“Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance”
I can’t begin to tell you how many sergeants I heard that from when I was in the Army. When I worked for a uniformed private security company I heard it a few more times (that’s an understatement). When I worked security at a large theme park I heard this from virtually every service manager from the landscaping guy to the head lifeguard. Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. It was their mantra at the park.
As an “average every day citizen” though, what do you need to plan for? We don’t usually realize it because we do it so often, but you plan things every day – often days, weeks or months in advance. For instance…
Have you planned dinner for tonight yet?
Have you planned what you’re doing this weekend?
Have you planned your next vacation?
Those are easy ones. We plan what we’re going to wear, even if it’s only moments in advance of putting it on; we plan our route to work, and sometimes back-up routes if problems with our main route are common; we plan to call our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents… and then plan when we’re going to reschedule that if we forget to do it.
That kind of planning is easy for us. Have you ever wondered why? The answer is because you do it so much that it has become 1) 2nd nature and 2) a part of your daily life. Such realization made me ponder what kinds of things we would need to plan for that aren’t a part of our daily lives: emergencies, crises… the unexpected.
Another statement I heard frequently in the military and in security work was Always expect the unexpected. We all know that’s quite impossible. If you expect it then it’s not UNexpected, right? However, you CAN plan your response to various emergencies you may be faced with at unexpected times – without warning – which is how almost all emergencies occur anyway. After all, if you knew an emergency was going to happen then you’d avoid being wherever it was going to happen in the first place (I would hope).
So I found myself trying to figure out where emergencies would occur that you (the average “Joe Citizen” or “Jane Citizen” just so I’m not unfair to all our readership) might find yourself. It’s not hard to think of a few – but they both fall into the category of “work place”. Those who worked in the World Trade Center Towers and area found themselves dealing with a totally unexpected emergency on 9-11-2001. Folks at the Pentagon did too. Some people on Flight 93 (that crashed in Pennsylvania) did as well.
Sure, it’s easy for me to pick out the most extreme circumstance – a terrorist attack. How about something far more likely (statistically speaking) and less dramatic? Okay…
You could be shopping at the mall and find yourself targeted by a random active shooter. You could be in your favorite fast food “restaurant” and find yourself targeted by a random active shooter. You could be at church and find yourself under attack by someone who disagrees with your faith or that of your church. All of those have occurred.
How about something even less dramatic? You could find yourself at your favorite mall in a familiar department store trying on shoes when the power goes out and those emergency light boxes (that haven’t been inspected since the place was built) don’t work. It’s DARK. If you haven’t planned and prepared for that possibility then you will be as susceptible to circumstance as the next Joe Citizen.
Even so… that’s even a tad bit extreme when we look at unexpected events that you can realistically plan for. As I said at the beginning, I wanted to figure out some standards – some common places you should be ready and do so in such a way that I could offer some options. As I consider it you’ll most likely experience unexpected emergency circumstances:
While traveling to work
The “Other” is a bit too broad to really address. It’s impossible for us to be prepared for every eventuality 100% of the time. Even our best military operators don’t manage that and they have extensive support systems. So we’re going to se aside “Other”. That leaves at home, at work and traveling in between. Sure, we travel to other places and spend time in them, but when you think about how you spend the majority of your waking hours (unless you’re retired and enjoying your golden years), you are mostly at home, at work or traveling between the two.
At home, what emergencies might occur that you can reasonably plan for?
The first is FIRE. We all cook – albeit some of us do it very badly. But the kitchen can be a hazardous place both for fire and for burn injury. Planning to deal with a fire is actually fairly simple: have a working fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen. Know how to work it. Inspect it quarterly and replace it when it expires. Obviously there are other ways to deal with fire than an extinguisher, but if you plan to use them then you have to study and know a few things.
You need to know the proper way of dousing an oil/grease fire versus a food (meat, veggies) fire. You need to know where your kitchen’s breaker switch is in your breaker box in case the fire has an electrical source. (HINT: Throwing water on an electrical fire is a BAD idea!) You need to insure that you have the materials at hand or nearby to deal with oil / grease fires (where’s your flour?).
Additional injuries that can occur in the kitchen include burns and cuts. Burns can be treated in the short term with ice or cold water. Some people preach putting butter (real, not margarine) on burns; others stand by Aloe Vera gel (we have a bottle in the refrigerator for treating sunburn). Severe burns from hot pans, boiling water or hot heating elements on stoves must be treated at a hospital. They should be cooled with ice or cold water briefly, covered with a non-stick material (how many of us have a burn blanket? Not many – but plastic wrap can serve the purpose) and transported to the emergency room. THINK ABOUT THIS:
Not that long ago (as I type this) an off-duty paramedic chose to drive his wife to the hospital for an emergency rather than calling and waiting for an ambulance. Just because you’re driving a family member to the hospital for an injury does not exempt you from obedience to the traffic law. If you are going to drive them to the emergency room be prepared to deal with the stress of speed limits, red lights, stop signs, etc while your family member suffers next to you or in the back seat. This is not something to be taken lightly. Consider it carefully.
Finally (for the kitchen) cuts can occur. I have a friend who was cutting a sub roll in half and accidentally cut all the way through faster and with more force than he intended. The result was he cut three of his fingers through to the bone between the first and second joint. He was home alone. He grabbed a towel with that hand, squeezed the hand shut and called for an ambulance. He very sensibly didn’t attempt to drive to the hospital because he was worried about loss of blood, shock, dizziness, etc. He KNEW he didn’t have enough first-aid / medical information about such a wound and the accompanying blood loss to make such a judgment call. So his judgment call was to wait for the ambulance. He paid attention to the blood loss, constantly measuring the need to apply a tourniquet. Such need never arose.
People work with knives, cleavers, scissors and more in kitchens. We use them to cut meat and bone. Um, duh!!! WE are meat and bone. Think about it. Be careful. Have a plan. Just for curiosity’s sake, and I know I won’t get the answers (unless you want to go post them in the blog for this article), how many of you have a tourniquet or – at hand – the materials to make a tourniquet in your kitchen? If you can’t answer that, then try to answer this: where is the first-aid kit in your house?
Obviously accidents can occur anywhere in the house. We use sharp objects in our bathrooms for grooming but we don’t (typically) experience severe blood loss if we “slip up”. Still, scalding can occur in the tub / shower; injuries to eyes can occur quite easily (think of all the chemicals you put near your face / hair); mirrors aren’t hard to break and can cause traumatic injuries. It is imperative – unless you just assume you’ll never experience an injury in your home – that you have a properly stocked, well maintained and easily located first aid kit. Do you?
Now let’s talk about a couple other things that can occur at home. These few things are:
Home invasion / burglary
Breaking & entering (when you’re not home)
All my life I’ve heard that if a tornado or hurricane is coming I should get in the basement. My parents never, that I can remember, ushered my siblings and I into the basement if any type of severe weather was predicted or pending. In fact, I remember standing just inside a pair of French Doors and watching trees blow in the back yard as a tornado went through. My parents’ basement was below ground certainly, but it was (essentially) a concrete rectangle with two steel support beams running across its width. All other support to the house was provided by wood frame walls. Two stories worth of house could have crashed down into that basement and I’m not sure how much protection we’d have had.
Relatives of my wife’s actually have storm shelters: in ground concrete “bunkers” for lack of a better term. The metal sheathed solid wood doors have multiple slide-bolt locks. During “the season” the shelters are kept stocked with a small store of dry food and a couple 5-gallon jugs of fresh water that are rotated regularly. Those folks do that because the lessons have been previously learned: be prepared. That includes having a plan and making preparation. They do.
Different parts of our country run different risks for weather or natural emergencies. I’m not sure what the good folks of California can do to prepare for earthquakes, but they can take steps to prepare for storms and wild fires. This publication – both within these pages (in a different issue) and online – has produced a number of articles about “bug out” or “Go” bags. If you live in an area prone to wild fire (southwest) or hurricanes (southeast), isn’t it only prudent to have a bag packed and ready to go? If there’s a chance you’ll be evacuated in any given storm, fire or other natural disaster season, it only makes sense to be ready to rock with as little notice as possible.
I put “Home Invasion” and “Burglary” together. Different states define different crimes different ways. In my mind it doesn’t matter if the bad guy is coming into your house uninvited to commit mayhem in the day or night. He’s not wanted and you have to have a plan to deal with him – or several “hims”. Having an alarm system to scare off bad guys is not enough. What do you do in the middle of the night when the alarm goes off? What do your children do? What role does your spouse play?
Your plan for such an event should take into consideration where everyone in your house sleeps; what “choke points” exist in your home’s floor plans; most likely approach routes for bad guys; locations of phones for calling 911 and more. Long ago our illustrious editor wrote an article about his “Immediate Response Bag”. I believe he was a police officer when he wrote the article because he included OC Spray (pepper mace) and handcuffs in his bag. I promise you this: if I have to deal with an intruder in my home, I have no intention of spraying him or handcuffing him. I DO believe you should have at hand in a consolidated and easy to grab fashion:
A spare magazine (at least one)
A flashlight you’ve practiced with at the range
A knife (never go anywhere without a knife)
A cell phone
IF your home alarm is going off then everyone in the house should be familiar with the “game plan” and know their part. Your wife should be calling 911 after consolidating children in a single location that you can guard. Ideally that location should have a locked door that is in front of your family but behind you. There should be another locked door (if possible) between you and the bad guy. Your position should be one where you can easily cover the most likely avenue of approach for the bad guy – hopefully an identified choke point that will bring him easily into your sights.
If your plan includes a long gun instead of a handgun (like a shotgun), then you have to know where it is; whether or not the chamber is loaded; how to work any accessories without fumbling under pressure; how to move around a given space without letting the length of the weapon give you away.
With any weapon, however, comes the concern of over-penetration and where everyone is in your house. You don’t want to be shooting down the hallway from you bedroom at a bad guy if your children are in bedrooms BEHIND the bad guy. If you miss then where does your shot go? This is why the “collapse to a single room” strategy – if it’s at all possible – is so valuable. It puts every innocent BEHIND you giving you free reign to engage the bad guy as necessary and justified.
Now if you come home to find out that your house has been broken into there are a couple of things you need to do. First, when you discover that a breaking and entering (B&E) has occurred, you need to insure that the bad guy isn’t still in the house. The easiest and safest way for you to do this is to get out of the house and call 911. Let the law enforcement professionals come and check your house. Dogs have wonderful noses for such work. If you HAVE to clear your own house recognize that it takes a minimum of two people to clear most structures and some structures require a minimum of three properly trained. If you find yourself in the instance of having to search your own home, look in every space larger than a bread box for bad guys. Bad guys are quite inventive and imaginative and can do things you’d never expect. I know of an instance where a six foot eight inch tall bad guy hid under a kitchen sink – in a standard size cabinet. None of the cops on the scene could believe that the guy fit in there – but he did. Everyone ASSUMED he couldn’t so no one looked. Assumption is the mother of all screw ups.
AFTER your house has been confirmed as secure (every space bigger than a bread box has been checked at least twice) THEN you need to make a list of everything that is missing. Recognize up front that the police and your insurance company are going to want as much information as possible about every item you put on that list. They will not like you estimating value by the anal aperture extraction method (pulling it out of you @$$). It helps – with proper prior planning – to create a home inventory list that includes:
Any other valuables
Make the list; take a picture of each item. Include serial numbers in the pictures if you can. Any item you have that doesn’t have a serial number you should engrave with your state driver’s license number (unless it would ruin the object). Keep that inventory – which you should update annually – in a safe place. A fire safe is good.
That last “at home” item – Outdoor Assault – is on the list and connected to B&E – kind of. The best thing you can do to avoid being assaulted on your own property as you enter or leave your home is to avoid blind spots. If you can’t avoid having the blind spots on your property, move to and from in such a manner that you stay out of lunge-distance of the blind spots. In other words, stay far enough away that if someone is hiding in the blind spot they can’t lunge and be on you. Be farther away than that.
With proper planning and landscaping you can make sure that there are no such blind spots. Now, this ties to B&E because landscaping can often hide the bad guys from anyone who is looking at your house from the roadside. If you live in a community then bad guys aren’t so eager to break into your house where they can be seen by your neighbors. They like tall bushes in front of windows; doors in unlit or poorly lit areas; garage doors that are unlocked so no one can see them trying to pry open the inner door, etc. Take a walk around your house and look for places you could hide where no one would see you if you tried to break in a window or door; ANY window or door. If you find such places, fix them in a timely fashion.
Finally, let’s briefly talk about while you’re traveling to and from work. Awareness matters. If you aren’t aware of the pending assault against you then you have no hope of avoiding it. Avoidance is the absolute best approach you can take to any situation wherein you might become a potential victim. Just don’t be there. Will to fight is what you have to have if you aren’t successful in your avoidance of becoming a victim. When you are targeted and attacked you have to be willing to fight back – with speed and violence of aggression – to escape being a victim. Sometimes that fight may involve weapons and you should carry, and be trained with, the most effective weapon you can legally possess for carry.
If you have a concealed carry permit, carry. If you don’t, make sure you have a knife. Impact weapons can be anything: canes, umbrellas, clipboards, briefcases, books, etc. If the bad guy wants to attack you with his fists and feet and you can beat him silly from three feet outside his length of reach then the fight is better for you. Knives are handy, light and easy to carry. DON’T carry a knife for defensive purposes unless you seek about the proper training first. Sure, anybody can cut anybody but you have no way of making the cuts / stabs defensively effective unless you know what you’re doing.
Carry a chemical weapon if you can. OC Spray (pepper spray) is available nationwide. Mace can be bought in many corner drug stores. HAIRSPRAY will work if that’s all you have. The key is that you have to have it easily within your reach when you need it – quite unexpectedly.
Throughout all of this I hope you’ve realized: if you don’t plan for success then you’ve (by default) planned to fail.
Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
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