Posts Tagged ‘Security’

Last night my husband was showing me how to handle a rifle.  I have had some experience target shooting with a pistol, but this time he wanted to make sure I know how to hold the rifle and use the scope properly.   The rifle was about three lbs., plus a couple of lbs for the scope.  We practiced positioning it correctly, aiming and carrying it around properly.  This morning I woke up and my arms and shoulders were sore.  We did not spend hours practicing, it was only about 30 minutes tops!  But I was using muscles I did not normally work out on a daily basis so I got sore.

When we were trying out backpacks, the store clerk added weighted pillows to the backpacks to position them correctly, and had us walk around for 20 minutes.  At the end of those 20 minutes, my back and shoulders were complaining–I got sore just testing backpacks.   I did not think I was completely out of shape: my normal work out routine includes 30 minutes of walking a day, or about 1 1/2 mile and free weights for about 15 minutes.  But again, the walk is an easy pace, with no backpack to weigh me down.

Which got me to thinking, how prepared are we physically if the SHTF tomorrow and we had to run out of the city on foot, carrying our bug out bags?  Living in the middle of the big city, we would have to travel at least 20 miles to get out,  more if we wanted to get further away.  Our bags would be at least 20 pounds, and we would likely be traveling in 80 degree weather.  It would be pretty rough!  I know I’d be huffing and puffing, stopping every couple of miles.  I don’t know about you, but how far do you think you can get on foot, with a heavy pack, in either heat or cold?  What if you were being chased?  The reality is, even with my usual daily walks to maintain weight,  I am not in good enough shape for TEOTWAWKI.  I don’t know if there is even a way to get in shape for this sort of thing, but I have to try.

So I am changing my workout routine.  I will continue to walk, but will travel longer and longer distances (only in safe areas, and with a weapon.)   I will do more strengthening exercises for arms and legs.   The rest of the family is also on board about getting in shape.  Once we are in better shape, the family and I will go on extended hikes with our heavy backpacks.  If you are considering adding or changing your workout routine, please remember:

  • Get a physical checkup with your doctor, if you haven’t had one in a while.  We did our checkups over the summer, so we know our baselines for weight, blood pressure, cholesterol etc.
  • Start slow:  Walk or bike 10 minutes initially, gradually increasing pace and time as you get used to the routine
  • Listen to your body.  If you are getting too tired, or the weights are getting too uncomfortable, stop, go slower or use less weight.
  • Don’t forget to stretch before and after your workout.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated
  • If taking walks, stay in known safe areas;  let someone know where you are going and be aware of your surroundings.

If things continue to stay “normal” as I pray they would, in a few months we’d be in better physical condition, maybe even lose a few pounds.   Taking up hiking would be a fun family activity, and if things in the city were to take a turn for the worse, hopefully this gives us a better chance to bug out and run for safety.

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Today I  am gathering up important documents to place in the “grab and go binder”.  Normally we keep all our important documents in a fire-proof safe.  The previous idea was to grab the entire safe and run out the door in the event of an emergency.  Based upon what I’ve learned reading various survival sites regarding lightening your load when bugging out, I have revisited that idea and feel we need to keep the items in a binder in case we run out on foot.  The safe would be too heavy to carry!

I found a sturdy binder in the school supply drawer and added plastic sleeves to protect the documents.   I am adding the following documents into the binder:

  • birth certificates
  • passports
  • marriage certificate
  • personal records such as baptism, confirmation records
  • social security cards
  • school records-diplomas, report cards
  • vaccination records
  • vehicle ownership record/ “pink slip”
  • credit card statements and other bills
  • printout of address book
  • insurance policies
  • checking and saving account statement
  • retirement account statements
  • apartment lease

You will need to personalize this list according to your own situation.    For example, homeowners would need copies of deeds and home loan documents etc.  Needless to say, guard this binder in a secure place:  loss of this binder will lead to identity theft, since it contains all your personal and financial information.

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Yesterday an incident occurred that bothered me so I took some precautions.  I went to the bank at lunch to withdraw cash for the following week.   I use cash rather than debit or credit so I take out the budgeted amount each payday.  I normally go the small bank branch at the grocery store in a nice downtown location not far from work.  I do my errands before the lunch traffic starts, between 10:30-11 a.m.  I did notice that the parking lot is no longer patrolled as it was earlier this year.

I went to the first available teller.  She looked like she just started working there, as I am familiar with the staff.  I try to be quick and discreet at the bank; speak in low tones and have the teller count the bills behind the counter instead of on top where everyone can see.  Unfortunately, the new teller was not quite so discreet.  I asked to withdraw $450 and she loudly asked, “Would you like your $450 in large bills, Ma’am?”  First I thought, gee, why’d she have to be so loud, and I hope to get out of here quickly, then I got this odd feeling of someone staring at me.  I looked over and this guy at the next teller was staring intently at me.  I don’t mean glancing or curiously looking, I mean a deep, unflinching stare. He did not even look away when I looked over at him.  Of course he heard every word.  I thought to myself, I do not like the way that man was listening in and looking at me.  It was a very strange feeling that made me uneasy.  So I told the lady to cancel my transaction.  I told her, “On second thought, cancel it and I will come back later.” I took back my withdrawal slip and walked away.

I went to the adjoining grocery store, got a shopping cart even though I did not need anything and started looking around the store.  I did not want anyone following me to my car.   I wandered around the aisles for a while until I felt safe enough to go back to my car.  I left the bank errand for later.

Today as I run though the incident in my mind, I wonder if I did the right thing.   After all, the guy could have been harmless, and I may have been “profiling” him because he was dressed in baggy gang type attire, young, etc.  On the other hand,  I have heard a lot of crime victims who describe getting that strange feeling but for some reason did not listen to their gut, or did not want to seem rude and ended up as victims of crime.   I do not want to end up as a crime victim.  Part of having a survival mindset is to evaluate your environment and trust your own instinct.  I don’t care if anyone calls me paranoid–I do not regret beating a hasty exit.

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The other day the management company left a flyer on our door about a “Resident Meeting” regarding apartment safety.  I was concerned enough that I attended the evening meeting after work.  A couple of policemen and the building management were in attendance.  The reason for the meeting was to discuss recent criminal activity in the area, and to warn residents about personal safety.

My neighborhood is in the middle of the city of Houston.  If you are unfamiliar with the city and come to visit, you will notice very quickly that the city does not have strict zoning laws.  As a result, the city itself is a mix of residential, commercial and industrial.  One block could be a nice residential area, and across the street would be high rises or industrial parks, unless you live in a planned community in the suburbs.   So you can live in a block with nice residences, but go two blocks and you can quickly find yourself in an unsavory looking area.  Being careful and aware of your surroundings is very important.  Not being critical or negative, that is just the way it is.  While we carefully picked the apartment we live in, checked crime statistics and all that, crime in any area is inevitable.

Back to the meeting.  Apparently, the management company decided to have a meeting due to a recent shooting that occurred in the complex.  They wanted to reassure the residents that it was not a random event but a shooting between acquaintances, a “drug deal gone bad.”  There were no fatalities, the shooter was arrested and the victim was shot in the leg.  Not very reassuring to hear that a resident was doing a drug deal.   The resident has since been evicted, at least he is not around anymore.  The cops also informed us there have been car break-ins and some theft.

Some thoughts and ideas on being safe:

–This meeting has just reinforced my feeling that there is no such thing as a “safe area.”  We need to be on guard at all times, and always aware of our surroundings.  Always find out about what’s going on around you.  Surprisingly, for a complex this large, not a lot of tenants attended the meeting, considering it was about something important.

–If you start to have a bad feeling about your surroundings, stop and pay attention to these feelings, it is your intuition telling you not to proceed.

–As the economy gets worse, crime keeps spreading.  People are more desperate these days, and thieves try to target people that they perceive as more vulnerable:  the elderly, women alone or women and children.

–To avoid being targeted by thieves, think about what attracts these criminals:  flashy jewelry, a large purse that looks stuffed with cash or credit cards even if it isn’t.  I am guilty of this myself, my purse was filled with junk that I felt I needed to carry around-wallet, makeup, coupons, notes to myself etc.  It does not matter if you really have lots of cash; you may just have  coupons in there, but if the thief PERCEIVES that you have goodies, then that is enough to get their attention.  When examining each item such as checkbooks, notes, etc. ask yourself, “Why am I carrying this around, can I leave it behind?”   I have since cleaned out my purse to the minimum items needed.

–When shopping, always lock your vehicle and do not leave your items in the car, lock them up in the trunk.  The cop revealed that they patrol certain malls because thieves are known to “harvest” items that people leave in the cars while shopping.

–Consider a protection device such as mace, pepper spray or a concealed gun if you know how to use them.

–When walking to your car,  have your keys ready in your hand, no fishing around the parking lot for missing keys.  Brief inattention to your surroundings can cost you your life.  If leaving at night, try to walk with someone or have security escort you.

–Train the kids to only open the door to family or friends who know the “password” and never open the door to strangers.

–Keep your curtains or blinds closed.  The more passersby see your appliances and items, the more likely a thief will get interested in you.

–Consider an alarm system or a dog if your building allows it.

–Make sure you always lock your doors and windows.

–Look around the area before you open your door or garage,  as thieves have been know to follow people in as they get home.

–Be careful about announcing your activities and plans on social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook, this will give potential thieves a “heads up” that your house is available.

Sorry if this article sounds a bit paranoid, but these are the times we live in.  A big part of survival mentality or preparedness is paying attention to your own personal and family security.

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