those at Home Do to Prepare More Fully for the Absence, Death, Injury of a Key Family Member?
The key to helping our families overcome our absence is preparedness. The more you do in advance, the better prepared you and your family will be to deal with problems.
One good practice is to assemble a file of important documents that will be important should you become incapacitated or missing.
- List of contacts, including names, phone numbers, and addresses.
- Have a will prepared. Doing so will help your family out when it comes to working with your estate.
- Ensure you have a Durable Power of Attorney ready. This will outline who you want to care for your finances if you're gone.
- Sign a medical information release. Once you do, your family, doctors, and others will be able to share your personal medical information. This may help speed up your medical treatment and chances for a successful outcome. Without it, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) could slow down the exchange of your essential medical information.
- Next, you'll want to have an Advance Care Directive prepared. This document tells people how you want to be taken care of medically should something terrible happen to you.
- You'll also want to prepare a list of your medications and medical history so that you guarantee the right information is getting into the right hands.
- Compiling a list of banking information, vehicle data, etc., will also go a long way to helping you be prepared. Remember, if you get hurt, or worse, your family will be in a rough spot, to begin with. Having to search for all this information will just make matters worse for them. So, give them a hand and make sure you have this done.
- Lastly, prepare a family emergency plan. Make sure it includes the scenarios you and your family are more likely to face. For example, if you live in Louisiana, you should probably plan for a hurricane before preparing for an earthquake.
Train the Plan
Once you have all of your documents set and plans made, you'll need to discuss various scenarios with your family. Doing so will help them better understand what to do when the time comes.
Make sure you conduct brief backs, so you are sure everyone knows what they're supposed to do. Brief backs are when people who are briefed on the plan, tell you what certain aspects of the program are to show that they understand it.
With the discussion and brief backs complete, you'll want to rehearse the plan with your family and friends. When doing so, don't forget to make sure the people involved learn each other's responsibilities and roles in the plan. By doing so, you'll increase your families resiliency and capability to overcome the problems they encounter.
Franklin Horton describes a great information transfer in his book The Borrowed World, which we discussed in podcast episode 22. In this case, the main character prepared a notebook outlining everything to do should a major disaster strike. By doing so, he saved his family and helped prepare them to face tough times.
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?
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.
Women's Personal Security
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 training that's available a lot of women can win in an altercation with a man. Ultimately, your chances of survival can be 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.
Being a Soft Target
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.
If We Have Limitations, How Can We Minimize It?
The key to limitations 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.
Never forget, you’re just one prep away.
If you have any other thoughts or questions about personal security, please leave a comment below.
Stay safe, secure and prepared,
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