This article was originally published in the wake of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shootings. Spencer's advice still holds.
The tragedy in Las Vegas touched the lives of everyone. Emotions are raw, debates have only just begun, and soon the cosmetic changes of more cameras, guards and stricter screening will be rolled out to instill confidence and regain the public trust.
Regrettably, whatever comes next will not be enough. When all is said and done, one thing is undoubtedly certain: This will happen again.
After the thoughts of despair, prayers of condolence, and divisive debates, will come the realization that we -- as individuals -- must be better prepared. We can no longer afford to live in a world where we simply hope that nothing will happen and then solely rely on the first responders to save us once something does.
Everyday safety requires the participation of everyone and we must all do our part to not only promote the general well being of the public at large, but to ensure our own survival as well.
Here are three effective strategies to help all of us prepare today for a safer tomorrow:
1. Identify Safe Havens
Have a plan; know where to go; know how to get there.
Most of us will never be in a plane crash, yet every time we board an airline we get a safety brief on what to do and where to go in an emergency. Everyday life requires the same preparation.
The first rule of safety is to get yourself somewhere safe. If you find yourself out in an open space or a public event, you will need to get somewhere safe as fast as possible. If you are too far away to run home, it is good practice to identify locations that could keep you safe in your immediate area.
Having a plan in place will free your mind from additional fear and panic, and in an emergency will allow you to focus on what’s most important – getting yourself to safety.
Remember: “Run to a Restaurant”
Restaurants make great “safe havens.” They are easy to remember and easy to identify in the community. Restaurants will have food and water, bathrooms, first aid kits — and if the cell towers go down — restaurants will have landlines and internet to let loved ones know you are safe.
2. Stay Safety Fit
Lions stalking their prey in the wild do not target the strongest of the herd — they attack the weakest. Criminals assess “likelihood of success” the same way. They confront those least likely to put up a fight. The positive, protective, and confident posture you promote by being fit not only serves as a deterrent from potential attackers, but will also greatly increase your survivability in an emergency. When it comes to staying safe, your ability to jump, lift, push, and run may just save your life.
Spencer Coursen during his Army service days.
3. Awareness + Preparation = Safety
The more mindful we become to the realities of the world around us, the less likely we are to succumb to the fantasies of our fears.
Ninety percent of safety is mindfulness of the realistic risks we face. The other ten percent is preparation of safeguards against those possibilities. This is NOT about living in fear. It IS about being empowered by effective capability. Maintaining a healthy sense of awareness and skepticism promotes the resiliency we all need to live a safe, secure, and successful life.
Knowing where the exits are is no different than fastening your seatbelt before starting your car. You are your own best protector. Stay alert, stay aware, and don't forget to prepare. The likelihood of something happening may be very low, but when it's happening...it's 100 percent. Protect yourself accordingly.
Spencer Coursen, Airborne Ranger veteran and founder of Coursen Security, is a nationally recognized threat management expert who has an exceptional record of success in the assessment, management, and resolution of threats, domestic and global security operations, investigations, policy authorship, and protective strategy.