Being self-reliant starts with a mindset of wanting to be prepared. What's your plan for keeping yourself and your family safe? Do you even have one? It's not just for when you aren't at home, it's for when you are home as well because I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no such thing as a "safe-neighborhood." Most of us believe that we live in a relatively safe area and have a secure home but the issue comes into play when you don't think something bad could happen to you. We become complacent in our surroundings and that is the danger. The sooner you are willing to accept the reality of the world we live in, the better off you and your family will be. Having a personal protection plan doesn't mean you need to have an arsenal of guns at the ready (unless that's what you want) and it's not about living in a state of fear or paranoia. It means that you have taken the time to thoroughly think through situations, your options, and how you will potentially handle them. It all starts with getting into the proper mindset of being self-reliant.
While it might seem a bit daunting reading, "personal protection plan", it's actually something you can easily start doing right now. Just by thinking about your safety and how you plan to protect yourself are the first steps. It doesn't require anything other than you and your brain. Having the mindset of personal safety will hopefully lead you to thinking more about building your personal protection plan so you can keep yourself and your family safe.
Foundation of Your Personal Protection Plan
The foundation of a good personal protection plan begins with anticipating your environment, exercising vigilance, reducing your exposure, and reporting suspicious activities. If you’re new to this concept then you can start slowly by introducing some of these areas into your day-to-day activities today. What you'll notice is that over time as your mindset and awareness increases, you'll have created good habits so that these become second nature to you.
Anticipate Your Environment:
Anticipate and avoid high crime areas - Before you head out the door, take a weekend trip, or a vacation overseas think about the environment you’re about to go to. This is easy to do where you live since you know the area but if you’re going somewhere new, then do some research or talk to a friend who might know.
Identify appropriate security measures - If you’re going to a tourist attraction that is known for pickpockets, then move any valuables to a more secure location like a money belt or to your front pockets. If you’re travelling with a group then stay together so you can look out for each other. If you carry any type of defense tool, then do your research for your destination. Are there any local laws that will prohibit you from carrying certain weapons? If so, maybe you can carry pepper spray or a blade.
Recognize possible threats in advance - Be aware of your surroundings and recognize any possible threats. Maybe you see a group of kids on the corner harassing people as they walk by or perhaps you notice someone scanning the crowd while everyone else is watching a street performer. By recognizing these in advance you can take a different route or be more cautious of those around you.
Be aware of your surroundings so you can recognize suspicious activities - Get into the habit of continuously observing your surroundings. This doesn't mean you need to memorize every single item you see. But you need to be recognizing some signs of things that don't belong. Use your intuition and gut feeling when considering your safety and awareness.
Get a good understanding of your environments normal conditions - As you observe your surroundings you will learn the patterns of routine activities. You’re probably already doing this on your daily commute without realizing it. Start to pay attention to the details and don’t dismiss routine activities.
Recognize things that are suspicious - Once you know the normal conditions, you’ll be more prepared to recognize potential threats. Maybe something looks out place like a backpack or vehicle. Perhaps someone stands out more than others like a man wearing a heavy coat in the summer.
Reduce Your Exposure:
Don’t be an easy target – As much as we pay attention to our surroundings, the reality is that not all threats are predictable or can be recognized in advance. So your focus should be on how not to become an easy target; which means raising your head and paying attention.
Reduce risk to exposing yourself to unnecessary situations – Avoid high crime areas or places/events that could cause potential issues. Vary your routes and be unpredictable. It's easy for us to settle into routines but these routines can easily tell the story of our lives that can makes us an easy target.
Keep a low profile by not wearing flashy clothes or expensive items that could attract criminal attention. Try to blend in and remain low key. Don’t draw any attention to yourself that is unneeded.
Report Suspicious Activity:
I know we hear this almost everywhere we go (or at least I do) but if you see something, say something. It's really that simple. Report suspicious activities to appropriate authorities immediately. If you are threatened, then respond accordingly to protect yourself and your loved ones. Depending on the circumstance it might require a different response. This might mean running away to remove yourself from the situation or calling onto your training and skills to defend yourself.
Depending on the activity you are witnessing, don't try to deal with a situation on your own. Call the police or report the suspicious behavior or activity and once emergency personnel or first responders arrive you should follow their instructions. By no means am I telling you to just stand by and watch as someone might be getting attacked but at the same time you should proceed with caution and with what your comfort level is with intervening.
Developing Your Personal Protection Plan
The big picture here is all about avoidance. Having this awareness of your environment and being able to identify potential threats means you give yourself distance and are practicing avoidance. You win 100% of the fights that you avoid. So working on your situational awareness skills will help you buy additional time where seconds do matter and reduce your risk to exposing yourself to unnecessary situations. This may mean that you need a complete shift in mindset. You can’t worry about hurting a strangers feelings if you cross the street or turn around because you felt uncomfortable. Use your intuition and your gut feeling when considering your safety and awareness.
Based on the four areas above you can start developing your personal protection plan by asking yourself the following questions:
Where am I most vulnerable during my day? Most of us have our daily routines. Routines are great to manage the time but it can also lead to complacency or letting your guard down. It’s so tempting to be heads down in your phone catching up on IG during that short walk to the train station or from the parking garage to the elevator. Remove any distractions like being on your phone while you’re in route. Be aware of what’s ahead of you. Sometimes, something as simple as making eye contact can dissuade a bad guy.
Where am I most vulnerable when I’m at home? When not at work we’re usually at home. Don’t let your home be an easy target too. Believe it or not, there are many people that still don’t lock their doors. Get in the habit of locking your doors and turning on your alarm, if you have one, when you’re home and away. Install motion sensor outdoor lights to act as a first alert. You can follow these tips for creating a secure residence (link to post). Make sure you talk to your family so they can also develop good habits. Also, when you leave your home you probably always have your concealed carry weapon on you but when you get home do you take it off and lock it up? Consider changing your habit to always be carrying your firearm even while you're at home.
How will I interact with strangers? Are you able to understand basic body language or being alert for deliberate movements? How will you know what someone’s intentions are? Will you engage in friendly conversation or keep a distance where you can observe? Will you report your interaction to police or just move on with your day? If you cannot avoid a confrontation are you ready to draw your firearm or less lethal tool like pepper spray or a tactical pen from a short distance?
Planning ahead can enhance your security while at home, work, and wherever life takes you. Everyone's personal protection plan will vary based on their own needs and lifestyle. Make security and self-reliance part of your routine. You can exercise precautions to increase your personal security and the security of your family. In the end, don’t be an easy target. You don’t need to live in a constant state of fear or with your head on a swivel but be proactive by remaining alert and aware of your surroundings.