Ten things you need to know if your hotel is attacked by terrorists, this article could save your life. The assault on the Imperial Marhaba hotel in Tunisia, shows how vulnerable we all are against organised attacks by determined terrorists desperate to exploit violence to further their extremist agendas. The following are ten things you need to know to protect yourself and your loved ones against people who wish you harm.
1. Do your homework before you book your holiday. Avoid countries where there a history of attacks against Western targets such as tourists. Holiday operators check country risk status regularly, but if your booking your own vacation you might have to do this yourself. Check out the UK Government Foreign Travel Advice website for comprehensive information.
2. You are most vulnerable when you get off the plane tired and disorientated. Only take official transfer vehicles. If you have to take a taxi make sure you get it from the rank and that it looks like the other taxis. Take a picture of the licence details – which should be displayed. Make sure you ask how much, how long the journey will take and that the driver knows exactly where the destination is. I took a taxi in Nairobi one time. Out of the blue the driver pulled over and stopped. When I asked him what the problem was he told me that he was waiting for his friend who was dropping something off. No way! I shouted at him. Best case scenario I would have been robbed, worse case; kidnapped.
3. When you check in ask for a hotel room on a low floor – but never at ground level. Between 2 and 7 is ideal, as the reach of fire ladders normally only goes to the seventh floor.
4. Check out where the emergency exits are immediately. Walk the route. Find out where they exit to.
5. Familiarise yourself with your surroundings. Walk around the hotel. Remember; only enter into a room if you know how to get out of it.
6. Be aware of cultural sensitivity and religious protocols. Ramadan is an extremely important month in Islam and there are rules that go along with it. As I’m writing this, there’s no mention of any group taking responsibility for the Tunisian attack. When they do, I’m pretty confident that scantily clad tourists on a beach eating and drinking, violating the sanctity of the Holy month, will be used as justification in some way, shape of form for the attack.
7. If you think that something isn’t right don’t wait for people to tell you to run. Rely on your own instincts. Hotel staff will be as frightened as you. This sounds pretty basic but I can assure you that when it goes loud people freeze
8. Complex attacks involve guns and explosions. If your out in the open run as fast as you can away from the noise. Again sounds basic, but remember curiosity killed the cat.
9. If your caught in your room stay there. Barricade yourself in the bathroom. Take supplies with you: water, blankets, fire extinguishers, torches anything else that you can get hold of. Stay there until you are told to come out by the security forces. It could be hours, even days – you’d be surprised how long large buildings take to clear. Just because its gone quiet don’t be fooled. Terrorist hide and will come out when least expected. Also, foreign security forces are not all trained to the level of the SAS. Believe it or not, more hostages are killed by friendly fire than the terrorists themselves!
10. In risk management we apply a specific caveat to scenarios that allow courses of actions to be identified. Its called ‘What If?’ Applying this question will allow you to come up with a plan of action incase an attack takes place. Think of a scenario, and then the set of actions that will take you and your loved ones out of harms way. Research shows that if you have thought through a course of action to a particular scenario, you are more likely to use that plan if the event occurs. Do you take note of where the exits are on the airplane? I always do.
This blog was not written with the intent to make you paranoid – if it did then I appologise. Neither am I trying to capitalsie on a tragic situation. My intention is to make you aware that we are living in a dangerous world where people wish you harm. Unfortunatly, all the indications are that we can expect more terror attacks on hotels, shopping malls, airports and as the French attack today indicated, factories and other places of work. No one is safe. My sympathy is with the families of those that lost their loved ones today. If one person reads this blog and uses the information to safeguard themselves and their loved ones then my effort has been worthwhile.
Risk management is not an exact science – the discipline allowing for possibly several answers to a particular question. These are mine, if you have more and would like to share them I would love to hear from you.