The approach of spring means vacation time for many families. While we at SEC hope the biggest struggle of your vacation is deciding what restaurant to go to for dinner, it is also important to always be prepared for the possibility of an emergency. Emergency preparedness takes little time out of your vacation, and in the event of an emergency could be your key to staying safe and secure. Let us explain why:
When an emergency actually does occur (keep in mind while on vacation this could be anything from a robbery to a natural disaster, a shooting, an allergic reaction, a fire, etc.), your body has a three-step reaction:
- Sense Danger
- Evaluate Response Options
- Commit to Action
The quicker you move through this process, the more successful you will be at getting yourself and your family to safety. Seems easy enough, but your brain can put up natural roadblocks along the way that can affect your response. Here is how you can master each step:
We fail to sense danger when we are in denial or when we fall victim to the normalcy bias – that is explaining away any signs of danger as something more typically found in your life. Take the January Fort Lauderdale airport shooting for example. When travelers first heard shots, many were confused and mistakenly mistook the sound for fireworks or something falling. People weren’t expecting to hear gunshots so it took people a longer time to sense the danger.
When you are on vacation, you need to believe any emergency can happen. Do your research to understand what potential dangers might be common in the area where you are traveling. The US State Department provides information about what to be cautious of when traveling to specific international countries. Below, we have listed resources that might be of assistance to you. If you are already in the mindset that danger is possible, you will be much more likely to sense danger. Be alert and trust your gut if something feels wrong – your body may be subconsciously picking up on tiny signals that can alert you to potential danger.
Evaluating Response Options
Once you have sensed and concluded that there is danger, it can be overwhelming to evaluate response options. You may freeze, wasting precious time. When the people at the Fort Lauderdale shooting realized what was happening, many of them fell to the floor, instead of heading for the multiple nearby exits.
Fortunately, you can prepare for Step 2 by considering possible emergencies and formulating plans ahead of time. We call this considering your “Pre-Emergency Response Options.” This means, for example, listening to the flight attendants when they give their pre-flight safety talk. It means reading the sign posted on the back of a hotel room door to learn the fire escape routes. It means taking a glance around the restaurant when you are first seated at your table to check for the nearest exits. These things take 30-seconds to two minutes and, in the heat of an emergency, you will be glad you have already put time into considering an emergency response plan.
Committing to Action
If you are emotionally prepared to accept that an emergency is possible, and logistically prepared with potential response options, committing to action in Step 3 will be easier and faster. Once you decide on a plan of action, execute this plan with confidence and commitment.
SEC wishes you safe travels on your upcoming holidays and hope you will rest easier knowing that if something does happen, you will be prepared.
Start your research any time by learning about your destination. Here are some resources you can use to understand and prepare for risks while traveling: