Following on the heels of personal security, is physical security. Physical is the protection of assets, which are things. Physical security is the protection of assets and may include protection of your home, bug out location, car, garden, or another resource that is important to you. It’s important never to forget, without first protecting yourself, you increase the likelihood of a failure in your physical security.
When it comes to the protection of assets, as with personal security, your mindset is an essential factor in your physical security success. When it comes to mindset, there are some disciplines you should be versed in to make sure you are as ready as possible. Those disciplines include situational awareness, maintain a low profile, avoidance, and your strategy and planning ability.
When it comes to your physical security, as with your personal protection, situational awareness plays such a crucial role. Take your home for example. Do you know and recognize your regular delivery people? Will you know when something is out of place, or a strange car passes by multiple times?
There are so many factors involved in situational awareness and physical security, that they are impossible to cover here. Regardless, it is vital that you work on understanding your physical environment and what is happening within it. When you do, and as you improve your understanding, you’ll also enhance your situational awareness and be more ready to deal with problems that present themselves.
The Gray Man
When creating your 360-degree security profile, it is essential to consider how others perceive you. One concept to think about is that of the gray man. The gray man concept is an attempt to not draw attention to yourself. After all, what better way to have others perceive you, from a security point of view, than to not be noticed at all?
So, for example, when out and about, dress down. If you dress to impress, you just may impress the wrong person or persons. When that happens, you may have needlessly drawn the attention of people focused on causing harm to someone. In this case, that someone may be you.
Likewise, the same mentality applies to your personal assets, such as your home, car and other physical things. The flashier and more noticeable they are, the more likely it is that someone will want them. Therefore, as with your personal dress, it is a good idea to try to take a less obvious approach to your physical assets.
Now, keep in mind, that the level of attention people pay to you is also affected by the situation. So, if you are in a disaster situation and the power is out, but you have a generator running, people may notice you. Not only will they possibly hear the sound of the generator, but if you have lights on, music playing, a TV going, etc. you could be attracting trouble.
Ultimately, as with everything security related, it is always a good idea to look at yourself through others eyes. When you do, don’t forget, desperate people, take desperate measures. In other words, if someone is going without something they need to survive, the chances of them trying to take it from you are increased if they know about it. So, be the gray man and don’t let them know about it.
Avoidance is the best way to not deal with a negative situation. One way to avoid adverse situations is to be aware of what is going on around you and work to avoid trouble. Another way to avoid a problem is by being unpredictable. Unpredictability keeps people with lousy intent off balance and makes you a more difficult target.
When you are a more difficult target, you are less likely to suffer problems and more likely to have a trouble-free life. Which would you prefer? In the end, the best possible outcome we can hope for in an emergency or disaster situation is to have ourselves, our family, friends and personal effects not impacted by anything, or anyone. When you work on avoidance, you are also working towards the best outcome possible.
Strategies and Plans
You will need to devise plans and strategies when working to improve your physical security. The best way to design these plans is to have them address your personal safety through a reliable and well thought out risk assessment. While many of us have a general idea of what our risks are, we may not know the specifics of what should be addressed first. After all, each risk should be addressed based on its potential impact on you and the amount of resources (time and money) it takes to solve.
When creating strategies and plans, you should focus on your strengths, while working to minimize your weaknesses. By addressing your weaknesses and emphasizing your strengths, you will be better positioned to avoid or overcome possible problems. Should you achieve success in that, you will be more likely to overcome any adverse situation positively.
It is important to remember, that plans and strategies are not static. In other words, they are not something to write down, then put on the shelf and forget about. Plans and strategies need to be reviewed and improved upon based on the most recent information available. For example, if your family emergency plan is flawed if it is based on an old set of circumstances that have since changed. You will need to get your plan, review and validate the information, then update your plan accordingly.
Lastly, about plans and strategies, is training on the plan. Creating a plan, only to put it on the shelf without covering it with others does no good. Once a plan is finished, it should be reviewed by those involved in the plan. It should be examined to ensure the plan is well thought out and to make sure the people involved know the plan.
Once the plan is reviewed, you will then want to rehearse the plan. Rehearsals should gradually increase in intensity as the participants grow in confidence. One good idea is to have the people involved learn each other’s part of the plan. When you do, you will increase the flexibility and camaraderie of your group and their ability to successfully overcome difficulties.
When planning out your physical security measures, one of the most critical aspects to plan for is people. Now, some may argue that people should not be part of physical security because they are not things. However, when planning to protect anyone or anything other than yourself, it’s a good idea to consider them within your physical security methods.
As you plan to protect people, you will most likely segregate them into several levels of importance. The first level consists of your most cared about family members. Most often this will include your immediate family members and slowly fan out to include more extended family members.
At some point, which is a personal decision, blood relatives depending upon how important they are to you, may be classified as friends. After all, the reality of most emergency situations is that there are not enough resources to address all of the problems. In other words, there is only one of you to go around, and at some point, you may be a called on to decide who you will help.
For instance, should you find two family members trapped in a burning building? When you get ready to save them, you realize you only have time to save one. Who will that one be? Odds are it is the person you are most emotionally tied to, or who is most important. So, if the choice is your child or a distant cousin, there is a substantial likelihood that you will save your child. In other words, there is a ranking of family members, and at some point, family members may be ranked as friends.
Friends, like family members, are also ranked through a personal decision process. How you come up with that decision is on you. Obviously, emotion is involved, but so too should be a person’s capabilities, etc.
Following your family and friends are other people. These are the people who, for one reason or another, you may want to protect. Obviously, almost everyone wants to do as much good for others as possible.
Unfortunately, the sad reality is that any of us can only do so much. The fact is, we can’t save the world with our limited resources. Additionally, when we provide resources to another, we may be taking from what our family needs to survive. As stated before, it’s all a personal judgment call that may not have a correct answer.
Don’t forget, when planning for people, you’re not just thinking about the people you need to protect. You also will want to consider the people you may be protecting your loved ones from. After all, we encounter criminals when times are good. Therefore, there may be a significant number of bad people when times are bad.
The next focus of protection is on your property. The term property encompasses a wide range of physical things. The range of items considered physical property includes your home, vacation home (bug out location), workplace, vehicles and a lot of other things.
As with people, how you rate property in your protection scheme depends on each piece of properties importance to your survival and significance to your personal feelings. These varying levels of importance should be quantified in your risk assessment so that you can get the most bang out of your buck.
One of, if not the most critical piece of property for almost everyone is their home. Your home is your castle. It is the place that shelters are family from the elements. Our house keeps the bad guys out. We store our valuables inside along with our mementos and heirlooms. Your home is the one place many people feel the safest, so it’s often the primary security focus.
When looking at your home, you may want to consider it in two different overarching scenarios. The first situation is the current day, life is normal, scenario. The second scenario is the world has gone to heck, and you may be on your own to protect your home, family, etc.
People with normalcy bias may ask “What are the chances of a world has gone to heck scenario happening?” For the sake of this article, we’ll keep it simple with just a few examples, Hurricane Katrina and Super Storm Sandy, the Los Angeles Riots, the Indian Ocean Tsunami, etc. The fact is, it happens and people need to be prepared.
About your home and its everyday security, you will probably need to do a balancing act between security, functionality, and aesthetics. On the one hand, you will want to use measures to ensure you’re home remains secure. On the other hand, you will most likely not want it to have the look and function of a prison.
Therefore, you will want to find subtle ways of adding security to your home. One term that is often used is CPTED, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. CPTED includes such things as planting thorny bushes in the places you don’t want bad guys to go. It may consist of a raised flower bed that helps divert vehicles and provide cover and concealment should you need it. There is the option to reinforce doors and windows to make your home a more difficult and less likely target.
These and others are all measure you may want to consider at our current times. Together, security measures like this, help make your home less of a target. They add protection against common problems we may encounter in our everyday life.
Post Major Event
The odds are, all you will ever need to protect your home against is the current type of crime, localized disaster, etc. However, as happens, every year, large-scale, long-term events do occur. When they occur, they impact people who didn’t think it would happen to them.
Therefore, it is a wise course of action to at least consider the possibility that you may be affected by such an event. When you do, you may find that some of your concerns for such an event are easy to take care of. By identifying and taking care of those concerns now, you will be improving your security and safety not only now, but for the future as well.
Sensitive Items Security
When we protect our home in either scenario, we are protecting people and sensitive items. In this case, sensitive items are not pieces of gear with fragile feelings. Sensitive items include equipment and supplies that are important to you.
Some items and supplies that you may consider necessary is your long-term food and water, first aid supplies and family dependent medications, computers, or other items that are critical to you and your families well-being. Once identified, you should pay particular attention to these things. When you do, you will want to make sure measures are taken to ensure their security. Those measures may go over and above what you do to secure other things.
One chief aspect of securing sensitive items is accountability of the items. In other words, the items need to be physically inventoried and inspected on a regular basis. Regular physical inspections are the only way to honestly know if you have full accountability for all your sensitive items. Because, obviously, if they’re important to you, they may be necessary to others as well.
Many of us spend a good portion of our lives at work. Because of this, the odds are good that when disaster strikes, you won’t be at home. Therefore, if you want to be prepared truly, you will make plans to get home during or after a disaster happens. Keep in mind, depending on the disaster and your distance from home; this could be quite an ordeal. Not only may it be quite an ordeal, but it may take more than one day. So, plan accordingly.
Just like adults spend a significant portion of time at work, children spend a lot of time at school. Because of this, you will want to make sure you have a plan to get your kids. That plan will need to incorporate their age, distance to the school environment, etc. When you come up with the plan to get your kids, make sure you go over it with them. It is also necessary to practice it with them, so they know what to do if things go bad.
When not at home, work or school, we are often in our cars or trucks. Therefore, it’s crucial that we work out plans that incorporate your vehicle. One, do you truly know how to drive your car or truck?
Just for your information, 80% of Americans believe they drive better than the average person. That math doesn’t work. It means that many people are driving around who are below average drivers but think they could probably drive NASCAR if given a chance.
So, take a performance driving course if you are able. Learn vehicle dynamics, and as you do, you’ll learn how to make the vehicle handle much better. Should you ever need the skill, you’ll be thankful you took the time to improve your driving.
The list of property that you will need to protect is seemingly endless. Not only is it apparently infinite, but it is continually changing. Our security needs change all the time. They change because our needs change, our environment changes, etc. So, we always need to be on the lookout for what we should change and what we can improve. Remember, don’t be complacent. In other words, don’t think just because something was secure yesterday, it will be that way today. The world changes and to be successful; you need to change it.
One of the ways we can get stronger is through the help of others. When we bring others into the mix, we form a community. There are small, micro-communities, such as your neighborhood, and the small area around it. Then, there are local communities, which are larger communities such as your city, or town. Lastly, there are dispersed communities which involve people protecting multiple communities over a significant area.
As with everything, we scale up and down. In many cases moving up or down in community size should be a simple plug and play function. What worked in protecting your neighborhood should make up most of the same principles to protect larger communities. The basics concepts of security are relatively universal. It’s their precise application and constant, realistic reassessment that will often be the point of failure.
Information & Communications
Another critical area of property security is information security. While computers and other electronic devices may hold your information, they are physical items. Your information may be physical in the form of bank statements, etc. However, it may also be digital.
We all know that the majority of us have our lives on the line. Fewer and fewer people are not tethered to the internet in some form. Unfortunately, bad guys want our information. Often, they go to great lengths to get it. However, unlike in past years, criminals no longer need to break into your home, office, or car to get your information. Now, someone sitting in a foreign country can get your information and exploit it, and possibly cause you great harm in the process.
Therefore, we need to do what we can to ensure we are as protected as possible. Some ways to do this are to make sure you use complicated passwords and change them often. Keep an eye out for anything abnormal when using electronic banking. Be suspicious of anyone, or any email asking for your personal information. And, beware of people eavesdropping on your conversations and shoulder surfing your text messages. Never forget, the bad guys are good at what they do. We need to be better!
Physical security is the partner to personal security. Where personal security is concerned with you, physical security is concerned with your things. Physical security is the protection of all the assets you have in your life. It covers such things as your home, your car, computers, etc. While physical security is extremely important, it’s also crucial to remember to pay attention to your personal security as well. After all, if you aren’t around to protect your things, who will do the protecting?
Never forget, you’re just one prep away.
If you have any other thoughts or questions about the physical security, please leave a comment below.
Stay safe, secure and prepared,