I was recently on a snorkel tour on a Zodiac boat. The company was a little bit fly-by-night, but that was part of the adventure. The Captain was experienced, and the trip went off really without a hitch, except we didn’t get to snorkel due to too much rain and some shark sightings. You can still call a snorkel trip a good trip without getting to snorkel IF you feel like the crew worked hard to get you an awesome non-snorkel experience. And this company did – we saw the whole Na Pali coast in Hawaii, and we saw a lot of whales. Some people on the tour complained about ‘No Snorkeling’ but I wasn’t one of them.
The reason I bring up this trip is because of a conversation I had with the First Mate (a young lady about 21 who was bubbly and took good pictures) about life vests. I asked a simple question – “Do you guys have life vests on-board?” The reason I asked this question was it was the first commercial boat I’ve ever been on where they didn’t proactively TELL me about the life vests. I’m not sure, but I’m guessing it’s a law that they’re supposed to do that.
The answer she gave me was interesting: “I’m sure we do.”
I asked her, “Where are they, in case there are any unforeseen circumstances where we might need them?”
“We’re not expecting anything unforeseen, but they’re up in the front.”
Obviously, she doesn’t understand what unforeseen means. She also could use some education on the parts of a boat.
In this post we’re going to talk about basic security preparation, because you really never know what’s going to happen.
Prepping is all about Unforeseen Circumstances. In particular, it’s about Foreseeing them (thereby rendering them no longer “Unforeseen”) and preparing for them.
This idea of preparing for the Unforeseen is particularly relevant when it comes to security. In my neighborhood, we live our lives under the assumption that we are secure. I live in a decent middle-class neighborhood. We have streetlights. We have cops and neighborhood watch. We lock our doors and we watch out for each other.
Sometimes, even in my neighborhood, we have break-ins. On occasion, we even have assaults. I also travel outside of my neighborhood. Sometimes I go to the store. Stores can get robbed. Sometimes I go downtown or to other places not quite as decent as my middle-class neighborhood. It’s not like I’m going to Baghdad, but you know that parts of every city are less safe than other parts, and sometimes we go to those unsafe parts. And no matter where you are, you should be aware that some percentage of the people you encounter on a daily basis may not value civility, safety, and human life as much as maybe you and I do. Some people are mean.
Even in normal times, unforeseen security challenges may present themselves. That’s why we need basic security preparations.
The Full Spectrum of Security Preparedness Options
If you use your imagination, you can imagine all kinds of preparations that you MIGHT take to make your life more secure. Some intentionally extreme examples include:
- Hiring a full-time bodyguard.
- Buying an armored vehicle.
- Living in a remote, fortified compound and never leaving home.
- Wearing body armor every time you leave the house.
I’ll probably never do any of the things on this particular list, but I present it to make a point: There are a great many things that you MIGHT do to be more secure, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out what you SHOULD do. It can be particularly hard to figure out where to start. The prototypical prepper has a lot of guns. I have a lot of guns. But I don’t recommend starting with guns, especially if you’ve never spent much time with guns. So where SHOULD you start?
Where to Start with Basic Security Preparations
This series is about basic preparation for emergencies. One type of emergency is a security emergency. Also, many OTHER types of emergencies have a security component. Here are my basic security preparation steps, regardless of the type of security emergency:
- First, start with being in good physical condition. Full disclosure: I’m not in perfect physical condition. I’m a fat prepper. I’ll also admit that I don’t think fat preppers are really prepared for anything. This is something I’m personally working on. Getting in better physical condition is a priority for me today, and probably will always be a priority for me. Why? Because personal fitness a key component of preparation for ALL SORTS of emergencies. If you take away all other variables and have two equally prepared people, one fat and one in shape, then I’ll put my money on the ‘in shape’ prepper every time. Being in shape helps with your security because:
- Strength will help you defend yourself from an attacker and stop their attack.
- Endurance will help you sustain your defense OR escape from the attack.
- Flexibility and agility will help you avoid injury.
- Second, start paying more attention to your surroundings. This is a fuzzy concept, so I’ll provide some specific tips:
- Stop looking at your phone when you walk. Seriously. Also, if you are stopped because you are waiting, glance at your phone but keep looking around.
- Instead of looking at your phone, look for threats:
- Start watching people in your neighborhood. Watch so closely so that you notice new / different people.
- Watch people when you travel outside of your neighborhood. Scan the people you pass, and ask yourself questions like: “Does that person look normal and nice, or do they maybe look out-of-place and/or dangerous? Are they looking at me?” Do it enough and it becomes second nature.
- Parking lots are common places for attacks. Park in a well-lit place without places for bad guys to hide. Before you unlock your doors, check around the car to make sure someone isn’t waiting to ambush you.
- When walking, take corners ‘wide’ so you create some space between you and anyone hiding around the corner.
- Don’t forget to check your six. (That means look behind you)
- Is that car swerving?
- Is that gas you smell? Smoke?
- Look for Escape Routes. If you had to escape danger, where would you go? Always have an escape route. Always think about putting space between you and a threat.
- Look for Concealment. If you didn’t want to be noticed, how would you hide yourself?
- Look for Cover. What if someone starts shooting? What can I put between me and a bullet?
- Look for Weapons. Any port in a storm: Brooms, rocks, silverware, furniture, car keys, even a sturdy pen.
- Look for Help. Are there other, non-threatening people around you who might help if you need it?
- Third, start using your new information about your surroundings to plan for security emergencies. Be ready to act. It’s a well-documented fact that many people freeze in emergencies. One way to NOT be one of those frozen victims is to have a plan and be ready to put it in place.
- Finally, use the security tools you already have.
- Lock your windows and doors and set the alarm when you go to bed at night.
- Lock the doors in your car when you leave it in a parking lot.
- Have your keys in your hand.
- Replace light bulbs when they burn out.
- Turn on exterior lights when leaving or returning home at night.
- Talk to your neighbors. Get to know them, and share observations about what you see in the neighborhood.
- Join the Neighborhood Watch. That doesn’t mean you have to go ‘on patrol’ – it just means that you have a channel to stay updated on security concerns in the neighborhood.
But WHAT ABOUT GUNS?!?!?!
I know… I know… A prepper site that doesn’t lead with guns. Whodathunkit? I own guns, and I’m pretty proficient with most of them. Why no guns in this post?
First reason is this is a post about basic security preparation. Fitness, situational awareness, and some basic security discipline are a better place to start than firearms or other weapons. It’s all about bang for the buck.
Second reason is the level of commitment required to be proficient with weapons. Law enforcement, security, and armed services are all PROFESSIONS. They practice with arms on a regular basis, because they realize that practice is a necessity.
Final reason is I think many prepper resources put too much emphasis on guns. I want to put the emphasis in the right place.
A fat, oblivious prepper with a gun they haven’t shot this year is living with a false sense of security. We’ll eventually get to guns, but let’s start with getting fit and paying attention to what’s happening around you.