The festive season is now well and truly upon us.
Understanding that this is the time of year that our threat levels increase, from risks of accidents and personal injury through to the dangers of physical assault, and from burglary of your home to the more serious street theft and robbery, it’s crucial that we apply the correct levels of personal security and have a safe and fun Christmas.
So, to give you some help, I’ve decided to give you my own Top Ten tips on how to have a Safe Christmas.
Sleeping on the tube makes staying
Alert and Aware difficult!
The primary function of awareness is for you to start to take more notice of your environment and the people around you. To look for potential dangers and spot them early – giving you more time to decide on how best to avoid or defuse any situation.
The most important part of awareness is to keep a balance and to look for the good as well as the bad. So, for example, when you start to look for the loutish group in the bar that you really need to avoid, you should also be looking for the location of likely support, ie, door security staff, police, bar staff, your friends, etc.
Maintaining constant awareness is difficult and requires practice, but by becoming more vigilant, you will actually look less of a victim and the simple act of looking around you more and paying more attention will help to remove you from the selection pool of would-be attackers and criminals.
If we look at non-criminal threats such as falling over, getting lost, getting caught out by bad weather, etc, then good awareness can also protect us from these, which are in fact, far more likely to occur and spoil our Christmas than becoming a victim of criminal activity anyway.
Knowing what to look for is crucial, and understanding the patterns of behaviour of criminals is vital if you want to achieve the correct assessment of everything you observe.2. Assess the Dange
If you apply this to something familiar such as driving your car, you would be assessing the road conditions, the volume of traffic and the likelihood of the car in front stopping suddenly or pulling out on you.
We do this almost instinctively when we are performing a familiar act, but the process is exactly the same when we are walking home alone, in a busy nightclub, or shopping in a busy Christmas high-street.
Often the best way to assess threat is to look for things that are out of place or unusual. The one person who’s looking at you more than the rest in a crowded club, or the car that’s weaving and changing speed erratically, is just two examples of things that should draw your attention and stand out on your personal radar.
3. Trust Your Intuition
When it comes to assessing dangers and threats, you already have your own in-built bodyguard, called your Intuition.
When something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. When you get that knot in your stomach that’s not from eating too much Christmas cake and makes you feel that something is wrong, then something probably is wrong.
Trust your intuition.Once you’ve listened to your intuition, your next big challenge is to control your ego.4. Control Your Ego
When your head is telling you that “you should be able to go out and party with your work colleagues”, or, “you should be safe to travel home on your own”, that is simply your ego talking and preventing you from listening to what your intuition is saying about the situation.
Be prepared to leave the nightclub full of drunks who are one more pint away from turning the tables over, and be prepared to make two trips to your car when loaded down with shopping to save you carrying too much.
5. Act Quickly
So, you’ve stayed aware and you’ve spotted a potential threat. You’re next step is to act quickly.
The more you delay in taking action on how to get to safety or remove the threat, the greater the threat will become and the fewer options you will have.
Be decisive and act straight away, whether that be to cross the road if you feel you are being followed, rather than continuing to walk and hope the person turns off, or whether it means getting up and changing carriages on a train or taking a short taxi ride rather than walking through a lonely subway, it’s all about taking action.It goes without saying that any action you take should have the primary purpose of avoiding the threat and the danger and not intentionally setting out to confront it or escalate it.6. Avoidance
To avoid being burgled this Christmas I take action to secure my home and not leave the door unlocked and lying in wait in the darkened hallway with a frying pan.
Avoidance, done early should be confident and concise and should not look panicked or frantic. This applies when changing your direction to prevent someone from following you to raising the alarm and asking for help.
Good planning and preparation can help with avoidance, and it’s really very simple.
Avoid driving in icy conditions, avoid socialising in hostile pubs and clubs, avoid walking alone through lonely subways, avoid sitting in empty train carriages, avoid drawing large sums of cash out at night time, and so the list goes on.
All self protection should be done sensibly and rationally if it is to be effective and also practical.7. Be Sensible
We can all take our personal security measures too far as well as making them too little. The key is to keep a sensible head on your shoulders and make decisions and actions appropriate to the situations.
That way you are less likely to be a victim and also less likely to lose your friends for always behaving like an off-duty Kevin Costner in Bodyguard mode.
Always look confident, even if you are panicking inside.8. Confidence
A confident demeanour is one of the best ways to avoid being selected as a victim. And so, even if you are lost or feeling uncomfortable with your surroundings, remain confident and, not only will the criminal fraternity be less likely to choose you for their next target, you will also start to feel more confident.
Walking upright, head up, positively with a confident stride and purposeful walk will all act to keep you safe.
Target Hardening is about understanding your potential threats and then taking measures to combat them in advance.9. Target Harden
For your home this Christmas, consider how secure your points of entry are, fit good quality locks and even a house alarm. A dog is for life not just for Christmas but they are still proven to be one of the best burglar prevention devices.
Ensure you keep valuables out of sight in your car, even when you are driving and always park in safe car-parks with good visible security.
Do your best to limit the time when you are on your own when out late at night and don’t flash your cash or show off the new jewellery you have got for Christmas when in public.
These are just a few simple tips to make you less of a target and send the criminals somewhere else.
10. Have Fun
The most important step you can take this Christmas is to have lots and lots of fun.
If you follow this simple advice you’ll be able to do that, confident in the knowledge that you can enjoy the festive season and see in the New Year safely.
Ultimately, Self Protection is about taking sensible and practical precautions that will help to reduce risk and better ensure your safety.
It’s not about locking yourself away and never venturing out.
Nor is it about putting so many safety checks and procedures in place that leave you a shivering wreck of paranoia.
It should help to open doors, not lock them shut, by offering you more knowledge and ability to assess potential threats and apply the appropriate measures of security to maintain a fun life / safe life balance.
What’s more important to remember is that you are still more likely to be a victim of accident than crime, so Self Protection really begins with ensuring you avoid the minor and more common threats, such as, Getting lost, Falling over, Breaking down in your car, Falling asleep on the train and missing your stop, and so the list goes on.
The beauty here is that, by being more aware and alert and taking better care of yourself to prevent these types of events, you will automatically be making yourself safer and less likely to be a victim of the more serious, criminal activities.
Stay Safe and Have a Very Merry Christmas