April 1, 2016
The Threat of Terrorism – Minimising your personal risk
As the recent attacks in Brussels have shown, terrorist attacks are still a global threat and there is little indication that terrorism activity will diminish in the near future. Whether you are taking a flight, sitting on a beach in Tunisia or enjoying a beer in Paris, nowhere seems safe.
Terrorism is a high-severity, low-probability risk that will remain part of the risk landscape for the foreseeable future, so we all need to be aware of how to minimise the risk to our personal safety. Whilst some of the general advice below may seem obvious, it’s worth taking a few minutes to remind ourselves of how we can help keep ourselves and our families safe.
If you’re travelling abroad, please remember to check the FCO Foreign Travel Advice website for information specific to the country or area you are visiting before you travel. As well as information on the current safety, security and threat levels, they also provide practical information.
When you’re travelling
- Stay well informed of the security environment and the threats – you can subscribe to the FCO alert service
- Make a note of the nearest British Embassy or Consulate and key phone numbers
- Ensure you have adequate travel insurance and check your policy before you travel
Whether you’re at home or abroad
- Be vigilant, take notice of your surroundings, and report any suspicious object, package, person or activity to police immediately
- Don’t loiter in crowded and congested areas such as station concourses or hotel lobbies – all of these are popular targets
- Avoid queues – either by arriving early for a flight or train, or even a little late if it’s a concert or a sporting event. Try to avoid the queues when leaving too
- Always trust your instincts – if you feel uncomfortable or threatened in any way, leave! Attempt to put distance between you and the threat
Bags & Luggage
- Do not leave any bags or luggage unattended – terrorists have planted bombs in the luggage of unsuspecting travellers
- Only accept luggage or packages from close friends, colleagues or family members whom you know very well indeed – if it’s easier, have a blanket ban and refuse all requests
- Plan your exit in advance – check where your emergency exits are and know how you would get out of an office, hotel, conference centre or sports venue. Not just terrorism related, but good practise in case of fires too!
- When staying in a hotel – walk the route from your room to the street via the fire escape when you first leave your room. It’ll help you follow it safely in the dark or in smoke, and also highlight if any areas are blocked or locked
- Take cover – under a table, counter or other structure if things are falling around you
- As soon as it’s safe to do so – get out! Like in a fire, don’t stop to collect personal possessions, take pictures or make phone calls
- Secondary explosions can occur – get as far away as possible and avoid congregating at the front of the building or in any crowded areas
- Beware of flying glass debris – avoid areas constructed of glass and move clear of large windows when evacuating
Make the biggest impact on your personal risk
Terrorist attacks are horrendous and unforgivable, there’s no doubt about that. The chances of being caught up in an attack are thankfully remote – but there are many common risks that are far more likely to impact on our health, wealth and happiness whether at home or abroad. We all ignore common risks that are far more likely to hurt us, and it’s worth remembering we can take steps to minimise these risks each and every day.
- Poison! In the UK around 25,000 children each year are admitted to hospital after being accidentally poisoned, often by products used for cleaning or gardening. Keep ALL potential hazards locked away and out of reach – including the laundry products
- Remember the sunblock – skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, and rates continue to rise with at least 100,000 new cases are now diagnosed each year. If you need a tan, why not fake it?
- THINK BIKE! Motorcyclists are roughly 38 times more likely to be killed on the roads than car drivers, in London biker deaths have reportedly increased by as much as 52% since 2013
- Cyclists – two wheels but no engine can be dangerous too. It’s not compulsory to wear a helmet in the UK and there are countless statistics and studies to prove, or disprove, the idea that wearing a helmet is safer. But why take the chance?
- Identity theft – it may be a pain to shred every document we dispose of, but as the number of identity theft victims in the UK rose by almost a third last year it’s a sensible precaution to take
- Online fraud – always take care online and be careful of the personal information you share!
- Hand-washing – it’s like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine that’s a win for everyone, except the germs. Whether you’re at home, work or travelling, good hand hygiene can protect you, your family and others
These are just a few examples of how we can minimise personal risk in our everyday lives. They probably won’t be hitting the headlines, but hopefully focusing on the things we can change will help make a positive difference in our lives.
If you are travelling for business or pleasure, let us help you ensure you have the right travel insurance in place.