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Don’t turn your personal safety net into a hammock lulling you into the silent killing caused by complacency.

Complacency in its definition means: marked by self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.

Hidden in this short phrasing lies a master key, giving you an advantage against those who wish to harm you. Think about the phrase “unawareness of actual dangers”. What is your level of situational awareness? Had you ever considered the possibility of being victimized while traveling on vacation or business, by just simply staying in a hotel? What precautions or measures have you taken to help ensure your own person safety?
If these questions quicken that pace of your heart with fearful realization….then good! Fear is the father of all courage and the mother of all safety. This isn’t about being paranoid. It’s about being awake and aware.

From the beginning we have always taught personal safety and awareness first, firearms second. The idea: Don’t be a victim by making yourself vulnerable. The gun is your last resort. The story ran by NBC is just one example of the false sense of security we live with. We no longer live in a time when it’s safe to leave the doors unlocked……or even a time when a lock is an effective enough deterrent to ward off unwanted intruders.

So now the question arises, “What can I do?” Do not let stories like this evoke a sense of powerlessness for that is just as useless and harmful as complacency. In the case of the hotel security breach, there are a few simple things you can do to make yourself more secure, some of which was mentioned in the video. But let’s think beyond that, for robbery merely chips the iceberg to what could be a much more horrifying scenario.
I travel through out the year for work, sometimes to foreign countries and I’m not able to carry a gun while on business. At first this was alarming to me. Then I reverted to other protection devices, pepper spray, knives etc. Although I advocate some form of personal protection device over nothing, I honestly believe in the adage, “Alert today, Alive tomorrow”. An agile mind and well thought out plan give me the greatest advantage against any opposition. So here is a list of things I do while traveling to help ensure my safety:

• Use the swinging metal security lock. You’d be surprised how few people use this important security feature. Even that handy device in the video criminals use to break into your room in the video can’t get past that.
• Make sure your door is shut and locked – even on quick trips to the ice machine. Don’t prop the thing open, not for a second. It doesn’t take long for an observant thief to grab your wallet or mobile gear and run.
• Take the duplicate key if you are traveling alone. Anyone could walk to the counter and ask for the second key. In some hotels, they might even get it; thieves can be very clever and use a plausible scenario to convince a clerk they need the key. This is a very good tip for solo women travelers, especially.
• Use your peephole when someone knocks. You never have to open your door if you are not comfortable doing so. Trust your intuition! If it doesn’t feel right call the front desk, ask for security.
• Never let a stranger trap you in your room. Just because someone says they are room service or maintenance, you STILL don’t have to let them in. Think first. Did you actually call for room service? Call the front desk and ask if they sent maintenance for any reason. Or, for example, if a stranger wants to tell you your car lights are on, just thank them through the doorway. Don’t worry about seeming rude. You have no obligation to them.
• Lock up your valuables or take them with you. Yes, it’s an inconvenience but well worth not having to replace them later.
• Ask the hotel about security measures. Ask about what kind of locks they use, whether or not they are aware of this issue we saw at most major hotel chains in the video. You have a right to know what level of security you can expect while staying there, especially when staying at a more secure location (a hotel that has upgraded locks) isn’t an option.
• Choose a hotel with enclosed hallways and stairways. Hotels with open or exterior hallways and stairways are an invitation to criminals walking by looking for an easy target.
• Know the location of all the exits in and around your room. Aside from an intruder, what if there’s a fire? How will you vacate the premises safely?

My mom, Janice Talaroc, the founder of women and guns, used to quiz me in restaurants once we sat down, “Where is the nearest exit? What would you do if someone came in the front and you needed to escape?” I thought she was paranoid…crazy…but I was careless. My experiences have been some hard ones but I’ve found that this idealism expands far outside the restaurant and is useful in all aspects of my life today. Have a Plan. Everyone’s personal protection plan will be different to suit their needs whether it’s in their home, their car, on the bus, at work or in a hotel room. Make the plan, write it down and communicate to those in your life who will be affected by it such as family members. Remember the criminal always has a plan and they plan with intent, intent to harm you, to rob, to do whatever they can get away with. They aren’t expecting you to have a plan for them.

Complacency, the mother of incompetence, the ancestor of regret……….

By:Chelsea Kyger