Are you scared? You should not be afraid. Terrorism thrives on fear. The goal of terrorism is to destroy our normal way of life by forcing a population to live in fear. Yes, terrorism is a very real threat. Just during the first half of Ramadan (the Islamic holy month), there have been 149 deaths due to terrorist attacks. It seems like we see a new attack every single day on the news. However, with some preparation and common sense there is no reason that these attacks should force you to live in fear.
This may be common sense for some, but the best way to avoid terrorist attacks is to avoid the areas they target. Keep in mind that these terrorists only have one shot to get the attack right. They have to target densely populated areas so they can take the maximum possible number of casualties. It is not like a suicide bomber can execute an attack and then decide to do it over because he did not kill enough people. Terrorists target areas where the initial attack will easily kill dozens of people, and then the panic will kill several more.
The primary target areas to avoid are spaces where hundreds or thousands of people are crammed together in a tight space. This includes night clubs, trains, tourist attractions, concerts, sporting events, office buildings, amusement parks, and shopping malls. In addition, any government or political events could be targets for terrorist activities. If you look at where my family has spent their time over the last few years, you will find that we have only entered these types of spaces on one or two occasions. We simply do not spend time in areas that could be easy targets for terrorists.
I know there are times it cannot be avoided, but do the best you can to avoid these areas. My son is four years old and I want to take him to Disney World at some point, but you can be sure we will be in and out as quickly as possible. Watch your sporting events and concerts on television. If you need a more rowdy experience, watch it at your local pub. Take Ubers or taxis instead of trains. Go to bars instead of big night clubs. Shop online. Think of any way you can modify your behavior to avoid becoming a casualty.
If you find yourself in a crowded area, there are additional measures you can take to keep yourself and your family safe. Often, there are individuals scouting the area in advance before the actual attack. If you pay attention and are diligent, you might be able to spot this activity before the attack occurs. In a crowded area, constantly keep your head on a swivel. This means observing 360 degrees of your surroundings. Look for any people or vehicles that seem out of place. Is there anybody intentionally covering their face? Do you notice anybody setting down a backpack or other bag and leaving it there? Are there any individuals or groups of people that seem to be observing the whole area? Do you see anybody with a hat and sunglasses trying to not be identified? Are there any groups of people whispering to each other? If you notice any suspicious activity, quickly and quietly leave the area and contact the authorities to check out the suspects. You may be wrong, but it is much better to be safe than sorry. Never confront the individual or draw attention to yourself unless you have no other choice.
If you are in the area when a terrorist attack occurs, you absolutely must remain calm. It is quite common for additional casualties to occur when a crowd breaks into a panic and tramples those that lose their footing and fall to the ground. When you enter a crowded building, always know where every exit is located. Often your best exit is one that the rest of the crowd does not see. Move slowly and deliberately to the exit while using cover to protect yourself if possible. Never run, draw attention to yourself, or confront the terrorist. The only exception would be if you have the opportunity to save lives and are willing to risk your own. Once you are well clear of the building and far away from the threat, take a moment to do a medical assessment. Often you will not initially feel injuries because of the adrenaline pumping through your veins. Immediately seek medical attention if you find any injuries.
They are rare, but there are times you are forced to interact with the terrorist. If you are dealing with a gunman and happen to have a firearm with you, be careful with your decision to fire back. Often you will only draw attention to yourself and cause the terrorist to fire in your direction. Never take a shot unless you are positive you can take out the attacker. If you find yourself in a hostage situation, blend in. Keep your eyes down and do not speak unless spoken to. Do nothing to draw attention to yourself, and never try to run unless you are positive that you can make it to safety. Also, never assume that somebody else has called 911. Take a second and make the call if you are able.
If you are in the building when law enforcement arrives, never run towards them. When they first enter the building, officers will be unsure of who is a friend and who is a foe. Stay down with your head down and wait for help. If you feel the need to run, run for cover. Do not be surprised if the police handcuff you at first. This is just a precaution to keep them safe until they get everything sorted out. In a short period of time officers should have the attacker disarmed, and you should be on your way home.
Terrorism is a very real part of our everyday lives. Certain groups aim to destroy everything that they do not understand. It is unfortunate, but it does not have to change the way you live your life. Take the threat seriously, but be confident in the fact that you are prepared. Know that you will be able to take the proper action to avoid becoming a casualty. With a little knowledge and a great deal of awareness, you can be sure that the terrorists will not win.