Discussing your Personal Safety Plan.
Podcast Episode 090220
Greeting friends, and welcome to the show, I hope that you are doing as well as could be expected during these unprecedented times. I hope you and your family are able to see above all the social unrest going on around the country and enjoy your pursuit of happiness and freedom. Over the last several podcasts I’ve identified a multitude of terroristic sources, and hopefully disclosed an overview understanding of personal protection for both you and your family. Although I’ve kept the topics at a higher-level (or less detail), hopefully, you’ve garnered enough information to help you and yours stay safe and healthy. As you all know, my background in personal safety and security spans about three decades all-in-all and has had a plethora of security needs instructed to and used by myself for others. So, with this in mind, I’d like to relay some of that information to you.
Today’s show, I’d like to disclose more about personal safety and security as the modern-day global community has become increasingly violent and unpredictable. This week I want to break-down and design our family safety plan. We’ll talk about how to build your plan, and more importantly, how to train yourselves and your family members to execute your plan. One of the keys you’ll hear throughout the security industry is “train like you mean it”. This means that when you are training yourself and your family, you want to make sure that you use as much realism as possible to ensure (even under pressure) you’ll be able to complete any necessary tasks. These initial outlines will be at a higher level, but you can add the details about your unique situations as you see fit. We’ll discuss the differences between victims and victors when it comes to surviving situations and incidents that may arise in our lifetimes. Regardless of whether the event is caused by man, or by nature, being prepared is most of the battle. As I’ve mentioned before, security consultants around the globe always have a plan in their heads when dealing with the environments surrounding their clientele. Their plan is usually well thought out, and their objective is to give themselves, and their client the best opportunity to ensure the overall safety. In their quest to do that, they develop plans.
During this discussion we’ll identify possible threats that could come to fruition, as well, we’ll cover the “plan for the worst, hope for the best” line of thinking. So, in these modern times of racial unrest throughout the country, we will have to take all threats into consideration. It shouldn’t matter where you live, each community needs to be evaluated individually. The Plan for the Worst means that the more detail you put into your plan, the better. Think of a worst-case scenario, and develop and plan accordingly. All the while we will keep hope in our hearts that the situation won’t get as bad as we think, and that’s totally OK.
We’ll include tips and understanding about the FEMA incident command system, and how much of what their security plan consists of, and how it should interface with our individual plans. In some cases, this plan is no different than the one you have at work. Most organizations are required to have an evacuation plan. That is part of a larger safety plan that dictates so much more. This detailed plan (the evacuation plan) is a.subsection of the overall organizational safety plan. In much the same manner, your personal safety plan will probably include a fire evacuation plan, or a flood response plan, which are unique to your distinct situations. This brings up the interface with your community, and potentially those other organizations that may come in to support the primary Incident command structure on-site. Having a basic understanding of how the local authorities will create the necessary command structure to provide a level of organizational efforts in addressing the event, or incident.
Identifying when we need to engage our plan, determine if the situation dictates a different behavior based on some other key indicators outlined here in just a second, is a big one. Knowing when to actually execute portions of the plan, and engage each phase of the plan, is where the rubber really hits the road. Let’s take a second to look at some of the critical indicators that may require some parts of the plan to be engaged.
- Our first key indicator is to identify the type of event. A significant first step in knowing what part of our plan to implement is to note the type and scope of the event that we are currently facing. Manmade, or natural? Your house? Your living room? What? Being able to identify what type of event matters when it comes to determine which part of your personal plan you are going to implement. Getting the fire extinguisher out if a vehicle crashes into the front of your home would be an inappropriate response to this type of event, as we should be more concerned about structural damage, and the health of family members. Yes, the fire extinguisher may come in handy, but it shouldn’t be your first response.
- Secondly is the platform we are operating in. Determine (i.e., vehicle, school, work, store, whatever, etc). There are plenty of opportunities for something catastrophic to intersect with our daily lives, and all the little crossroads throughout, so our plan has to be detailed enough to include these areas. Think about every day. You sleep until the alarm clock works, get up and get showered, then dressed, finally into your vehicle, and drive to work. At work, you may move around quite a bit, until that old work whistle blows. Then, it’s back in the vehicle, arriving at home for whatever part of the evening, or social engagements out in the community. Maintaining a level of flexibility within the plan allows you to do whatever. However, having a defined plan allows your brain to focus on other things, leaving the first response to following the defined plan.
- Next, is the scope of the event’s impact, and it is substantially important in determining if your response is appropriate. Getting a fire extinguisher out for a raging forest fire would be an inappropriate level of response if you couldn’t identify the scope of the event. The scope will also dictate the interaction between our plan and the community in which we live. There also may be some federal interaction depending on the scope of the event.
- Next, is the overall risk assessment. Evaluating the risk is where many Americans fall into “cliche” type thinking, and although had a well-developed safety plan, they missed several indicators that should have forced other decisions but didn’t. This led to them arriving at a place their plans were designed to avoid. Unnecessary risks should be avoided at all costs, while we may have unforeseen risks arise, unnecessary risk should be eliminated.
- In our key indicators, the final indicator is a threat, and threat level both need to be thoroughly evaluated. What exactly are we being challenged with? What is the potential for getting hurt, or killed? Is there a chance that we could lose our home, personal wealth, or family? We need to dig deep into what exactly is the threat, and what do we need to respond to. Remember, we have an internal duty to engage levels of resistance as necessary depending on the determination from these two.
We have identified many key indicators that we should quickly analyze during a perceived event. One of the first things I remind all my students of is your main goal in all of this is to “not panic”. By developing a bonafide plan, you avoid making mistakes, and you free your brain up to address the dynamic environment unfolding before your eyes. That is the primary objective of developing a plan. The plan will avoid the emotional turmoil that typically accompanies this type of event.
Building our plan
- Step one is to establish locations. Which places are we including in our emergency plans? Establish a rendezvous point for all members of your party, then determine (based on your locations above) how are you going to get to the rally point?
- Step two is to identify potential threats. What could go wrong? Obviously plan according to your region. If you have a possibility of seeing a hurricane, or tornado, based on where you live, plan for it.
- Step three is to establish critical areas of concern. At what point in your plan are you the most venerable? Or, what are the CAOC for your current location? Doors and windows are typical CAOC for most structures.
Remember, by having a plan locked in place, it frees up your mind to adapt to changing conditions, thereby increasing your chance of success. That's the whole idea behind this. Getting something written down begins the mental exercise of locking it into memory. While I realize that there is no way to plan for every possible event that could happen, we can plan for general types of events, then focus our concentration on the differences, minimizing the need to think of everything.
Practicing our plan
Let’s talk about practicing, and I want to make sure I call two distinct sections within the practice(s). As we mentioned earlier, we want to make the practice as realistic as possible, however, certainly within reason. Adults, and children under the age of twelve years.
Adults need to know the reality, they need to be instructed as to the threat, and the real potential for that threat to arrive in their bubble. Children do not need to know the truth, they need to know very specific tasks, and step by step validation as to their success. So, in much the same way they practice fire drills, and (in Alaska) earthquake drills, even active shooter drills. They can be instructed to perform very specific tasks in a stepped approach. That is the key to success. Keep it super simple. As the kids get a little older, double-digit age group, they can be exposed to bits of the truth, until by their mid-teenage years, they can be considered adults (for sake of this information). It becomes substantially easier to communicate with them about the plan if it’s written down somewhere.
Tools to execute the plan. A lot of people have said that they carry a firearm for their personal safety. Is a firearm the answer? Maybe not. In some cases, yes, it is the level of force necessary to counteract an event, but don’t think it needs to be the first and only line of defense. This leads us to the “preppers” discussion, as to how many supplies constitutes slipping between prepared and overzealous. This is a no-brainer. I know many of parents who are grown-up teenagers just moved out may seem like they are prepping for the next world war, when in fact they are just living off the last Costco order. But, I would say that if you have more than a year's worth of supplies, you’re on the verge… Just kidding. Other than foodstuffs, there are plenty of other things needed to ensure your plan is ready to go.
A comprehensive family safety plan
- Fire evacuation plan
- Natural disaster plan
- Medical emergency plan
- Daily operational security plan
Basic Disaster Supplies Kit
To assemble your kit store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.
A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
- Water (one gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation)
- Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle (to signal for help)
- Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)
- Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
- Manual can opener (for food)
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
- Download the Recommended Supplies List (PDF)
Additional Emergency Supplies
Since the Spring of 2020, the CDC has recommended people include additional items in their kits to help prevent the spread of coronavirus or other viruses and the flu.
Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:
- Cloth face coverings (for everyone ages 2 and above), soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces
- Prescription medications
- Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
- Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
- Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Cash or traveler's checks
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Maintaining Your Kit
After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:
- Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
- Store boxed food in a tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
- Replace expired items as needed.
- Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.
Kit Storage Locations
Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work, and cars.
- Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
- Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water, and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
- Car: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.