Yesterday in Part I of our Holiday Travel Safety/Security series, we discussed the use of technology and the importance of planning in terms of mitigating some of the potential risks of holiday travel. In Part II of this discussion, we want to take a closer look at some of the measures we can take to be as prepared as possible, should our planning and technology not hold up as good as we’d hoped. You know, “The best laid plans of mice and men…” philosophy.
It’s always good to plan. It’s always good to prepare. But it’s a naive soul who thinks that Murphy (or the other guy) doesn’t get a vote at the table.
So, what to do?
Tip #1: Buy yourself some time or distance. For those not in the security industry, this can seem like a foreign concept. For those who are “in the business”, this concept is drilled into our heads from the time we are old enough to say “de Becker”. In Gavin de Becker’s book, Just Two Seconds, he outlines the relationship of the probability of success to the amount of time/distance that a person has to react to a given stimuli/threat. Suffice it to say that we are over simplifying the concepts quite a bit, but the axiom is self-evident that the more time and distance we can buy to recognize and react to a threat or potentially hazardous situation, the more likely our chance of success will be.
Side Note: If you haven’t read Gavin de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear, you need to stop reading this now, and go purchase it. Next to your preferred religious manuscript, this is the only MUST HAVE book you’ll ever need. We highly recommend it!). STAY TUNED FOR A CHANCE TO WIN YOUR VERY OWN COPY FROM 7SPEARS!
But we digress…where were we? Oh yes! Buying time and distance. In the terms of travel safety/security there are several ways to do this:
SLOW DOWN! “Speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes and at a tremendous cost. The NHSTA estimates that the annual economic cost to society of speeding-related crashes is $40.4 Billion. In 2012, speeding was a contributing factor in 30% of all fatal crashes, and 10,219 lives were lost in speeding-related crashes.” This situation is only exacerbated by poor weather conditions, congested traffic, irritated drivers, etc. For a person with a “normal” reaction time (~3 seconds), a reduction of 5mph on average highway speeds can buy a driver nearly 300’ of distance. So give yourself ample time to make the trip, take the lead out of the sneaker and drive appropriate to the road and traffic conditions (Maybe even increase your follow distance a bit?). You’ll at least make it in time for leftovers.
BE OBSERVANT! In a vehicle, this means limiting the amount of distractions to your primary task of keeping four wheels moving in a preferred direction at a preferred speed. That’s right, you now have an excuse not to join in on the “I spy” game or the “This Little Light of Mine” sing-along. You have an important job to do! Keep the radio volume at a manageable level, save the argument with the co-pilot for the next rest stop, put down the “travel burrito”, pull over if you’re tired, and – say it with us – put your phone away while you drive!
“So what if I’m not driving?”, you ask. Our answer is that the time/distance/reaction formula still applies whether you’re on four wheels or two legs. In public places, keep your face out of the electronic babysitter (phone). Take your ear-buds out. Give your senses the fighting chance to notice and react to things that may be hazardous. These days, if you do just this, you’ll be safer than 75% of your fellow citizens (we just made up that statistic, but it has to be close to being accurate!).
Practice and develop good situational awareness and intuition. There are tons of ways to do this, but they all boil down to paying attention to what RIGHT looks like. If you spend enough time people-watching at airports, parks, malls, etc., you will – in short order – begin to get a sense of what “normal” is for a given environment. Then, when something is abnormal, your intuition will tell you that something is amiss. Most people get to this point and ignore the promptings that are coded deep within our DNA to sense danger. Don’t be in this majority. Learn to “listen to your gut” and trust your instincts. You may not know exactly why you have the heebie-jeebies all of the sudden, but the why isn’t important in the moment. What is important is that you heed the biological warning and execute appropriately: leave the area, inform an authority, take the next train…whatever the case may be.
And when all else fails…
Tip #2: Have Good Emergency Kits. Yes, we are those weirdoes you see who are never more than a “go back out to the car and grab it” distance away from an emergency kit; whether that’s a car kit or a Go-Bag. The contents of these kits are another “lively discussion” among like-minded individuals. Suffice it to say that the content of our kits is always in flux as we strategize and as shiny new toys become available. Before we start, we should say that we are not shareholders, owners, or have stock in any of the things we recommend. The important point is not the exact make/model of the recommendation, bur rather the capability that it brings. If you find something you like better, is cheaper, or “cooler” than what we recommend, please let us know! We’re nothing if not strong collaborators and truly enjoy exchanging ideas that are to everyone’s benefit.
EMERGENCY CAR KITS. In Travel Security situations, your vehicle can become your rolling
sanctuary or “hard site”. If you’re stranded, it can be the emergency shelter that you need. At a minimum, we recommend the following:
EMERGENCY GO-BAGS. There may be travel emergencies where you are not in/around your
vehicle. When traveling, you should have a minimal list of emergency items in a backpack/”Go-Bag” with you at all times. This can quickly get unwieldy, so creativity and constant re-assessment is required. In airline travel situations, it may be necessary to procure some of these items once you are at your final destination; as they may be prohibited for flying or through foreign customs. Always check local and federal laws, especially when travelling overseas.
We know it sounds like a lot…it is. We are classic over-packers originally anyways. But we live by the mantras, “Better to have and not need, then need and not have!” and “Two is one, one is none”. Once you get the basics, you will spend the rest of your days finding ways to make things more compact, more compressed, more efficient. If you need help with any of this, or want to collaborate together on specific sourcing materials, please feel free to email info@7SpearsSecurity.com or click on the Contact Us tab at the top of this page.
Before we sign off, we’d be remiss if we didnt go into a little more on sound winter driving tips:
– Pre-Season Vehicle Maintenance: Give (or get if you’re mechanically challenged) your car a check-up before the temperature starts to drop. Top off fluid levels (especially windshield wiper and antifreeze), check your battery (have it rated for winter/sub-zero conditions), replace your wipers and put your winter tires on. There is a lot of “spirited discussion” over the proper type of tire for winter driving (all season, snow tires, studded tires, etc.). I have my preference and I’m sure you (or your mechanic) does too. Whatever option you choose, we all can agree that tire inflation is critical (don’t forget the spare!).
– Have the Right Equipment: We’ve already covered emergency car kits, but it’s worth reiterating to not forget tire chains (practice putting these on before you’re doing it on the side of the highway in a blizzard) and ice scrapers; both of which are critical for winter driving.
– Clear ALL the snow from your car. One of our pet peeves is to see a vehicle blastingdown the highway covered in snow, with a peephole cleared out large enough for the driver to see through. It’s not only illegal in most jurisdictions, it is unsafe for both the driver and others around him/her. Don’t let this be you. Dirt, ice and muck on the windows and lights can build up a lot faster during winter driving. Take the extra second-or-two at a gas station to clean them off.
– “Drive ahead”. In winter driving, sudden starts/stops are not your friend. Try to drive proactively so that you have the time to gently reduce/increase your speed. This goes double for hills. Plan ahead for inclines/declines to avoid excessive use of gas/break.
– Use your headlights. In most inclement weather situations, it’s limited visibility no matter what time of day it is. Headlights are just as important to be seen as they are to see.
– For the untrained, if you find yourself sliding, don’t panic and remember the mantra, “Feet off pedals, gently turn in the direction my butt is going.” Stay calm and only re-apply break or gas after the car is heading in the desired direction of travel.
– Avoid cruise control in slippery/snowy/rainy conditions. If a situation occurs, you want the control, not the machines.
– You’ve seen the signs – be careful of bridges and overpasses. They tend to ice up before the roads do.
– Buckle Up – It’s the law!
– 4-Wheel drive does not equal superhuman. It’s like cocaine – it just magnifies the user. If you’re a good driver, 4WD can help you be a better one. If you’re an untrained or bad driver…well…
– If you find yourself stranded, lucky you…you’ve read 7Spears’ blogs and already have a good emergency kit in your trunk! Stay put, use the car as shelter and let someone know where you are. Regularly check to ensure that your exhaust pipes are unobstructed. Find a way to mark your car as “occupied” for emergency responders.
– Take some good winter driving training. In our area, a lot of driving schools and fire/police departments put these on for little-to-no charge. If you’re REALLY feeling sparky, shoot us an email and we can recommend a professional driving school (or two) that will blow your socks off!
So that’s our contribution to Holiday Travel Safety and Security! We hope you enjoyed our offerings and we truly appreciate your interest. 7Spears wishes you and yours the very best Thanksgiving Day. We have a lot to be thankful for on this end, not the least of which are loyal partners like you. Check back in with us after Turkey Day as we discuss special safety/security measures around Black Friday/holiday shopping, as well as preview some of those “must have gifts” for the security professional in your life (hint-hint)!
P.S. We love collaboration! Please leave a comment, disagreement, or point of discussion in the comments below. If you liked this article, please feel free to share it on social media! If you need more detailed assistance on challenges specific to your family, group, or company, please contact us via the “Contact Us” link or email info@7SpearsSecurity.com.