It's a sad fact of life that the world we live in is no longer safe. Schools, movie theaters, and even concert halls have all been targeted in recent years, as terrorism is on the rise, all over the world. Perhaps it's to push their religious agenda, or simply a frustrated teen wanting to make a name for themselves, the real trick, is to avoid getting caught up in a bad situation yourself.
Here at APE Survival, we're all about preparedness. And whilst an act of terror seems like something that could only happen in the movies, if you want to ensure you survive, there's four key rules to follow.
Increase your awareness
This goes for any crime. If you want to avoid becoming a victim, you need to be aware of what's going on around you. The military calls it situational awareness, but to me, it's just a matter of paying attention. Paying attention to the things around you.
Because, let's face it. In any terror attack, there is an element of preparation needed. The terrorist will need to arrive on the scene, and whilst you may only have a few seconds to notice something is wrong, these few seconds could be enough to get you to safety.
Unfortunately, most of us aren't paying attention when we're out and about. Our faces are buried in our smartphones, and you could walk straight past your best friend without even knowing they were there. Situational awareness isn't a hard skill to develop, it just requires you to look up, and look around.
I make it a game. First, I figure out what "normal" looks like in the area I'm currently in. What people are wearing, doing, and acting like. Then, I look for any outliers. Things that are out of place, or don't belong. Like the guy in a trenchcoat in the middle of summer, or the delivery van parked on the corner that's been there a little too long.
Once you've identified any risks, consider what your plan of action would be. Is there anywhere nearby you could use for cover, or do you have alternative escape routes. That way, if something does happen you can react immediately. That's situational awareness in practice.
Be careful in target areas
Now this could be anywhere that's in the spotlight, and you've got a big crowd of people. But if you hid at home from every potential threat you'd not get to enjoy much of your life at all.
My only advice here is to be careful if you're in a public place with a lot of people around, as terrorists like to cause a scene and get as much press as possible. More people equals more press.
So keep your guard up when you're anywhere that could be a potential target area.
Be ready to defend yourself
For me, I don't go anywhere without my concealed carry firearm. If you don't have your license, get it. It's not all that difficult, and it gives you something to fight back with should your life ever be in danger. Generally, you'll need to take a short class, have a background check run, and pay a fee. Then you can legally carry your gun with you, at all times.
But if you're not comfortable with guns, you could always opt for a non-lethal form of self defense like a taser, a stun gun, or even a can of pepper spray. Just do me two favors.
First, make sure you're carrying this with you at all times.
Second, make sure you actually know how to use it. I can't tell you the amount of people I've met who are so confident, yet lack any real self-defensive or shooting skills.
Being ready to defend yourself is more than just owning a gun. You need to be confident using it, so that you can respond with speed and accuracy when it matters the most.
Act on your plans
The final step seems like a logical one, but I need to say it again. If you're up against an act of terror, your first priority needs to be getting yourself and your family to safety. Perhaps standing your ground and fighting back is your only option, or it could well be that you are better off turning tail and running the other way.
I'll say this again. Do not put yourself at risk to be a hero. Fighting back is definitely a good plan, but only if you've not got any other options, because, well, you may not make it out alive.
If you have the chance to run, do it. As you do so, keep an eye out for any possible ways that you can escape. Is there another exit you noticed on the way into the building, or a potential escape route through the staff-only corridors. Surviving also means acting on your plans, and having a sense of purpose when everyone is cowering in fear or not knowing what to do.
Some of my friends like to call me paranoid, as I'll do this every single time I walk into a building. I make a plan of escape, and I also create a plan B, which is my "last stand" plan. I think about where I'd position myself in the room to get both cover and take out a potential shooter.
That way, should anything ever happen while I am there, I can react in a split-second, and keep my family safe.
Of course, following the rules is one thing, but they also don't guarantee you'll make it out of a bad situation in one piece. All they do is give you a baseline of the right way to react, which sends your chances of survival through the roof. So pay attention, be ready to defend yourself, and stick to your plan. That's how you'll survive.