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July 26, 2016 by Heng Thye Tan
Top 10 Safety Precautions in Travelling Amidst Terror Alert
1. Let others know where you are goingWhether you planned to travel alone or with your friends or colleagues at work, you should still inform your immediate family members or a friend whom you trust about your location and inform them from time to time. You never know when you will encounter grave situations like terror attacks and accidents while you are out somewhere. Make sure you have their numbers ready in case of any emergency.
2. Do not stay or travel in a place or situation where you feel uncomfortable or oddJust a couple of days ago, you learned that there was a bombing incident that happened near the site of your hotel for the convention you always wanted to go to. You ask yourself, a few days have already passed, is it safe to go there now? Your inner instincts tell you, a big NO. If you have the slightest apprehension, don’t. A canceled trip is never a waste of time and money when you have your safety compromised.
3. Maintain situational, cultural and social awarenessSure, you researched about the do’s and dont’s and the rules to be played as locals relate to you as a visitor. If you are new to the place, especially in tourist or commercial sites, it is natural for people to seem nice since it is a site of commerce. However, be very extra cautious with the information you share with people you do not know. Do not share personal information like where you live or your work or anything about your family. Other people with malicious intent might take advantage of that information. Also, do research about every place you intend to visit-- you might go to places that are not advisable to tourists due to high security precautions.
4. Take preventive actions that will give you an advantage in a possible crisis situationTerror attacks usually take place in congested areas such as airport terminals, crowded halls, market places, malls and other crowded, and rigid locations. Always try to observe the possible dangers that might arise and immediately think of how you could turn around any negative situation. When you are in a plane or tourist bus, take note of the exit points and the emergency exits available and make sure you can easily access them. You do not want to be judgemental but try not to sit near people whom you feel uncomfortable to sit with. Trust your gut feel when it says something is odd about the place and situation you are in. In places commonly flocked by people like open marketplaces and events like street parties, avoid squeezing yourself into the large crowd. You do not want yourself squished in stampedes.
5. In unlikely events like hostage scenarios, run for your safetyWhen crisis situations arise, people tend to either panic and flock to check out the commotion happening. The “herd syndrome” is a person’s primary survival instinct. In situations that entails great peril, do not stick with the large crowd, rather, get to safe grounds immediately. You should know by then where to go if you stick with tip number 4.
6. Dress up in comfortable clothing wherein you can move fast and freelyThe fashion slogan, “comfort over fashion” is highly applicable when travelling especially when you anticipate unexpected emergency and crisis situations. Dress for function: Ladies, when you are out travelling, you might want to leave your favorite high heels and wedges behind. A pair of comfortable slip on sandals or trainers are perfect for the rough ride of emergency and crisis scenarios. Your cargo pants which remained unnoticed in your closet for many months might suit your plain cotton top to complete your traveler/ tourist look. Cargo pants are perfect to function since it has lots of pockets where you can put in your emergency paraphernalia such as mini flashlights and pocket knife. Travelling with a simple and functional backpack is preferred by most people who are always out travelling-- travel light. Only bring essentials and stuff that cannot be provided by your hotel or camp headquarters. You may also bring a belt bag or messenger back where you can put all your essentials like wallets and mobile phone.
7. Do not just take gifts or packages from strangers, report it to the policeIf you are out travelling with a group and a guide, always inform your companions about the “perks” you receive along the way from locals and people you do not know. Gifts and packages without a tag or dedication that came out of nowhere or perhaps a mysterious delivery addressed to you is something you should be extra cautious with. As they say, “curiosity killed the cat,” so do not ever think of opening it. Call your hotel’s front desk for security assistance or call the local authorities.
8.Bring a survival kitWhen travelling, always think in advance; always be prepared in any situation. If you anticipate emergency situations, always bring with you a handy “survival kit” that contains tools and supplies that can help you survive in dark situations. These items are not limited to the following: mini LED light, pocket knife, whistle, a lighter or a box of matches, extra sealed food and reserved water bottle, and first aid kit.
9.Get to know your way around the area during emergency situationsThere are places which you would like to visit and are on your itinerary like the best restaurants and shopping districts. But also when you travel, always make it an effort to get to know your way around the area in case of emergency situations. Know where the nearest hospitals and police stations within the vicinity are and how to get there. You may also need to research about traffic situations.
10. Secure your communication and emergency devicesWhile you research and get to know the immediate places to go to in emergency situations in tip number 9, also keep in mind to save contact numbers of nearby hospitals, police stations and persons you trust. Equip your devices such as your smartphone and laptop with applications and softwares that can be used while you travel. These are not limited to the following: maps, locators and news feed apps. Also, always keep them fully-charged and put them in secure and accessible places such as your belt bag or pocket with zipper.
Planning one’s safety while travelling is something many people tend to overlook. Planning your travels also entail your safety and your survival during unexpected scenarios such as terror attacks and accidents. It is always practical to think and take 5 steps ahead. You can prevent and mitigate any negative event if you are well prepared and aware of the possible outcomes.