Essential Safety and Vigilance Tips for these Times

Personal Safety
1. Think through and determine where YOU and each member of your family are at, in regard to danger awareness and denial. Discuss this topic in an effort to increase everyone's awareness.
2. Ask yourself and each member of your family to rate themselves on their KNOWLEDGE about possible dangers and how much thought they have given to the CHOICES they might have to make in the event of actual danger.
3. You and your family members should CLEARLY IDENTIFY which habit patterns and routines they have that are SO automatic that the risk of danger falls out of their mind and out of their awareness.
4. Explore what new habits and thought patterns could be put into place to help prevent them from falling into a "cloud of ignorance" about what dangers COULD be around.
5. Review for yourself and with your family the activities and routines which might put any of you in the proximity of any of the following terrorist danger zones. Make a CHOICE whether to change those patterns and plans. If you are going to be in these areas, talk about precautions to take and the importance of keen awareness.
~ Any PLACE where large groups travel to visit by car, bus, taxi, train, sea or air
~ Any LOCATION which hosts large events or gatherings: sporting events, shopping malls, flea markets, fairs, amusement parks, carnivals, circuses, concerts, entertainment districts, etc.
~ Any IMPORTANT SYMBOL of the USA, state government, American heritage or widely recognized architecture: Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, Seattle Space Needle, St. Louis Arch, Hoover Dam, Golden Gate Bridge, etc.
~ Headquarter locations of important American institutions: the media, financial institutions, state capitals, federal agencies, local government agencies, etc.
~ Noteworthy and symbolic RELIGIOUS BUILDINGS and SITES: important cathedrals, synagogues and mosques, historical sites, religious conventions, etc.
~ Public utility facilities: water treatment plants, water control facilities, power plants, power control facilities, large substations, telephone central offices, large computer facilities, etc.
Vigilance and When to Notify Authorities
Receiving Mail:
6. It is reasonably unlikely and rare that non- governmental, non-public individuals would receive contaminated mail.
7. Mail to public individuals or publicly visible firms and organizations should be carefully reviewed through these steps:
~ EVALUATE what you SEE. Look carefully.
~ No return address is an indicator but in itself should not create alarm
~ Does the handwriting appear odd, forced, abnormal, rambling, in unusual colors, not uniform or rigidly uniform, all over the envelope or package, etc.
~ EVALUATE what you FEEL. Is something odd?
~ Is the piece unusually thick or oddly conformed?
~ Are there stains or oil marks on the outside?
~ Is there any sign of brown or white powder or other odd substance?
~ EVALUATE what you KNOW. What circumstances?
~ Did it arrive in any unusual fashion?
~ Left inside a building or some unusual location?
~ A different means of delivery than is customary?
If your evaluation creates real suspicion:
~ Do NOT open the letter/package.
~ Do NOT smell the letter/package
~ Do NOT pass it around. Limit contact with it.
~ Place the letter/package in TWO plastic or trash bags
~ Call 911 immediately
~ Isolate the area and the people. No one should go in or out.
~ Gather together possibly exposed people and isolate them so that the Hazardous Materials people can quickly do any decontamination and examination of them.
Observing Suspicious Behavior:
8. Strange people in ordinarily restricted areas. (This could be as commonplace as your back yard or on a quiet street at night or in a restricted office or plant area.) If your "instincts" tell you something is not right, try hard to pay attention. It is natural to want to "kid ourselves" OUT of difficult situations. Don't do it.
9. Just because someone has a ready explanation about WHY they are in a restricted area, don't knee-jerk accept it. An intruder will often have a well prepared excuse for being there. Intruders want to confuse you, make you doubt your own judgment, etc., so that they will gain a little time to carry out their plans or escape.
10. Abandoned vehicles or parked in an unusual place or long enough duration that somehow it comes to your attention. Make notes and decide whether a report is warranted. OBSERVE.
11. Strange belongings left in unusual places. Backpacks, briefcases, suitcases, etc. VERY IMPORTANT: do NOT use your cell phone anywhere near such bags or items. They could contain an EXPLOSIVE DEVICE that is configured to DETONATE on any cell phone signal. BE EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS.
12. Once your instincts tell you something is very probably not right, do not hesitate to report it to the authorities.
13. OBSERVE and DOCUMENT. Note the license plate, make, model, color and features of any vehicle. Note a person's race, gender, approximate age, height, weight, build, hair color, facial hair, clothing color and style, shoes and any unique features. All these details COUNT.
14. Call 911 and report your suspicions. Many people do not call and crimes proceed without intervention. If you feel your call is not being taken seriously, ask to speak to a supervisor and be firm in expecting a police or fire response.
15. Other than by calling 911, do NOT personally intervene in ANY situation without carefully thinking through all possible "what if" situations. For any action you are contemplating, have a script thought through as to possible responses and defenses.
Advance Preparation and Rehearsal
16. After reviewing the various scenarios that COULD happen, openly evaluate your and your family's preparedness. Think about each possible happening and talk about what you should and should not do. Make notes if you have to, so that you can review the SHOULDS once a week or so, until you have them clearly in mind.
~ Don't forget to consider and plan for the possibility of FIRE in the home and workplace. What does each person do. You may need to have practice drills.
~ If it is appropriate in your area, you may as well include the possibilities of a severe weather incident too.
17. Make sure everybody's identification and personal papers are in order. Every purse and wallet should have emergency contact information. Also, in large families, decide and specify to all in advance a specific individual that you plan to contact for communication and advisories in the event that communications go down in your area. That way other family members will know in advance where to call to find out about your well being if they can't contact you directly.
18. Do an inventory and determine what emergency supplies you might need. At least cover the basics: bottled water, non-perishable food for a few days, first aid kit, lantern, candles, portable radio, plenty of fresh batteries, etc. Use common sense but stock up NOW so that you will at least enjoy a basic level of preparation.
Empower Yourself for the Times
None of us is likely to manage 100% protection from everything that could happen. And if there is an attack of any severity, all of us will initially go into SHOCK. Then we will kick into REACTION mode.
The SPEED with which you make the transition from SHOCK to REACTION could literally mean the difference between LIFE and DEATH!
THINKING, EVALUATING and PREPARING are all essential steps available to you and your family NOW to strongly add to your protection.
Do NOT allow your enemies to have the enormous benefit of complete SURPRISE. Also do NOT allow your enemies to prevent you from living your life.
Once you have covered the 18 steps above, coupled with vigilance, prayer and maintaining your personal spiritual connection with God, your protection is strengthened significantly. Don't put it off. Make a commitment to yourself and your family to do these things THIS WEEK.
(A special thanks to our personal security, law enforcement expert for her generous and astute contribution for this material.)