5 WAYS TO STAY AWARE FOLLOWING THE MANCHESTER TRAGEDY
In wake of the Manchester tragedy, I felt it was right to touch on how travelers can stay aware and safe in crowded areas abroad. I want to start by saying my heart goes out to all the families affected by this horrific event. We are all standing by you Manchester.
Being aware of your surroundings and keeping yourself safe basically means staying incredibly observant. This means constantly having your guard up and being slow to trust the nice strangers around you. Being able to notice what’s going on around you in detail, while being able to detect anything that may seem out of the ordinary, is your only line of defense when it comes to a deranged random attack.
What To Look For In Crowded, Public Places
It’s impossible to think we can prevent every random attack. The idea of the attacks being random is to cause total chaos and absolute fear. To make us be fearful at places where we are our happiest and most vulnerable. They want us afraid when we attend our concerts, marathons, cafes, churches, schools, and movie theaters.
Do these random attacks make me afraid to travel overseas? No, not any more than going to a movie theater in Denver. Anything can happen anywhere; I can’t let fear dictate where my life goes. You can’t change the future or the past, so why worry about trying to predict the unpredictable? Worrying is only betting against yourself.
The best we can do is understand that these events are totally unpredictable and, for the most part, not preventable. We can’t let these attacks define us and make us fear joy and happiness. That’s what they want, we need to stand tall, persevere, and do the total opposite of what they want. Staying aware of your surroundings, especially when you travel, is how we will stay resilient and remain united.
5 things to look for when you’re out in crowded, public places:
- Make note if there are any unattended bags lying around. That’s suspicious in itself. No one leaves valuable bags alone. That seems obvious, they say it at the airport, but would you really notice a random bag left on the ground somewhere in a crowd of people?
- People scoping out an area or building. Notice if anyone is recording any day-to-day movements either with a phone or making notes by hand. Not just your average daily video but someone being overly focused on the movements they’re recording.
- People wearing too much clothing or clothing that does not seem right for the event. In the Brussels airport bombing, the attackers wore one leather glove. The reason being something with electricity and the metal carts they were pushing the bombs on. Those gloves were totally out of the ordinary but difficult to identify as such.
- People looking out-of-place. People that may look anxious, nervous, or just generally suspicious. Trust your gut feeling, it’s always right. If someone is about to set off a bomb, I expect they will have some anxiety about it.
- Know where your nearest exits are.
3 Ways to Have More Situational Awareness
- The most obvious being simply observe all of your surroundings: people, places, and things. Make specific mental notes about the people who pass you by.
- To improve your situational awareness try this: when a person walks by you try remembering and saying their: shirt color, hair color, type of shoes, glasses or no glasses, tattoos. This will help you stay more in tuned with your surroundings.
- Practice, practice, practice. By training yourself, you’re protecting yourself from becoming a victim.
I would be lying if I said that every time a terrorist attack happens, it doesn’t make me a little more nervous to travel. But honestly, there are so many shootings in the US, that most of the time, anywhere seems safer than here. I could die in an unpredictable, random car accident on my 45 minute commute to work. And the only thing I could have done to prevent it is be more aware of the cars around me. Increase your awareness, increase your safety.
Have any of you ever been noticeably more aware somewhere and it helped you get out of a scary situation?