Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hostage Survival

Continuing the previous discussion about piracy — being taken hostage whether at sea, in a public place, in your own home, or even in a car-jacking situation — the first issue is about how to avoid that situation in the first place. There are steps you can take to avoid being taken hostage:

  • The simplistic answer is don't go where hostage situations occur. Face it, there are some places that are more dangerous than others, and you need to recognize the risk factors involved in places you go. At sea, it's anywhere within 500 miles of Somalia. Car-jacking is more likely to occur in certain neighborhoods. Don't wander around in seedy parts of town. Just don't go there. That's the easy part. But when it comes to being taken hostage in a public place or even in your own home, the unfortunate fact is that criminals have been known to hit posh hotels, fast-food restaurants, and residential homes in every kind of neighborhood. So you are somewhat limited when it comes to simply avoiding bad places. But use your head and stay away from places where trouble is likely to come. 
  • Make yourself a harder target. Lock your doors and windows day and night. That goes for the vehicle and the house. Don't provide easy access. Make it hard to get to you. 
  • Be ready to roll. If you're in a public place, position yourself near an escape route. If somebody come into the room brandishing a weapon, burst out of the escape route as quickly as possible before the bad guys have a chance to take control of the room. Just fly out of there instantly. If the bad guys want to control the room, they probably won't chase after you and risk losing everybody else. 
  • Be constantly aware of what's going on (situational awareness). If something doesn't feel right, get out immediately. If it turns out that you were wrong, don't worry; it's better to suffer embarrassment than to suffer at the hands of criminals.
  • If someone you don't know approaches your vehicle while you're sitting at a stoplight or intersection, roll up the windows and lock the doors. Be ready to jump on the gas pedal and take off. If a bad guy reaches through your window, floor the gas pedal. If bad guys surround your vehicle, run over them. It's your life to save, so you better be ready to do whatever it takes. But don't just sit there and let them take you without trying to escape.
  • If you are armed, you need to decide if getting in a gun battle is going to make things better or worse. For example, if I were alone I'd be more prone to engage the enemy than if my wife and children were in the room with me. It's up to you to determine how much potential collateral damage you are willing to risk. 
If you are taken hostage, you need to figure out how to survive. We'll deal with that next time. 

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