Terrorist attacks can happen anywhere, at home or on holiday. Security expert Lloyd Figgins gives 8 pieces of expert advice on how to increase your chances of survival if you’re caught up in a terrorist attack
Security expert Lloyd Figgins (LFL)
It’s important to trust your gut instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, then get away from it.
I addressed senior UK police officers about this whole subject of ‘gut instinct’ and it’s incredible just how important it is and how many times people get themselves into a place of safety because they listen to their gut instinct.
Candles for victims of Paris attacks (Dreamstime)
If something does kick off, it’s really important to move quickly. We’ve all heard of 'fight or flight' but the third human reaction, when scary events are happening, is to freeze. We saw that with the Paris attacks, where people froze. You need to move and you need to move quickly.
A lot of people freeze because they don’t know what to do. There isn’t not a plan in their head as to what they need to do or where they need to go. If you’ve got that plan, you know where you need to go and you know how to get there, then you can leave quickly.
Emergency exit (Dreamstime)
Part of that ‘plan’ is to make sure, if there is an attack in an area, that you’ve identified safe havens.
You can do that before anything happens, such as when you first go into somewhere. It’s not just a case of where you’re going to go in the case of an attack but how you’re going to get there. Have a look at alternative routes because your initial route might be blocked off for one reason or another.
Chaotic blur of a crowd (Dreamstime)
When you do move, move quickly, but don’t move with the crowd. In a shooting incident, what will often happen is that the terrorists will fire into the largest density of the people. We saw this at Westgate Mall in Kenya. Don’t put yourself in that density of people.
Try to keep your mind focused (Dreamstime)
It’s really difficult to stay calm. I have no idea how to react until it actually happens. The only thing I can say is that the training does kick in. Fortunately, I’ve been trained by the police and in the army.
Your first instinct must be to get as much distance between you and the bad people as possible as quickly as possible.
Rather then ‘stay calm’, the best advice might be ‘focus’. Focus on where you’re going, where you need to be and what you need to do.
Man using bottle as a weapon (Dreamstime)
Always remember in terror situations something called ‘Run, Hide, Fight’. Your first instinct is going to be to run, to get as much distance between you and the terrorist as possible.
Secondly, if you can’t run anywhere, find somewhere secure to hide, just concealing yourself behind the wall or whatever. Remember: if you can see the bad people, they can probably see you too. Also remember that certain high caliber weapons can go through things like wall and wood, that sort of stuff, and certainly through bricks and glass. Make sure that if you are hiding, you lock doors and turn off lights.
Finally, if you can’t run and you can’t hide, then you’ve got to fight with every bone in your body and take them on because that’s probably the only way you’re going to survive. Use anything to hand. That could be bottles, furniture, glass, fire extinguishers, whatever you can find.
Police officers (Dreamstime)
Another thing people should know is that if the emergency services arrive on the scene, their first priority is to neutralise the threat, not to treat casualties. Make sure you’re not mistaken as one of the bad people by keeping your hands in clear view and don’t move unless you’re told to do so.
When the police or military are coming in, they might treat you very roughly sometimes until they can ascertain if you are a threat. Don’t be surprised if they manhandle you a little bit. Just keep your hands in clear view and do exactly what you’re told. Often they won’t deal with casualties until they neutralise the threat.
Landline phone (Dreamstime)
I was in Moscow in 2010 when the Metro bombs went off, I was working for a client and I got a text message to the client back in the UK saying all our people had been accounted for and were safe. I got a response from them saying: “Yes, received”. The next thing was that the mobile phone network crashed and it was down for at least two days. But because I’d sent that message, they were able to notify everyone’s next of kin that everyone was fine.
It’s really important that you think about how you might be able to communicate to people, by phone or outside of those normal channels, and let them know that you’re safe and that you’ve been accounted for.
You might need to go beyond the normal phone channels. Think about where you might be able to get to a landline, as everyone tends to rely on mobile. Sometimes this is where social media’s good. Facebook has actually got an “I am safe” feature for when these events happen, so that all your friends and everyone else can see that you’re not one of the victims. If you can, you should let people know what’s happening and also provide any helpful information.
Looking For Lemons: A Travel Survival Guide by Lloyd Figgins (LFL Global Risk Mitigation, £9.99) is out now. You can buy it HERE.
Lloyd is the CEO of LFL Global Risk Mitigation. For more, see www.lflglobalrisk.com.
Main image: Police firearms officer (Dreamstime)