SOFREP is THE Special Operations Report, providing our readers with news and analysis from former military and Special Operations veterans. There are times when our analyses are directly relevant and very important to our ‘civilian’ readers. Especially when it comes to your personal security.
Special operators travel, they have families, homes, they go to Costco, Disneyland and In-N-Out, just like the rest of us. But what makes a special operator at home a little bit different from Joe Citizen is their mindset. They think in ways that keep them alert to their surroundings, they prepare their travels with escape in mind, they probably even train their families to think like an operator.
Our good friend at Escape The Wolf has written some great articles for SOFREP readers about your personal security. Today we’re going to revisit three of his posts that are especially important: How to Travel Safely in Foreign Countries, Travel Safety for Women and What To Do If You Encounter An Active Shooter or Terrorist.
As you read these tips, some of the methods may seem extreme to you. Just remember that this is not an exercise – this YOUR life and YOUR safety. Read and share this with your family and friends.
How to Travel Safely in Foreign Countries
Here are some pointers I provide to those who travel from home to work or Dulles to Cairo… Enjoy and pass to those who will benefit!
- Invest in good local interpreters recommended by the embassy, local being the most important word.
- Established, personal relationships go a long way. Where possible, have someone on the ground maintain ongoing working relationships in underdeveloped parts of the world.
- Women Travelers should have at least one male with them at all times – preferably a local. The more people in your entourage, the better, as long as they are the right people.
- Know the culture of the area you are working in and understand the local customs, especially those pertaining to gender. Try to fit into the local culture where possible, especially where dress is concerned. Cultural and personal awareness are critical to avoid attracting undesirable third party attention.
(Continue reading How to Travel Safely in Foreign Countries)
Travel Safety: Personal Security Tips for Women
- Limit the amount of information shared about your travel plans – before and during the trip.
- Use covered luggage ID tags and remove upon arrival.
- Dress and behave conservatively, as appropriate for the local culture.
- Observe local customs as much as possible and try to learn unintended implications of your personal behavior, mannerisms and dress. For example, smiling, making eye contact or touching males can be misunderstood in some cultures.
- Keep alert for anyone who seems to be following you or takes special interest in you.
- Vary your daily routine. Never take the same route to or from your hotel and vary the times of your comings and goings. This will make it more difficult for someone to target you for an assault or kidnapping.
- Carry your handbag on the side away from the street to avoid grab-and-run attacks.
- Stay at reputable hotels and avoid rooms by elevators, hallways or terraces.
- Choose a room above the ground floor but not higher than the seventh floor for fire safety purposes.
- You are at your most vulnerable arriving and departing from your hotel. Don’t linger in the public space around the hotel, the parking lot or indoor garage.
- Use a door alarm, carry a whistle and keep a self-defense weapon near your bed (a fishing weight wrapped in a handkerchief makes a great weapon).
- Consider carrying pepper spray or spray deodorant.
- Carry a high lumens flashlight. Brandon recommends the Surefire P2X Fury Dual Output LED.
Travel Safety: Tips to Prevent Sexual Assault
- Wear clothing that is hard to remove. Avoid tight-fitting clothing and make-up.
- Consider wearing a wedding or similar ring, even if you aren’t married.
- Remember, assaults can also be at the hands of acquaintances, so choose fixers, interpreters and drivers carefully.
- Avoid wearing anything that could be grabbed – jewelry, ponytail, etc.
- In case of a sexual assault attempt, yell loudly and smash or break items. Tell the attacker you’re pregnant or have AIDS.
- Urinating or soiling yourself in the event of an impending attack may be a deterrent.
- Carry a condom…it may prevent you from getting AIDS if you can’t fend off the attacker.
(Continue reading Travel Safety for Women)
What immediate actions should you take in the event of a terrorist or active shooter attack?
Tactics: Immediate Actions: RUN, HIDE, FIGHT!
RUN: Have an escape route and plan in mind. Move away from the assailant immediately, keep your hands visible. Leave your belongings behind. If the assailant is active inside a specific building, move immediately to a safer location away from the assailant, only if it is safe to do so. If you find yourself in an open area, immediately seek protection:
- Put something between you and the assailant.
- Consider trying to escape, if you know where the assailant is and there appears to be an escape route immediately available to you.
- If in doubt, find the safest area available and secure it the best way that you can.
HIDE: Always try to hide with an exit strategy. Hide in an area out of the assailant’s view. Silence your cell phone and/or other digital devices. Secure the immediate area. Whether a classroom, office, residence hall room, restroom, or other type of confined or contained space:
- Lock or barricade the door, if possible. Block the door using whatever is available: desks, tables, file cabinets, other furniture, books, etc.
- After securing the door, stay behind solid objects away from the door as much as possible.
- If the assailant enters the room and leaves, lock or barricade the door behind them. If safe to do so, allow others to seek refuge with you.
- Close blinds.
- Block windows.
- Turn off radios and computer monitors.
- Silence cell phones.
- Place signs in interior doors and windows, but remember the assailant can see these as well.
- Place signs in exterior windows to identify your location and the location of injured persons.
- Keep people calm and quiet.
- Be aware that the assailant may not stop until his objectives have been met or until engaged and neutralized by law enforcement.
- Always consider the risk exposure by opening the door for any reason.
- Be aware that the assailant may bang on the door, yell for help, or otherwise attempt to entice you to open the door of a secured area.
- If there is any doubt about the safety of the individuals inside the room, the area needs to remain secured.
- After securing the room, people should be positioned out of sight and behind items that might offer additional protection – walls, desks, file cabinets, bookshelves, etc. Attempts to rescue people only should be made if it can be done without further endangering the persons inside of a secured area.
Call Out. USE CAUTION – Call for help using mobile devices, landline, email, text and radios to get first responders moving to your location. Attempt to provide information in a calm clear manner so that the other person can understand the situation and assist quickly with the right kind of response. You may hear multiple rings – stay on the line until it is answered – do not hang up. Be prepared to provide as much information as possible about the situation and assailant(s), including:
- What is happening?
- Your name and other information as requested.
- Where you are located, including building name and room number. Number of assailants.
- Specific location and direction of the assailant.
- Number and type of weapons held by assailant.
- Number of people at your specific location.
- Number of potential victims at the location.
- Injuries, if any, including the number of injured and types of injuries. Gender, race, and age of the assailant.
- Language or commands used by the assailant.
- Clothing color and style.
- Physical features – e.g., height, weight, facial hair, glasses. Type of weapons – e.g., handgun, rifle, shotgun, explosives. Description of any backpack or bag.
- Do you recognize the assailant? Do you know their name? What exactly did you hear – e.g., explosions, gunshots, etc.
FIGHT: The goal is create enough space and time between you and the assailant to escape to relative safety. As a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger, and only if other options have failed or unavailable, attempt to incapacitate the assailant. Act with physical aggression and violence of action; throw anything available at the assailant. Work as a team when with others.
- Create a plan.
- Get positive control of the weapon.
- Use improvised weapons – tools, sporting goods, anything hard that will crack a skull open.
- When striking shooter, strike until there is no movement – do not stop.
- Blind the shooter – spray cleaning products, fuel, salt, pepper – anything that burns or blinds.
(Continue reading What To Do If You Encounter An Active Shooter or Terrorist)
(Featured Image Courtesy: Canada.com)
This article previously published by SOFREP 09.17.14