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Stay Safe and Secure this Holiday Season!

December 8, 2017

By Fighting Chance Solutions

With the weather turning colder and smiles getting brighter, the holiday season is here. Last minute shopping and holiday parties mean more time than usual away from the home, providing burglars ample opportunities to damper your festivities. With more cheer comes time for more precaution. Here are some simple ways to keep your home and belongings safe this holiday season.

1. Keep lights on!

Burglars love when you turn off the lights. They can roam around in the dark so it’s harder for people to see them. Keep internal and external lights on a timer, so when you’re not home the house will be lit up.

However, it is important to remember to turn off holiday and Christmas tree lights when you leave the home to avoid a fire hazard.

2. Set a scene.

If you have a car parked in the driveway, place a pair of men’s glove on the dash. You may also put a large dog bowl near an entryway. Burglars will think twice if they suspect a man or big dog lives in the house.

This is especially important if you plan to travel during the holidays. Inform a neighbor of your travel plans for an extra set of eyes watching over your house. Consider putting a hold on your mail while away. An overflowing mailbox is an easy indication that you have been away for awhile. If you are expecting a package, plan to pick it up at the post office so it is not waiting on your doorstep.

3. Consider a home security upgrade. 

Consider buying a home security system. This can give you peace of mind that your home and valuables are secure when you are away. Installing floodlights or motion sensors outside will help keep unwelcomed visitors away.

4. Be cautious of what you post on social media.

Potential burglars will watch social media seeking information on holiday travel and Christmas shopping. Burglars will strike at the easiest moments. So wait to post that picture of you sipping a Piña Colada on the beach!

Changing your social media privacy settings is a good idea too. Having strict privacy settings ensures only friends can see what you are posting. Be cautious when RSVP’ing to a Facebook event. This is an open invitation for a burglar to enter your home knowing you are away.

5. Don’t let people see what you purchased.

When unpacking from your holiday shopping, unpack in the garage with the door closed. Make sure potential burglars cannot see what you purchased. Remove valuable gifts from your vehicle and consider placing them in safe or hidden location around the house.

Keep presents away from the window. Anything visible from the street is also visible to a burglar. Do not put boxes out on the curb, instead consider taking them to a dumpster.

6. Lock it up!

This may seem simple, but remembering to lock doors and windows is the easiest step you can take to securing your home. Double-checking before you leave your home will help protect you from an unfortunate situation later.

 

Most important tip of all is to enjoy this time with friends and family! Happy Holidays from Fighting Chance Solutions!

 

How to Stay Safe and Alert on College Campuses

October 25, 2017
By ISU PD Officer Anthony Greiter

College campuses are meant to be a place for higher education and growth. However, campuses are becoming playgrounds for theft, assaults, and violent situations. It has become more crucial than ever for college students across the nation to learn the importance of personal safety and self-protection. We had the opportunity to talk with Officer Greiter of the Iowa State University Police Department on ways to make sure students and faculty can be safe, cautious, and protected while on campus.

Q: Any suggestions for walking around campus at night, and what is the safest way to walk alone? 

A: When walking at night, try to stay in well-lit areas and always keep your cell phone with you. With a decent charge and your local police department’s non-emergency number saved as a contact, your cell phone can be your greatest safety tool. If you’re uncomfortable walking, consider your options for getting a ride. Many colleges and universities offer a free shuttle or ride during night hours.

Q: Tips for securing your room and valuable possessions such as passports, banking statements, and expensive possessions? 

A: Nobody deserves to be the victim of a crime. No matter what preventative actions you take, someone may still choose to victimize you.

Whether items are kept in your room, a vehicle, or a safe, always lock your valuables and personal information. It only takes a few seconds for someone to step into a room to take a laptop sitting on a desk. No matter how long you plan to be away from an area, lock any valuables that remain. If you’re in a public location, take your valuables with you everywhere you go – even to the bathroom!

Q: Do you recommend taking a self-defense course, or carrying pepper spray? 

A: Before carrying pepper spray, consider checking with your college or university and local law enforcement to make sure it’s permitted in your area. If you choose to carry pepper spray or any other personal defense mechanism, understand how to use it and test it in a safe location on a regular basis. All self-defense mechanisms are worthless if you aren’t prepared to use them properly. Similarly, self-defense courses can provide great knowledge about how to use your surroundings to your advantage. But if you think you’ll be a ninja after one course, think again.

Q: How important is it to learn about and understand your campus’ security programs? 

A: Your campus security or police department is there to help you enjoy your college experience in a safe way. At the Iowa State University Police Department, we recognize students will make decisions that may or may not align with state law and college or university policies. Our goal is to encourage intelligent decisions and safe practices no matter what choices are made.

If you’re interested in learning more about your campus police department or security program, just ask! If your local police department or campus security is on social media, that’s a great place to learn more about them; you can find us at @ISUPD on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (though our Twitter game is especially strong). You can often find us at college or university events and we’re happy to talk to you about what we can do to make your experience better.

Q: If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, what would be the first step you should take to remove yourself from the situation? 

A: The safest place to be during a dangerous situation is… someplace else. Leave the area as soon as possible. If you can help remove others from the dangerous situation, that’s an added bonus. As soon as it’s safe to do so, please call law enforcement so we can begin to address the situation and prevent further escalation.

Iowa State University Police Department Officer Anthony Greiter

Six Steps to Better Prepare Your School for an Emergency

 

October 3, 2017
By Fighting Chance Solutions

Wrapping up National Preparedness Month

During an emergency, every second counts. For the month of September, the Nation was challenged to prepare, evaluate, and raise awareness on the importance of emergency preparedness. All month long, schools, workplaces, family homes, and communities were encouraged to share their plans and explore new resources. As National Preparedness Month has come to a close, it is important for leaders in our school systems to consistently evaluate and practice their emergency plans throughout the year.

Below are proven school-wide preparedness and classroom security recommendations our Fighting Chance Solutions team has learned over the years we believe are essential to properly handle any emergency or crisis situation.

1.  The first and best line of defense is a highly alert, well-trained staff and student body
It is important to hold regularly scheduled trainings with school administrators, educators, and support staff on school violence prevention, school security and school emergency planning best practices.

2. Proactive measures  
Simple classroom layouts allow for easy, quick in-and-outs. Pre-plan how to barricade a room in the case of a violent intruder. Know your options.

3.Updating, coordinating, and exercising school emergency preparedness plans 
It wasn’t until the Columbine attack in April 1999, when most schools created emergency/crisis plans, but how often have those plans been evaluated and updated? Plans should be evaluated every set number of years, determined by the administration or a major operational change to the building/district. Schools should have district-level building plans, and be on the lookout for gaps in emergency plans. These might include a lack of training of school staff on emergency plans, or a lack of exercising plans in cooperation with public safety partners.

4. Strengthening partnerships with public safety officials
School officials should meet regularly with their public safety partners including police, fire, emergency medical services, and emergency management agencies to discuss safety, security, and emergency planning strategies. School officials and public safety officials should have the same diagrams and nomenclature for campus building layouts, entrances, and stairwells.

5. Plan to manage an incident, not just to prevent one
Coordinate areas ahead of time and have separate locations for responders to set up:
-A command post
-Medical response (separated from media and parents)
-Media staging
-Parent/family staging (separated from media and medical response

6. Be aware and communicate
In 93% of incidents of targeted school violence, the student engaged in the behavior prior to the attack that elicited concern. This means many aspects of these threats can be addressed in advance with proper assessment, reporting, and information sharing.

Additional Resources
The U.S. Department of Education provides funding to some school districts for emergency-management planning through its “Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools” grant program: Found here

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides funding to local jurisdictions and state for emergency-management planning. Some of this funding can be provided to school districts for emergency-management planning purposes.

How to be Proactive Against an Active Shooter

September 22, 2017
By Noell Bishop

In a world that is becoming more and more violent we see active shooters in businesses, malls, schools, colleges, movie theaters, airports, churches, parking garages or any place people gather. Most know the three tenants of an active shooter response: Run, Hide, Fight, but what can you do prepare yourself in your place of business or while out in public? We are going to run through all three of these but will highlight the Fight part as it pertains to the actual active shooter, Esteban Santiago at Fort Lauderdale Airport.

  1. Run – At work, do you have a plan that in the event of an active shooter you can get out? If you are in your office or work place, do you have a route that will provide you cover (protect you from bullets) or concealment (allows you not to be seen) to one or more exits? While in public, like at a mall, do you constantly know where the exits are or the rear exit of the store you are in?

  1. Hide – If you are in your office at work, can you secure the door so that a shooter could not get in? You might say, “Oh yea, I would just shove the filing cabinet in front of it”, well, can you even move the filing cabinet? Do you think about where you can hide while in public? Restrooms or the storage room in the back of a store are two places to consider.

 

  1. Fight – Most colleges and institutions do not address this in their briefings and just let law enforcement handle the situations. That’s all good until you are the one getting shot at and you have no idea what to do.   So, let’s take the example of Esteban Santiago, the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooter. Take a look here at what he did on the closed camera and what everyone else did, or didn’t do. There were a number of people all around and some just stood there and watched him shoot people. Some just lay on the ground. One lady is clearly seen hiding behind a baggage cart. I didn’t see anyone taking cover. What if one of the individuals next to Santiago tackled him? What if someone hit him with some type of field expedient weapon like an umbrella or small piece of luggage? I guarantee you that if one person would have known what to do or showed some leadership by tackling him or assaulting him, others would have joined in. Unfortunately, no one did and as a result, 5 people died and 6 were injured.

The Santiago shooting is a clear case of complete lack of training and having no survival mindset. The people in the luggage claim are just walked into the worst day of their life and had no idea how to react.

Noell Bishop is a retired Special Forces Officer, combat veteran and a retired Special Agent with the DEA who has received ALERRT active shooter training and teaches active shooter training in his company, Bishop 30 Solutions.