Danger is everywhere.
In today’s world, demented gunmen march into elementary school classrooms and open fire. They take the stage in crowded movie theaters and spray the audience with bullets.
Terrorists strike at museums and satirical newspaper offices. Now, following a vicious attack on the upscale Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi that left 67 dead, the Islamist group al-Shabaab has called for similar attacks on malls in the United States and Canada, including the Mall of the Americas.
What does that mean to you?
It means you have to be prepared. I don’t mean digging a hole in your back yard and stocking it full of weapons. That only helps if you want to live in a hole.
If you want to live anything close to a normal life, it means you need to be alert. You need to be aware. And you need to be ready. Constantly.
Make no mistake, your safety is your responsibility. There are no metal detectors at malls. Police don’t pat down patrons at the midnight movies. Teachers don’t bolt their doors all day long and conduct class behind bulletproof doors and windows.
But gunmen can – and have – struck at all of these places.
Your best defense: planning.
Open up your choices.
Know where the exits are. Don’t follow the path most traveled. If you run with the herd, you can run into a slaughter.
Stores have back doors. So do restaurants. Classrooms have windows.
Find them as soon as you walk in.
And, at the first sign of trouble, use them. Only lock yourself in a closet as a last resort.
Don’t try to be a hero. (More on that in another blog.) And don’t be a spectator. Gawkers end up as hostages, or dead. So don’t stand around staring, trying to get a better look. You don’t need a selfie. You don’t need to record it on your cell phone to show later. There may not be a later if you do.
Your best bet is to get out and get away as fast as possible.