This is a veteran of the elite Armed Forces and covert surveillance operative’s own personal life guide for a safer, less stressful living and working environment for when faced with a security issue, or many of life’s challenging situations!
Reproduced in Shakespir format by Author Tony Yarwood
on behalf of the family of the original Author Stephen Wheildon AKA Thomas C Jackson who sadly passed away on 11 December 2014
Copyright © 2016 Tony Yarwood
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Table of Contents
The author was a veteran of the Armed Forces, a CPO and Covert Surveillance Operative. All the information contained within this Think Safe manual is from the author’s previous experiences, many personal investigations and various life-challenging situations. Think Safe is purely the author’s own aide memoir and life guide for his own use, which he called upon when making a security or a life-challenging decision. Any information gleaned or used from this manual by its readers is of their own free will and at their own risk! Its sole intention is to prompt YOU, to Think Safe! He had over thirty years’ knowledge gained from within the security industry, both in and out of the Armed Forces which he turned into his own unique series of useful everyday checklists and information for most eventualities in today’s challenging climate. It is his own personal guide which he has transformed into a unique household manual that encourages its readers to compile their own comprehensive, yet simple, manual of useful checklists and information that they believe they should know. This is in order for them to have and sustain a safer more knowledgeable and a much more secure living environment, as well as continually reducing any kind of security risk or difficult decision making. The Think Safe manual is not providing any legal, medical, financial or any other professional advice. All the information within is from the original author’s past experiences. Its sole intention is to prompt its readers to be more security conscious and aware of their surroundings and in a better position to make life- challenging decisions. It also encourages its readers to report anything untoward to the police and emergency services and seek the required professional training and advice they might need, e.g. first aid training, child care, self-defence training and financial advice etc., and to help others when they are in need of that helping hand.
This unique concept has been developed by ex-Paratrooper and Covert Surveillance Operative Stephen Wheildon who took his specialised training into the civilian world and built a highly successful personal security and investigatory business. He applied his knowledge, experience and training to assess the general security risks and life-challenging situations faced by individuals in everyday life which prompts readers using a simple uncomplicated and easy to understand format. Think Safe’s aim is to encourage its readers to compile, read and periodically update their own useful checklists and information and adopt the mentality, Read, Remember, Think Safe. Once downloaded on to any reading device it will be the first source of information that they can call upon when faced with a security issue or a life-challenging situation. In this ever changing world that we live in; it will give them peace of mind knowing that at the turn of a page they will know what to do in many different types of scenarios in today’s challenging climate.
To Mum (RIP), my inspiration, my best friend who always saw the best in me and gave me the strength and courage to fight for what I believed in. She always encouraged, loved and helped me through some extremely difficult and lonely times. Hilly, you will always be remembered and never forgotten.
To Dad (RIP), my dear sisters, Maryclaire, Jane, Elizabeth, Catherine Louise (RIP) and brother Wayne for always being there when it counted. To my good friend Jana whose loyalty and friendship is everlasting. To my few good old trusted friends and a recent new addition whose names I keep close to my heart for their loyalty and much valued friendship and to my best friend and constant companion, my beautiful Jack-Russell Mr P, who never left my side xx.
The Author was inspired by a simple word called belief, not only in oneself but in others too and in order to make a difference you’ve got to first of all want to and secondly you’ve got to believe you can. The Think Safe manual is his own personal life guide and aide-memoire. It has been born from his first-hand security knowledge and experiences both in and out of the Armed Forces and years of life-challenging situations. The terminology and simple wording make it not only clear, concise and easy to absorb, but enjoyable. Thus encouraging its readers to do what it says on the tin. Download, read and compile their own system of checklists and useful information and Think Safe!
It is always best to be safe rather than sorry and don’t take things for granted, so make sure you have all the appropriate insurance cover for your everyday needs, e.g. life, home/property, pet, car, motorcycle, personal kit, work, medical and travel insurance, etc. It will give you peace of mind knowing that you have the appropriate cover for most eventualities, especially in today’s challenging climate. Make sure that you fully understand all legal documentation that you are in receipt of or currently involved in, e.g. insurance policies and any contracts that you are contemplating signing or have signed and always read the small print. Also make sure if you have a partner that you both know where to find your important documents in case something unexpected happens to one of you. If you are unsure then seek the appropriate advice before signing anything. In this day and age it’s extremely wise to keep your own counsel. It’s very important to keep certain personal and business information to oneself. So be careful and very selective who you inform with regard to where you live, where you go, how much you earn, what valuables and assets you might have and any business ventures that you are or might be getting involved with. Only inform those individuals and organisations that really need to know and remember the expression, loose lips sink ships!
There are a couple of well-known sayings that I’ve heard over the years, ‘what goes around, comes around’ and ‘you reap what you sow.’ I don’t know if there is any truth in these sayings, but what I do know is, it’s always best to spread happiness rather than sorrow. All agencies and organisations within this manual, e.g. police, Foreign Office and the Citizens Advice Bureau, etc. refer to the UK only. If you are abroad always know the equivalent and current helpful contact telephone numbers.
Never be afraid of making a formal complaint to the company, organisation, an individual or establishment, i.e. Hospitals etc. within the medical profession, retailers, local shop, supermarket or the local authorities and landlords, etc. for the service that you’re receiving, the goods you purchased, the medical treatment you’ve received or haven’t, or the contract that you’ve signed. Don’t be put off or intimidated by the sheer size or magnitude of the organisation or outlet that you’re making a complaint to or about. Always keep all the relevant documentation and any proof that you have, with regard to your complaint, in a safe and secure place. Be sure to log/document (make a note of) all relevant phone conversations, correspondence and meetings with the said organisation that you are making the complaint about. When you’re writing your letter of complaint make sure that the all contents are correct, simple in its delivery and importantly easily understood. If your complaint is directed at anyone or an establishment within the medical profession, in some cases you could say it’s your duty to make a formal complaint which at a later stage, could be crucial in saving someone from having to go through what you, your family or a friend went through. It could even save someone’s life.
If you are unsure of your rights, ask the Citizens Advice Bureau, the Office of Fair Trading, the company or organisations associated governing body if there is one, for their help. If you are for whatever reason suffering from financial difficulties, enquire to see if you’re entitled to legal representation. If you’re an Armed Forces Veteran, which applies to anyone who has either served just one day or 22 – years in the Armed Forces, including all branches of the Reserve Forces/Territorial Army and you find yourself in need of a helping hand, there are forces charities and agencies out there, i.e. SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen Families Association), RBL (Royal British Legion), Veterans UK, Combat Stress and Help for Heroes etc. Whose job is to help you, no matter what your problem is, so make sure you get the appropriate help you need, i.e. financial advice/help, medical support/help, general advice or just someone to chat about your situation. These charities and agencies could/will also contact your parent unit and their association (who are also there to help you) on your behalf and ask for their assistants with regard to your problem. If you know any Armed Forces Veterans who are in desperate need of a helping hand but for whatever reason are reluctant to contact one of these agencies, offer them moral support and allow them to use your phone or volunteer to go with them to any pay phone so they can call the Freephone Veteran UK Helpline 0808 1914 2 18.
The above doesn’t just apply to Armed Forces Veterans, it applies to everyone who is in need of a helping hand. So regardless of your background, if you need some help then contact your local Citizen Advice Bureau or Job Centre. Remember that he/she who knocks the loudest will be heard and not as the saying goes, be fobbed off or conveniently just brushed under the carpet! If you are either a civilian or an Armed Forces Veteran and you have been diagnosed with any form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) either combat or otherwise related, make sure that you are receiving the correct treatment and medication. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed but you believe that you might be suffering from the symptoms of PTSD, then book an appointment to see your Doctor straight away. But make sure that you tell them everything with regard to the symptoms you are currently experiencing and don’t be fobbed off (ignored). It is always a good idea to take someone you trust with you, i.e. a close relative or very good friend. One for moral support and two, just in case you need any help in explaining your symptoms and your situation.
A very good ebook called PTSD Silent Heartache by Tony (Kid) Yarwood a former Paratrooper and colleague which can be found at www.Shakespir.com and placing his name in the search bar. This is an excellent insight into an Army Veterans ongoing battle with this unforgiving and largely dismissed condition. Tony is an ex veteran from the Falklands War and was diagnosed with combat related PTSD some years later after experiencing an horrific RTA. The RTA triggered this invisible illness unleashing years of haunting and incomprehensible military memories that had stacked up over his long career.
If you or a family member are disabled in any way whatsoever, make sure that your/their house is fitted with all the fixtures and fittings for your/their particular disability, e.g. wheel chair ramps, stair lift, grab rails that you can hold onto in all the right places, panic buttons, door handles positioned correctly, low or dropped light and electrical switches, your kitchen, toilet, bathroom and any other rooms fitted to facilitate all your needs etc. If you are unsure about how to go about this, again contact your local Citizen Advice Bureau or veterans organisation. Remember they are there to help and will assist you with all of your enquiries and concerns. Remember before ever purchasing, renting or leasing a new house/property you’ve got to make sure that it’s not subject to any type of flooding including ground water flooding. Has it been built on historical or current flood plains. Is it next too or how far away is it, from any type of water running or still, e.g. streams large or small, rivers, canals, ponds, lakes and reservoirs manmade or natural. Is it next to the coast, if so how far? Is the house/property that you are interested in, near any of the above? If so find out by asking the estate agents, local surveyors, local businesses, local landowners or your potential new neighbours, has it got a history of flooding? If it has, find out are there adequate flood defences in place? But even if it has got adequate flood defences I would be extremely hesitant, because as we’ve all been repeatedly informed by the media and supposedly climate changing experts, our weather is definitely getting more and more unpredictable! So there is no real guarantees the existing flood defences won’t get breached. Also using the post code of the house/property that you are interested in, you can even contact several well-known insurance companies and ask for an insurance quotation that covers all types of flooding in and around that particular area/location. That’s if the area/location you are interested in is indeed subject to flooding. Groundwater flooding is due to the ground being saturated with water, which has nowhere else to go but upwards via the most accessible means available, i.e. drains, manhole covers, straight through the floor, etc. and can happen literally miles away from known flood plains and flooded areas!
Groundwater flooding is where water seeps up through the ground because the earth is so saturated it cannot hold any more water. A major risk from groundwater flooding is that it does not always appear where you might expected but rises up through cellars and floors rather than coming in through doors. The environmental agency states that properties built above low-lying chalk are most vulnerable. Basically before ever purchasing a new house/property make sure that you do your homework and thoroughly carry out all the required and necessary research, including your own on the ground investigation. Don’t rely solely on your survey as some surveys have been carried out by some companies simply by driving past the property and not physically inspecting it!
If you are unemployed through no fault of your own either with or without a family or have a disability and cannot work long term due to your condition or you are currently on sick leave due to an illness and are unable to work short term, make sure that you claim any benefits that you are entitled too. The Benefit Agencies are there to help, they will also help you get back into work. However, if you are claiming or about to claim any benefits that you are not entitled too, then all you are doing is taking or applying for something that doesn’t belong to you, which could result in prosecution.
Remember Think Safe.
This chapter covers: Home security / neighbours the elderly & vulnerable people / security of outbuildings garages & sheds / personal document security / unannounced & unwelcome visitors / nuisance calls text messages & emails / personal vehicle security / utility service providers / the security & welfare of your pets / moving house / re-locating overseas or travelling & working abroad.
Never adopt the attitude that it won’t happen to you. Always be prepared & Think Safe.
Try to educate everyone in your household to be as security conscious and observant as you are! Ensure that your property and contents are adequately insured. Depending on your budget have a decent house alarm installed and motion activated or manually operated security lights placed at the front and rear of your property. Or motion activated or manually operated CCTV cameras and CCTV warning signs. You can also install portable internal electronic security measures, i.e. motion activated mini security lights which are also excellent in the event of a power cut or household emergency. Many house alarms and security lighting can be purchased in various DIY stores and can be fitted by yourself as they may be either battery or solar operated. Any type of alarm system or security lighting act as a deterrent and an early warning system in the event of someone trying to, or actually gaining access to your property. They will also instil confidence knowing that you have tried to make your home safe.
Ensure the fencing is maintained in front and rear gardens and that there are no breachable points, i.e. holes and weak or missing panels in them. Ensure that both front and back gates are in good working order and keep them closed and locked, whether you are in or out. Fit good quality front and back security doors and close and lock them whether you are in or out. Make sure your front and back doors are fitted with at least two locks and a security chain. It is also advisable to have several sliding bolt locks. Join your local neighbourhood watch and if there isn’t one, then organise one – it’s free and your local police will issue you with window stickers. You will receive regular emails of what is happening in your area. Have a spy hole fitted in both your front and back doors. If you or any of your household uses social networking sites be aware of cyber stalkers/burglars so ensure that you or they don’t give out any personal information, e.g. your address, if you have a pet dog, who you live with, what vehicle you drive, where you work, where you go in the evening, when you go on holiday, etc. If you strike up a good relationship over time, then you can be a little less cautious.
Do not leave any opened or unopened mail on show, e.g. left on the windowsill or coffee table, etc. and don’t leave any valuables on show. Fit good quality security windows that have several different opening settings, i.e. from 1 to 6 inches and always close your windows when you are going out. Only have the window open in the room that you are in, unless your other security windows have opening settings. If your windows are fitted with locking keys make sure that the keys to each window are in a safe and secure location and easily accessible near each window and that everyone within the household knows their whereabouts. However if your windows are secured by other means, e.g. latches then make sure that they are secured properly. Never nail shut any of your windows or any entry or exit point! If you have two doors for the same entrance point, an external (outer) door and internal (inner) door this is called an air-lock system which is the gap between the two doors and is usually at the front of your property. It can be used as a security aid to monitor and control any anonymous callers. You do this by firstly opening the internal door; you then enter into the air-lock and speak to your anonymous caller through your external door. You ask them who they are and what they want, but get them to confirm who they say they are by showing you their identification card (ID), e.g. drivers licence, passport or their company ID. Whatever ID they show you must have a current photo of them on it. They can show you their ID by pushing it against a glass window or ask them to post it through your main letter box. You also ask them their reason for calling on you. If they are from a company you can contact that company to confirm who they are. But always remember to keep the external door locked throughout the identification process. This identification process can be carried out with the knowledge that your anonymous caller is behind your front door in full view of yourself and if you have neighbours, in full view of them too. But remember, only let them in or speak to them once you are completely satisfied that your caller is legitimate.
If you have pets and you let them out remember to relock the door or window straight away. They usually let you know when they want to come in. If they don’t, then allow them a certain amount of time and then open the door to see where they are. Remember to keep the security chain on and only unlock it once your pet is at the door. Fit a secure cat flap and make sure that it is secured correctly. Have a ‘BEWARE OF THE DOG’ sign fitted, even if you don’t have a dog! Keep a notebook and pen beside each landline telephone. Make sure that all sharp and dangerous cutlery, or anything else that can be used as a weapon is secured in an appropriate cabinet and not on show. As well as having curtains fitted you could also have net curtains and blinds. When it starts to get dark, close all your curtains and blinds. If you live or you are in on your own leave a light on in a different room. You could even leave two lights on in two different rooms. Use one or two timing devices that plug into your indoor lamps and alternate the times that they come on throughout the dark hours. This is so it looks like there is defiantly someone else in the property. The same applies if you are taking a shower or having a bath, leave a secondary light on either upstairs or downstairs which is dependent on where the bathroom is and remember always keep the curtains or blinds closed!
If your house is ever left empty then utilize your electrical timers for a radio, lounge, kitchen or bedroom light, but make sure you set them at different times. Pre-set a recorded message of a dog barking on a timer. If you go out and leave your house empty, hang some washing on the line. Leave a daily newspaper on a table in the lounge or front room with a full cup of tea or coffee next to it, in full view of anyone who looks through your lounge window. If you have two vehicles that are used regularly, alternate which one you use. Remember to leave the remaining vehicle on the driveway or parked outside next to your property. You can put it in the garage when the second vehicle returns.
Don’t leave a key in a standard wood and glass-panelled door. Someone may be able to break either the glass or a weak panel in the door and reach in to turn the key or force the key out of the lock so it falls to the ground where they can drag it through the gap, if there is one. They could even use a magnet on a fishing line to hook the key and pull it through the letter box. If you have security doors fitted it is a good idea to leave the key in the lock once the door has been fully locked, but remember to turn the key back 90 degrees. If you have a glass panel in your door make sure that you cannot see the key from the outside of the doorway; fit a curtain that covers the glass panel. These security measures depend on what doors you have fitted and also strengthens the need for all external doors to be fitted with at least two locks and a security chain. It is also extremely advisable to have at least two sliding bolt locks fitted. Never hide your keys outside your home e.g. under a plant pot, under a brick, under the rug, in the wheel arch of your vehicle etc. These are the first places a burglar would look. You can leave a spare key with a reliable relative or close friend. It’s always a good idea to have a security whistle on each set of keys, e.g. front and back door, car keys, office keys and garage or outbuilding keys, etc. If you leave your house for a day or so, ask a reliable relative, a close friend or a trustworthy neighbour to check on your home at least once a day. Instruct them to alternate the room that the electronic light timer is in. Make sure that the person who you ask to look after your property is completely honest, reliable and trustworthy.
Never tell strangers that you live on your own! But if you do invite someone back and until you get to know them, pretend that someone else is living with you (preferably a male flat/house-mate). Have two toothbrushes on show, two cups in the sink both stained and you could even have the spare bedroom looking as though it has been lived in. Basically make it look like you have a house/flat-mate! In the event of an unwanted visitor or intruder, have a designated room that you can use as a safe room or panic room prepared. A room where you can lock yourself in while you are calling for help, e.g. a toilet or cellar etc. You could even prepare it with the basic amenities such as food, medical kit, water, toilet and sleeping facilities. There must be a communication means, i.e. a radio, telephone or at least a mobile phone. Install at least two good working smoke alarms, two fire extinguishers and if you have any type of gas appliance, two carbon monoxide detectors and ensure that you carry out a weekly maintenance check for their serviceability. Also make sure that you have a fully comprehensive in-date first aid kit and two fire blankets and you know how to use them. Dependent on the size and location of your property either your home or business, you might want to consider installing an affordable fire deterrent sprinkler system. Make sure that all your household keys, including any outbuildings, sheds, garages and your work and vehicle keys, are properly secured and in a safe place and importantly, are easily accessible, in the event of an emergency!
If you are ever put in a position of trust and have been assigned a task for whatever reason, i.e. house sitting, feeding the cat, key holder, looking after either a family member, a close friends or work colleges property for them while they are away and you are the sole key holder. Under no circumstances do you hand over the keys to anyone (no matter who they say they are and for whatever reason they give) without the owner’s consent. Unless of course it’s a real life emergency and a matter of life and death, but even then, they must be accompanied by you or a Police officer or similar. Because you never really know what their real intentions are!
With regard to the security and safety fittings, i.e. doors, windows, CCTV and fire alarms, etc. If you cannot afford the services of an established trade body, a security company or a Master Locksmith Association, then employ the services of a reputable local handyman or woman who has a good reputation and supporting references; also ensure that they have had a recent CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check. If you employ the services of a family member or close friend, make sure they are capable of carrying out the work. Buy all or most of the materials yourself and use only approved security equipment recognised by the police and do not pay for any work until it has been completed to your satisfaction. Make sure that all the security fittings are secured with deep-seated (long in length and hard wearing) screws and bolts. Remember to negotiate an affordable price.
Neighbours the elderly & vulnerable people
Ask your neighbours do they need a hand with their security measures, especially the elderly, vulnerable, disabled or anyone who might need a helping hand. On a regular basis call round to your neighbour’s house for a chat and a coffee and to see if they are OK or need something, e.g. food, medication, a doctor or just a quick trip to the post office! Remember they could be proud, stubborn or lonely, so be diplomatic. Exchange emergency contact numbers and make sure they have adequate security and safety measures in place; if they haven’t, offer to help them fit the appropriate measures.
If your neighbour is disabled in any way whatsoever, enquire to see if their house is fitted with all the fixtures and fittings for their particular disability, e.g. wheel chair ramps, stair lift, grab rails that you can hold onto in all the right places, panic buttons, door handles positioned correctly, low or dropped light and electrical switches. Ensure that their kitchen, toilet, bathroom and any other rooms are fitted to facilitate all their needs, etc. but be diplomatic! If it isn’t, ask them would they mind if you make some enquiries on their behalf or if they have a carer would it be ok for you to talk to them reference their entitlement for these fittings. But you must get their consent first. Enquire to see if their property and contents are adequately insured; if not, advise them accordingly; again be diplomatic. Offer to give them a hand with their gardening, decorating or housework, etc. If they have a dog, offer to take it out for a walk. If you feel confident tell them to be aware and security conscious, especially for cold callers who could be conmen. If they confide in you with regard to money problems or are obviously struggling, offer to help them manage their finances more efficiently or arrange for someone to help them, but make sure that you get their consent and inform someone, e.g. their carer, a relative or a friend of theirs, what you are doing and why. However be careful! Make time to listen to them, show interest in what they have to say and are doing. We all live busy and hectic lives, but if it was your mum, dad, grandparents or disabled brother sister, etc., you would have peace of mind if you knew that a neighbour or friend was looking out for their interests.
Security of outbuildings, sheds & garages
Make sure that you have adequate security and safety measures in place and ensure that your outbuildings, shed or garage and all their contents are adequately insured. Make sure there is adequate lighting and use energy saving bulbs that lower your energy bills. Is your outbuilding, shed or garage detached from the main property and is it situated in an isolated part of your garden or grounds? If it is, make sure the route to it is safe, well lit and clear from any obstacles. In an emergency make sure that you have a safe escape route planned. Practice if required. If your work place is your outbuildings, shed or garage, don’t make it common knowledge and always lock the door behind you. Make sure that you have all the appropriate health and safety procedures in place and that you adhere to them. Never leave the keys or padlock outside and unattended once you have unlocked and opened your outbuildings, shed or garage doors. Take the padlock and keys inside with you; equally never leave the keys in the door. This is to combat against anyone trying to lock you in. Keep all flammables, paints and hazardous or dangerous chemicals, e.g. petrol, spray paints and weed killers, locked away in a secure cabinet away from children. Make sure that all your garden equipment, especially anything sharp or dangerous and all your tools are secured and locked away in a secured cabinet. Only get out what garden equipment or tools that you require. Once you have used it then put it back in its secure cabinet, or if you are continually using it then put it a safe place. Never leave anything dangerous unattended or just lying around; tidy up after yourself and put things away. Remember that your outbuildings, shed or garage are not playgrounds for your children. Make sure they keep a safe distance. Ensure that you have adequate warning signs in place, e.g. WARNING – DANGEROUS EQUIPMENT! Always wear the appropriate safety clothing when required or necessary such as steel toe cap boots/shoes, hard hat, sharps resistant gloves, face mask, reflective vest, trousers and tops/jackets. Before operating any electrical or mechanical equipment make sure you read the instructions for safety and use, even if you have to get someone to read and explain it to you and use an approved electrical safety adapter circuit breaker to protect you should you accidentally cut any electrical insulation wire covering.
Personal document security
Keep household documents under lock and key, preferably in an office at home or just a spare room which can be used as an office, make sure it’s not on the ground floor and that it is properly secured with a suitable security lock. A filing cabinet or similar making sure that they are filed neatly and in the correct order, e.g. banking, passports, medical records, vehicles, general household bills, etc. Keep all legal documents both personal and business and any evidence linked with them, for at least 8 years; only dispose of them when you are absolutely sure that particular case has been brought to its natural conclusion. If you can afford it, purchase a small fire-proof safe to keep all important legal documents, money and your laptop inside. Conceal it and do not tell anyone where it is or what it is used for. Remember, loose lips sink ships. Do not have a large amount of money in your house; bank it, invest it or put it in a safe deposit box. If you have an old desk-top computer then clean it up and make it look as though it is still being used; as this can act as a decoy computer for any would-be burglar but remember to keep your personal or work laptop hidden.
All the work that has been compiled on your computer needs to be saved, so every time you have finished working on your computer, save it on a separate hard drive, memory stick, SD card or similar and then secure in a safe place, preferably in a fire-proof safe or similar which is hidden. Use a double-edged shredder to destroy all documents that show your personal details, e.g. bank/credit card statements and shopping receipts. If you cannot afford a shredder, burn the documents in a fire-regulated burn bin but make sure it is safe and you have permission to do so. Better still shred and then burn. Put your rubbish bins out on the morning of collection day. This is to stop anyone from profiling you or your family, i.e. taking your rubbish very early in the morning and rummaging through to find any personal details that they can use to duplicate your identity, i.e. identity fraud. Any potential fraudsters will be reluctant to do this in the daylight.
Make sure you have a spare set of keys for your house, car, secure cabinet, etc. but put them in a safe and secure location. You can even leave any spare keys with a reliable neighbour, relative or friend. Compile a change of address list, everything from DVLA, your bank and credit card companies to your pet insurance and pet ID companies. This is so when you move house or office you know exactly what companies to contact to inform them of your change of contact details. When you send any important documents through the post, e.g. driving licence, cheques, reports or any sensitive information, etc., make sure that you send them by secure means, either special delivery, recorded delivery, courier or similar. However, ensure that you retain the receipt and secure it in a safe place which acts as proof of posting, it also enables you to track your letter or parcel if anything should go wrong. These services are secure as your parcel or letter is signed for at every leg of the journey. Also the recipient has to sign for them, which is proof of delivery so they cannot say that they didn’t receive them. You can also ask for a receipt when you post a regular letter at the post office, again this is proof you sent that particular letter. Remember to check with the post office or courier company with regard to what you can send through the post, either ask a cashier or ask for a copy of their guidelines. Wills can be both rewarding and stressful so ensure that you and your partner complete an up-to-date will and make sure that every eventuality is covered, and every single penny or item you want to pass down is micro explained very clearly to avoid family wars. Keep it locked away in your safe. Would you know what to do if your partner died un-expectantly i.e. what bills to pay and to whom? Keep this information in your secure box/safe and discuss what to do if such an un-expected scenario occurred to you. The above security measures help prevent any important documentation, either business or personal from going missing, getting lost or mislaid. It is purely a guide and by no means the only way to secure your private documents. However if you incorporate just 30% of the above information, you will have peace of mind in the knowledge that all your important documentation is safe, secure and importantly, you know where it is.
Unannounced & unwelcome visitors
Unannounced visitors could be criminals or rogue traders masquerading as, tradesman, cold callers, delivery man/woman, estate agent, government official, police officer, debt collector, bailiffs, doctor, nurse, fire officer or a health and safety officer. The list is endless. Be aware of an individual who is lost and looking for directions or to use your phone and pretext callers or even local teenagers trying to distract you. Remember they could also be genuine. Rogue traders are individuals that deliberately mislead the public or misrepresent the product that they are selling or company that they are working for. If you need a tradesman then look in your local directory for one that is registered and approved or ask your local council or MP. Pretext callers are individuals such as a private investigator who pretend to be someone else, e.g. bogus delivery man, a local government representative carrying out a public transport and local facilities survey, etc. Their intention is to gather information about you, a family member or a member of your household or even one of your neighbours. The information they require is usually timings (when you’re in or out), if you work or not, do you drive a car, etc. Professional conmen, scam artists and fraudsters will go to any extremes to convince you to believe who they are, e.g. a local estate agent, government official, police officer, etc. They might even have what seems like legitimate ID and a convincing uniform. In reality it could be anyone knocking at your door.
What can you do to avoid unannounced and unwelcome visitors? Always be aware and vigilant and try not to act vulnerable even if you are. The golden rule is, if you are ever unsure who is at your door and their intentions, don’t let them in. Always be on your guard and go by your instinct and gut feeling. If you have to then talk to them through the door or through an upstairs window and be as crafty as they are by pretending to talk to someone else in the house (preferably a man) so they don’t think that you are on your own. If you have an air-lock system, keep one of the doors locked and if you have a dog then make sure that they are aware of it, if the dog hasn’t already made it clear that they are in the house by barking. Invest in a secured by design and police preferred specification door chain such as a defender PVCu door chain or secure ring that are easy to fit to the door frame or wall. They are designed not to be fitted to your door and are very secure. Ensure that you have with you, a personal alarm, mobile or cordless phone. No matter who is knocking at your door always ask to see their photo ID routinely. You don’t even have to open the door to do this; they can either put it through your letter box, press it against a window or, with your security chain firmly on, they can pass it to you. If they are from a company ask for the telephone number of their manager to confirm their identity. This includes government officials or police officers that might be wearing some sort of convincing uniform. Thoroughly check all their paperwork Call a neighbour, a friend or a family member and ask them if they could come around. Ask them would they come back at a more convenient time and if you can, make sure that you have someone with you. If they are legitimate they will not mind. If you are still unsure then don’t let them in and, importantly, if they are giving you cause for concern, call the police immediately on 999. It is always best to be safe, than sorry. If you screen and scrutinise the individual who is at your door, you are preventing anything untoward from happening. Always remember, Think Safe!
Nuisance calls, text messages & emails
Hounded with nuisance and unwanted calls, text messages and e-mails believed to be from a scorned admirer, ex-partner, ex-friend or a random individual? Bullied, intimidated and constantly threatened by a work colleague or your boss? ACT NOW! If you are continually being pestered, harassed and bombarded with unwanted calls and messages, then now is the time to act. Get yourself a note book and start writing everything down, i.e. make a detailed log of each and every incident. Don’t forget to time and date it and make a detailed account of what has happened. Talk to someone about it, e.g. family member, close friend, a close work colleague or teacher. Seek the right advice and don’t be put off or intimidated by anyone. If the person or persons responsible are from your work place, then report it to your superior or your boss. If the culprit/s is one of your superiors or even your boss, then go higher up the chain of command or even straight to the police. Make a formal complaint; take your log of events with you and if need be, take someone with you who is capable of explaining the situation – just in case you get flustered or upset! Your employers might be able to resolve the problem and bring it under control. If you believe that your employers can’t handle the situation or aren’t taking you seriously, inform them that you are going to go to the police to make a formal complaint, which should make them take notice. Don’t forget to make an entry in your log book with regard to you informing your employer and their reaction and solution to the problem, include full names and positions. Good companies should have safe systems of work and risk assessments or simple company protocol/work instructions that cover every eventuality – so they have to follow them and act upon them. Your employers at that point may contact the police themselves. The police would probably come to your work place, but if you feel that this is too much, inform them that you would rather go to the police station. If the problem is nothing to do with your work place, report it to the police and make a formal complaint, but do it today. Either take someone with you or go on your own. Take with you any evidence that you might have, especially your notebook and explain to them everything that has been going on. They will open a file and everything will be documented, make sure they give you an incident number.
Make sure that you report each incident no matter how trivial you think it is! Pass on as much information as you possibly can, a full description of the individual, i.e. male or female, age, build, colour, height, hair, clothing and any distinctive marks; also if they were driving. Give a full description of any vehicle, make, model, colour, registration and any distinctive marks or alterations, etc. Also pass on what happened and where it took place, the more information the better. At the same time inform your service provider, e.g. BT or your mobile phone company and explain the situation to them. BT have a special department called the Nuisance Calls Bureau, other companies have similar departments. They will monitor all incoming calls. If the calls are blocked or withheld, together with the police they will unblock them and find out who is causing you the upset. Once they have determined who is at the root of the problem they will block any future calls from that particular number and charge the offender. However, it might take longer if they cannot locate the individual due to the offender using several different lines. If the problem persists you might have to change your telephone numbers and your email address, but talk to the police first. If you do change your telephone numbers and email address, be selective about who you give your contact details to and instruct them not to pass them on. If you believe that the police are not taking you seriously and you are in fear of your life, make a formal complaint to the Police Complaints Authority. Seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau or your equivalent of this service. If that doesn’t work write to your local MP, post it by special delivery, so you have a record of the correspondence that was sent. Also as previously instructed, log everything in your notebook. If you get no help from the police, your employers or your MP, contact a specialised security company who deals with this particular problem. They’ll make the appropriate enquires regarding your complaint, they will then advise you with regard to taking the correct action, legal if necessary.
If you are the victim of bullying, either physical, psychological or cyber bullying, one of the best and most effective ways of dealing with it is to ignore the culprits or instigators by walking away and not responding, also deleting, blocking or boycotting the websites. Because bullies rely upon a reaction, without that they usually have no cause to continue. If you feel that you aren’t getting anywhere and the problem persists and seems to be worsening, seek professional advice and also report them to the police. The above also applies to all forms of cyber bullying e.g. via the Internet, mobile phones and social web sites etc. Remember if you make a stand by taking the appropriate action and reporting each incident, the problem usually stops. Also, it doesn’t have to be a police matter to have someone’s number blocked, speak to your service provider. For children at school or college and university students you must report any cyber bullying without fail because it will only get worse if you don’t. Report it to the head of the school, college or university and certainly tell your parents. Save any recorded phone evidence you have for the police
Personal vehicle security
Ensure your vehicle is roadworthy, well maintained and make sure that it has an up-to-date MOT, road tax and that it is adequately insured, including contents and business use that’s if you use your vehicle for business. If you have your vehicle modified make sure that it is legal to do so and be sure to inform your insurance company. The best method of ensuring that your vehicle is well maintained is to have it serviced regularly and by checking your vehicle on a daily basis ensuring it has the correct fuel, oil, water etc. including checking everything is working as it should. There is no justification or excuses for any of these requirements to be incomplete or out of date and in need of renewal. Join a reputable and reliable breakdown service and make sure that you have their telephone number saved on your mobile phone and also write it down in your notebook. Park your vehicle in your garage with the bonnet facing out, i.e. reverse in. If you do not have a garage, park it on your driveway next to a security light and facing outwards. If you do not have a garage or driveway, park it on the road or curb side directly outside your house and if possible next to a streetlight. If your vehicle is a collector’s item or extremely expensive and you are not happy with any of the above, either park it in a secure lock-up facility or at a reliable friend’s house which has a secure garage. Make sure that you have a reliable car alarm fitted from either the manufacturer or a reputable vehicle alarm company. Always lock your vehicle and make sure that you have at least one set of spare keys should you misplace your main set. Buy a steering lock and use it. Do not leave any valuables in your vehicle either overnight or when you leave it unattended for a period of time. On a daily basis uninstall your phone, dash cam or sat-nav housing brackets; this is to deter any opportunist thief from breaking into your vehicle, looking for such items. Make sure that your vehicle has a reliable tracking system; if it hasn’t, have one fitted. Unless you are going on a specific journey don’t fill your vehicle with a full tank of fuel. This is because if your vehicle were stolen, the thief would have to stop at a garage and fill up with fuel within a smaller radius from your home address, therefore increasing the chances of catching the culprit, using the CCTV footage from the petrol station. Fit a decent lockable petrol/diesel cap, which is a deterrent against anyone trying to steal your fuel. In winter conditions be fully prepared and make sure you have in the boot of your vehicle all the appropriate breakdown and emergency equipment and warm clothing. If the weather forecast is for severe cold, frost or snow conditions ensure that you have the correct anti-freeze in your car to avoid severely damaging your engine. Make sure that you park your vehicle either in your garage or a similar kind of shelter. However if you have no other option but to leave your vehicle parked outside for the night then try and park it out of the day time shaded areas, with the front (bonnet and windscreen) facing the direction of where the sun rises. It is also a good idea to cover your windscreen with a purpose made windscreen cover or a piece of cardboard, old sheet or something similar and don’t forget to pull your wipers away from the windscreen and cover those up as well. If your vehicle is parked on your driveway and you need to start it and warm the engine up before your journey, owing to severe weather conditions e.g. frost or snow get someone to make you a hot drink and physically keep an eye on your vehicle whilst it’s warming up. If your vehicle is parked on the roadside or any public highway the same rule applies; have someone make you a hot drink, but this time, sit in your vehicle whilst it’s warming up. Never, ever leave it unattended. If you are travelling alone either at night or during normal working hours ensure that your doors are locked.
Utility service providers
In this day and age and current climate it is always good to know that we have options when selecting our utility service providers. Never be afraid of change or a challenge. Just remember that spending a little time now looking for the best deals will save you cash in the long run. Shop around for the best deals, e.g. search the Internet, you will be amazed of how much money you can save. Ask your energy provider for a breakdown of tariffs. Insist you are put on the lowest and the most economical tariff for you. To do this your service provider might insist that you pay by direct debit, but if it means paying less, it’s worth it. If you want to monitor and regulate the amount of energy that you use, you could ask for a payment meter to be installed. Educate yourself in electric, gas and water meter unit conversion tables (look on the Internet). When you contact your utility service provider, remember that you are their client so don’t be afraid to query anything you do not understand, or any discrepancies. Ask any questions including asking for a breakdown (schedule) of costs. Keep all bills and any documentation in a folder and then preferably in a small household filing cabinet. Everyone is dubious about change so don’t be afraid of the unknown or the seemingly complicated situations, i.e. switching from one utility service provider (company) to another. Ask a family member or close friend to help you. Some utility service providers rely upon on your fear, lack of knowledge and your reluctance to change, in order for them to profit. There are companies that can provide most of your utility services. Therefore combining all your bills into one, which means you will only have to pay one single payment per month. If you need any other energy saving tips it is strongly recommend that you get in touch with your energy provider and seek their advice. They could recommend a cheaper tariff as well as energy saving tips. If you’ve lost your job or been made redundant, suffering ill health, or you’re experiencing other financial difficulties for whatever reason make sure that you inform your utility service providers. Let them know what your situation is, what you can afford and when you are able to pay. Inform them that you are willing to pay something until you get yourself back on your feet again. If it’s an on-going situation ask to be put on a payment plan and for a payment meter to be installed. While you’re waiting for this to happen keep on paying them what you can afford to. If you are elderly or disabled ask your utility service provider if you meet the right criteria for a yearly one-off payment (warm home allowance) to help you with your bills. You can even ask your local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice. It’s also a good idea to ask your service provider to cap the amount of fuels or services you use each month, e.g. limit you to a fixed amount per month. Some examples of utility service providers are gas, electric, heating oil, solid fuels, water, landline, broadband and mobile phone.
Remember never be afraid of change, the hardest step is the first one, but once you have committed yourself you will not look back. Don’t be afraid of making a formal complaint. If you are unsure of your rights ask the Citizens Advice Bureau or the Office of Fair Trading for their help. If you are, for whatever reason, suffering from financial difficulties, inform your utility service provider of your situation.
The security & welfare of your pets
If you or a family member is thinking about getting a pet, take into consideration its every day needs, requirements and the costs that are involved. Ask yourself if you are capable of facilitating those needs and financial commitment. Below is some advice for when you are contemplating getting a pet and it doesn’t just apply to cats and dogs, it applies to all pets. Carry out some research and ask your local vets when you register your pet with them or the RSPCA for their advice Don’t be pressured into getting a pet and don’t give in to emotional blackmail. If you are getting a pet for your child or children make sure that they are fully aware of all of the responsibilities and costs that are involved, i.e. accommodation, food, water, exercise, training, vets’ bills, clothing, equipment and importantly lots of love and attention. It could be a good idea to get your child or children to look after your family and friends’ pets for a short while to see if they are aware of what’s involved and are cut out for it.
Register your pet with your local vets, and make sure you are aware of the costs involved. Also make sure that they have regular check-ups. If you get your pet from a rescue centre make sure that it’s a reputable one and ensure that you have the pet’s history and all the relevant documents. Most foreign rescue centres are very proficient and provide all the necessary vaccinations, including compulsory chipping and passports. Make sure if you move address or receive a pet from a different country or area that you notify the chipping company of your pet’s new address. There is a small cost to this but it is required. Notify any other company that is involved in looking after your pet. Keep a log of your pet’s annual, monthly injections and all medications that they might need, including wormers and flea/lice prevention. Ensure that your pets are adequately insured and read the small print on your pet insurance to ensure your covered for what you expect to be. If you have a very small pet and they are ever choking pick up your little friend and place your hand around their nose and mouth and then blow very hard into their mouth and nose at the same time. If there is a blockage that should clear it. Teach your pet its place within your family unit and don’t let anyone especially your children get into your pet’s personal space, i.e. get too close to them, especially their face. Don’t play too roughly as if they are a toy; like ourselves, pets have good days and bad days; too much rough play could aggravate them. Don’t pull their ears, tail or tease them, etc. or take away their food or a toy. This type of behaviour could turn your pet vicious. Basically, never leave your children alone and unattended with your pets. Don’t spoil or teach your pet bad habits, because they’ll become too difficult to handle. Do give your pet the respect that it deserves and lots of love and care. Like ourselves they have feelings too and understand a lot more than we give them credit for and ultimately they, like us, respond better if treated correctly. When you introduce any new pet/s into your home when you already have existing pets, be very careful and make sure you carry out some background research into the compatibility of the new pet with your existing pet/s then introduce them gradually. Have a cage, stair-gate or both at the ready and never leave them together unattended. Let them get to know each other, i.e. become familiar and get used to each other’s smell. Gradually aim at getting them to feed with each other, but don’t rush this until you know that there is harmony amongst all the pets. Never leave food or toys down and don’t spoil or favour one pet over the other, e.g. if you have two dogs or two cats, etc. they can get jealous of each other. Make sure you have at the ready, some means of separating your pets, if a fight breaks out, e.g. a rattle, a loud pet horn, water or a water gun. Before taking your pet out in public or for a walk make sure it has had the appropriate training and inoculations. When you train or have your pet trained, use treats as a training aid, i.e. a reward for carrying out a command correctly. Don’t give it treats for ease or convenience or to get on the animal’s good side.
Depending on your budget think about having two stair-gates fitted, one for your kitchen and one for the stairs. The one for the kitchen is to allow you to separate your dog from you or your guests, but also allows your pet to see you and vice versa. The one for your stairs is to separate your dog whilst everyone is asleep, but they both act as an additional security aid. It’s a good idea to have a large cage in your living room so you can place your pet in it if required, e.g. when your pet has been naughty or when you are busy. It’s always a good idea to introduce your pet (interacting) to other pets and their owners within your circle of friends and family before taking them out and introducing it to the public. When you take your pet for a walk, ensure that you have a lead and if required a muzzle, some treats, a whistle and even a small animal first aid kit with you. If you take your pet for a walk and you use your vehicle to get there, take a towel with you so you can dry your pet off, or buy a travelling cage or seat belt. Never let your pet just roam free (go out on its own). Make sure your pet has good recall and responds to your commands, especially when it is out and about with you and mixing with the public. If you are out walking and see another member of the public out walking their pet make sure that you place your pet back on its lead until they have passed you by (it will teach other members of the public to do the same).
If a member of the public is walking towards you with their pet and they don’t attempt to place their pet back on its lead, which makes you feel uneasy, then quickly place your pet back on its lead and walk off in a different direction. It is advisable when out with your pet to take with you a whistle, a walking stick or similar in the event of you or your pet being attacked, use your whistle to deter the attacking pet and alert its owner or anyone that can help. Use your walking stick or similar to fend off the attack by waving it around in the pet’s direction and keeping it at a safe distance (if you haven’t got a walking stick or similar, you can use your pet’s lead). If the attacking pet hasn’t got its owner with it, report the incident to the police and the RSPCA. Irrespective of the owner being there or not you might feel the need to report the incident anyway. In the event of being attacked, or you perceive that you are going to be attacked, you have the right to defend yourself. But remember only use proportionate, justifiable minimum force in the situation that you face.
Let your pet interact and play with other pets, but make sure that the other pet’s owner is happy to do that, just in case there is a problem or that they are simply not comfortable with it. When you are out and about with your pet, it’s always a good idea to introduce your pet to the local indigenous wild life. Teach your pet not to chase the local wild life or cause havoc. If you intend to take your pet on public transport, make sure that you are allowed to do so. Secure any pets that are travelling with you, either on public transport or in your own vehicle, with the appropriate legal cages or harnesses. If you take your pets with you on a journey either in your vehicle or by public transport, make sure that they have plenty of ventilation, food, water and dependent on the weather conditions, ensure that they are kept either warm or cool, and if required a travelling cage and a muzzle. Don’t leave your pet in your vehicle for long periods of time if you have any doubts whatsoever, don’t leave them. If you take your pet on a long journey, ensure that you have planned stops, so they can have the appropriate exercise and go to the toilet and remember to always pick up the dogs number two.
If you ever see or hear about anyone mistreating or abusing their pet or any animal for that matter, wild or domesticated, then report them to the police and RSPCA, straight away! It is always best to be organised and know where things are and when we are supposed to do certain things, so it makes sense if we apply the same organisation techniques for our pets. Remember that having a pet is a huge responsibility. Never forget the joy and happiness that they bring into your life or that you also bring the same joy and happiness into theirs. So treat them with the love and respect they deserve because they have feelings too!
Moving house can be for some people one of the most daunting experiences they’ll ever have to undertake, for others it can be seen as a new start and can be quite therapeutic. It all depends on the reasons why you have decided to move, i.e. retirement, work, planning to start a family, upsizing/downsizing, or it could be as simple as you just fancy a change. But for whatever reason you are moving it makes sense if you plan it properly which can make it an enjoyable experience rather than a daunting one.
Before you even consider a move, you’ve got to first of all make sure that you and your family really want too and discuss in length the reason/s that you are thinking of moving home. Does the reason/s warrant a move or would you prefer staying where you are? Whatever you decide, it’s the right decision. Once you have decided put a plan of action together and start the ball rolling, however, If you decide to stay, consider giving your home a face lift! Before putting your existing property on the market get it ready for selling so prepare a selling check list. Get rid of all the clutter both from inside and outside of your house and give it a good clean from top to bottom. Rearrange the furniture (too much makes your house look cluttered and smaller than it actually is) to make the rooms look bigger or you can put several mirrors up, they have the same effect. If your garden is presentable it automatically makes your house look the same, so make sure that you spend time cutting what needs to be cut, trimming what needs to be trimmed and generally making your garden look good. Any outbuildings that need tidying up, consider giving them a lick of paint. Make sure when you have a viewing your house is presentable, including the outside, e.g. clean, bright, de-cluttered, warm, cosy and welcoming. Show them that you are proud it will ooze confidence. It’s also a good idea to fragrance your house and have fresh flowers on show. When you are selecting a location make sure it’s the right area/location for you and your family and meets with all your requirements. Is the area/location free from flooding? if not ask the appropriate individual and agencies are there sufficient flood defences in place? How far is the nearest city, town, village, hamlet, supermarket, general store, petrol station, police station, fire station, hospital, doctor and dentist surgeries? Enquire what the general crime rate is like in that area? Find out what the education ratings are like, including available places? What are the employment opportunities like? How near is the nearest airport, seaport, mainline train station, motorway? Is there any known prejudice issues, within the local community Once you’re happy and you’ve completed all the appropriate research then you can start looking for a property. First of all stick to your budget. If you are either renting or leasing a property make sure that you have a tenancy agreement and a government backed DPS (Deposit Protection Scheme) in place. If you’re thinking about buying a property from an auction, then make sure you actually view it and read all of the legal pack Select several estate agents give them a detailed list of specifications of the type of property you looking for. Drive around the area that you are interested in looking for properties that are being sold privately during the day as well as night-time or go out and talk to your potential neighbours and random individuals from the local community and get a feel for the area. The idea is to make sure that there are no hidden and unwelcome surprises, i.e. the outside of your house being used as a youth club or meeting area for the local teenagers, etc.
Once you’ve found a property that you’re interested in, make sure it meets with all of your requirements and that the estate agents inform you of everything you need to know. We all know how important having a car parking area is so make sure there is adequate parking at the property and the immediate area. Find out if there is any known criminal activity within the immediate area of the property you are interested in and is there any undesirable individuals living nearby. Is the road your property is situated on a busy road, does it get congested and is it used at peak times as a cut through (short cut) for commuting traffic going to and from work. Also is it used as a race track? Has the property already got planning permission? If not would it be a problem getting planning permission? Are there any future development plans by the local council or private developers to build a shopping mall, housing estate, office block, hospital or new road? If the property you are interested in meets with all of your requirements the next stage is making sure it has a full survey by a fully qualified and competent surveyor covering all structural damage such as: dampness, rot, cracks in walls, damaged joists, windows and doors, leaking roof, guttering or drains etc. Also make sure that the area and property is not subject to subsidence problems, earth tremors or flooding of any kind. If you’re happy with the survey report, then all that’s’ left is to make them an offer and if excepted then make plans for the move.
Find a reputable removal company who will also supply packing assistance and material If the removal company do not assist with packing and unpacking then delegate either a family member or a good friend to oversee the loading and unloading of your furniture and belongings. Once you have a confirmed move date, inform all the appropriate utility and energy suppliers. Don’t forget to take a note of all meter readings on the day you move. It is always a good idea to have your mail redirected for a minimum period of about 6 months. If you are on any type of benefits whatsoever make sure that you inform your current benefits and council tax departments that you are moving from your current address. This should be done as soon as you have a move date. Ask do they need written confirmation. Make sure you inform all of your contacts both business and personal of your new address.
Re-locating overseas or travelling & working abroad.
If you are thinking of relocating overseas to a different country for work or retirement, it’s always best to carry out a thorough risk assessment into the stability and safety of the country and region that you/family are moving to by searching the internet. The foreign office travel advice site can give you up-to-date information. With regard to the country that you/family are moving too, make sure that you fully understand their culture, tradition, laws and of course their language. But most importantly make sure that you/family have chosen the right country. Always remember that you/family’s safety comes first so carry out extensive research. It’s a good idea to learn the language of the country you are thinking of moving to. Why not visit the country on a regular basis in order to familiarise you/family properly with its culture. Make sure that you/family prior to departing for the country of your dreams, have had all the appropriate inoculations and have the correct and adequate overseas insurance.
The above information is purely a guide, its only aim is to assist you when faced with such an important and sometimes difficult decision. The key to making the right choices is simple, it is basically taking your time and meticulously carrying out all the appropriate research with regard to both location and property.
This chapter covers: Emergency services / contacting the police / self-defence / citizen’s arrest / terrorist attack / intruders / vulnerability / contacting the fire brigade / fire prevention measures / contacting the ambulance service / basic first aid / household emergencies & emergency grab bag/box / household emergencies important information / power cut / severe storms & flooding / gas leak or earth tremor.
Never adopt the attitude that it won’t happen to you. Always be prepared & Think Safe.
Remember, if you require emergency services in any life-threatening situations or to report any criminal activity, a fire, someone’s seriously ill or injured, you should always dial 999. For non-emergencies call 101. When contacting the emergency services, be calm, clear and precise, inform the operator what branch of the emergency services you require, i.e. police, fire brigade or ambulance service, and importantly inform the operator of your exact location, including a land reference, e.g. a road name, a prominent cross roads, town or village church, library, etc. If you’re calling from a landline they should be able to pinpoint your exact location, however if it’s from a mobile phone then it’s not as easy to track you to your location, unless it has GPS. Explain to the operator the nature of your call. Give an accurate description of what has happened, e.g. how many people, vehicles and buildings that are involved. If an incident is unfolding in front of you and the operator asks you for more information, place your phone on loud speaker so you can carry on giving the operator an accurate sit-rep (situation report) without taking your eye off the incident. If you are first on the scene and there are casualties, administer first aid but remember to prioritise (Triage – order of importance) the casualties. It is highly recommended that you attend an accredited course and gain the appropriate qualification before ever carrying out any type of first aid. Also at the time of the incident don’t be afraid to ask the emergency services operator for advice.
Always be prepared for any type of emergency and it is advisable to put together an up-to-date, fully comprehensive first aid kit. Make sure that everyone within the household knows where it is, and how to use it. When you are administering first aid, don’t move any casualties, if you are unsure of the seriousness of their injuries and the damage that it will incur if you move them, unless it’s a life-or-death situation and you have no other option.
Contacting the police
In an emergency, dial 999 (UK only) and ask for the police. When the police arrive at the scene, inform them of what has happened. For non-emergencies call 101. Report any type of criminal activity and all other emergencies directly to the police, e.g. assault, mugging, harassment, stalking, domestic violence, theft, burglary, fire, RTA, etc. Ask for an incident number. You can also ask for your identity to be kept anonymous. If it is serious they will give you the appropriate protection. Don’t be afraid, the police will look after you. If you are being harassed and pursued by a stalker, get yourself a notebook and start writing everything down, i.e. make a detailed log of each and every incident. Don’t forget to time and date it and make a detailed account of what has happened. Report each incident to the police no matter how trivial you think it is. Give the police as much information as you possibly can, a full description of the individual, i.e. male or female, age, build, colour, height, hair, clothing and any distinctive marks, also if they were driving, a full description of the vehicle, make, model, colour, registration, any distinctive marks or alterations, and importantly what the culprit/s were doing and where. This refers to any incident. The more information, the better. If you are ever falsely accused of doing something that you are completely innocent of, which is malicious, slanderous and damaging, seek legal advice and report it to the police straight away. Don’t get too stressed about it, the truth will prevail in the end. If you don’t report it, the culprit is free to continue ruining yours or someone else’s life.
In any potential dangerous situation especially assault, burglary, being mugged, etc., always try and be diplomatic and try not to aggravate the situation further. However, if you have an honest-held, genuine belief that you, your family, friends or colleagues are in imminent danger, make sure that you only use proportionate, justifiable reasonable force in the situation that you are faced with and remember to keep within the parameters of the law. If you are unsure of how much force you can use, then seek advice from the police. When you make a statement to the police give an accurate account of what happened and make sure that it’s easily understood. Use the same or similar wording as above, i.e. honest-held, genuine belief, imminent danger, I only used proportionate, justifiable reasonable force to the situation that I was faced with, etc. This will explain the reason why you had no other choice but to defend yourself using the force you did. Always remember that the police are there to help you, so in order for them to do their job properly and without needless delay, help them by always carrying some form of photo ID. A driving licence, passport or even a gym membership or credit card will do. Also give them a clear and accurate account of what happened.
Before you make a statement, if you feel that you need legal representation, a legal guardian or a suitable adult, ask for the police station’s duty solicitor, your own brief or a suitable adult, parent, etc. If you have a medical problem or learning difficulty, make sure that the police are aware of it. When you are assisting the police by providing a statement or are taken in for questioning for any type of enquiry or incident, don’t say or commit yourself to anything which you are unsure about. Always be helpful but don’t be bullied, intimidated or treated as though you are the guilty party. If you feel that you are being treated unfairly and with prejudice, ask to be seen by someone else or if you feel that strongly about it, inform them that you would like to make a formal complaint. Remember that everyone is innocent, until proven guilty!
You can make a citizen’s arrest, however it is something that I personally would advise to avoid if you are not sure of the procedure or not confident in carrying it out as the law is very complex. If you do make a citizen’s arrest then make sure you are within your rights and that it is both legal and safe to do so. If you are unsure then seek advice, ask at your local police station for confirmation. The following is my interpretation of the law and is only basic guidance. In layman’s terms, you can make a citizen’s arrest if a person/s is/are committing an actual crime or to assist a police officer or if you come across a known fugitive who is at large. These are dependent on the situation you are faced with, so ask yourself three questions. Have the public been warned not to approach the suspected or known fugitive because of the danger involved? If you intervene, are you putting your life or anyone else’s life at risk? If you don’t intervene, is someone in grave danger of getting seriously hurt or worse? Taking all the above into consideration it might be a better idea to discreetly contact the police and take instruction from them as events unfold. However, only you can make that decision because you are the person who is on the ground and has eyes-on.
Contact the police or Home Office for advice on any type of terrorist attack or if you’re in another country contact their police and your embassy. You can look for basic information and the appropriate agencies to contact on the Internet. Any type of terrorist attack can take place in any country at any time, which means it can just as easily happen while you are at home in your own country. It doesn’t necessarily mean an attack will be a suicide bomber, a shooting or kidnapping, etc. Random attacks on unsuspecting individuals by radicalised extremists or completely insane and irrational individuals, can take place at anytime, anywhere, using any type of weapon, i.e. guns, grenades, knives, machetes, cars, acid and anything that will cause loss of life, mayhem, fear and destruction. The terrorist’s aim is simple to divide and instil total fear into our very being. But as long as we all stand together, condemn their actions, stand up for common decency and each other, they will never win. At all times, be observant, vigilant and aware of your surroundings, i.e. stay switched on, question everything you believe is out of place and anybody acting suspiciously, report to the police.
Always be prepared for an intruder breaking in, whilst you are at home or at work. If you are at home and you are the last person to go to bed, before you retire for the evening, make sure all external doors and windows are locked and secured and all the curtains and blinds are drawn too. If your windows are fitted with locking keys, make sure the keys to each window are in a safe and secure location, easily accessible, near each window and everyone within the household knows their whereabouts. However if your windows are secured by other means, e.g. latches, then make sure they are secured properly. Never nail shut any of your windows or any entry or exit points.
Close but don’t lock all internal doors; this is to alert you in the event of an intruder opening one. However if you have an office or a study at home where you keep all your important documents, computer and valuables, etc. make sure this room is locked. Ensure you have access to a full and comprehensive first aid kit and everyone in the household knows where it is, and how to use it. In your bedroom, it’s always a good idea to have an emergency box containing a whistle, a fire blanket, a torch and spare batteries, a fire extinguisher and either a rope ladder or a decent length of climbing rope with knots in every metre or so, which can be used in extreme circumstances as an alternative means of exit.
If you can afford to, purchase several cheap two-way radios and have one in each of your children’s rooms and one in your room. Ensure they are all synchronised. Also an emergency hammer for breaking glass is always a good option. Make sure that you have access to either a landline or mobile phone that it is fully charged. When you go to bed ensure that you have your wallet with credit cards and money in, car and spare house keys with you. In your children’s rooms it would be a good idea to also have an emergency box containing the relevant emergency kit and ensure that your children know how to use all of the equipment and know what to do in the event of an emergency. For younger children practice how to get out of the house in an emergency and use it as a game so they enjoy it and learn at the same time. If you ever suspect that an intruder is trying or has broken in to your house or you are woken up by an unfamiliar sound coming from downstairs, quickly call the police inform them what is happening. Tell them who and where you are, what the problem is, i.e. someone is or has broken in and are downstairs looking for valuables. Tell them what you are doing about it, e.g. my wife, daughter, new-born baby and I are upstairs in the master bedroom with the door locked. But remember to do this in a calm, clear and concise manner and most importantly adhere to their advice. Also make sure you inform them if you or anyone else has any disabilities, or if you are a pensioner or a female living on your own. Keep the police online so they can listen in to what’s happening and as quietly as you can, get all of your children and everyone else into a suitable safe room, but make sure it can be locked and be as silent as you can until help arrives. Be extremely cautious when shouting for help when you believe it is the police or similar, just in case it isn’t. Remember it could be a ploy/trap set by the intruder/s. Contact anyone else that you think can help and advise you. Remember to inform the police on their arrival, this is so they can be identified by the police when they turn up.
If you are vulnerable and live alone (elderly or disabled) and you are in your bedroom and you believe someone is trying to or has broken in, quickly lock yourself in by either locking the door or wedging it shut. At the same time contact the police, but don’t under any circumstances go out and confront your intruder. Don’t turn any lights on. Any electrical equipment that is switched on, e.g. your TV or radio, leave it switched on. This is to prevent bringing any unwanted attention to yourself or alerting the intruder/s where you are within the your house. If possible and without bringing attention to yourself and as long as it is safe to do so, try and get out of the house, but be as silent as you can. If confronted with the intruder, do as they ask, don’t be a hero; just remember help is on its way. Don’t let them know if there is anyone else in the house with you. If you are a female and on your own, don’t let the intruder/s know, make out that someone else is there with you or are on their way. If you are in fear of being assaulted or similar, play for time, appeal to their sense of humanity, cry and beg them not to hurt you. Make out that you are pregnant or have a serious health condition. If an opportunity to make good your escape presents itself, take it, but make sure that it’s safe and literally fool proof. If you feel you are going to be, or are being attacked, remember to only use justifiable force, proportionate to the situation that you face.
The above emergency situations and advice are purely a guide and its sole intention is to prompt you to get the appropriate, current safety and security advice from the police, a similar governmental agency or a licensed private company that facilitates all of your needs. You can even request a home visit from your local crime prevention officer, but make sure you ask them everything that you are unsure of or need advice on. Also, if you are unsure about your rights or what to do if you are involved in, or are a witness to, an incident, ask the police. You can either type in the word ‘police’ in the search box on your computer. If you do not have access to a computer, either get someone to do it for you or go to the nearest library. You can also visit your local police station.
Contacting the fire brigade
In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the fire brigade and when they arrive at the scene, inform them exactly what has happened. For non-emergencies dial 101.
Fire preventative measures
Ensure all household keys are placed into a fire proof secure key box, preferably situated in the hallway near the front exit or door and at a suitable height, so it’s accessible to all residents including children and visitors. Make sure all upstairs landings, stairways, hallways and all exits are clear, accessible and not cluttered or blocked, e.g. with children’s bikes, step ladders, boxes, furniture, etc. If you are a smoker, don’t smoke inside your house; have a designated smoking area outside. Make sure all of your electrical appliances are safe, serviceable and not overloaded and switch off when not in use. If they are next to any type of fluids, e.g. fish tank, vase, drinks cabinet, etc. ensure they are either water-proof or have sufficient water-proofing. Have at least two emergency exits and make sure everyone knows where they are. Have a designated emergency rally point where everyone will go to and be accounted for in an emergency and practice all evacuation drills. On a regular basis teach your children all fire prevention techniques, i.e. what the equipment is used for, when to and when not to use it, how to prevent a fire, what to do in the event of a fire and where to go (rally point). Turn it into a game.
Install several smoke alarms; the more the better but at least place one in the hallway, one in the kitchen and one upstairs on the landing. Make sure you carry out a weekly maintenance check for the alarms’ serviceability by simply pressing the small testing button on the alarm. If you have any form of gas heating or appliances then install at least two carbon monoxide detectors and again, make sure you carry out a weekly maintenance check for their serviceability. Install at least two working fire extinguishers and two fire blankets, which facilitate the building and its contents’ fire prevention specifications, one of each in the kitchen and the other two upstairs. Make sure your washing and drying machines are well maintained, serviceable and switched off when not in use. Don’t leave tumble dryers on throughout the night or when you leave the house. Don’t leave any electrical extension cables or similar, that aren’t in use just lying around. This prevents anyone from tripping over and injuring themselves.
On a regular basis clean all of your electrical plugs and sockets, i.e. dust off the cobwebs as cobwebs can trip your electrical fuse box. If you have candles or fragrance sticks in your house make sure they are placed in a safe place and housed (put in) a fully enclosed lantern type holder. Also make sure that your children never light them. Never leave them unattended when lit and ensure they are always extinguished before you go out or go to bed. Never leave lighters or matches just lying around; always secure them in a safe place away from children. Never store or bring petrol or any other inflammable liquid into your house. If you have an open fire or similar, make sure that it’s safe and secure when lit and fitted with a fire or spark guard. If you have a garden and on occasion you burn old documents etc. make sure it‘s a fire-regulated burn bin and you have permission to do so. If you do not have a burn bin you can, as long as it is safe to do so, build a small bonfire but make sure you have the appropriate safety measures in place, e.g. hose pipe (that is turned on), bucket of water, a fire extinguisher, a fire blanket, etc. Monitor the fire and don’t leave it unattended until it has burnt out. Also make sure you are not covered in antiperspirant, deodorant or similar. It is highly flammable and can burn you in seconds.
Always be prepared for a fire whilst you are at home or at work. If you are at home or place of work and you are the last person to leave before you retire for the evening make sure all the external doors and windows are locked and secured and all the curtains and blinds are drawn and turn off any unnecessary electrical appliances too. If your windows are fitted with locking keys, make sure the keys to each window are in a safe and secure location, easily accessible, near each window and everyone within the household knows their whereabouts. However if your windows are secured by other means, e.g. latches, then make sure that they are secured properly. Remember never nail shut any of your windows or any entry or exit points!
If any of your electrical appliances are faulty or repeatedly trip the main fuse box, either employ the services of a reputable electrical repair engineer to check for any faults or have them disposed of in the correct manner and in accordance with the (WEEE directive) Waste, Electrical & Electronic Equipment. If they are still within their warranty / guarantee, return them to the supplier. Make sure all keys are placed back into the household key box after use and ensure you have access to a full and comprehensive first aid kit and everyone in the household knows where it is and how to use it. In yours and other bedrooms it’s always a good idea to have an emergency box containing a whistle, fire blanket, a torch and spare batteries, a fire extinguisher and either a rope ladder or a decent length of climbing rope with knots in every metre or so, which can be used in extreme circumstances as an alternative means of escape. Also a couple of emergency working men’s dust masks and if you can afford to, buy several cheap two-way radios and have one in each of your children’s rooms and one in your room, ensure they are all synchronised. Also an emergency hammer for breaking glass is always a good option. When you go to bed make sure you have access to either a landline or mobile phone, ensure its fully charged. Also take with you your wallet (with credit cards and money in), your car and spare house keys.
If you can, make sure you have access to a full set of ladders, i.e. ensure they are easily accessible but out of sight to any opportunist burglar. If you ever suspect there’s a fire or you hear a fire alarm or are woken up by what you believe to be smoke or a fire roaring immediately raise the alarm and get everyone in the house/property out. Don’t hesitate and leave all valuables behind, they can be replaced you can’t! Phone the emergency services and make sure everyone is accounted for. If you can’t get everyone out due to being unable to gain entry into an occupied room, i.e. with either a family member or visitor in, inform the person/s by shouting and banging on the door, additionally you can contact them if they have one of their two way radios or mobile phones turned on. Instruct them to try and open the door, if they can’t tell them to open a widow and lie face down near a wall and cover their mouth and eyes. Reassure them that help is on the way. At the same time see if anyone can gain access to the room by the exterior window using the ladders. If you suspect that a room is on fire and the door is closed and hot to touch, don’t open it, leave it to the fire brigade.
If you are vulnerable and live alone (elderly or disabled) and you are in your bedroom and you suspect there’s a fire, or you hear a fire alarm or are woken up by what you believe to be smoke or a fire roaring and you are unable to get yourself out of the house, quickly phone the emergency services. If you can, close your bedroom door and open a window and try and raise someone’s attention, but don’t panic, help is on its way. If you are in a smoke filled room, lie face down, cover your mouth and try and make your way to the window or door, but if you can’t, try and get to the edge of the room near water pipes or a radiator and tap on them to raise the alarm that someone is in there. Only attempt to put the fire out, if it is safe to do so and you have the right equipment. If you do have emergency boxes in each room always check them for serviceability and practice your evacuation techniques. This information is purely a guide and its sole intention is to prompt you to get the appropriate, current fire prevention advice. You can even request a home visit from your local fire prevention officer, but make sure you ask them everything you are unsure off or need advice on. You can either type in the words fire brigade in the search box on your computer. If you do not have access to a computer, either get someone to do it for you or go to the nearest library. You can also visit your local fire brigade station.
Contacting the ambulance service
In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the ambulance service. When the ambulance arrives at the scene, inform them of what has happened. For non-emergencies call 101. To prevent having to call out the ambulance service keep all cleaning products, flammable liquids, hazardous chemicals, paint stripper, weed killer, sharp dangerous items, locked away in a secure metal locker or shed and out of the reach of young children or vulnerable people. Make sure that all medications are locked away in a secure cabinet or similar and out of the reach of young children or vulnerable people. If anyone in your household has a pre-existing medical condition, make sure that everyone who resides there or visits on a regular basis is aware of it and knows where their medication is and how to administer it.
If someone within the household has a serious accident or a problem with a pre-existing condition or has become seriously ill, contact the emergency services straight away. If you are aware that the casualty has a history of ill health, inform the emergency services operator and the attending medic. Keep the injured party calm and reassure them that everything is going to be fine, and keep talking to them. If you are first on the scene of an accident and there are casualties make sure that there is no existing danger to you or the casualty and administer first aid but remember to prioritise (Triage – order of importance) the casualties. It is highly recommended that you attend an accredited course and gain the appropriate qualification before ever carrying out any type of first aid. Also at the time of the incident don’t be afraid to ask the emergency services operator for advice.
Basic first aid
Ensure that there is no further danger to you or the casualty then check the casualty for any current medical conditions which might be engraved on a necklace, bracelet or medical information card. At the same time check for a response, AVPU – alert, voice, pain and unresponsive. Check the casualty’s airway to see if it’s clear (Look, Listen, Feel) and then check that they are breathing and whether or not they have a pulse, the ABC of First Aid! If the casualty is choking then remove any foreign objects trapped in the airway by using your finger. If there is bleeding then apply pressure and maintain that pressure if the bleeding is severe. Check for other injuries or obvious breaks and if the casualty is conscious ask them where it hurts? If the casualty is burnt clean the wound with water and apply the appropriate burns dressing. Be aware of any unseen internal injuries and if there is a neck or back injury do not move the casualty unless their lives depend on it. Remember shock alone can be a killer so reassure the casualty that everything will be fine and certainly don’t over exaggerate the injuries even if they are severe. For casualties that are not breathing and have no pulse seek the correct action to take from a qualified medical professional if you don’t know what to do. Once your casualty has been given the appropriate first aid, place them in a suitable recovery position and monitor their condition keeping them warm. If there is more than one casualty then you will have to prioritise (Triage) in order of the severity of each casualty’s injuries, i.e. treat the worst or most life-threatening injuries first. At the time of the incident don’t be afraid to ask the emergency services operator for advice. If your child is choking look inside their mouth to see if you can see the blockage and if so remove it carefully with your finger. If there is no blockage but your child is still choking then strike your child on the back between the shoulder blades several times to see if you can dislodge the blockage – the same for adults. For very small infants or babies look in their mouth for any blockages and remove with your little finger. If there is no blockage but the infant is still choking then place the infant over your knee and pat them on the back between the shoulder blades to try and dislodge any blockage. The above is purely a guide and is by no means a set way of administering first aid. Its sole intention is to prompt you to get the appropriate first aid training and qualification. It is highly recommended that you attend an accredited course before ever carrying out any type of first aid. Accredited courses can be found on the internet but if you do not have access to a computer either get someone to do it for you or go to the nearest library.
Household emergencies & emergency grab box/bag
This is purely optional; however it is less stressful when you are fully prepared for most emergency situations by having an emergency grab box/bag at hand. Ensure it is always stored above head height in case of flooding. Remember the six Ps: planning and preparation prevents a pitifully poor performance. Maintain a fully comprehensive household first aid kit with any medication that your family or household members require. Toilet paper, family-size baby wipes and any toiletries that your family require including a shovel and small plastic bags and bin liners, just in case your toilet becomes unusable and you have to dispose of your human waste by alternative means. Two fully charged mobile phones, with at least one spare fully charged battery per phone. Make sure that you waterproof them; a simple plastic bag is suffice. If budget permitting have two fully charged two way radios or other communication equipment at hand. If you can get one, an old type landline dial phone, that doesn’t need to be powered by electricity. A waterproof notebook, pen and pencil. A list of emergency contacts saved to your mobile phone and also written down in your notebook. Plenty of warm blankets and clothing, including several sleeping bags, coats, waterproofs and several umbrellas. Several waterproofed torches, including at least one head torch with plenty of spare batteries. An emergency waterproofed strobe light with spare batteries, several survival whistles, plenty of waterproofed matches and at least two survival can openers.
Several high visibility vests and about 30 metres of climbing rope and plentiful supply of candles, holders (lantern type). Plenty of in-date tinned food, bottled water and plenty of provisions for your pets. A gas camping stove with several spare gas canisters and a portable room gas heater with a spare gas bottle is always a good option. A small universal DIY tool kit, including duct-tape and a camping sewing kit. A battery operated radio with plenty of spare batteries or a wind up emergency radio. A pack of playing cards and games for children. If you have any sort of solid fuel fire for cooking, make sure that you have a plentiful supply of wood and coal.
Pre-packed and ready to go several grab-bags/boxes containing all the necessary evacuation equipment and emergency kit, including important documentation, your household and car keys, money and credit cards. These should be periodically updated. If you live near water and there’s even a slight chance of flooding, it might be a good idea to purchase some specialised equipment, i.e. sandbags, at least two shovels, enough waterproofs, wellington boots and life jackets for everyone who lives in your property, at least 30 metres of good quality climbing rope, a small extendable household ladder and a decent full length ladder. Additionally and purely dependent on your budget an inflatable dinghy and paddles a good set of binoculars, mini-flares, a Leatherman or similar survival tool and anything else that you can think of which will assist you in the event of a flood and severe storms. This specialised equipment has many uses, e.g. transporting your family members to dry ground and safety, resupplying food and water to residents that have decided to tough it out and stay in their homes and for rescuing individuals who have got into difficulties. The above kit list looks expensive and seems endless, but it is purely a guide and its sole intention is to prompt you into putting your own sufficient emergency kit list together which will accommodate all your requirements and save you and your family’s lives in an emergency. You can accumulate most of your emergency equipment and kit over a period of time, e.g. from second hand shops, car boot sales and instead of disposing of old clothes. Think before throwing away your old tools because they may be handy for your grab bag. Tin food can be kept and simply use it when the dates near expiry, but replace it as you do. For ease of access all of your equipment can be stored either in your attic, garage, an outbuilding or similar.
Household emergencies & important information
Dependent on the severity of a household emergency always remember to adhere to the advice of your local authorities, environment agency, the government, national and local weather reports. The bottom line is if you are instructed to evacuate, then do so. Always be prepared for any type of emergency and learn first aid. Make sure that you have an up-to-date, fully comprehensive first aid kit with any medication that your family or household members require. Ensure that everyone knows where it is and how to use it. Find out where your main power and water supply is located, i.e. electric, gas and water stopcock; know how to turn them off. Make sure you have your mobile phone and waterproofed notebook containing all your emergency contacts with you at all times. If it is a life-threatening or dangerous situation, call the emergency services on 999 and for non-emergencies call 101. If there are any casualties, administer first aid but only if it is safe to do so.
Make sure you have at least two emergency exits and everyone must know where they are. Ensure that you have a designated emergency rally point where everyone will go to and be accounted for in an emergency; practice all evacuation drills. If you and your family are housebound for the foreseeable future and to make matters worse, there is no water supply therefore deeming your toilet unusable, it is a good idea if you can make a temporary latrine in your back garden and bury your human waste in a deep hole. But dispose of the toilet paper and any wet wipes in an appropriate plastic bag. However, if your house or property is flooded, then bag everything including the waste, then store it in a suitable designated area away from your family and property until it can be appropriately removed by you, or your local council. Think hygiene.
Make sure that your emergency grab bag containing all the necessary evacuation equipment and kit is packed and ready to go. Any important documents and valuables should be secured or in a fire-and-waterproof container, just in case you have to evacuate, or if you can, and as long as it safe to do so, take them with you. If anyone within your household needs any specialised equipment or care because of a disability, old age or similar, make sure that you can facilitate all of their needs. Check that your neighbours are OK, especially the elderly, vulnerable and the disabled or anyone who might need a helping hand. If anyone within your household has an existing medical condition and they cannot obtain their medication, be sure to make the appropriate arrangements, i.e. inform their doctor or medical officer, so they can authorise the dispensing of duplicate medication/s. When you are administering first aid, don’t move any casualties if you are unsure of the seriousness of their injuries and the damage that it will incur if you move them, unless it’s a life-or-death situation and you have no other option. Don’t think the unthinkable will never happen to you!
If it’s winter or poor weather conditions then quickly close all windows and doors, including the internal ones; this is to keep in the heat and inform your electricity provider to seek their advice. If it is a life-threatening or dangerous situation, call the emergency services on 999 and if there are any casualties administer first aid, but only if it is safe to do so. If at the time of the power cut you were cooking, ironing, or using machinery, etc. make sure you turn them all off including the main power supply, which should be situated in the fuse box. Keep your fridge and freezer closed and only open the doors when you need something. If it’s a short-term power cut, try and stay warm and dry, but prepare yourself for the worst case scenario, i.e. a long-term power cut. If it is a long-term power cut and there are several of you, prepare the warmest room in the house as a communal room and keep it warm, and everyone busy. Nominate someone to be in charge who is confident, knowledgeable and diplomatic, who can keep everyone’s morale up. If you have anyone or any animals that are dependent on warmth, ensure that they are a priority and make the appropriate provisions. If you are on your own keep warm and have candles or torches available in a small grab bag with other goodies such as sweets and drinks for such emergencies.
Severe storms & flooding
Continually listen to the weather reports and take their advice. If it is a life-threatening or a dangerous situation, call the emergency services on 999. If there are any casualties, administer first aid but only if it is safe to do so. Adhere to the advice of the emergency services, your local authorities and the government. The bottom line is if you are instructed to evacuate, then do so. Make sure that you have adequate flooding defences in place if this has happened before and place everything electrical upstairs or at the highest point (attic if your able).
If you are told to evacuate before the storm or flood waters arrive, gather what you need and evacuate everyone and your neighbours, especially the elderly, vulnerable and disabled or anyone who needs a helping hand – and don’t forget your pets and grab bag. If you have time, turn off the electricity, gas and water supply at the mains. Be sure to wear warm clothing, waterproofs, a high visibility vest and if required a life jacket. Only take with you the provisions, personal valuables and belongings that are essential. However if you have no time, then just leave them and evacuate. Think Safety.
Make sure that you evacuate everyone to a safe location on high ground, well away from the flooded area. Your local authorities will probably have already designated a suitable location. Make provisions for everyone to be sheltered, watered and fed. No one stays or goes back into the building or the immediate area. If you have no choice but to stay in your property and it’s completely safe to do so, make sure you have all the appropriate provisions and emergency supplies that you require, e.g. food, water, plenty of warm clothing, candles, torches and a batteries, radio, etc. Keep a constant check on the weather reports. Select the safest, warmest and driest room in the house, make it as comfortable as you possibly can and stay warm. If there is more than one of you, keep each other warm and busy. Nominate someone to be in charge who is capable of taking control of the situation and keeps everyone’s morale up. If you have anyone or any animals that are dependent on warmth then make the appropriate provisions. Only go back into the building when it’s has been deemed safe to do so by the emergency services or your local authorities.
Gas leak or earth tremor
If you have a severe gas leak extinguish all naked flames and quickly turn off the electricity and gas supply at the mains. The incident could have been caused by a ruptured gas pipe or earth tremor. Open all windows and if it’s safe to do so open the external doors.
Under no circumstances do you turn on an electrical light or any electrical appliances.
Quickly gather what you need and evacuate everyone and your neighbours (if your able) especially the elderly, vulnerable and disabled or anyone who needs a helping hand – and don’t forget your pets. Dress according to the weather conditions. Only take with you the provisions and personal valuables and belongings that are essential – your grab bag. However if you have no time, then just leave them and evacuate. Call the emergency services and the gas board but don’t use your house phone; go outside and from a safe distance use your mobile. If there are any casualties, administer first aid but only if it is safe to do so. Adhere to the advice of the emergency services, your local authorities and the government. The bottom line is if you are instructed to evacuate, then do so. Make sure that you evacuate everyone to a safe location, well away from the danger area. Your local authorities will probably have already designated a suitable location. Make provisions for everyone to be sheltered, watered and fed. No one stays or goes back into the building or the immediate area until it has been deemed safe to do so by the emergency services or your local authorities. The above is purely a guide and its sole intention is to prompt you to get the appropriate household emergencies advice. You can request a visit from your local fire brigade, but make sure that you ask them everything that you are unsure off or need advice on.
You can also type in the words fire brigade in the search box on your computer and search for examples of household emergencies, e.g. gas leak, power-cut, explosion or flooding etc. If you do not have access to a computer, either get someone to do it for you or go to the nearest library.
This chapter covers: Mobile phones SD (speed dial) & ETM (emergency text message) / mobile phone management / concealment of valuables / decoy attacks & distraction techniques / useful information when out & about / pedestrians, cyclist & motor cyclist safety & security / visiting an unfamiliar area / work place personal security / work place employees security policy & procedures.
Never adopt the attitude that it won’t happen to you. Always be prepared & Think Safe.
Mobile phones SD (speed dial) & ETM (emergency text message)
I would recommend that your mobile phone is set up for SD and ETM. This is because in the event of an emergency you can contact the appropriate person or services by a phone call or a text message faster and without delay. You can also be located a lot quicker by the emergency services. Some mobile phones when locked (password protected) have a pre-set SD option for the emergency services. Recommended SD and ETM numbers are: the emergency services, i.e. police, fire brigade, ambulance service, vehicle breakdown service, at least two registered and reliable taxi numbers, personal security adviser, close family members, close friends, mum, dad etc.
To set up your mobile phone to SD (speed dial) setting, refer to your phone’s instruction manual and follow the instructions to set up speed dial. If you haven’t got your manual you can ask a family member or friend to assist you or just take your phone into a creditable mobile phone shop and ask for their assistance.
ETM is a pre-programmed emergency text message that you can prepare prior to going out. Most mobile phones should allow you to pre-programme an ETM, so refer to your mobile phone’s instructions manual.
You need to know how and when to use an ETM. If you believe that you are in danger or you are in a life-threatening situation, you can send an ETM to one of your reliable contacts, e.g. a family member, a work colleague or close friend who is aware of the importance of the text message and would know what to do upon receipt of one. Also, most modern mobile phones have a GPS which means that your last known position can be located a lot quicker by the emergency services. An ETM example – Jon, emergency, assistance required, call the police and give them my last known location.
Mobile phone management
When you purchase a mobile phone make sure it is the right one for you and facilitates all your requirement; so shop around until you find the right one and remember, if it’s under contract read the small print first. Ensure that your phone is adequately insured and always keep it fully charged. If you are carrying your phone on your person, ensure it’s in a secure pocket and when you are at home or at work, make sure it’s in a secure place – never have your phone on display when you are out and about. Get out of the habit of using your phone whilst you are walking; make sure that you are stationary and in a safe and secure location, e.g. with a wall, shop window or similar behind you.
Always be observant and aware of your surroundings when you are using your phone, i.e. stay sharp and switched on in case of someone grabbing your phone from you. Remember when you are out and about using your mobile phone can distract you and in some circumstances can be quite dangerous. When your children are using their mobile phone, teach them to be observant and aware of their surroundings at all times. Don’t leave your phone charging in your car unless you or someone else is in the car and never leave it or any valuables on display. Only use your phone in the car when you have hands-free and only if it’s safe to do so. Never use your mobile when driving if you don’t have hands free.
If you keep your phone in a handbag, make sure that it’s closed and within hands’ reach. My advice would be to keep it on your person. When you are around water, i.e. in the bathroom or your kitchen, place it on a shelf, well away from the sink, bath, shower or toilet. Keep it dry. If you are out and about and it is raining, make sure your phone is in either a dry pocket or bag and won’t get wet unless its water resistant. Keep it away from hot surfaces, e.g. radiators, ovens, open fires and sunlight, etc. On a daily basis or when you think it’s necessary, change your password and delete all text messages, voice mails, e-mails, and any others from your mobile phone. If you follow these basic guidelines and anyone does manage to steal your phone, they cannot profile you or your friends and intercept your life. Also, it is strongly advised that you save all your contacts to a spare sim card and then upload them to your computer. Get into the habit of doing this on a regular basis and stay safe.
Concealment of valuables
When you’re out and about, don’t become a target by having anything on show that may be seen as valuable to either a career criminal or an opportunist thief such as: An open Handbag / Man-Bag, Purse / Wallet / Laptop / Attaché Case, Mobile Phone, Watch, Jewellery. This list is endless so use your common sense. If you are driving, walking or using public transport, make sure that you conceal all your valuables, especially if you are venturing into an unknown area. A good idea would be to conceal all jewellery until you arrive at your destination and make sure that your Handbag/Man-Bag is closed and that it is out of view or over your head and shoulder. Be sure to maintain a tight grip on your Handbag/Man-Bag, Attaché Case, etc. Don’t carry it with your dominant hand, this should be kept free should you have to fend off an attacker. Carry with you a rolled-up newspaper or small umbrella and use it as an extension to your dominant hand should you have to fend off an attacker; its use is purely for self-defence, e.g. blocking any and all types of attack. If you are using public transport try and sit in a populated part of the train or bus and preferably near the front and don’t isolate yourself. If you have to work on your Laptop or similar, have your coat nearby so you can conceal it, but be careful not to draw attention to yourself. Do not use it under any circumstances if you are at all suspicious of anyone or the area that you are in. If you are being driven somewhere, e.g. being chauffeured or using a taxi, adopt the same principles as above and be sure to conceal all your valuables. Place them in the boot and lock all the doors.
Decoy attacks & distraction techniques
Decoy attacks and distraction techniques are designed to distract you whilst you are going about your daily business and unaware of anything untoward being planned against you, in order that you can be mugged or worse. The assailants can strike at anytime, anywhere and can operate from anything from 2 to 6 man teams upwards. Some examples of such attacks and distraction techniques are: A complete stranger asking for help, saying they’ve been mugged or attacked (crying wolf) trying to persuade you to go with them; think, could it be a trap? A complete stranger asking for your help, saying they’ve lost their child; think, could it be a trap? Someone asking for the time, but is really checking out your watch and any other valuables that are on show to see if you are worth mugging. Someone asking for the loose change, but is really checking out your wallet / purse or any other valuables that are on show to see if you are worth mugging. When you are in a crowd, someone pushing past you; are they deliberately bumping into you. Think, could it be a pickpocket? Whilst you are driving be aware of the following: A fake accident, a fake fight, someone pretending to have run out of petrol, someone lying in the road pretending to be injured, it could even be a child. If you do suspect that something is wrong don’t stop. Drive to a safe location and report the incident to the police, but bear in mind that any of the above could be genuine.
To help combat being the victim of a distraction scam, follow these guidelines: Ask yourself is there anything wrong with this picture? Listen to your gut instinct and be aware of someone trying to distract you or waiting for you to be distracted. If you are out and about shopping and a complete stranger (even a child) is trying to lure you somewhere, think, could it be a trap? Don’t go. If you are driving and someone tries to flag you down, think, could it be a trap? Don’t stop and report any suspicious incidents to the police. Remember, this does not mean that you have to be sceptical about every situation, but just be aware and observant at all times, stay switched on, think safe.
Useful information when out & about
When you are generally just out and about, e.g. posting a letter, shopping, visiting a friend, taking your pet for a walk or socialising, be fully prepared for anything untoward happening and make sure that you are firstly able to identify any potential threat and secondly have the confidence and the knowledge to deal with it. At all times be observant, vigilant and aware of your surroundings and take up self-defence training, purely for peace of mind if you are able. Always plan your route and select well-populated (busy) areas that have sufficient lighting and keep out of known No Go Areas, e.g. known for criminal activity and violence. Select the safest and not necessarily the quickest route and don’t pattern set, e.g. use the same route repeatedly. Alternate your routes and always tell someone where you are going and the route you are taking and what time you are due back. If possible take someone with you, e.g. adopt the buddy system. If you have a medical condition, make sure that you wear an identify bracelet or similar and you have enough medications on you for your journey. No matter how late or tempted you are, don’t take a short cut in an isolated or an unfamiliar area and don’t go into unknown areas or venues unless you have carried out thorough area and venue research. Take just enough money that you require, a valid credit card and at least one expired credit card with you. Make sure that you have enough change for public transport, public phone box and parking. Don’t put it all in one place, disperse it around your person, e.g. purse, wallet, inside jacket pocket, money belt and your socks, etc. Don’t put your valid credit card in your purse or wallet but conceal it in a separate pocket on your person. However put your expired credit card or cards in your purse/bag or wallet, this is just in case you are the victim of an assault or handbag snatch or they demand your purse or wallet and your valuables. You can hand over your credit cards in the knowledge that they have expired. Plus your perpetrators are less likely to hurt you if you re compliant and don’t put up a fight. If you want to listen to music make sure that it’s in a public place. Ensure that it’s not too loud and only have one earpiece in so you can still be alerted if anything untoward is happening and you can hear approaching traffic. As long as it is safe to do so, walk towards oncoming traffic to prevent any vehicles or possible attackers from creeping up on you. Don’t tell complete strangers or people that you hardly know, e.g. taxi drivers, shopkeepers and postmen or women, etc., anything about yourself, keep your business to yourself. Under no circumstances go with or get a lift home with a stranger.
Don’t get into a confrontation with a stranger or anyone else for that matter; always try and be diplomatic and learn to walk or run away, but make sure that you keep an eye on the potential assailant as you’re doing this. Carry with you a rolled-up newspaper or small umbrella and use it as an extension to your dominant hand, just in case you need to fend off an attacker. Its use is purely for self-defence, e.g. to block any and all types of attack. Purchase a personal panic, attack or rape security alarm of a police preferred specification and police approved. Always be aware of being set up for an attack remembering the decoy and distraction techniques that criminals use. If you feel that you are being set up for an attack or similar (targeted) quickly make your way to a well-populated area and ask for assistance, at the same time use your SD or ETM method to inform someone reliable so they can meet you. If you feel it’s a matter of great urgency then immediately report it to the police. But don’t ignore it! In the event of being attacked or you perceive that you might be, remember that you have the right to defend yourself. However only use proportionate, justifiable minimum force to the situation that you are faced with. It is advised to carry a spare sim card or small note book with all your emergency contact numbers in case you lose or damage your phone.
After a short period of time you’ll get used to having your own check list of things that you need to be aware of and the necessary kit that you believe you should take with you when you are out and about, it’ll make your outings safer and more enjoyable. It’ll also give you piece of mind knowing that you are fully prepared for most eventualities. Have on your possession a reliable personal alarm or whistle and a small torch. A good anti attack technique is to cross the road if you think something or someone looks threatening. If the person/s also cross over then run in the opposite direction and seek help. Think Safe.
Pedestrians, cyclists & motorcyclist safety & security
If you are a cyclist or motorcyclist make sure that you are both confident and competent and have had sufficient training for your particular mode of transport. Ensure that you wear all the appropriate safety clothing and equipment, i.e. protective helmet, protective gloves, protective footwear, protective clothing, fluorescent protected jacket, fluorescent vest and reflective badges. Ensure that your mode of transport is safe, roadworthy and you are in possession of a valid authorised MOT certificate – if required. Ensure your mode of transport has a valid insurance certificate to be on the road and has the correct and valid road tax for that mode of transport. Don’t just think of yourself, think of others too. Ensure that the motorbike is serviceable and do check your brakes, lights, and lubricants daily. Remember to report any alterations you make to your motorbike to your insurers to avoid making your insurance void and have all faults repaired before using your mode of transport on the road. Make sure you are a member of a reliable and reputable vehicle recovery service and that you have their telephone numbers saved on your mobile phone. It’s also a good idea to have them written down in your notebook in case you lose or damage your phone. If your journey is long or over a period of days, ensure that you have sufficient food, water and plenty of warm clothing with you and somewhere safe to stay. If you are a pedestrian and you do a lot of walking, e.g. walk to work or similar, wear a fluorescent jacket or vest and several reflective badges. Ensure your motor bike is always locked and secured when not in use. Pedal cyclists should ensure that their bicycle is road worthy at all times and insured in case of theft or damage and always wear a cycle helmet. Do not cycle on pedestrian footpaths unless directed otherwise or there is a designated cycle lane available. Ensure that you have the correct lights on your bike especially during dark hours or poor visibility due to bad weather. Always lock your bicycle with an adequate secure lock if it has to be left unattended however if you can keep it secure in a shed or garage better still.
Visiting an unfamiliar area
If you are travelling to an unfamiliar area, it is highly recommended that you carry out an appropriate threat assessment and research into the safety of that area, e.g. criminal activity, violence and terrorism etc. You may be visiting a friend or attending a job interview or moving house. It could be your picking someone up or meeting someone, buying a vehicle or you are lost. If you do find that you have to visit an unfamiliar area then type in ‘police crime area’ on your Internet browser and then click on maps. Enter the post code of where you are going to in the search box provided. You should get instant access to crime maps and data as well as details of the local policing team. It should inform you about crime and policing in the area that you are visiting. If you do not have access to a computer, either get someone to do it for you or go to the nearest library. You can even visit your local police station or the one in the area you are visiting and ask for the information in person. You can also ask at the area/location that you’re visiting such as the local public transport and taxi companies, hospitals talk to the ambulance crew, hotels talk to the bar staff, estate agents etc. If the journey is going to be on a regular basis, then carry out a reconnaissance of the route and complete at least two to three dry runs. Regardless of whether you are using public transport, walking or using your own vehicle, always select a secure route. If you are using your own transport, find a secure place to park, which has sufficient lighting, well-populated (busy) and preferably, recommended.
Work place personal security
It’s just as important to adopt the same safety and security measures whilst you are at work as it is in your personal life, e.g. a safe and secure route to and from work, making sure that all the appropriate security measures are in place whilst you are at work, concealment of valuables and knowledge of where all the emergency exits are located, etc. Remember at all times to be observant, vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Ensure that all the appropriate health and safety measures, work instructions, safe systems of work and policies and procedures are in place and if you’re a smoker don’t smoke inside your work place. Make sure there is an outside designated smoking area. Know the location of your work place emergency fire exits and the nearest fire-fighting equipment. Make sure that you acquaint yourself with the best way to get there and the use of basic fire-fighting equipment that you may have to use to exit your place of work. Make sure there is a designated emergency rally point and you know where it is. This is where everyone will go to and be accounted for in the event of an emergency. If you drive to work select a safe and well-populated route and try not to pattern set; alternate your routes. Offer a colleague a lift so you are not on your own and alternate the vehicles. Park your vehicle in a well-populated public or works car park that is not isolated and has sufficient lighting, preferably in a location near the entrance of your work place. If you use public transport adopt the same security and safety principles as above. If your office is situated at your home address try and make sure that it’s not situated on the ground floor; this is to stop a burglar or an assailant from having easy access. Arrange your office furniture strategically around your office so it will assist you in case of a burglar or an assailant trying to gain entry. Basically use the office furniture to fortify the office until help arrives, e.g. placing a heavy cabinet near your office door, so if need be, you can slide it in front of the door to secure it further. If you work alone, especially if you are a female, always be discreet with regard to who knows and never tell strangers. Also let someone know where you are and what time you will be finishing. Your employers should have some form of lone working policy in place that is aimed at helping those people working on their own. Try not to work alone, but if you have no other option, adopt the buddy system and see if it’s possible to pair up with a work colleague, especially if it’s going to be a late finish. Or dependent on what work you do, enquire to see if you can work from home or take a friend with you from time to time.
If you work alone, especially if you are a female and your job includes visiting your clients at their home address (home visits), e.g. a midwife, carer, duty doctor, nurse, case worker, electrician or similar, etc. ensure that you carry out an appropriate threat assessment on the person that you are visiting and the location. If you work for an organisation, ensure that someone from your work place knows where you are, what you are doing, who you are seeing, what time you are due back and how to contact you and you them. If you work for yourself make sure that a either a family member or close friend knows where you are, what you are doing, who you are seeing, what time you are due back and how to contact you and them. Irrespective of working for a company or yourself, always make sure that your vehicle is parked nearby with a fully charged spare mobile phone in it. However, if you are still unsure about either the person or location that you are visiting, either adopt the buddy system or reschedule at a more suitable time when you can arrange to take someone with you – or simply don’t go. When you are working on your own and your job includes home visits, it is strongly advised that you have a NEPOC (Nominated Emergency Point of Contact), e.g. your boss, a co-worker, a family member or a close reliable friend etc., and also an emergency code word, that you can use in a throw away sentence. Something that you wouldn’t normally say that only you and your NEPOC know about which alerts them that something is wrong, in order for them to take the appropriate and necessary action, i.e. get me some pink “Elephant” wall paper and the code word being “Elephant” etc…. but don’t make it too complicated and also from time to time change it.
Example: If you’re at a client’s house and you are on your own, but for whatever reason you feel out of your depth or feel that something is not quite right, then simply make an excuse to go to your vehicle but make sure that you leave your works bag (that should have nothing valuable inside) in your clients house. This is to put your client at ease and not suspect that something is wrong. When you get to your car lock yourself in and discreetly drive off and at the same time call your NEPOC and let them know what’s going on. Also if it’s that serious call the Police. But don’t under any circumstances enter back into your clients property. With the above scenario no code word as needed. But let’s say that for whatever reason, you can’t get to your vehicle, then all you do is simply make an excuse to step outside in order for you to make a personal call. Which would be made to your NEPOC and would include your emergency code word. You could also more or less at the same time send an ETM just to back up the urgency of the situation. If that’s not a feasible option, then ask nice and politely is it ok to use your clients toilet. Then as soon as you can, send a pre-programmed ETM (emergency text message, but make sure your mobile phone is set on SILENT for sending and receiving text messages and incoming calls) to your NEPOC. Your ETM message should read something like, “I need the Elephant statue picking up now, before the shop closes”. Alerting your NEPOC that something is wrong and for them to take action. But make sure throughout the whole process that you stay calm and composed. If your work involves a lot of travelling and attending meetings and you have to stay in hotels or travel lodges, ensure that your accommodation is in a safe and secure area. Make sure that the appropriate safety and security measures are in place and that you have carried out an up-to-date threat assessment, especially, if you are a female. If you are a female and you work alone, make sure that either a work colleague, your spouse or partner, a family member or close friend knows where you are, what you are doing (who you are seeing) what time you are due back and how to contact you, and you them.
If it’s late or you are in a dodgy area, ask them to periodically contact you to make sure everything is OK. At all times carry with you a rape alarm and a whistle or similar and try if you can to adopt the buddy system when travelling to and from the location and at work. Hounded with nuisance and unwanted calls, text messages and emails believed to be from a scorned admirer, ex-partner, ex-friend or a random individual? Bullied, intimidated and constantly threatened by a work colleague or your boss? ACT NOW. Generally we spend about two thirds of our adult life at work, so it’s important to create a safe, secure and healthy environment; not only for peace of mind, but also in the knowledge that you’ve reduced the possibility of anything untoward happening, thus creating an enjoyable and harmonious atmosphere.
Work place employees’ security policies & procedures
The majority of modern day work places have the basic safety and security policies and procedures in place, from man-guarding, CCTV, an external and internal alarm system to a frontline receptionist whose duties include securing the main entrance point and the booking in and out of all staff and visitors. They also include monitoring all incoming calls, ensuring that all departments have an up to date copy of the company’s policies and procedures and questioning anything that’s suspicious or out of place, etc. On a regular basis, read and digest your company’s safety and security policies and procedures, making sure you understand and adhere to them. By law there should be a copy in your office and in each department such as: health & safety policy, work instructions, risk assessments and safe systems of work covering every eventuality to safe guard you the employee. In a large company or organisation sometimes your immediate boss can change, without the new one being formally introduced to you or your team. Sometimes the only way that you are aware of a change in the command structure is when you read about it in a company memo!
Bearing this in mind, make it your business to know who your boss or team leader is, where to find them and who, in the chain of command, you report an incident to. [f you are manning the reception area or operational room, ensure that all the appropriate safety and security policies and procedures are in place and that you’re in receipt of a copy. Also have a detailed map of the local area, two to three means of communication, i.e. at least one land line, a mobile phone and enough two way radios to facilitate the requirements of your on-the-ground security team. Make sure you have all the appropriate documentation in place, e.g. the company signing in-and-out book, incident and first aid books, emergency numbers (including local hospitals) and contacts book, etc. and without exception, make sure that everyone signs the appropriate company book.
Ask your boss to purchase a Portable Operations Folder (POF), which not only houses all the appropriate documents and files but a works’ lap-top. The POF also allows you to run a reception area or operations room with a lot more efficiency. Under no circumstances are you ever to leave your post, e.g. the reception area or operations room, unmanned. At all times stay switched on, be aware, vigilant and observant and always apply your skills in a discreet and unassuming manner. If you are ever suspicious of anyone, either by their physical presence or just talking to them over the phone or the Internet, discreetly without alerting the suspect try and gain as much information from them as you possibly can. At the same time inform your immediate boss or someone in a similar position and if you are able to, record or at least document the conversation. If your company policy clearly states that you are not allowed to give any information out to anyone no matter what, then don’t. If you are ever unsure about a certain situation, then simply just ask your boss to clarify. Remember if you’re ever in doubt, get your questions out.
Never be afraid to do your job properly; if something does go wrong and it is clearly not your fault then make sure that you do not take the blame for it, i.e. become a convenient scapegoat. Write down and log or record everything. If you’re a receptionist or part of a security team, your duties should include the following: Check everyone’s ID and Pass, including all members of staff, especially your superiors. All visitors and contractors, including anyone who looks official, e.g. the CEO of your company or the police, etc. Remember there are no exceptions. Making sure that everyone signs in and out, that means everyone; there are no exceptions. Make sure that everyone within your company and all visitors are aware of all available parking and any restricted parking areas, that your company either owns or has been allocated.If you are head of security make sure on a daily basis you inform all of your security team, and anyone else who is relevant or that you have been instructed to inform, of any new developments or changes to the existing security level. You can do this either by holding a meeting or sending a memo which would have to be signed by everyone confirming that they have read and understood its contents. If you are part of the security team, either a guard or receptionist, make sure that on a daily basis your appointed manager or team leader updates you, with regard to any new developments or changes to the existing security level.
If someone you know or don’t know, comes to your reception desk, contacts you by phone, sends you a fax or email asking for any information about anything or anybody to do with your company, always remember the golden rule, i.e. under no circumstances are you to give out any information about your work colleagues, the company that you work for or its clients to anyone and that means anyone, no matter how official or convincing they might look or sound. Remember the confidentiality act. If the person who is asking for the information becomes difficult, demanding and abusive, then straight away and without delay call security and report the person and the incident to your superiors.
Sometimes company policy is not upheld and more often than not, the blame can conveniently fall at the lower levels, when in reality they are not usually to blame. It is the responsibility of the appointed security manager to make sure that all company security policies and procedures are in place, in-date and upheld. No matter what your job is within your organisation, if you do it properly, there is less chance of anything going wrong. Remember being sharp and switched on could not only save lives, but it could enhance your future prospects.
This chapter covers: Child care / educating your children / facts of life / internet safety / victims of bullying or intimidation & identifying the signs / identifying the instigators & culprits / why do some individuals resort to bullying? / What should you do? / Child minding, school journeys / child access / teenagers.
As a parent you are responsible for your child’s welfare and upbringing, i.e. its disciplining, education and diet. We all know how fast life can be and how busy we all are, but instead of just throwing games and computer consoles at your children or even just placing them in front of the TV, try to interact with them on a daily basis; even if you are miles away, you can still do this by phone or the Internet. You will be surprised just how beneficial it is; your children’s safety is paramount in this ever changing world. Below are a few tips to assist you.
Educating your children
From an early age, educate your children to be observant, vigilant and aware of their surroundings and to be security conscious, also to question and report anything they believe to be out of place. But make it interesting and turn it into a game, you will find that it will be surprisingly easy to make everything a game and that they can have fun while being appropriately educated. Teach your children the basic life skills, i.e. morals, the difference between right and wrong, the importance of discipline, honesty, dignity, integrity, accountability and importantly to respect not only themselves, but others too. When you are communicating with your children make sure that you talk to them and not at them and importantly, listen to them too. As well as teaching them the Highway Code and how to swim, teach them basic self-defence even if it’s how to use the head to force backwards into an attackers face, or scratch or poke the attacker anywhere on the body to simple screaming or shouting – it may help. Tell your kids no matter what age to send an emergency text message (ETM) or Speed Dial (SD) message to family or emergency services as these methods could save lives. Tell them to care for others as well as themselves – something simple like hold the door open for others, say thank you, good morning or to give up their seat for the less able is a start.
Get them involved in sports and teach them how important it is to look after their body and participate or get involved yourself in their chosen sport. Educate them about food and how important it is to have a well-balanced diet, and that it is just as important to look after their body from the inside as well as the outside. Don’t give them everything they want just because it is the easy option or use the excuse that you never had it as a child. Spoil them only with love and respect, this will give them the best start in life. Don’t leave young children alone, not even for a few seconds, e.g. outside a shop, waiting in your car or even playing in the street or the local park near your home. In today’s climate it’s not an option. Teach them to question any stranger’s motives, e.g. who are you? What do you want? Teach them to say No, I can’t go with you, go away, where is my Mum/Dad/sister, etc. If the person is genuine, they will appreciate the safety measures that you have taught your young children. If able give them a healthy and nutritious diet. If you are unsure then I would recommend that you obtain a parents’ guide to first aid and illnesses. Listen to them when they say they are not feeling too well, but remember to identify the difference between a genuine ailment or if they are bluffing or exaggerating, just to get out of school and fitness training.
Facts of life
Teach them yourselves; don’t leave it to chance or their school and make it interesting but also talk to them about the serious side too. – if you don’t they will be embarrassed when the subject does arise. Some of society and the media’s influence can make your child want to be slimmer, tougher, look and act older, also dress and act provocatively, which can attract unwanted attention. You have got to sit them down and explain to them the difference between the real world and how things are portrayed through the media.
To protect your child against being targeted and then groomed, monitor your children while they are using the Internet. Make sure that you have the appropriate child safety measures in place, e.g. parental control, family safety online and firewall protection, etc. This is to combat predators that use the Internet and illegal websites to masquerade as someone or something else. Remember that social networking sites can be a magnet for predators. Teach your children how to use a computer properly and safely. When they are old enough, demonstrate how to use the Internet properly and what not to click on to, e.g. pornography sites because of the explicit adult content or gaming sites or similar that have violent content in them. Talk to your children and explain why these sites are wrong for someone of their age group. Explain to them about social networking sites and not to give out too much information and also about cyber bullying. Teach them about the consequence of their actions either good or bad.
[* Victims of bullying, intimidation &, identifying the signs *]
From an early age talk to your children about bullying and how wrong it is for someone to bully and persecute somebody else. Make them aware of how serious it is and what damaging effect it could have not only on the individual that is getting bullied, but everyone concerned. Tell them they must report it to their parents or guardians and that it is the right thing to do, even if it’s not themselves getting bullied. Always encourage them to talk about it and that it is OK to say NO! Enough is enough. How do you identify the signs of bullying? Do you suspect that your child or someone that you know is being bullied? Are there changes in their personality, in their body language, mood and appearance or are they becoming introvert, aggressive, irrational and emotional? Are they having trouble sleeping and do they suffer with mood swings and bed wetting or are they becoming distant and wanting to spend time alone? Are they feeling completely isolated, extremely lonely and they don’t know who to turn to and is their confidence and self-esteem suffering? Do they even blame themselves? They might think they deserve to be bullied, for something they’ve done in their past. Are they losing weight and their appetite or are they gaining weight (comfort eating)? Is their school work suffering and are they truanting from school? Are they starting to get into trouble with the police or disrespectful to their parents, family and friends? Are they bullying their younger brothers, sisters or their friends and even their pets and have they turned to drink and drugs, or even started to self-harm? Have they even contemplated suicide? This can become part of their thought process if the bullying becomes intolerable.
Identifying the instigators & culprits
Do you suspect that your child or someone that you know is bullying someone? Have they become controlling and dominant? Bullies love being in control and having power over an individual. Are there any obvious changes in their body language and personality or have they become arrogant and cocky or even manipulative and charming? Have they become disrespectful to their parents, work colleagues and their superiors or do they always want to be the centre of attention or top dog? Bullies can often be cruel and sadistic; have they become more like this and have they become unpredictable?
Why do some individuals resort to bullying?
There are many reasons why someone is or becomes a bully or is involved in bullying, e.g. jealousy, envy, emulating (copying somebody else’s personality), hatred, vindictiveness, peer pressure or they may even be blackmailed into bullying someone. It could be that they’re lonely, frightened and insecure and they are trying to be accepted by a local gang. They have been or are victims of bullying themselves. Maybe there is a history of domestic violence at home (monkey see, monkey do)?
What should you do?
Once you have identified that something is wrong: In a calm and level-headed manner discuss it with them, but be sure to listen and don’t jump to conclusions, be clever or be presumptuous. Encourage, don’t pressurise them to talk. Remember that being the victim of bullying is the loneliest place to be, so it might take a little while before they will confide in you. Are they being bullied physically, psychologically or are they the victim of cyber bullying, or all three? Try to identify the source of the problem. Is it somebody from their school, playgroup, one of their friends or is it an unknown individual that you are not aware of ? Don’t forget it could be related to domestic violence, i.e. someone from home! Once you have found the root of the problem, take immediate action, e.g. report it to the bullies’ parents, school, the police and the local anti-bullying organisations. Illustrate to your child that it is OK to report this sort of behaviour and that it is not acceptable behaviour for someone to bully them. Furthermore let them know that you will stand up for them no matter what. One way of tackling the problem is to encourage the child, with the help of parents, a family member, a teacher or a good friend, to ask the bully, why they are bullying them and then ask them to stop. Advise them that if they are the victim of being bullied either physically, psychologically or cyber bullying, one of the best and most effective ways of dealing with it is to ignore the culprits or instigators, by walking away and not responding, also deleting, blocking or boycotting the websites/messages. Because bullies rely upon a reaction, without that they usually have no cause to continue.
Advise them they can even change their email address and telephone number and tell them that if they feel that they aren’t getting anywhere and the problem persists and seems to be worsening, they can seek professional advice and also report the bullies to the police. Advise them that if they are being bullied to say to themselves, enough is enough, today it ends, today is the day that I am going to tell someone and take back control of my life. If you’re an adult and you’re getting bullied by someone from your work place or from one of your social groups, etc. the same rule applies, enough is enough!
When choosing a babysitter or child-minder it’s paramount that you select the right one – not only for your child but for your family too. Make sure that they have the appropriate training and qualifications to match and have had a current CRB check. Remember don’t go for the cheap child minding option, because if it’s cheap – what’s wrong? Make sure you screen and scrutinise all potential applicants, i.e. screen at the applicant stage and scrutinise their qualifications and references at the interview stage. If you employ a babysitter, make sure that you give them all the appropriate emergency contact numbers and ensure that they are aware of and fully briefed on all of your security and safety measures within your house.
If your children have any type of medical condition then make sure that your babysitter is fully briefed and aware of this and any medication they might require. You can carry out a basic first aid and a security awareness test just to ensure that the child minder knows what to do in an emergency. Make sure that you have an up-to-date and fully comprehensive first aid kit in your home. Make sure that your babysitter keeps all cleaning products, flammable liquids and any type of medication locked away and out of the reach of young children.
When choosing a crèche, make sure it is accredited and that all the staff have the appropriate qualifications, training and up to date CRB checks. Carry out extensive research into the crèche’s credibility. Also check the authenticity of its endorsements. Make sure that the crèche has the appropriate security and emergency measures in place and are prepared for any type of emergency such as first aid and fire incidents – Ask and thank safe.
Make sure that your child does not travel alone and tell them not to talk to strangers and why. Teach them to stay alert and observant. It is important to explain to them that they should never take short cuts, they must keep to a safe route. Purchase a personal alarm, a whistle and a small torch and make sure that they carry them either on their person or in their school bag. Ask what route they take school if they go alone and is it well populated and has sufficient lighting. If your child stays late at school or goes to a friend’s house, make sure that you are informed and ensure that the appropriate arrangements are made for them to get home. Ensure that they take with them any medications that they require. Make sure that they are wearing the appropriate clothing, footwear and a have a warm coat with them and give them plenty of money for emergencies and teach them to keep it concealed. Tell them to always be aware of their surroundings and if they listen to music, tell them to make sure it is in a public place or on public transport, that it is not too loud and to only have one earpiece in. They should always walk towards oncoming traffic and tell them why (to prevent cars or would-be attackers from creeping up on them). If your child has a mobile phone, make sure it has all the appropriate contact and emergency numbers they require and a charger and spare battery. Also make sure that the numbers are written down and put in a secure place on their person. Make sure they have at least two registered and known taxi company phone numbers stored in their phone and on their person and always have speed dial (SD) and emergency text messages (ETM) at the ready. Explain the dangers as regards to getting into unlicensed taxis or accepting a lift from someone they barely know and certainly not from a stranger. Teach them that they must never get into a confrontation with a stranger, or anyone else for that matter, they must learn to walk away. If they have to use public transport, tell them to sit near an exit and near someone who appears not to be a threat. If on a double decker bus, sit downstairs. Think safe.
Always put the safety and welfare of your children first and try to make child access a calm and loving environment by not using your children to ‘score points,’ but listen to your children and find out how they feel and what they want. Don’t aggravate an already fragile situation. If your ex-partner has a history of violence towards you or your children and there is a court order against them, then make sure that they abide by the conditions. At any time whatsoever your ex-partner becomes violent, abusive or demanding in any way get your children and walk away, then call the police’s domestic violent unit (DVU). However, if they will not let you walk away, then try and raise the alarm but don’t aggravate the situation.
If you’re in any doubt about your ex-partner’s attitude, then don’t allow them into your home or allow your children to go with them and inform the appropriate authorities of what has happened, e.g. the police’s DVU, your social worker if there’s one involved and your security advisor. Always make sure that you have the appropriate security arrangements in place. If the child access is supervised and you need an arranged control point or child access point then make appropriate access arrangements, i.e. make arrangements through a contact centre for controlled access; this includes the requirement for mediation or a mediator.
To understand teenagers is to understand ourselves, but things have changed since we were young – or have they? Maybe we’ve conveniently forgotten! Lead by example; practice what you preach and remember to be a parent first and a friend second. Importantly let them know, that no matter what, they can always come to you and chat about life in general or any problems that they are experiencing. If you’ve taught them respect, integrity and discipline from an early age it’ll help them through their teens. Remind them to respect themselves as well as others, especially their parents and the authorities.
Teach them the value of money, how to manage their finances and not to spend beyond their means, explaining the repercussions, i.e. debt. If they still live at home and they don’t have a job of any description, allocate them daily or weekly tasks in order for them to keep busy and earn their keep. But explain to them the reasons why, i.e. it’s always best to be busy and stay focused. It shows respect not only for their family but themselves too. Remind them that if they were living elsewhere they would have no choice but to pay their way. If they do have a job either part-time or full-time, it is always a good idea to ask them to pay for their food and lodgings, again explaining the reasons why. It will be beneficial to them in the future. Show an interest in whatever they’re doing and don’t preach to them but talk and involve them instead and make sure they’re aware of their boundaries and incorporate discipline when you have to. Arrange to go out and socialise with them from time to time and educate them about drugs, alcohol and safe sex, but don’t spoil them. Talk to them about falling in with the wrong crowd and how damaging it can be. It’s important that they know how to act as an individual, as well as part of a team. Explain to them that if they work hard at school, college, university or at work, it pays off in the end. Sometimes remind yourself that they have learnt by their own mistakes and teach them about the consequences of their actions, and right and wrong. Teach them about the consequences of bullying or lying about someone and how it can affect that individual’s life. Tell them not to get involved with gossip or rumours, but always work with the facts and explain to them not to judge until they are in receipt of all the facts.
Remind them about being careful when they are using the Internet, especially with divulging too much information about themselves or their family on social networking sites and encourage them to report anything untoward to the police. If you can, get them involved in their local community, a local charity, their local youth club or something similar. The transformation from caring for a child to living with a teenager can be both stressful and educational, especially in this day and age. However, remind yourself that it’s as new to them as it is to you and some of today’s young teenagers need all the help and guidance they can find. The best way ahead as regards this chapter is to have a good understanding with your children whether young or older. My philosophy is always be honest and if something has happened whether retrospectively or not then your children should just be straight with you and tell you.
Vehicle Preparation, Maintenance & Journeys
This chapter covers: Vehicle preparation / vehicle familiarisation techniques / vehicle breakdown & handy equipment/tools to keep in your vehicle / important driving advice / driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs / pets in your vehicle / planning your journey / vehicle parking / vehicle tyre blow-out or other un-suspecting emergencies / vehicle accidents / victims of road rage / purchase a dash cam.
It is highly advisable that you familiarise yourself with your vehicle hand book the Highway Code or even take a basic car maintenance course or get a friend to teach you the basics. This is so you are fully prepared for most vehicle maintenance and breakdown eventualities and to keep you safe. Make sure that your vehicle is road worthy, well maintained, with good road legal all-round tyres, also ensure that your wheel nuts can be easily removed in case of a wheel change and you know where the locking nut is kept. Make sure that all the appropriate documentation is in order, i.e. ensure that your vehicle has a valid MOT certificate, in date road tax and importantly make sure that your vehicle and its contents are adequately insured. If you modify your vehicle: One, make sure that it is legal to do so, and two make sure that you inform your insurance company. Make sure you are a member of a reputable breakdown service and have their telephone number logged into your phone, also have it written down and put it in your glove compartment. Ensure that the garage that you use to service and maintain your vehicle is a reputable one. Your vehicle must have a spare wheel and breakdown tools, ensure it is in full working order. It is advisable to take some spare fuel with you in a safe container, at least 4 litres. Always make sure your vehicle has enough fuel for your journey or to get to the nearest garage. Keep you windows, mirrors, lights and number plates clean. The bottom line is if you look after your vehicle, it will look after you and when you take your car into a garage for a service or similar and the garage realises that you know a bit about cars, it will put them off from trying to pull the wool over your eyes.
Vehicle familiarisation techniques
Adjust your seat so you have the correct distance from the steering wheel and adjust the height if required. Make sure your bottom is firmly seated at the back of the seat and make sure that you are sitting upright. Adjust your mirrors so that you have the correct view in accordance with your seating position. Memorise the vehicles dimensions; this is important for larger vehicles. If you incorporate the above familiarisation techniques, not just for your own vehicle but for all cars that you take control of, each vehicle should feel as though it’s part of you and you should feel as though you have total control. Refer to the Highway Code for more details.
Vehicle breakdown & handy equipment/tools to keep in your vehicle
Ensure you have in your vehicle a serviceable and road worthy spare wheel, inflated to the correct tyre pressure. Ensure that you have a serviceable wheel jack and handle, preferably a small trolley jack, wheel nut wrench and a three-inch thick piece of wood that can be used for a base for your jack for soft or uneven ground. A small but comprehensive set of tools such as various screwdrivers, adjustable wrenches, pliers, various spanners and torch etc. Include a can of emergency tyre repair for minor punctures; it inflates your tyre with foam, however it depends on the severity of the punctured tyre and don’t forget, that it’s only a temporary measure. It is designed to repair a puncture at the roadside, which allows inflation of your punctured tyre so as to get you home. A small but comprehensive first aid kit and spare fuses comparable to those in your fuse box. Other important items to have in your boot are a road side warning triangle, reflective jacket, warm clothing, small sleeping bag, a tow rope, umbrella, gloves, hat and a set of disposable overalls. For winter conditions: De-icer, windscreen scraper, spare antifreeze and coolant, spare oil, a set of new windscreen wipers, a snow shovel and anything else that you might need. If you are female, in the boot of your vehicle there should be an oversized gentlemen’s coat and flat cap. In case of a breakdown you can disguise yourself as a male driver; this will be explained fully in breakdowns and accidents. If your pet is travelling with you then make sure that you have enough water and their own food with you. Something to take photos with, i.e. phone, ipad, camera or dash cam. In the event of an accident, you can take photos of the scene of the accident and the injuries incurred. The pictures will assist your version of events and be part of your statement for your insurance company.
Important driving advice
When you get into your vehicle lock your doors and always keep to the speed limits keeping a safe distance from other road users. Always wear your seat belt and the same rule applies to your passengers. Never leave your children in the vehicle alone and never smoke, eat or drink whilst driving. Never ever use your mobile phone whilst driving, always use a reputable hands free device. Never drive whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including “some” prescription drugs. Remember that whilst you are taking prescription drugs you must always read the information leaflet especially the side effects information, which will advise you or instruct you not to drive whilst taking this medication.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
If you drive whilst under the influence of either alcohol or drugs, have you ever thought of the consequences involved which will be immense, not only for you and your family but for anyone else that was unfortunate to be involved and not by choice might I add. The consequences that could be a result of driving whilst under the influence of either alcohol or drugs are: You could kill or seriously injure and even maim someone for life. You could be the reason they might lose their job, family, declare themselves bankrupt or ruin someone’s else’s life. You could kill yourself, your passengers or a passer buy and also ruin the life’s of your own family. You could ruin your own life, lose your job and declare yourself bankrupt and so on and so on and so on!! The bottom line is it’s an extremely selfish act and the message is simple. Never drive whilst under the influence of either alcohol or drugs! Help raise driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs awareness! Let help put a stop to this illegal and more importantly life ruining habit! Say NO to drink driving and don’t allow any of your passengers to drink alcohol or take drugs whilst you’re driving because its you who will suffer in the end.
Pets in your vehicle
Secure any pets that are travelling with you with the legal appropriate cages or harnesses/seat belts. Ensure that they have plenty of ventilation, food; water and dependent on the weather conditions ensure that they are kept either warm or cool. Never leave your pet in your vehicle for long periods of time and make sure that you have planned stops, so they can have the appropriate exercise and go to the toilet. If you have any doubts whatsoever, don’t leave them or contact the RSPCA or ask at your own vets, for advice.
Planning your journey
Always plan your route and select well-populated (busy) areas that have sufficient lighting. Keep out of known No Go Areas, i.e. known for criminal activity and violence. Try and select a safe and secure route which might not necessarily be the quickest. Always keep a up to date road atlas in your vehicle and a sat-nav. Make sure that your vehicle is in full working order, i.e. serviced and well maintained. Before you depart make sure that you check all of your oils and water levels and your tyre pressures. Ensure that you have enough fuel, if not fill up at the first opportunity. Every time you exit your vehicle, make sure that you have applied your hand brake and locked all the doors and of course don’t leave any valuables on show. Wear the appropriate footwear: no loose fitting sandals, flip-flops, Crocs, wellingtons, high-heeled shoes, etc. Ensure that you have sufficient money, especially plenty of change with you for public parking. Make sure that you have a full and serviceable breakdown kit with you. For long journeys take with you spare fuel, a sleeping bag, a warm jacket and several blankets, food and water, several torches with spare batteries. For adverse weather conditions take a snow shovel, an emergency strobe light and phone / charger. Invest in a dash cam.
Always try and park your vehicle in a secure and safe area which is both busy and has sufficient lighting. Also try to make sure that the route to and from your vehicle is safe, well lit and populated and not in an unsavoury district. Park in a public car park (NCP), private car park, the venue that you are visiting’s car park, a busy road or street that is safe and has sufficient lighting, a friend’s or colleague’s house, either on their driveway or secured in their garage. Always apply your hand brake. Be observant, vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times and never park in an unfamiliar area especially if it’s dark or foggy. If you are ever unsure about the car park or area where you have planned to leave your vehicle, either take someone with you, have someone drop you off or arrange to meet someone there. Better still, find somewhere else to park your vehicle or book a taxi instead. For public and private car parks, make sure that you are aware of the opening and closing times, including weekends and bank holidays. Make sure that you have sufficient money and plenty of change with you for the parking meters. If you have or are going to park on a road or street, make sure you are aware of the days and times that it is free and that there are no restrictions or parking meters. If you have arranged to meet someone in a car park, e.g. work colleague, friend or a family member, etc. Remember that while you are waiting to keep your doors locked and park near an exit. If you see or hear anything suspicious or you are just simply uneasy with where you have parked then as quick as you can, start your vehicle and look for another parking place. But make sure that you inform the person or persons that you have arranged to meet you there, that there has been a change of plan.
Vehicle tire blow-out or other unsuspecting emergencies
If you experience a blow-out (puncture), a blown-up engine, smashed windscreen unsuspectingly, or you start experiencing any other problems, take full control of your vehicle, making sure that you have both hands on the steering wheel to maintain control of your vehicle. If you can, put your hazard warning lights on and apply your brakes. Drop down your gears which will slow you down. Turn your radio off. At the same time steer your vehicle towards a safe part of the road or area and to a safe stop. If you are on the motorway then move into the hard shoulder safely. The above is purely a guide, as long as you bring your vehicle to a stop safely and it’s not causing an obstruction or danger to yourselves or other road users, then that’s fine. Once you’ve brought your vehicle to a safe stop turn off your engine, apply your hand brake and hazard warning lights and make sure that all of your passengers are OK. Taking your coats with you get everyone to exit your vehicle including any pets that you have with you, via the safest door possible away from traffic, especially oncoming traffic. If you breakdown on a road with fast moving traffic or what you believe to be dangerous, then carry out this task without haste and move to a safe place away from traffic and any other danger until help arrives. Make sure everyone is warm, watered and fed and keep their morale up.
Immediately contact your breakdown company and inform them of what has happened and where you are. Also ask them what is their ETA (estimated time of arrival). If you are female, elderly, have a disability or you are vulnerable and in need of any medications, then make sure the recovery company are aware of this and make you a priority. If you have one, safely place a warning triangle sign about 25 to 30 metres down the road. But make sure that it’s in a safe place and other road users can clearly see it and that it does not pose a problem or obstacle. If it’s too dangerous to do so – don’t. If your vehicle is posing a danger to other road users, make sure you inform the police, the recovery company and anyone else that needs to be notified. Remember to inform your partner, boss or parents, etc. of what has happened.
If you are female or vulnerable and driving on your own, make sure that you have in the boot of your vehicle an oversized gentleman’s coat and flat cap. Put them on and give the appearance that you are male. Then as long as it is safe to do so, either sit in the front passenger’s position, as though someone has gone for help but make sure that you lock all the doors and only open them once you are sure that the person outside has confirmed who they are. Or wait in a safe place outside your vehicle away from the oncoming traffic, until help arrives. Every so often, until help arrives, re-contact your recovery company or, if you feel that you are in danger, the police to ascertain their ETA.
In the event of an accident, brace yourself and if possible bring your vehicle to a safe stop. Immediately turn your engine off, apply your hand brake and hazard warning lights and make sure that all of your passengers are OK. Before exiting your vehicle, make sure that when the vehicle has stopped and all other vehicles involved have stopped moving. Get everyone to exit your vehicle including pets, via the safest door possible away from traffic, especially oncoming traffic. If you have an accident on a road with fast moving traffic or what you believe to be dangerous, then carry out this task without haste. Also as long as it safe to do so and without causing any delay, make sure that everyone takes either their coat or some warm clothing with them. Then as quickly as you can move everyone to a safe place away from traffic and any other danger until help arrives. Check for casualties and administer first aid, but make sure it is safe to do so. If there are multiple casualties don’t panic, take a deep breath and do the best you can but, make sure that you prioritise (triage) the casualties and their injuries, i.e. tending to the most serious ones first. However as you are doing this make sure that you constantly reassure everyone that everything is going to be alright and that help is on its way. When you are administering first aid, don’t move any casualties, if you are unsure of the seriousness of their injuries and the damage that it will incur if you move them, unless it’s a life-or-death situation and you have no other option. Keep everyone in a safe place away from traffic and any other danger until help arrives and make sure that everyone is warm, watered and fed and try and keep their morale up. Make sure that any pets that you have with you are kept calm, fed, watered and kept on a tight leash or secured in a suitable travelling cage, box or harness. Immediately contact the emergency services and your breakdown company and inform them of what has happened and where you are. Also ask them what is their ETA. If you have one, safely place a warning triangle sign, about 25 to 30 metres down the road. But make sure that it’s in a safe place, other road users can clearly see it and that it does not pose a problem or obstacle. If the accident is not serious, just a bump and there are no casualties, etc. then just simply exchange insurance details. If your vehicle needs to be recovered contact your vehicle breakdown company. Ensure that you take photos of your vehicle and the others involved as evidence no matter how serious.
If the accident is serious, i.e. casualties, extensive damage to your vehicle and other vehicles, immediately contact the emergency services and inform them of the accident, casualties, vehicles posing a danger to other road users, etc. Contact anyone that needs to be notified e.g. your partner, boss, parents, etc. If you suspect that something is wrong, e.g. you can smell alcohol on one of the drivers that is involved or you believe that one of them has been taking drugs, then discreetly inform the police! Obtain the name and addresses of any drivers or pedestrians involved including their insurance details and take photos of the documents. Ask all witnesses, including those individuals that were involved in the accident, for their contact details and ask them where they were at the time of the accident and what they saw and would they mind giving you a statement.
Using your camera or dash cam (if fitted) take photographs of the vehicles involved and all areas of the accident location that you believe are relevant, including any injuries that were sustained. Make a detailed diagram of the scene of the accident; include the position of all the vehicles involved before and after the accident. Note their perceived speed and distances, also make note of road names and layout. Make note of any obstructions to your or other road users at the time of the accident and anything that could be relevant to the cause of the crash. Don’t admit liability or offer to pay for any damage. Without causing any further distress, try and record, on your mobile phone, any relevant conversation that is to do with the accident, but be discreet. If anyone does admit liability take note of who they are, then inform your insurers. Never drive away from the scene of an accident either if you are directly involved or a witness who was watching events as they unfolded. You must always stop and assist those who might be injured.
Victim of road rage
If you are held up in traffic and an unknown driver exits their vehicle and walks towards your car, shouting and looking very angry and you believe that you are going to be the victim of road rage because the same unknown driver became threatening and abusive towards you during an earlier incident and you have no idea why. Don’t under any circumstance get into a confrontation with the unknown driver, stay in your vehicle and don’t antagonise or aggravate the situation any further. Immediately lock all the doors and close all of your windows. If you can and it’s safe to do so, drive off to a well-lit and populated location and call the police. However, if it’s not safe to drive off due to the volume of traffic then continually sound your horn, get the attention of other road users and ask for their help. If the perpetrator gets violent and tries to break in to your vehicle and you are in fear of your life, then irrespective of the congestion try and drive off but safety must come first (by this time someone should have come to you aid). When you are able to, use your mobile phone speed dial system to call the police and explain to the operator what has gone on and adhere to the advice given. Also contact a family member or close friend; inform them of the situation and give them your location. Additionally you can use your pre-programmed ETM to send an automated text messages to those people that you’ve already pre-selected, i.e. family members and/or close friends. Try to keep calm, help is on the way.
Drive to a well-lit and populated area or even drive onto someone’s driveway and I mean any house, shop or business that looks active and populated and ask for help and don’t go off the beaten track or take short cuts. If the unknown driver managed to follow you and tries again to get into your vehicle and attack you, try again to raise the alarm, attract someone’s attention by continually blowing your horn, screaming, shouting, using your personal alarm or your whistle and of course your self-defence techniques. Don’t get out of your vehicle, keep your doors locked and drive off, and I mean drive off. Contact the police again give them your new location and inform them of what has just happened again and adhere to the advice given. Basically do anything and everything possible to protect yourself but always act within the boundaries of the law. Remember if you have an honest held genuine belief that you are in imminent danger, make sure you use only proportionate, justifiable minimum force to the situation that you’re faced with. Make a statement to that effect.
Purchase a dash cam
If you have a dash cam in your vehicle then this should record everything visually and orally so ensure it is set up correctly before you set off on any journey. If you don’t own a dash cam then if you can afford one, purchase one as it will help in the event of anything sinister occurring, accidents or with general driving.
This chapter covers: Counter surveillance techniques / awareness & observation / who might be following you and why? / What to look for if you suspect that you are being followed / followed by someone on foot / confirming that you are being followed on foot / followed by someone who is in a vehicle / confirming that you are being followed by someone in a vehicle.
Counter surveillance techniques
The word surveillance and the expression, being put under surveillance, means someone is watching and following you or they have commissioned (paid) an agent to do so, it also means watching something or somewhere. Anti-surveillance means at all times being aware of your surroundings and being observant to what is going on around you and taking precautionary measures against being put under surveillance, i.e. when you leave home or your work place, be particularly aware of any vehicles or people that aren’t usually there or seem and look out of place. When you are walking or driving, start to double back on yourself, which means turn around and come back the same way. Also box around, which means turning right (or left), right again and right again more or less until you have completed a full 360°. Get on a bus or train, leave it a little while and as long as it is safe to do so, get off again. You can also incorporate the same technique for shops, cafés, restaurants and alike. If you are driving, go around a roundabout at least twice or randomly bring your vehicle to a complete stop. No pattern setting, i.e. travelling the same route, and visiting the same venues at the same time every day/week. On a regular basis alternate your routes and timings to and from the venues and places that you visit. These are just some of the techniques that you can adopt to see if anyone is following you.
Counter surveillance i.e. realising that you have been put under surveillance and doing something about it, i.e. report the incident to the police and let them deal with it. You can always contact a company that specialises in counter-surveillance techniques who will incorporate electronic counter measures (ECM) by using equipment like a scanlock or broom or similar which can detect electronic devices that transmit a signal from manufactured or home-made tracking devices (TDs) and listening devices (LDs) that have been discreetly fitted, without your knowledge, to either your vehicle or property. These give either a constant location of your vehicle or listen in and record your conversations. To determine who has put you under surveillance and why, you could carry out surveillance on the individuals that are watching and following you. However, only do this if you believe that you are not in any danger. If you suspect that you might be being watched, followed or both, first of all you have to be able to confirm that you have been put under surveillance and also identify by whom and why. You are then in a position to take action against it.
Awareness & observation
At all times be aware of your surroundings, train yourself to be vigilant and observant, make sure that you apply these skills in a discreet and unassuming manner. Question anything and anybody that in your opinion isn’t quite right, or out of place. Teach yourself memorisation techniques; on a daily basis start to memorise your daily trips out, e.g. walking to your local shops, taking your dog for a walk, taking your children to school or going to work, etc. Start to memorise how far your journey was, who you saw, and what were they wearing, etc. This is called memory retention; it will help you to improve your memory and therefore help you determine if anything is out of place or if anyone is following you. Remember that your brain is a muscle and it needs exercising and stimulating to stay sharp and work to its full capacity. Get yourself a notebook and give it a title, e.g. Incident log book or similar. On your journeys out make a mental note of what you thought was out of place and later on write it down in your log book. Start to familiarise yourself with every area that you visit. Use your mobile phone as cover (a pretext), i.e. pretend that you are on the phone but have a good look around. Start using reflection techniques, e.g. shop windows, cars and any other reflective surfaces to observe what and who is behind you. Incorporate anti-surveillance techniques in your daily routine.
Who might be following you & why?
There are many reasons why either a professional organisation or an individual carrying out a private investigation can have you put under surveillance, e.g. a suspected fraudulent insurance claim, criminal investigation, an on-going works dispute, a divorce settlement or even a custody battle. Their intention is to obtain evidence to be used in a court of law. Organisations and individuals that might commission an agent to have you followed are an insurance company, solicitor, private investigator, Department for Work and Pensions, your employer, Customs and Excise, police, another Government agency or an individual carrying out a private investigation, e.g. ex-spouse or live-in partner. The worst-case scenario is that it could be a stalker with a sinister intent, i.e. someone who you might have upset or a random individual who might have mental health issues, terrorist or be an admirer who means you no harm.
What to look out for if you suspect that you are being followed
If you suspect that someone is watching or following you, first of all don’t panic. Secondly use your mobile phone as a pretext and pretend that you are on the phone and at the same time, scan the whole area. Make your way to a highly populated area that has sufficient lighting, at the same time contact someone who is reliable and can discreetly come to your assistance using SD or ETM. However if you think that it’s serious then contact the police. Look out for stationary cars which are nondescript in appearance with blacked out or dark looking windows that look out of place or are not usually parked there and motorcycles that are out of place and not usually parked there. Any individual that looks out of place and is acting suspiciously who might be wearing nondescript clothing and footwear. They also might be wearing a baseball cap or similar, spectacles or light coloured sunglasses. Bogus callers masquerading as tradesmen, delivery men or women, bogus officials, legitimate companies or similar type pretexts, whose sole intention is to either gain entry or collate information on you or somebody else that lives at your property, i.e. to confirm their identity and their movements. Be aware of ETDs or ELDs (electronic tracking or listening devices) that have been attached to your vehicle without your knowledge.
To help combat this sort of surveillance park your vehicle in a secure and populated location, even when you go to work or if you’re just out and about. Basically try and keep an eye on it. If you have any type of repairs or maintenance carried out on your vehicle, then make sure it’s a garage or individual that you know and trust. If you suspect that something might be attached to your vehicle or has been placed into your property, i.e. a TD or a LD (tracking or a listening device) that you cannot physically see, either go to a garage that you know and ask them to have a good look around your vehicle especially underneath, to see if they can spot anything out of place. Ask them to be discreet just in case your vehicle is being watched or have a look yourself or ask a friend who is familiar with cars to have a look. With regards to your house, start with one room at a time and meticulously search every inch. If nothing is found but you still believe that something is attached to your vehicle or has been placed into your property, you can always contact a company that specialises in countering electronic surveillance, i.e. ECM (electronic counter measures), by using specialised equipment which can detect electronic devices. Always be aware and vigilant with regards to your surroundings and on a regular basis incorporate basic anti-surveillance techniques.
Followed by someone who is on foot
If you believe that you are being followed by someone on foot, don’t panic or let them know that you have seen them but don’t bring any attention to yourself. Using your hands-free, pretend that you are on the phone to someone, laugh, joke but have a good look around and discreetly move your eyes not your head and confirm that you are being followed. Carry out any anti-surveillance techniques by doubling back on yourself, i.e. turn around and come back the same way. Box around, i.e. turn right (or left) at the next junction and then right again and right again more or less until you have completed a full 360°. Incorporate any reflection technique, e.g. shop windows, car windows, glass bus stops, and glass telephone boxes, etc. When you are walking, occasionally speed up and slow down, you can even run a little bit as if you are hailing a taxi or running for a bus. Get on a bus or train, leave it a little while and as long as it is safe to do so, get off again. You can also incorporate the same technique for shops, café’s, restaurants and alike. Don’t be afraid to take a photo of the individual. These are just some of the techniques that you can adopt to see if anyone is following you. These are just some of the basic techniques that you can adopt to see if anyone is following you.
Confirming that your being followed on foot
Start walking to a safe location (heavily populated area), or even knock at someone’s house and make out that you are visiting or use the SD or EMT method to inform family, friends or the police of situation that you’re in. Give the police as much information as you possibly can, about the individual that is following you, e.g. male or female, their age, build, colour, height, hair, clothing, smell, distinctive marks or the way they generally walk etc. If you use public transport try and sit near someone or if on a double decker bus, sit downstairs. If you are already in a safe location, stay there until help arrives. Make a mental note of everything that has gone on, but for the time being don’t write it down. Just keep an eye on the individual who is following you, but be discreet about it. If the individual who is following you tries to approach you, inform someone and ask for their help. But always be diplomatic and don’t aggravate the situation.
Followed by someone who is in a vehicle
If you believe that you are being followed by someone in a vehicle, don’t panic or let them know that you have seen them and don’t bring any attention to yourself. First of all discreetly lock all your vehicles doors and close your windows. To confirm that you are being followed, discreetly check your mirrors, move your eyes only and limit the movement of your head (but don’t impersonate a robot). Start driving to a safe location (heavily populated) or someone’s driveway and make out that you are visiting that house or property. Start carrying out any anti-surveillance techniques and double back on yourself, i.e. turn around and come back the same way. Box around, i.e. turn right (or left) at the next junction and then right again and right again more or less until you have completed a full circle. Go around a roundabout at least twice. When you are driving, and if it is safe to do so, speed up and slow down and to do this several times. If it is safe to do so, randomly bring your vehicle to a complete stop. These are just some basic techniques that you can adopt to see if anyone is following you and only use these where it is safe to do so. Remember to always act within the parameters of the law.
Confirming that your being followed in a vehicle
Start driving to a safe location (heavily populated area), or even knock at someone’s house and make out that you are visiting someone that you know and use the SD or ETM method to inform family, friends or the police of situation that you’re in. Give the police as much information as you possibly can, i.e. a full vehicle description, make, model, colour, registration and any distinctive marks or alterations and a full description of the individual driving, e.g. male or female, their age, build, colour, height, hair, clothing and any distinctive marks. If you are already in a safe location, stay there until help arrives.
Make a mental note of everything that has gone on, but for the time being don’t write it down. Just keep an eye on the individual that is following you, but be discreet about it. If the individual that is following you tries to approach you, inform someone and ask for their help, but always be diplomatic and don’t aggravate the situation.
Report it to the police straight away, they will give you a crime number and make a note of it in their incident log book; they will then investigate your complaint. If you can, take someone with you for moral support to the police station, and a copy of your log book or any photos you may have taken.
This chapter covers: Public transport / taxis / clubs or pubs & restaurants / date safety & meeting someone for the first time / hobbies or fitness training / choosing the right venue for your activity/anti-entrapment technique.
When you use any type of public transport, it is always best to have a current timetable, know where you are going, how long it will take and what links to use, i.e. if you’ve got to change from one bus to another or from a bus to a train. Try to select a bus stop, train station or taxi rank in a populated area that has sufficient lighting and enquire about the cost involved, this is so you can budget accordingly. Have the correct money ready so you do not display your wallet or purse or if your journey is on a regular basis either purchase a weekly, monthly or season ticket. Try and travel with a friend or work colleague (buddy system) or if you can, get someone to drop you off at the bus or train station and wait with you whilst your public transport arrives. Try and get someone to pick you up at the end of your journey. If you’re travelling by bus, try and sit near the front or an exit, near someone who does not appear to be a threat and for a double decker bus, try and sit downstairs.
Call someone whilst you’re travelling, either your partner, a family member or a close friend, just to let them know that you are OK and on your way – think safe. Try and avoid using any type of public transport late at night. If you have no choice, try to take someone with you. If you use the underground late at night be extra vigilant, try and use alternative routes, this is to save pattern setting. When you travel to an unfamiliar area make sure that you carry out an accurate threat assessment, i.e. the appropriate research into the safety of that area. Carry with you a rolled-up newspaper or small umbrella and use it as an extension to your dominant hand in the event of fending off an attacker. Its use is purely for self-defence, i.e. to block any and all types of attack.
Try not to, under any circumstances, get into a confrontation with a stranger, or anyone else for that matter, learn to walk away. If a drunk or anyone looking for trouble boards your train or bus, don’t bring any attention to yourself. Play the grey man/woman. If you are targeted by anyone who is looking for trouble or worse, try and stay calm, be diplomatic, don’t aggravate the situation and try not to look your attacker/s in the eye. Give the attackers the information, cash or valuables that they ask for. Do not play games with them and try and be subservient. If you can, discreetly raise the alarm, but only if you are absolutely sure that you will not compromise you or anyone else. If you feel that you are going to be, or are being attacked, then only use proportionate justifiable force to the situation that you face.
Ensure that you have several registered and reliable taxi telephone numbers saved in your contacts on your mobile phone. It would also be a good idea to have them written down in a small note book which you should carry on your person. Try and book a taxi from a company or taxi rank that you use on a regular basis or that you have used previously. Do not under any circumstances get into an unlicensed taxi or accept a lift home from a stranger and remember that hackney cabs should be both registered and reliable and you can hail one in the street. Be aware that licenced mini cabs must be pre-booked so always wait in a busy and highly populated area that has sufficient lighting or in your works premises, a restaurant or similar. Wear the appropriate clothing and footwear for your journey and the venue you are visiting. If you need to cover up your outfit, take a coat with you and conceal all your valuables. If you can, try and pair up with a friend or work colleague (buddy system) and never say that you are on your own. Inform the operator that it is for two and make an excuse for when the taxi arrives. If you are female, tell them it is for you and your boyfriend. Be ready with your excuse for when the taxi arrives, say something like your boyfriend will follow shortly. If you are female it is always a good idea not to give the exact location of where you are going so pretend that you are going elsewhere, give a false address that is near the venue or place that you are going to, but again make sure that it is a well-lit and populated drop off point. Ask the operator for the approximate cost of the journey and have the correct money ready; this is so you do not display your wallet or purse. When booking your taxi, ask the operator for the driver’s name and will they have ID on them, the registration and colour of his/her vehicle and approximately what time it will arrive.
When the taxi arrives, ask the driver for his/her name and the name of the taxi company and all of the above. They should also carry ID which you should ask to see. Call someone and inform them of where you are, what taxi company you are using and what time you are due to arrive – think safe. If you are ever unsure about the taxi driver, do not get in the taxi or, if you have already commenced your journey, get the driver to pull over in a well-lit and populated area by pretending you are feeling unwell and want to be sick. You can even call someone whilst you are on your journey and give them a situation report (sit-rep) of where you are, the area you are in and the time you are due to arrive. Do not under any circumstances get a lift home with a stranger. Under no circumstances, get into a confrontation with the taxi driver. Stay calm, be diplomatic and don’t aggravate the situation. Wait until you have reached your destination and then make a formal complaint to the taxi company.
Clubs or pubs & restaurants
Carry out the appropriate research into the venues and area that you are visiting to ensure that it’s safe and respectable. You can type in ‘police crime area’ on your Internet browser and then click on maps. Enter the post code of where you are going to in the search box provided. You should get instant access to crime maps and data as well as details of the local policing team. It should inform you about crime and policing in the area that you are going to. If you do not have access to a computer, either get someone to do it for you or go to the nearest library. You can even visit your local police station or the one in the area you are visiting and ask for the information in person. Ask your friends and work colleagues about the venue and the area that you’re thinking of visiting and be aware of the opening and closing times of the venue or venues that you are planning to visit.
Find out if there is regular and reliable public transport to and from the venue. If there isn’t then make sure that you make reliable alternative arrangements, i.e. a reliable pre-booked taxi to and from the venue or a lift from one of your family members or a close friend. If you are driving, make sure that the car park is not far from the venue and that it’s safe and secure, and never park in a secluded or unfamiliar area. Always make sure that you have plenty of fuel and that your car is reliable and maintained. When you go out with a group of friends nominate someone to stay sober and only drink soft drinks. This is so they can drive there and back to the venue/s and also keep a watchful eye on everyone. Moderate the amount of alcohol that you and your friends consume and keep an eye on your drink in case of it being spiked, and keep an eye on each other’s drinks. If you are female and you are with a group, don’t go off with a stranger; stay with your friends, look out for each other. If there is any trouble or you are involved in an incident, report it to the manager and the security team, don’t retaliate unless it’s a matter of life or death or to stop serious injury. Always be diplomatic and avoid trouble, learn to walk away. Never meet a stranger on your own or get into a stranger’s car. If you are out socialising and you meet someone who wants a sexual relations with you but looks young in appearance and they say they are over the age of consent, however you are not sure that they are telling the truth, ask to see some form of picture ID (but remember it could be a fake ID). If you are still unsure then be polite but make your excuses. Some young teenagers who might not see it as being wrong can sometimes exaggerate their age and they don’t worry about the consequences. It is always best to plan your social events, that way there is less chance of anything going wrong and everyone can have a good time. But try and carry out research into the venue and the area that it’s located in.
Date safety & meeting someone for the first time
Meeting someone for the first time can be nerve racking especially if you haven’t had a date in a while. Planning and preparation can not only make it less stressful but it will also make it a more of an enjoyable experience. If you can, try and arrange a date through a reliable friend who can honestly say that they know the person that they have arranged for you to meet or arrange a date through a reliable and reputable dating agency. Make sure that the agency is safe and legitimate and arrange for one of your friends to check it out. Try and get to know the person before going on a date with them. Arrange your first date at lunch time, select a popular venue in a safe and populated area. If your date is in the evening, select a venue that you and your friends visit regularly (your local) which is close to your home and make sure you are aware of the opening and closing times of the venue or venues that you are planning to visit. If you are unsure about the date, either cancel it or arrange to take a secret escort with you, i.e. a friend who will from a distance, discreetly keep an eye on you. Irrespective of taking someone with you, make sure you tell someone where you are going, who with and importantly let them know what time you are coming back.
Carry with you a personal alarm, a whistle, a small torch, a small umbrella, your mobile phone and make sure that it is fully charged. Think Safe. Take plenty of money with you; ensure that you disperse it in several different places on your person (purse or wallet, socks and pocket, etc.) Also take at least one credit card. For the first couple of dates, arrange for someone to take you there and pick you up at least until you get to know your date better. Arrive at the venue at least 15 minutes before the arranged time of your date and have a good look around, i.e. find out where the toilets and the exits are located. Don’t give out too much information about yourself, especially where you live or work and don’t tell them that you live alone, get to know them first. Make sure that you wear the appropriate clothing and footwear and if you need to, take a coat with you and be careful not to give off the wrong signals. If you do take a secret escort with you, ensure that they are only a few tables away. Have some signals worked out between the two of you, just in case you are having problems and need an excuse to leave.
If you do decide to go on your own then arrange for either a family member or a friend to give you a call at least twice during the evening. This is to make sure that you are OK and it also lets your date know that someone is looking out for you. If you decide to have an alcoholic drink, make sure that you drink in moderation. It would be advisable to drink soft drinks until you get to know the person you are dating better. Keep an eye on your drink in case of it being spiked. If you go to the toilet or make a phone call, don’t leave your drink unattended, either finish it or take it with you but never leave it with your date until you get to know the person. If your date offers to buy you a drink, either go with them to the bar or go to the bar yourself. Better still, select a venue that has waiter and waitress service so you can order from your table. Don’t be persuaded to go anywhere that you are unsure of, unless you have carried out the appropriate research. If you do go on to a different venue, either inform someone or make sure that your secret escort, i.e. your friend, goes with you. If at any time throughout your date you feel uncomfortable or threatened, i.e. because your date has been drinking too much or making unwelcome advances, then make up a suitable excuse and leave. If your date tries to stop you or tries to persuade you in an aggressive manner to stay, inform your escort straight away or ask someone for help. If you do invite your date back for a nightcap then until you get to know them better, pretend that someone else is living with you, e.g. have two toothbrushes on show, two cups in the sink, both stained and you could even have the spare bedroom looking as though it has been lived in. Basically make it look like you have a house or flat-mate.
If it is your first date in a long time and you lack confidence here are a few tips: Several days before your date read several daily papers, find out what’s going on in the world, so you have plenty to talk about. Try not to engage in politics or religion but don’t be opinionated – make light-hearted conversation. Don’t have too much to drink or be open minded and light-hearted. Try not to read too much into things and don’t wear your heart on your sleeve. Watch your Ps and Qs. Go out and have a good time, but it’s always good to be prepared for any eventuality. Be in control, alert and aware of your surroundings. Don’t let the above put you off. It’s purely a guide; its aim is to ensure your safety in the event of anything untoward happening.
Hobbies & fitness training
Whatever hobby you are currently involved in or are thinking about taking up, e.g. horse riding, painting, theatrical school, or train spotting, etc., always remember to make sure that it is within your budget and capabilities. The majority of people nowadays participate in some sort of sporting activity to keep themselves fit in mind as well as body, either for personal reasons (to look and feel good and to boost their confidence), health reasons, (to help with a diet or a medical condition), socialising or because they’re naturally competitive, etc. If your chosen hobby requires you to wear specific clothing and safety equipment, don’t cut corners especially with the safety aspect. When you carry out any type of fitness, e.g. running, cycling, etc. be sure to wear the appropriate clothing and before you buy any clothing or equipment or pay any fees for your chosen hobby or fitness training, make sure it is what you want to do. Only spend what you can afford and keep within your budget.
If you buy any second-hand clothing or equipment for your chosen sport or fitness training, make sure that it is in good condition and serviceable. Seek the appropriate training or advice that you might require for your chosen hobby or fitness training, i.e. qualified and experienced staff and instructors, including a dietician. If your involved in going to a college, stables, training centre or health club, then make sure that you abide by its health, safety and security policies and procedures. You don’t have to spend enormous amounts of money to participate or enjoy a hobby or a fitness activity. A lot of hobbies or fitness activities only require a small amount of financial start-up costs and on-going outlay. If your chosen fitness activity is running then try to run in pairs (buddy system) but if you have no choice and you have to go on your own, make sure you tell someone where you are going and approximately what time you are due back. Don’t pattern set, i.e. use the same route every day and if you are female it is not advisable to go running on your own in secluded areas especially at night. However if you have no choice and you have to go on your own, make sure that you only run in safe, highly populated built-up areas and in daylight. Make sure that you tell someone where you are going and approximately what time you are due back and again don’t pattern set. It is always a good idea to join a local running club, then you’ll have plenty of choices with regards to a running partner and safety in numbers. If your hobby or fitness training involves any outdoor activity, e.g. running, horse riding or orienteering, etc. wear a fluorescent safety vest or brightly coloured top and at all times, be observant, vigilant and aware of your surroundings, i.e. stay switched on and question everything and everybody that you believe are out of place. The following are some items to think about taking with you if you go out running any great distances on your own: A small day/rucksack or bum bag, a small wallet or purse containing, cash, a credit card and ID, any cards for medical problems or blood types, whistle, mobile phone (fully charged), lightweight jacket / trousers, fleece, gloves / hat, a small bottle of water, personal alarm, small first aid kit, small torch, wet wipes and a small note book and pencil. The rucksack and warm clothing, etc. are part of a comprehensive kit list that is recommended when your hobby or fitness training involves being outside. It is only a guide and is purely optional.
Choosing the right venue for your activity
When you are trying to select (choose) a suitable college, stables, training centre or health club for your chosen hobby or a suitable gym make sure you carry out the appropriate research, e.g. search the Internet and ask around. Make sure that it has a good reputation with decent qualified and experienced staff and instructors that are also highly trained in first aid and check that it’s not a hangout for undesirables. Ensure that the location is suitable and has all the amenities, i.e. clean toilets, changing rooms, a reception or tea room, where you can, if need be, meet or leave a friend or family member, while you carry on with your chosen hobby or fitness activity. Make sure that it’s easy to get to and that is situated in a well-lit and populated area. Does the facility enable its members to participate during silent hours i.e. through the night? If it does then this method presents a risk if you are working out on your own – so take care and think safe. Ask if there is a duty caretaker or similar, just in case you need someone to help or advise. Also enquire if there is sufficient public transport to and from the venue. Make sure that it facilitates your particular hobby or fitness activity and that it’s not too expensive. All hobbies and any type of fitness training require a certain amount of discipline, commitment and financial support and from time to time you might want to change to another interest. But remember any activity, either a chosen hobby or fitness training, is good for your brain, your body and your social life. It keeps you both active and sharp.
[* Anti-entrapment technique*]
This type of sting or trick is very difficult to identify and the perpetrators will have all the answers, finance and cunning to reel you in to their ruse. The best way to combat entrapment is to not get involved in any surreptitious meetings with people you don’t know or even people you’re not sure about even those close to you. Remember one mistake could cost you your career, marriage and reputation including possible prosecution. If you do decide to talk to an individual or group of people then check them out before committing yourself and ask yourself three things – is what I’m doing honest, legal and does it sound too good? Don’t get caught out by fraudsters on the internet and certainly don’t place yourself in a compromising position that may turn out to be your worst nightmare!
This chapter covers: Travelling & working abroad / booking your flight / working abroad / do your homework / documentation required / additional requirements / students travellers check list / international terrorism & overseas research tips / suicide bombers / body language & identifying signs / being illegally detained or taken hostage / tips for if you have been detained or taken hostage / useful information the Stockholm syndrome / keep your holiday plans to yourself.
Travelling & working abroad
Because of the current climate, i.e. civil unrest and terrorism in many parts of the world and the uncertainty of your safety in the country that you are visiting, it’s always best when you travel overseas for work or pleasure to carry out a risk assessment into the stability and safety of that country and region that you are travelling to. Search the Internet, Google sites like the Foreign Office travel advice site. Make sure that you have adequate travel and life insurance which covers you for all overseas eventualities, e.g. extreme sports, natural disaster, dangerous countries and serious on-going medical conditions, etc. You will probably have to use a specialised insurance company for some of the above and it would be better to speak to a representative from the insurance company, rather than fill out a form on the Internet due to the possibility that the forms might not cater for your specific requirements. For serious on-going medical conditions, if there is a charity connected to your condition, e.g. Cancer or Parkinson’s UK, etc. you could ask them to recommend a suitable insurance company.
If you hire a vehicle whilst you are overseas make sure that you check it out thoroughly to ensure it is road worthy and safe to be on the road. Give it a good once over to ensure you highlight any dents, scratches or broken parts. Be observant, vigilant and aware of your surroundings, i.e. stay switched on, question and report everything that you believe is out of place and anybody that is acting suspiciously. Once you have arrived in the country of your destination, or prior to your departure, find out where your country’s embassy is situated and how to get there and, if you can, get a contact number. Also familiarise yourself with the location of its main airports, harbours and borders. Wherever you are flying to adhere to the country’s beliefs, traditions, health, safety, rules, regulations and security requirements. Don’t express any political or religious views and keep away from all of the advised No Go Areas. If you find yourself involved in any type of incident whilst you are abroad or travelling, e.g. lost or stolen wallet or passport or you have been assaulted, make sure that you report it to the police and if required your embassy. Make sure that you photocopy all relevant documentation and keep the originals and the copies separate and in a safe place.
Booking your flight
If you book your flight online, ensure that you give all the correct information and go over it several times and make sure that you read and understand the terms and conditions. A good way to complete your form is to have at hand all the relevant information that you require, e.g. dates that you would like to travel, the airports that you are travelling from and to, passport information, your home address information and your bank details, etc.. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then get a family member or close friend to help you and If you haven’t got access to the Internet or you would rather book your flight via an airline’s bookings adviser or travel agent, then either call the airline direct or go to your nearest travel agent. When you contact an airline, you will probably be advised that it is cheaper booking your flight via the Internet. However if you are more at ease booking your flight/s sitting opposite an individual or via the phone, then that’s the way you should do it. When you book your flights give yourself plenty of time, i.e. book several weeks prior to your departure. If you have booked your flights via the Internet then print off a flight itinerary (detailed plan of your journey) and, if required, make sure that you print off your flight tickets or boarding passes. If you have booked your flights via the phone, travel agent or your employer has done it for you, then make sure that your itinerary, flight tickets or boarding pass arrive in good time. If you are disabled and need assistance at the airport, on the plane and at the airport of your destination, then make sure you have asked for it when booking your flight and get all the appropriate inoculations and, if you can take it with you, a comprehensive first aid kit.
If you have an on-going medical condition make sure that you take with you any medications that you require, including a letter from your GP or consultant explaining your condition and detailing all your medications. Pack your bag/s a couple of days before your departure date, thoroughly check them the day before you are due to fly and then secure your luggage in a locked room where no-one has access to it so they cannot tamper with it. Make sure that you have the appropriate currency, i.e. the currency of the country that you are visiting, travellers’ cheques making sure that they are insured. If you have to order your currency, give yourself plenty of time. Make sure that you book suitable accommodation, e.g. hotel, villa, friend’s house or work place, etc. and suitable transport to and from the airports to your required destination. If required arrange for someone to meet you at the airport. Don’t carry or agree to carry anyone else’s bags for them or agree to put something in your bag for someone else. Don’t take anything with you that you shouldn’t, e.g. weapons, drugs, pets, food or any type of contraband, or anything you are unsure of. If you are in any doubt about what you can or can’t take with you then ASK! Adhere to the airline’s baggage weight restrictions and rules about the items that you can and cannot take with you. Lastly, make sure that you keep all important documents in a safe place.
Working abroad – do your homework
Carry out thorough research into the legitimacy and professionalism of the company that you are going to be employed by. Read and understand your employment contract and if you are unsure about anything, get someone to have a detailed look at the contract – especially the small print. With regard to company insurance (employee insurance) make sure that you are covered for every eventuality. If you are going to work in a hostile environment, enquire about the safety and security arrangements and make sure that the company that you are going to work for has the appropriate ‘hostile environment’ company policies and procedures in place, especially emergency evacuation drills. Carry out your own risk assessment into the stability and safety of the country and region that you are working in and make sure that it’s accurate and matches the risk assessment of the company that you’re going to be working for. Make sure that you’ve got all the relevant documentation, e.g. visa, work permit, a copy of your employment contract and insurance policy, etc.
Some of the documents that may be required are: A valid ID, an in-date passport or an EU ID card, driving licence, (both parts / international), visa/s if required, an up-to-date medical card, (with all your appropriate inoculations), work permit/s, insurance documentation, (a copy of the policy and the terms and conditions), money, (which is to be dispersed in several different places on your person e.g. wallet / purse, money belt, socks, etc.), travellers’ cheques,( make sure they are numbered and insured), debit card / visa card and inform your bank that you are going abroad, next of kin details, a comprehensive list of emergency contact numbers and spare sim card and also inform your service provider where you are traveling to All the above can be scanned and then copied on to a SD card or memory stick, which can be taken with you but must be secured in a safe place, i.e. carry with you all of your original documentation in a travel wallet, but all your copies are to be placed into your hand luggage, not your main luggage.
Additionally you should carry a spare sim card with all the appropriate contact and emergency numbers on. Make sure that both sim cards are set up for the countries that you are visiting. If you are a student and you are taking a gap year, travelling around the world or various selected continents or you are just someone who wants to see the world, put together a traveller’s checklist which should aid you when planning such an event. – see below.
Student traveller’s check list
Carry out all the appropriate research into the country that you are visiting and take with you the correct clothing and if required the correct equipment, just in case your trip involves any kind of activity where equipment is involved, e.g. snorkel, climbing harness and helmet, etc. Nominate a point of contact; ask somebody who is responsible and can read a map, e.g. a family member or close friend, but make sure it is somebody who would know what to do in case of an emergency. Arrange to contact this individual at pre-arranged legs of your journey, at least every 2–3 days, in order for you to give them a sit-rep (situation report). Remember it’s only a phone call and about one minute of your time. Try and plan every detail of your trip, prepare an itinerary and leave it with your designated point of contact. Make sure you have the appropriate insurance which covers every eventuality in each country that you’re visiting. If you can adopt the buddy system, ask someone to go with you, e.g. a fellow student, or a close friend, etc. Lastly make sure that all your affairs are in order, e.g. you’ve made a current and up-to-date will; and remember think safe.
International terrorism & overseas research tips
International terrorism is a worldwide problem so if you are planning to either work or have a holiday overseas, it is always best to know what countries and regions/areas to avoid. The best way to do this is to carry out basic research into the country or region/area that you are planning to visit. Before you book your tickets carry out a basic area/region or country safety risk assessment. For overseas travel if you are ever unsure about a country or region that you are planning to visit, contact the Foreign Office and ask them what countries and regions are safe and which ones are not and are basically No Go Areas. Ask for a thorough risk assessment and adhere to the advice given. If you do not have access to a computer get someone to do it for you. Below is a list of websites that will assist you: Google: Foreign office travel advice and click on travel abroad which should give you a list of countries for you to receive up to date advice. Google: Police abroad terrorist attacks: Foreign & commonwealth office and click on reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad. Google: Countries to avoid and click on dangerous travel. Google: British Embassy: Dangerous travel: Countries to avoid. If you are working abroad seek advice from the company that you are working for. However their procedures should stipulate where you can go and where you can’t. Ask your travel agent what countries, regions / areas are safe and what areas are not and are best avoided. When you have arrived at the country of your destination, seek advice from your own embassy, your hotel or local police station and ask what regions / areas are safe and what are not and are best avoided and deemed No Go Areas. A terrorist attack can take place in any country at any time and it doesn’t necessarily mean an attack will be by a suicide bomber. Random attacks by radicalised extremists can take place at anytime, anywhere, using any type of weapon, e.g. guns, grenades, knives, machetes, cars, acid, anything that will cause loss of life, mayhem, fear and destruction. No matter what country or region / area that you’re in or what you are doing, always be observant, vigilant and aware with regard to your immediate surroundings. Remember, always think safe. Find out what the terrorism hot-line telephone number is and either memorise it or write it down and carry a notebook around with you, so you can write down any relevant information and then report it to the police or you can use your mobile phone as a Dictaphone. Look out for anyone who is out of place and acting suspiciously and question anything out of place or out of the ordinary and then report it to the police or a similar agency. Don’t approach anyone who is acting suspiciously; report your concerns to the police.
Terrorists use (improvised explosive devices) for maximum impact, i.e. causing as much death and destruction as possible and for self-preservation, so they can get away unhurt. But suicide bombers don’t care if they blow up themselves along with innocent men, women and children. So if you see anything out of place or anyone acting suspiciously, report it straight away to the police or similar, but do it discreetly so as not to cause panic and thoroughly check the suspect’s body language! If there is no time to do anything and it is obvious that a suicide bomber is activating a device on his/her person then if you cannot make good your escape then quickly hit the deck straight away and make yourself a smaller target.
Body language identifying signs
Look for anyone looking and acting extremely suspiciously, nervousness, over dressed, out of place, over confident, spaced out (maybe high on drugs), trying to conceal something, maybe clean shaven, or carrying a rucksack or similar. They could be muttering or ranting on about something. The terrorist’s aim is simple, to divide and instil total fear into our every being. But as long as we all stand together, condemn their actions, stand up for common decency and each other, they will never win.
Being illegally detained or taken hostage
Being detained illegally against your will or being taken hostage whilst you are overseas would be one of the most traumatic experiences of your life. Don’t ever think it couldn’t happen to you. In this day and age and in the current climate it could happen to any one of us. Why are we targeted? Money, religion, political, bargaining chip or personal vendetta; the list is endless. You can limit the possibility of being taken hostage by carrying out a thorough risk assessment of the country and region that you are intending to visit and adhering to the advice given. But if you are unfortunate enough to be taken hostage, try and stay calm and be submissive. Don’t look your attacker/s in the eye and try and follow the guidelines below.
Tips for if you have been detained or taken hostage
Do not bring any attention to yourself and lay the grey man/woman. If at all possible try and carry cigarettes and matches with you in order to break down the language and communication barrier. At all times be observant and aware of your surroundings and if you are moved from one location to another, try and remember the route. Count and remember how many attackers there are. Give them the information/cash/valuables that they ask for and do not play games. Try to monitor what weapons the attackers have no matter how trivial you may think of the situation. Look for any likely escape routes and, if an opportunity arises, take it, but in the event of this happening try and leave enough space between you and the attacker/s to make good your escape. If your captors start torturing or executing people, then if possible make your move straight away and I mean, Your captors could be anybody, e.g. part of an organised crime syndicate, local militants or gangsters whose intention is to sell you on for profit to hard-line fundamentalists or extremists whose intention is either to make a political or religious statement, hold you for ransom or use you as a bargaining chip. Whatever the reason doesn’t matter, what does matter is securing your release unhurt and alive. If they are killing hostages and help is non-existent what have you to lose?
Useful information – the Stockholm Syndrome
There’s a study called the Stockholm syndrome, which developed following an incident in the early seventies, where several people were taken hostage and after a while some of the captives showed empathy and sympathy towards their captors. The point is, if your captors try to convince you that what they are doing is right and for the good of their cause or similar, you can use this to plan your escape by convincing them you empathise and sympathise with what they are doing. In turn they might give you a bit more freedom whilst you are being held captive which would enable you to make good your escape, but remember this is extremely dangerous and can result in the loss of your life and others too.
Stockholm syndrome, or capture–bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. Stockholm syndrome is named after the Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm, Sweden, in which several bank employees were held hostage in a bank vault from 23 to 28 August 1973. During this situation the victims became emotionally attached to their captors and rejected assistance from government officials at one point and even defended them after they were freed from their six-day ordeal. The term “Stockholm syndrome” was coined by the criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot, using the term in a news broadcast. It was originally defined by psychiatrist Frank Ochberg to aid the management of hostage situations.
Keep your holiday plans to yourself
When you decide to go on holiday don’t advertise the fact and certainly don’t send holiday snaps back to friends via Facebook. This tells others that you’re not at home so be careful.
This chapter covers: Self-defence preparation / selecting a suitable martial arts club or gym / basic technical self-defence techniques (TDT) / basic martial arts moves / being attacked.
Right now, yes right now start training, get physically and mentally fit. If you’re not a fitness person then start to look after yourself by walking, running or swimming to get your basic fitness levels up. It will improve your confidence and self-esteem as well as preparing you for a self-defence club or gym. If you are the victim of bullying then remember that you have decided that enough is enough so be selective in choosing your friends and places to go. Keep your attacker in front of you and never take your eyes off them and try and be diplomatic and walk away. As you are doing this, remember to keep one eye on your attacker/s and try to stay calm and composed. Don’t aggravate or antagonise an already fragile situation but try not to show fear, it is deemed as weakness in the eyes of your attacker.
Selecting a suitable martial arts club/gym
One of the best ways to select a suitable martial arts club is by recommendation. You can ask your friends, family, your school, college or your local youth club, etc. and can also search the Internet for clubs that are situated in your area. Try and select a club that will give you the appropriate training, attitude, confidence and belief in yourself. You don’t want to be turned into a fighter but somebody who can defend not only yourself, but your family, friends and your work colleagues too and who is not afraid to step in and help that passer-by who fears for his/her life. Make sure it has a good reputation with decent qualified and experienced instructors that are also highly trained in first aid and make sure, that it’s not full of undesirables. Ensure that the location is suitable and has all the amenities, e.g. clean toilets, changing rooms, a reception or tea room, where you can if need be, meet or leave a friend or family member, while you carry on with your training. Make sure that it’s easy to get to and it is situated in a well-lit and populated area. Ask if there is a duty caretaker or similar, just in case you need someone’s help or advice. Also enquire if there is sufficient public transport to and from the venue. Make sure that it facilitates your chosen martial art and that it’s not too expensive.
Basic technical self-defence techniques (TDT)
Try and learn some all-round basic self-defence, e.g. judo, jujitsu, boxing, Thai boxing and TDT (technical defence training), etc. Knowing how and when to defend yourself is paramount in this day and age. If you are ever knocked to the ground by one or more attackers who then try to kick you whilst you’re on the ground make yourself a small target and protect your head. If you can roll up into a ball and try to face your attackers observing them through your arms that are protecting your face and head. Swivel on your backside in whatever direction your attacker is facing so the attacker cannot kick your head. If there are multiple attackers simply try to protect your head and body by rolling up in a tight ball using your legs and arms as shields. Seeking professional advice is worth its money in gold.
Basic martial art moves
There are three fundamentals, stance, distance and movement. Your stance has got to be well-balanced and grounded with an element of flexibility. The distance has got to be a good arm’s length from your opponent, so as to weaken their strike and power ability. Your movement has got to be sharp, fluid and, above all, well-balanced. There are many types of blocking techniques so it is always best to join a local recognised club run by qualified professionals, who will train you accordingly. However if you incorporate a good firm stance, full body movement using a step-slide technique, your upper body lateral movement lessens the power of your attackers strike.
If you are unfortunate enough to be attacked, try not to panic, stay calm and if the opportunity arises then make good your escape, but only if there is a very good chance of doing so without getting hurt. Stay calm and be diplomatic, don’t aggravate the situation and at all times be observant, vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Do not look your attacker/s in the eye and leave enough space between you and the attacker/s, to make good your escape. I.e. keep a good arms distance and use your outstretched arm to maintain that safe distance. When defending yourself, remember to incorporate, stance, distance and movement and remember do not bring any attention to yourself, play the grey man/woman. Count how many attackers there are and if you have no other option, then give them the information, cash or valuables that they ask for and do not play games. If you can, discreetly try and raise the alarm and look for any likely escape routes and if an opportunity arises then make good your escape. If the assailants inflict any type of violence on you or your companions, or start taking people out (I don’t mean for a meal either) then make your move straight away and I mean, straight away! Use your pre-programmed ETM or SD via your mobile and call the police when safe to do so.
If you are being attacked or you perceive that you might be, then you have the right to defend yourself so if you have an umbrella, an attaché case or if you’re out riding your horse and you have a crop (horse whip) with you, then use them to defend yourself and fend off your attacker/s. Block all attempts by your attacker/s to hurt or abduct you by using your arms and hands as shields or blockers. But remember; only use proportionate, justifiable reasonable force in the situation that you face and remember to stay within the parameters of the law. My advice is if your life is in imminent danger use whatever you have or can get hold of to defend yourself, i.e. a waist belt (buckle end), shoe, walking stick, umbrella, newspaper rolled up, deodorant spray, etc. anything that may save your life. If you don’t have access to these then use your head, feet, hands or mouth to force your attacker to let go by head butting, kicking, scratching or biting them on any part of their body. Poke your fingers in their eyes eye’s fully or kick and swing your arms and feet continuously to try and get away from your attackers grip. Scream loudly. Remember you could lose your life so try your hardest to defend yourself and stick it to the attacker. As soon as you can and only when it’s safe to do so, contact the police by calling 999 and tell them what has happened. In this ever-changing world that we live in it is good to be able to live your life in the knowledge that you can look after yourself. If you are unsure of how much force you can use, then seek advice from your local police.
This chapter covers: Debt / debt prevention / banking / shop around / loans / personal security when using an ATM or bank / savings / three questions to ask yourself / financial advisors / pensions ISAs & investing into your property / loan sharks / clients who refuse to pay / household money saving tips.
In the current climate there are many reasons for getting into debt, e.g. running a business, being made redundant, becoming a single parent, illness, university fees and living beyond your means, etc. Nowadays it’s so easy to get into debt and can happen to the best of us, sometimes without really realising it. The key to getting out of debt is firstly acknowledging you’ve got a problem, secondly recognising the source of the problem and thirdly putting a stop to it. Don’t bury your head in the sand as ignoring your debt problem will not make it go away. The key to getting out of debt is not just acknowledgment, recognition and a plan to stop. It’s more than that, it’s actually really wanting to get out of debt and really meaning it. You could say it’s having the right state of mind and that’s what you’ve got to do; you’ve got to be disciplined and you have stick to your plan. Get some help and talk to someone about it or seek advice from a family member, a good friend, the Citizens Advice Bureau or a reputable Financial Adviser. Search the Internet for money advice and see if there are any reputable companies and websites that specialise in debt and debt prevention and can give you the correct advice.
Make a note of all your current expenditure, i.e. incomings, outgoings and ascertain how much money that leaves you with. Put your plan of action together to not only rid yourself of your current debt but to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. If needs be, seek professional help. Go on line and view your credit report and find out what your credit score is. Knowing your credit score can form part of your plan to help you get out of debt. You can use it as a gage so make a note of your credit score now and promise yourself that from now on, every time you view it, it’ll improve. Create a brand new file and make a log of everything, both incomings and outgoings and make sure you time and date it. On a regular basis check your bank statements and keep all the relevant documentation, i.e. statements, reminders, etc. in your file. Don’t be afraid to open your mail, make a note of when it was delivered and then deal with it, either by calling or writing to the sender.
Inform your bank, creditors or service providers that you are experiencing financial difficulties and that you need advice and help. Tell them what the problem is and why your current situation has occurred, e.g. illness, the current financial climate, cash flow problems, non-payment by one of your clients, etc. Arrange a meeting, but remember to be completely honest. If you’ve written a letter, get someone to have a look at it before you send it. If you’ve arranged a meeting then take someone with you, even if it’s just for moral support. Offer your creditors a repayment even if it’s just the absolute minimum and that is all you can afford; it is better than nothing. But offer them something. Enquire about a repayment programme. If the person or department that represents your creditors doesn’t offer any help, then immediately ask to see someone else and keep on doing this until you are satisfied that everything has or is being done to assist you. If your creditors will not listen at all and they offer you no assistance whatsoever, then as a last resort, report them to the Financial Ombudsman immediately. If you read your contract it should say that your creditor should offer you help and every available opportunity for you to repay your debt. If you need to, then contact a debt management company; make sure they have a good reputation, but only do so if you cannot deal with the problem yourself. If you’re running a business and it has a cash flow problem or if you’re in personal financial difficulty, talk to the banks, ask for their help. If they refuse to help you, make a formal complaint and if you’re still not satisfied then contact the Financial Ombudsman and even get your local MP involved, that’s what they are there for. Ask your family and friends for financial help; don’t let pride or stubbornness get in the way. If you receive a letter from a debt recovery company (debt collectors), regarding an outstanding debt or late payment, don’t worry, just give them a call and explain the situation to them; the least it’ll do, is buy you more time. If you receive a letter from a debt recovery company (debt collectors), regarding an outstanding debt or late payment which you know nothing about, give them a call and explain to them that you don’t owe anything to the company that instructed them. Either they have made an innocent mistake or they are trying it on. If you have any documentation to prove that you have previously made the suggested non-payment, send a copy to the recovery company and let them sort it out.
Bankruptcy is when you are trading and registered as a sole trader (not a limited company). The courts can take all your personal assets (if you have any) to repay back all the money that you owe, etc. Liquidation is when you are trading as a limited company. The courts would/could liquidate your company and sell off all its assets (if it has any), to pay off all its creditors, including any personnel asset/s that you have signed over to your limited company to act as a personal guarantee for your company. Employ austerity measures both in your personal and business life. However, sometimes in business you have to spend money to make money so I believe a little bit of both could be the answer. If you are unsure of your rights then seek advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau, the National Debt line, your financial adviser and money saving websites.
Learn from your past mistakes and monitor your incomings, monthly expenditure, including your credit report and keep your credit score at a level that you are happy with. Learn to manage your finances and only spend what you can afford and If you have a personal credit card, use it for emergencies only. If you have a business credit card, use it sparingly and only for business purposes and if you don’t trust yourself with a credit card, don’t have one. Learn to save, start putting some money to one side. Stay away from companies that offer short term loans; the interest can be criminal and some of them can be as bad as loan sharks. If you believe that you are slipping back into debt, recognise the signs and then seek advice from a family member, good friend, your bank manager, financial adviser or speak to your local Citizens Advice Bureau. But do it now and always remember, that prevention is far better than any cure so learn to control your cash, don’t let your cash, control you!
Choosing the right bank can be a lengthy process, especially in this day and age and managing your finances is a serious business. So make sure the bank you choose, takes you seriously too. Remember, you’re the client and you’ve always got more than one option.
Shop around and learn by your previous mistakes by selecting the right bank for you that can offer you the best interest rates on your savings, loan and credit card accounts. Carry out research via the Internet (money advice), select a bank that has a good all round reputation and facilitates all your needs, also make sure it isn’t having any financial difficulties. If you are still unsure about which bank is best for you, seek the advice from a reputable financial advisor and make a list of everything that you would like to ask your potential new bank. Spread your savings, open at least two different accounts at two different banks and remember, you don’t have to inform each bank that you have an account with another bank. Your savings are protected by the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) which is government backed. The scheme protects up to £85,000 of your savings, in the unlikely event that anything should happen to your bank, building society or credit union. As quoted from the FSCS’s website
If you don’t understand your bank’s terminology, jargon or loan contracts, ask the bank to explain and always read and understand the bank’s terms and conditions and read all the small print. Keep all your bank documents, loan and credit card contract and statements in a safe place. If you don’t get on with your business or personal relationship manager, i.e. there is a conflict of interest, personality clash or your professional relationship has broken down (trust issues), then don’t be afraid to ask to be dealt with by someone else. Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns, make a note of everything, i.e. phone calls, meetings and letters sent and received. Write down and log everything and don’t forget to time and date it.
Make sure that you get the best rate and importantly make sure that you can afford the repayments. If you want to make an official complaint then make it through the bank’s customer complaint department or if you’re still not satisfied then make a complaint through the Financial Ombudsman. If you’ve got a problem then deal with it head on, don’t bury your head in the sand and be honest. If you ever receive any random phone calls or emails from anyone supposedly from your bank, asking to confirm your details, never under any circumstances give them any information or answer any questions. Put the phone down and then call your bank on the number that you already have. The same applies if you receive a letter from a bogus debt collection company which is masquerading as an agent for your bank. The bottom line is if you are ever unsure about anything then contact your bank direct.
If you are owed money from your bank, mortgage or credit card company for a PPI claim or charges make sure that you have all the evidence in regard to the claim and contact the bank or company involved to see what they have to say. If they are not helpful or just plain difficult, seek advice from a reputable financial advisor, the Financial Ombudsman or local Citizens Advice Bureau. If you use a professional company to claim back the money for you, they could charge you in the region of 29%, so why not claim the money back yourself. If it’s the forms you don’t understand or find too difficult, ask someone whom you know who has been successful with a claim, or a family member to help you. You can save yourself a lot of money.
Personal security when using an ATM or bank
Don’t let anyone know your personal pin number and ensure you memorise it. If you have it written at home, work or anywhere else, then make sure that it’s in a safe place, preferably in a personal safe. Always be vigilant and aware of your surroundings and the general public. Also try not to have any valuables on show and ensure that your handbag / man bag is closed. While you are using the ATM or bank, don’t use your mobile phone or let yourself be distracted by anything else. Always be prepared for distraction techniques, i.e. a feint or decoy attacks. Ensure that the ATM or bank is situated in a well-lit and populated area and have a good look at the ATM machine to see if it’s been tampered with. If it does not look right then don’t use it and report it to the bank. Conceal your personal pin number when you are drawing cash out of an ATM by covering the pin with your hand or anything else your holding and make sure that no one is directly behind you.
Prior to using the ATM or bank, make sure that you have your card ready for use and easily accessible, but not in your wallet or purse. This is to combat against getting your purse or wallet out in the street and in front of strangers. When the ATM dispenses your cash, discreetly put it straight into your wallet / purse or in a secure pocket and then walk away. Check it when you’ve moved away from the machine and if there is a discrepancy regarding the amount that you have drawn out, report it straight away or as soon as you can and always get a receipt, which will aid you if there is a discrepancy. When the cashier hands over your cash, check it and then discreetly put it straight into your wallet, purse or in a secure pocket and then walk away. Make sure that you do this before leaving the bank.
If the cashier asks you for any of your personal details or needs you to confirm who you are, write them down and discreetly pass them over to the cashier rather than verbally giving them, because you don’t know who’s listening! If you are drawing out a lot of money, take someone with you but make sure you know them really well and they are definitely trust worthy. If you are suspicious of someone’s actions, i.e. hanging around the ATM or bank and they are looking nervous and agitated, then don’t draw any cash out, simply walk away and use a different machine or branch. But if it has alarmed you and given you cause for concern, report the incident to the police and the bank. Basically report anything that you deem suspicious and anyone acting suspiciously.
Try not to use the ATM or bank every day and if possible take someone with you and draw enough money out to last you a week. If you don’t like using ATMs or banks, take someone with you preferably a close relative or friend, again make sure they are trust worthy. Never put yourself into a situation that makes you feel uneasy. If you are elderly, have a disability or you are feeling vulnerable, again take someone with you, i.e. a close relative or friend or if you have one, you could take your registered carer. However the same rule as above applies, ensure they are trust worthy. You could even ask one of the above to go on your behalf, but you must give them written permission by way of a letter with your banking and contact details on. Instructing them to either draw out or deposit cash on your behalf, which they then can hand over to the cashier or adviser. But make sure that you sign and date it. They must also have with them some sort of photographic ID, preferably a current driving licence or passport and make sure it’s in date. If you cannot find someone to go for you or you have no one to go with you and you have no other choice but to go on your own. Then as soon as you arrive at the bank ask an adviser or cashier for their help. They will be more than obliging. You could even contact the bank prior to you going in order for the bank to arrange for one of their assistants to be ready and waiting to help you on your arrival. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for your bank for help. Don’t pattern-set, i.e. using the same ATM or bank at the same location at the same time every day / week and try to use different machines and banks at various locations. If you are ever unfortunate enough to be attacked at an ATM or outside the bank, don’t play games with your attackers or try and be the hero. It might not be just your life that you’re putting at risk, you could be putting other lives at risk too. Give them what they want, report everything to the police and the bank and let them do the rest. When you use your credit card to purchase something either online or over the phone and you give any unknown company your credit card details, then make sure before doing so that you have carried out the appropriate research into the legitimacy of the company you are dealing with. Ask every conceivable question to the company’s customer services department. It is always best to be cautious. If you misplace or lose your banking details or credit card, report it to the bank straight away. If your bank or credit cards are stolen then report it to the police and your bank straight away. The police will be give you an incident number and take a statement from you, which you will then pass on to your bank. Check your bank statement on a regular basis, every three days or so. This alerts you if you ever become the victim of fraud. If you believe you have, then straight away, report it to the police and your bank. The police will give you an incident number and take a statement from you, which you will then pass on to your bank. If you prefer to use the internet or phone options for your banking transactions, make sure that you conceal your banking details and also that you are out of range (earshot) when you are talking to an adviser, so no one can listen to your conversation.
It is always a good idea to put something aside for that rainy day or more importantly your retirement. But the reality is that you cannot always afford or are in a position to. If you don’t try and save something for your retirement or that rainy-day, they could both turn into a thunderstorm.
Select the best saving plan that facilitates your needs and seek the advice from a reputable financial advisor. Search the Internet to see if there are any reputable companies and websites that specialise in giving savings advice. Ask your family and friends if they have a pension plan; if so what is it and how does it work. But what suits one person doesn’t necessary suit another so make sure that you seek the correct advice with regard to your savings plan from your financial advisor. Always try and put a little something to one side because something is always better than nothing and only save what you can afford, build a smaller rainy-day and retirement fund. You can always add to it at a later date.
Three questions to ask yourself
Wouldn’t you like to have it a little easier financially when you’re older and not have to worry with regard to paying your bills, having a holiday or buying a new car, etc.? When you are out shopping and you are contemplating buying something as a treat for yourself, think for a moment and ask yourself do you really need this or would the money be best put to one side for you future? When you are retired and financially secure, wouldn’t it be good to be in a position to help a family member or a friend who are experiencing the same financial problems as you once did by simply sharing information with them?
Financial advisors, pensions, ISA’s & investing into your own property
Shop around search the Internet for money-saving advice and make sure that you talk to an established financial advisor who can advise you on the correct savings plan. Make a list of everything that you would like to ask them, e.g. pension plans, ISAs and investing money into your own property, etc. Remember that each pension plan is different and is dependent on your employment status, i.e. employee, self-employed or running a company and make sure that you only pay in to the pension plan that you can afford. Ask your Financial Adviser which pension plan or ISA is the best for you and facilitates your needs. If you are employed, how much of a contribution does your employer pay into your pension plan? If you are paying into a private pensions plan, how much of a contribution does the government pay into your pension plan and enquire whether your pension is index-linked? Is it true that with most pensions plans you are locked into until the age of 55, which basically means that if you get into a situation where you are in desperate need of cash, then unfortunately you will not be able to draw any from your pension? Does your pension agreement (contract) clearly lay out, that if you are unfortunate enough to become seriously ill, they might or will make allowances and allow you to draw on your pension earlier due to serious ill health? Is this dependent on the type or seriousness of your illness? What about alternative savings options, i.e. property development projects, safe deposit boxes, etc. or investing money into your own property?
All the above are example questions, no doubt you’ll think of several more and don’t be pressured into signing anything that you are unsure of. If you don’t understand your financial advisors terminology or jargon, ask them to explain it in simple terms. If you don’t understand your pension plan or ISA contract, including the terms and conditions, ask your financial advisor and don’t forget to read all the small print. Ask for copies of all documentation and make a note / log of everything, i.e. phone calls, meetings and letters sent and received and don’t forget to time and date it. Keep all contract and statements in a safe place or file and from time to time read them. Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns.
Only one thing to say about loan sharks! No matter how desperate you are or things get, there has got to be a better solution. All they are interested in is getting you hooked and making money and they don’t care how they do it!
Search the Internet for companies and websites that can give you advice when dealing with loan sharks. Initially the loan shark company might deny being connected to any such organisation or they will make it blatantly obvious who they are. They will state that they are, and run, a legitimate company, they might even say that they are registered and licensed and even produce the relevant paperwork, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the paperwork is fake. They will use their charm and powers of persuasion and manipulation to sway you, but remember, what they do is illegal and will end in tears. They will make you think that it’s just a media witch hunt and bad press with regard to the way they operate. The amount that you borrow will increase each time until they’ve got you believing that this is too good to be true, but that’s what they want you to believe. Once you’re behind with your payments, they will then show their true colours; they will increase the agreed repayment amount and the interest will go sky high. That’s when the pressure starts! They will threaten not only you but your family too. They use intimidation and bullying tactics and manipulate your situation to their advantage and they will take everything from you, they could even hurt you or your family. The repayment and the interest will cripple you and they will make you think that there is a solution to your problem, which is to borrow more! It’s a trap, a ploy, just to get you in deeper and they will also make you think that you are on your own and that they are the only ones who can help you. If you’re a female or even a male and you get behind with your payments, then they could even demand sexual favours. Go down that road and it’s a sure thing, for worse to come. That’s when they show their real colours of exactly who they are! Think about it!!
If you are already involved with a loan shark and you’re feeling desperate, don’t worry, contact the Citizens Advice Bureau and the police straight away. Ask for anonymity and inform them of what the problem is. Remember the police are on your side (take someone with you). Keep copies of all documentation on file, make a note of everything that’s happened from day one, i.e. phone calls, text messages, meetings and letters sent and received. Don’t forget to time and date each entry and take this with you when you go to the police. Expose the loan sharks for who they really are! Criminals who are nothing but blood-sucking leeches who prey on the vulnerable. Never think that you are on your own or that there is nothing that you can do to stop the situation that you are faced with. There is always going to be someone out there to listen and then help you find a way out, e.g. a close family member, a close friend, the police and the Citizens Advice Bureau. If you are frightened of the repercussions then don’t be, stay strong and focus yourself on the end result.
Clients that refuse to pay
This section looks at the situation where one of your clients has employed your services and they break their contract (verbal or in written form), i.e. refuse or try to get out of paying for the service that you have supplied and they will not listen to reason.
Search the Internet for companies and websites including the Citizens Advice Bureau, who can give advice about clients that owe you money. Make sure that when they initially employed your services that they agreed and accepted your quotation and conditions of work and that it is clearly written down in your contract or letter of instruction that they are responsible for all your costs. Write them a letter explaining the initial terms of that contract and inform them that they are in breach of that agreement. Inform them that they will incur additional costs if you haven’t received payment within 10 days of receipt of the letter. Make it crystal clear that if payment is still withheld the matter will be passed on to your collections department or an outside agency and that you are also taking legal advice which will incur further costs that they will be responsible for. At the same time contact the OFT or the Citizens Advice Bureau or small claims court and inform them of what has happened and seek their advice. If your client that you have made a complaint about tries to be clever and employs a solicitor who is instructed to send you legal letters full of complicated terminology and legal jargon, in order to put you off taking your complaint any further, well don’t be! Pursue it until justice is served and you are happy with the end result! To combat this from happening again, ensure that all future contracts under the terms and conditions stipulate that no work will be carried out until full payment, 50% or part payment is received, or something along those lines. Additionally make sure that the company or person that is trying to employ your services has the appropriate funds and is not going into liquidation, bankruptcy or similar. Also if you employ somebody who has a record of bankruptcy, it is their duty by law to inform you and if they don’t then they are in breach of contract. If somebody or a company owes you money and you have done everything in your power to retrieve what is rightfully yours, e.g. re-invoiced and written letters, but to no avail, I suggest that you seek legal advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau and hold the offending individual/s to account in a small claims court where the maximum that you can claim for is £5,000 plus costs. Don’t be put off by the legalities and the somewhat seemingly daunting task; if you don’t try you’ll never know. Remember, stay within the boundaries of the law when pursuing any money that is owed to you and make sure that you have the evidence and any witnesses to support your claim.
Household money saving tips
You’ll be surprised just how much money you can save in your home environment, but make sure that any household saving tips that involve electrical appliances meet with the current fire prevention regulations.
Search the Internet for companies and websites that can give good advice about household money saving tips. Speak to your energy provider; make sure that you are on the cheapest gas and electricity tariff and ask them about energy saving tips. They could recommend a payment plan or meter. Also if you are elderly or disabled ask them if you meet the right criteria for a yearly one-off payment (warm home allowance) to help you with your bills. If you feel that your energy provider is not offering you the most economical deal, you could switch from one utility service provider to another. Search the Internet for the best deals and ask a family member or close friend to help you. There are companies that can provide most of your utility services, e.g. gas, electric, landline and mobile phone, etc. therefore combining all your bills into one, which means you will only have to pay one single payment per month. But make sure that it is more economical, and read all the small print. When not in use, turn all your electrical appliances off at the plug source, this is so your appliances are not continually on standby (red light), this will save electricity. Change all your light bulbs to longer-lasting energy saving bulbs and ensure that your loft, walls and your immersion heater are well insulated. Check online to enquire if you are entitled to have free cavity and attic insulation.
Make sure that all your doors, windows and your letter box have a tight seal. If your windows aren’t double glazed, improvise and make your own with a layer of clear plastic, but make sure that it is safe and that you can open them if needed. For the winter months have thicker curtains fitted; if you can’t afford to, then just improvise with a sheet or blanket. Again make absolutely sure that it is safe to do so. For the rooms that you are trying to keep warm you can also use a door draft excluder. If you cannot afford any, then improvise; you can use an old rolled up blanket. Ensure that you turn off all lights in the rooms that aren’t being used. Don’t under any circumstances nail shut any doors or windows. Only heat the rooms that you use, turn the radiators off in the rest. If you have children and they have homework to do, then set aside one room which is sufficiently heated, incorporate a roster system so they can take it in turns to use it or, if they get on well enough, have them use it together. Set your radiators on a lower heating for a longer period of time and in winter or cold spells close all windows and doors so as to keep the warmth in. Only have your heating on when it’s really needed and turn it down one or two degrees if necessary. When you go to the toilet only flush it when you need to. When it’s really cold, wear a thick woollen dressing gown with several layers of warm clothing and thick woollen socks and a thick woollen hat. In the daytime hours wear a thick woollen jumper with several thin layers of clothing underneath. Use your washing machine on a lower temperature or even a cold wash and don’t wash your clothes, bedding or your towels as often, use air fragrance instead. Don’t use your tumble dryer as much, dry your washing on the line or an indoor clothes rack or even on your radiators, that’s as long as it is safe to do so. Have a shower not a bath, give yourself a time limit and lower the temperature setting and share a towel, you can also share a bath with your partner or use it after they have. When boiling a kettle, fill it with the amount of water that you actually need, i.e. one or two cupful’s. If you have just washed the dishes, don’t drain the water away, keep it until you are sure that there are no more dishes to be washed and don’t let anyone pour the remainder of their tea or coffee into the bowl. When you are sure there are no more dishes to be washed bail (put) the water into a water tight bucket or similar and then place the bucket outside, ready to be used to water your plants or clean your yard, etc. When you use the cooker, ask everyone in the household do they want anything cooking; it could well be that you can cook both meals at the same time. When you go out food shopping, rather than buy expensive meals, try traditional meals instead e.g. eggs on toast (poached, fried, scrambled), beans on toast, cheese on toast or any type of toasted sandwich. You can add side dishes like salad or similar to make sure that you and your family are getting a well-balanced meal. Look for bargains, like buy-one-get-one-free items that are near their sell-by date, just put them in your freezer to eat at a later date. Look for supermarkets value brands, they can be really cheap, e.g. toilet paper, bleach, washing up liquid, tined potatoes, soup, vegetables, mince and stews, etc.
Don’t waste any food! You can either save it for the next day or freeze it for a later date or you could even take it along to your local homeless charity. Buy a second-hand chest freezer and if you’re friendly with your neighbour buy one between the two of you, but don’t overfill it. Learn basic household DIY, car mechanics and gardening it will save you a lot of money in the long term. Only go out for a meal on special occasions and shop around for restaurants with reasonable prices that you can afford. Don’t go to the cinema, have a movie night indoors instead. You can make your own popcorn, ice cream and hotdogs. It’s a lot cosier. Rather than watch TV all the time, play a family game or, better still, have a family debate, but make it light-hearted (not too serious).
Keep your car well maintained you can do a lot of the basic service requirements yourself or ask a family member or a friend to help you. Don’t go out shopping for new clothes; re-invent some of the clothes that you already have. The same applies to your furniture, i.e. a touch of paint, a new cover and new cushions, etc. Try shopping in your local charity shops and car-boot sales for clothes as well as furniture you’ll be amazed of what you can pick up. If you find yourself desperate for money, think about asking your family and friends for financial help, don’t let pride or stubbornness get in the way. If you’ve got a mobile phone and a landline ask yourself do you really need both. With regard to your mobile phone, one of the best ways to monitor and control your usage, without worrying about a contract or monthly bills, is to pay-as-you-go as there are some really good deals. The same applies when you use the Internet, i.e. a pay-as-you-go sim card in your device or look for free Wi-Fi in various places and outlets. This method might be dearer than a contract, however you only use what you can afford, which means you are free from the stress that can go with a contract. Instruct your service provider/s to cap your phone at a set amount per month, i.e. £10 etc., which means you can’t go over that amount! Also have it caped so you can’t call directory enquiries or any premier numbers, etc.
Ask if you can have incoming calls only except when contacting the emergency services or think about asking your service provider to install a pay phone again except when you need to contact the emergency services. Sell something that you don’t really need or want any more and clear the garage/shed out and hold a car boot sale. Think about going to a pawnbroker, but make sure that it is a well-established and respectable one who will clearly outline their terms and conditions which will be easily understood and will be written into the contract that you will sign. But remember, if you are not sure then seek advice. You could even start up a little business that offers domestic services, e.g. ironing, sewing cooking and cleaning services or even gardening and rubbish / clear-out removal services. But make sure that whatever you decide to do is legal and legitimate. Car sharing, with a family member, friend or work colleague, for work and social activities and walking or cycling to work and your local shops. Renting out a room or half the house or maybe downsizing your property either within the same area or a completely different location where property is cheaper to buy. Thinking about selling your property and living in rented accommodation instead or moving in with a family member or close friend.
These are just the tip of the iceberg, there is so much you can do with little money, you’ll be surprised as well as pleased and it can be a lot of fun. All the information is designed to help you out when you find yourself in a difficult financial situation. It is not designed to feed an addiction, like gambling, drug or sex addictions.
All the financial information is based on the author’s own experiences; he is not a financial advisor nor professes to be one. He has many years of experience when dealing with various difficult financial situations and is basically sharing his experiences and solutions with the general public in the hope that they will not make the same mistakes.
Illness, Stress & Drugs
This chapter covers: Serious ill health / identifying signs of ill health / have you got serious ill health problems? / How to combat ill health / social drug taking / sign of social drug taking / illnesses that are linked to social drug taking / how to combat social drug taking / once you realise that there is a problem.
Serious ill health
We all sometimes take our health for granted and no-one anticipates falling ill, but it can happen to any one of us at any time in our life. However, we do have some control in combating serious ill health by living our life as healthily as we can and taking care not to encourage ill health by neglecting ourselves or taking our health for granted. A few examples of serious ill health are: Cancer, Parkinson’s, heart conditions, stroke, thyroid, ME, MS, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Identifying signs of ill health
Constantly being physically sick and feeling unwell or continually coughing or an irritable cough that will not go away. Finding lumps in your groin and breast or skin blemishes and moles turning lumpy. Bleeding from your anus and blood in your number two’s or suffering with a hard bloated stomach and continually experiencing bad indigestion. Chest pains and high blood pressure, tiredness, exhaustion, always fatigued and sleeping a lot. Experiencing black-outs and headaches. Sudden or gradual depression, panic and anxiety attacks. Problems with your memory, concentration, balance, speech, smell, cramps, tremors or shaking and involuntary movements. Sore muscles, slow movements, weakness, heavy legs, thighs, walking laboured and your gait reduced. Constant constipation or hoarse or croaky voice and a change in facial expression. Feeling the cold easily and dry and pale skin. Fertility problems and increased risk of miscarriage. Heavy, irregular or prolonged menstrual periods. Having a fit, sudden attack or convulsion, e.g. an epileptic seizure. PTSD is normally diagnosed after a person is involved in a traumatic event that is outside of their normal everyday life and routine such as: War, conflict, terrorist attack, fire, various serious accidents, bereavement etc. the list can be endless. Symptoms may include being hyper vigilant looking at every body or every situation as if they/it’s a threat. Reoccurring nightmares of the trauma or reliving the trauma through, sight, smell, touch, sound, etc. Possible anger issues and irritability or very short temper. Anxiety, panic attacks, emotional, suicidal thoughts, alcoholism or drug abuse. PTSD symptoms do vary with every event and every individual as individuals have different stressors and deal with situations differently, but if you are suffering seek advice immediately.
Have you got serious health problems?
If you suspect that you may have serious ill health problems do not delay and make an appointment to see your doctor straight away and don’t be put off by anyone, or make any excuses. If you believe that your doctor isn’t taking you or your condition seriously, then ask for a second opinion and keep on doing this until you get taken seriously. Ask for a full blood test and don’t be put off because you feel as though you’re being a nuisance because it’s their job to investigate any health problems that you’re currently experiencing. Be careful of self-diagnosis and purchasing drugs via the Internet; sometimes the diagnosis can be accurate, but to save a lot of needless time and worry, seek the correct diagnosis and medication from a professional or you could cause yourself a lot of needless stress and it could cost you a small fortune. If you have to take time off work (sick leave) due to your illness, make sure that you claim what you are entitled too, this is because after a while you might find it extremely difficult to manage your finances with less money coming in. The Benefit Agencies are there to help. If you have any type of medical insurance then make sure that you are covered for your particular condition. If you are planning to get medical insurance and you have just been diagnosed with a serious illness, again make sure that you are covered for that particular condition, especially if you are going abroad. Read all the small print. If you believe that you are experiencing serious health problems, get to a doctor straight away and make sure you are thoroughly examined and properly diagnosed but if no one is taking your condition seriously get someone to drive you to a decent hospital’s A & E department and don’t leave until you have been seen.
How to combat ill health
Feeling continually unwell is one of the worst feelings that you can experience. The key to making things a little easier and more bearable is the quality of care that you receive; love, support and the correct treatment, will give you a better quality of life. Some useful tips are: If you’re a smoker, STOP! If you are on any form of medication, smoking can hinder the effects of the medication and slow down recovery. If you are a drinker, start looking after yourself by cutting down and moderating the amount of alcohol that you consume. If you are overweight, start watching what you eat and cut down the amount of food that you consume and seek advice from your doctor and a dietician. Both family and friends are important, but only if they are upbeat and supportive as being positive is one of the most important attitudes that can adopted. Don’t be afraid to talk about your condition, but if you feel that you are being dismissed by the individual that you are talking to, dismiss them and talk to someone else that is actually interested in your welfare. Always remember to try and stay strong and surround yourself with good strong positive individuals – don’t let it beat you. Remember creating a healthy, happy and positive environment is fundamental in combating your condition.
A good supportive and consistent medical team is essential to your wellbeing as well as monitoring, stabilising and trying to cure your condition, they will listen to you and advise you accordingly. If you are unhappy with your consultant or any of your medical team, then it is your right to ask to be seen by someone else. Never be afraid to voice your concerns and if you believe your condition is serious and you feel strongly about a particular incident or someone’s attitude towards you, then don’t be afraid to make a formal complaint, e.g. Contact PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Services). Try and keep busy and motivated and work through the tiredness but have regular power naps when required.
Make sure that you have been prescribed and are taking the correct medication and talk to your consultant and carry out research into the best drugs that help treat your condition. Being on the right medication is paramount to quality of life and getting well again. Don’t forget to read all the information regarding the drugs that you are on, especially the side effects, because unknowingly they could be making you feel worse or you could have an allergic or adverse reaction to them. They could even change your personality somewhat. If you are unsure about any of the prescribed drugs that you are taking and their side effects, then seek the advice from your doctor, consultant or medical team. Ask your consultant about diet, i.e. proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins, which are good for you and don’t hinder your medication. Exercise, getting some fresh air, doing some sort of activity, anything from walking and gardening to joining a gym and running, which I think is crucial to keeping your condition under control. That’s as long as your medical team gives you the thumbs up. Stress can exacerbate on-going health conditions and can be the trigger (cause) of many other illnesses. There are all sorts of reasons why we get stressed, the secret is recognising and then removing the cause before it becomes a problem. Make a stress diary and write a list of what stresses you then work on each stressor i.e. plan a way of combating each one until you remedy the stressors. Once this is achieved your health should improve.
Social drug taking
You might start taking drugs because of curiosity, peer pressure or because you have been influenced by a certain individual or group of people. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter, but what does matter is your inner voice that is telling you to stop, stop now, before it gets out of hand. You might think you’re in control and it’s cool to take drugs; do you want a wake-up call? It’s not cool and you’re not in control, it ruins lives and tears families apart. Drugs such as: Cannabis, weed, grass, resin, etc., cocaine, heroin, speed, LSD, glue, alcohol and some prescription medications. All drug users in the beginning think they can control and handle the amount of social drugs they use, but the reality is, they can’t! All drugs are addictive and it’s only a matter of time before you start lying to yourself and then lying to others too!
Signs of social drug taking
Vacant looking, anaemic, eyes dilated, changes in personality and behaviour and could have new friends whom can be unsavoury looking. They may be upbeat one minute, down the next and become confrontational, argumentative and aggressive or laid back and not have a care in the world. Look out for weight loss and not taking care about their appearance. Experiencing uncontrollable laughter and getting quite hungry from time to time, which is known as the ‘munchies.’ Lying, stealing and playing truant from either, school, college or work, etc. Smoking heavily or they have just started smoking. A drug taker may become: Hyperactive, anxious, controlling, paranoid, depressed, secretive, deceptive, selfish and uncaring with regard to the consequences of their actions. They can be the cause of severe illness and can turn the individuals that are taking the drugs into liars and thieves. They can ruin lives and even tear families apart; ultimately they can kill.
Illnesses that are linked to social drug taking
Epilepsy, mental health problems, psychosis, depression and disfigurement. For some individuals taking drugs for the first time can be an extremely slippery road, but for others, who have stronger will-power can, for the short term, control what they call just a social habit. But it only needs one bad experience and it could be their last social habit!
How to combat social drug taking
Educate your children from an early age about the harm drugs can cause and how to avoid and combat them and, as they get older, carry on educating them. Teach your children to be strong and independent and to think for themselves and make sure your children’s schools have a suitable drug awareness programme in place. It could be a good idea to take your children to visit a drug rehabilitation centre and talk to the staff and reformed addicts. Remember that knowledge is power, so find out as much as you can about social drug taking and what it can do to an individual and how to combat against it.
Once you realise that there is a problem
First don’t bury your head in the sand and acknowledge that there is a problem even if the users don’t. There could be many reasons why they are taking drugs so encourage them to talk about it and listen and don’t judge. Explain the seriousness of drug taking and what it can do to them and their family and try to get their friends to talk to them. Listen to their side and don’t dismiss their reasons for taking drugs then seek professional help, e.g. Talk To Frank, 24hr drug help line for the UK.
The drug dealer’s sole intention is to get the drug user hooked. It’s what they do! They do not care about the drug user’s welfare. It’s all about the money, power and control, they could even be an addict themselves. Report them to the police and remember
Let’s all help put a stop to this illegal and more importantly life ruining habit and help raise drug awareness! Say NO to drugs!
This chapter covers: Selecting a solicitor / silent business pitch / phase 1 silent business pitch preparation / silent business pitch presentation folder / phase 2 preparing the meeting room / the day of the meeting / final debrief / tips for publishing a book / shop around for the right publisher / consider your options / identifying fraudsters con artists & scammers / help to identify fraudsters / online dating con artists & scammers / warning signs to look out for / how to combat con artists that masquerade as potential suiters (partners) / how to combat costly telephone calls.
Selecting a solicitor
Shop around and ask your family, friends and work colleagues and only employ a firm of solicitors that comes highly recommended, search the Internet for solicitors that are reputable, affordable and accredited. Write everything down that you would like to ask your potential solicitor and don’t be afraid to ask any questions. If you are under the age of 16, take an appropriate adult with you. Make sure that the firm of solicitors that you employ deals with your particular kind of enquiry or, better still, specialises in it because you don’t want them saying that they do, just to get the work. Make sure you are seen by someone who is senior in that particular field of expertise and don’t be palmed off with a junior solicitor with little or no experience. The initial consultation should be free; if it isn’t, ask how much it is going to cost and then ask for a reasonable reduction. Enquire how much their services are going to cost you and ask for a breakdown of costs, e.g. how much is a letter, a phone call, a consultation, out of hours representation (if you are in police custody), etc. and make sure on a regular basis you get a breakdown of costs. Are you entitled to legal aid?
Prior to selecting a solicitor do as much work on the case as you can and continue working on it once you’ve selected one. It’ll save you money. Also ask for a regular case update and ask for a duplicate case file, so if the need arises you can terminate their services and go elsewhere and keep your duplicate case file and all relevant documents neat, tidy, in order and in a safe place. If you don’t understand your solicitor’s terminology or jargon, ask them to explain in simple terms. If you’re not happy with the work or conduct of the solicitor who has been assigned to you, don’t be afraid to terminate their services and don’t be bullied, intimidated or pressured into agreeing to something you are unsure of.
If your solicitor advises you that your case doesn’t stand a chance but you believe that it does, get a second, third and fourth opinion. Don’t be put off! If you’re not happy with your solicitor’s standard of work or their attitude and you want to make a complaint, contact the Legal Ombudsman and inform them of what has happened or what it is that you are not happy with. Make sure that you really need a solicitor, you might be able to complete the work yourself with the help of others. If you do represent yourself in a court of law, don’t be afraid when you are confronted with the other side’s legal team. Just remember that in the end, the truth will prevail
Silent business pitch
A silent business pitch is designed for people with a speech impediment / disability like Parkinson’s or similar and for individuals who have lost their confidence and tend to fall to pieces when talking to an audience. The silent pitch is a written presentation rather than a verbal one. Normally you would verbally present your business pitch (idea) to potential investors or your bank manager. The silent pitch is unique and simple in its delivery. All you do is write it down, place it in a suitable presentation pack and if required, with braille and an audio option and then hand a copy to each and every one who is present at your meeting
Phase 1 – Silent pitch preparation
When you are preparing your silent pitch always be meticulous and thorough and first of all write down all your ideas and that means everything going through it all and reject what you don’t need. Put it into some sort of order, select a simple and easily understood format and then put it all together in a presentation folder. If you need help delivering your silent pitch, e.g. demos and PowerPoint presentations, etc., employ the services of an assistant or ask a friend to help. Once you have prepared your silent pitch, then rehearse, rehearse and rehearse.
Silent pitch presentation folder
This folder should contain an index of contents numbered from (example) 1–16 and in accordance with the amount of contents or subjects involved with a glossary of unusual words and abbreviations. Have a clear and detailed opening brief and include a safety brief with regard to the venue that you are in and point out where the toilets and restaurant are and, if there is one, the smoking area. Explain who you are and why you are delivering a silent pitch. A reader’s guide: A step-by-step guide of how it should be read beginning with your introduction to your product, idea or business plan. An illustrated section within your presentation pack, demonstrating how your product or idea works i.e. either a PowerPoint or a physical demonstration, which will be highlighted in blue and located at the back of the presentation pack in its rightful order, e.g. Demo 1, Demo 2, Demo 3, etc. There will be an index next to the reader’s guide at the front of the pack directing you accordingly. A full brief on why your product / idea is unique and why it will sell including a full breakdown of costs, from manufacturing your product to delivery costs, either to companies, outlets or direct to a client (individual). Include RRP and profit margins and a three-year plan of projected sales. A detailed and simple but effective marketing strategy including national and international and a detailed breakdown of all the companies and outlets that you are targeting include start up or expansion costs and the funding that you require including a detailed breakdown of the investors return. A detailed list of all individuals attending your presentation and contact details. A good summary including an introduction to your next product, if there is one. Prepare a question and answers sheet covering every eventuality.
Phase 2 – Preparing the meeting room
Select a venue with a conference room that facilitates your needs, e.g. enough parking, large enough conference room and make sure there is a restaurant; find out where the nearest toilets are which also facilitates the needs of the disabled and make sure that it’s easy accessible to all who are attending your meeting. Ensure the conference room has the correct amount of tables, chairs, lighting and, if need be, soundproofing. If you need one, make sure that it has an OHP, or a PowerPoint presentation facility, a flip chart, screen and/or a black/whiteboard. If not, hire or obtain your own. Ensure that all windows have blinds; this is to stop the daylight or sun from blinding you or your guests. Have instructions and a map for the venue, pointing out: The venue location, car park location, main entrance to the venue, layout of the conference room and location, restaurant or bar and the toilets location, emergency rally point and send a copy to each guest with their silent pitch invitation.
The day of the meeting
Arrive in plenty of time so you can set up the conference room to meet your requirements, preferably 3 to 4 hours before you are due to present your pitch and familiarise yourself with the venue’s fire exits, toilets, restaurant, etc. Set aside enough time for a rehearsal, i.e. a practice session. Make sure that there are light refreshments provided at a table that is situated away from the main conference room table. When the guests arrive, in a nice relaxed and confident manner briefly introduce yourself, take their coats and anything else they do not require and place them either in a designated cloak-room or in a pre-selected area of the meeting room. Let them help themselves to light refreshments and give them 10–15 minutes to relax and get to know each other. Don’t let just one guest hog your attention, mingle with all of them equally and don’t divulge anything with regard to your pitch; make them wait. At a point when you feel confident, grab all your guests’ attention and ask them all to sit down at the already prepared conference room table and wait for everyone to either return from the toilets or having a smoke. For those who are late arriving, give yourself a cut-off time. Formally introduce yourself, then place a copy of your guests silent pitch’s presentation pack in front of each of your guests and instruct them not to look at it. Deliver your introductory brief explaining who you are and why you are delivering a silent pitch; don’t forget to include a safety brief for the venue that you are in. When you are completely ready, ask your guests to start reading your pitch. Inform them that when they reach a demo point, they are to wait until everyone else has caught up and after the demo they can continue reading at their own speed. When they have finished they can go and help themselves to a coffee or cigarettes, etc. When everyone has finished, sit them all back down again and finish off by allowing them to ask any questions.
All you can do is give it your best shot, but remember don’t be intimidated or put off because of a lack of self-belief. It takes real courage, belief and conviction to present a project/idea to individuals, who you have just recently met and in reality don’t know you. The bottom line is if you don’t try then you’ll never know.
Tips on a publishing a book
Is it your dream to write a book, have you got something to say or an idea to share? Is it a good read? Are you 100% committed? Don’t delay it any longer and don’t be put off by anyone or anything. Not everyone will like or appreciate your work, but that’s how it goes. Never give up. Below is a useful check list with regard to finding a good publisher and the right one for you and your book and also some good advice if you decide to go it alone and self-publish.
Shop around for the right publisher
Shop around for the right publisher who is as passionate as you are about your project, i.e. your manuscript and ensure that they are not just interested in the money. Search the Internet and carry out research, make sure that they are the right type of publisher for you and your book. Make sure that they give you the right advice and that they are big enough to take on your project. Steer away from vanity publishers, i.e. you have to pay them to publish your book. You can employ the services of a literary agent to find you a reputable publishing company (select one that knows the publishing world). You can also seek the advice of a solicitor for the legal side of things, i.e. contracts and what they mean as some contracts can be very difficult to understand clearly. When you approach a publishing company, do not portray yourself as someone desperate, financially insecure, inexperienced or gullible who just wants their work published and on the shelves, no matter what. Do question everything, be confident and remember knowledge is power, make sure that you know everything you need to know.
Be assertive but not aggressive and don’t be afraid to negotiate and remember ‘planning and preparation prevents a pitiful poor performance.’ When you are dealing with a potential publisher always remember that it is your work that they are considering publishing, so if you are at this stage it means that your work is of good quality, which indirectly is an endorsement of the quality of your work. Don’t let your potential publisher make you feel that they are doing you a favour, because they wouldn’t even consider publishing your work if they thought for one moment that it is not good enough or that they couldn’t make any money out of it. Remember that there are some extremely good publishers out there that can offer very good advice and an extremely good service. When you have decided which publisher you are going to go with, then be honest and open and try and build a strong relationship, because once you have signed the dotted line (contract), you are stuck with each other. Don’t be made to feel as though you have no choice, or be bullied into something that you are unsure about and allow yourself time to go over your options.
Consider your options
Why not try self-publishing; it might seem daunting but remember that nothing ventured, nothing gained and the plus side is that all the royalties and rights are yours or try other publishing companies. But learn from your own and other people’s experiences and mistakes and don’t sell yourself short. Could you get an investor? If so make sure that you carry out your research into who you are dealing with and what exactly they want in return for the investment. Also make sure that you have a water-tight business plan and that any contract that is signed is legitimate, legal and fair. Also remember, don’t get cocky or start playing games, because you could just as easily lose an opportunity! If you are in doubt, get some professional advice. Lastly, never give up, even if you experience a few knock backs or come across negative individuals who don’t understand or appreciate your work. Just imagine how you would feel later on in life, saying to yourself, if only. The above information is based on the author’s own experiences and it is purely a guide to assist you when making such an important decision.
Identifying fraudsters, con artists and scammers
Fraud is defined as obtaining monies, land, property or an idea, by deception! Any one of us can be taken in by fraudsters, whether it’s money, property, land or just an idea that they are after. They can pose as a legitimate business man or woman, a sales representative, a potential new partner, or even a friend that has got your best interests at heart. But remember con artists, will go to many elaborate lengths and extremes to deceive you and secure their plan. Remember a professional scam will be well thought out and well-rehearsed.
Help to identify fraudsters
Check everyone’s credentials and references, question everything and then question it again. Screen, scrutinise, check and double check everything. Run thorough in-depth company and personal data and credit checks. Ask them to produce a current CRB certificate, which is a criminal records certificate of convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings and watch their body language. Modern day fraudsters are some of life’s natural charmers, they will use every conceivable tactic from a sob story to an unbelievable opportunity. They will also say and do all the right things and get to know your vulnerabilities, weaknesses and strengths. They will have what seems like all the appropriate paperwork and if necessary they will have an office or works premises which are very convincing. Their proposal will sound too good to miss out on, they will make all sorts of exciting promises just to get you hooked so. don’t ignore your gut feelings and always trust your intuition. They will try and take control of you and your project. One tactic is to build you up and then knock you down, i.e. make you think that you and your idea are fantastic and then slowly chip away at your confidence, making you feel negative about yourself and your idea. They could even suggest that your idea is not as good as you or they first thought and needs a lot of work doing to it before it can be launched; they might even request money to help you do this or threaten to pull out of your project or a contract that is ready to be signed. These tactics are purely intended to knock your confidence to make you more reliant on them and their advice.
Once they think they have a foothold and that you are reliant on them, they will make their move, i.e. ask for money up front or get you to sign a contract in their favour! If you are ever unsure about someone’s intentions, whether it’s personal or business, then seek the appropriate advice from either a friend or a professional individual whose company deals with your kind of concerns. If you ever show or hand over a copy of your work to someone or a company, make sure that before you do, your work is copyrighted to you, and you have prepared a suitable NDA (non-disclosure agreement) for them to sign. Always be careful who you take into your confidence. I firmly believe that where there is an opportunity to make money, only those closest to you – and I mean the closest – can be trusted. A friend or a close colleague who sees an opportunity to make money could turn into a fraudster. If you find yourself in a difficult financial situation and you’ve exhausted all your options, and a friend offers to lend you some money and they assure you that there are no strings attached, make sure that it’s out of goodwill and they have your true interests at heart and are not just exploiting your situation, i.e. they are not doing it just to get a foot hold into your business or your project.
If you believe a fraudster is up to something, launch a plan to confirm your suspicions, get a close friend or family member to help you, but do not expose them until you have enough evidence to substantiate your suspicions. If a professional fraudster believes that they have been compromised, i.e. you are aware of what they have been up to, they will more than likely take what they can and abscond, so as to save themselves from prosecution. The fraudster could be a so-called friend or a random opportunist who sees the opportunity to make some money at your expense. However if they are relying on the money and they see that opportunity disappearing, they might start acting irrationally and emotionally. Never give out your personal details, especially your bank account details, unless you are absolutely sure it is to a legitimate agency or company. However if you have already given out your details, go straight to your bank, inform them of what has happened and insist that all of your bank account details are changed. The bottom line is simple, if you are ever unsure about someone’s intentions, question, everything. Once you are sure that you have fallen victim to a fraudster and you have enough evidence to support your claim/suspicions, contact the police and anyone else who can help and needs to be informed, e.g. your bank or the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) etc., explain to them what has happened and make a formal statement to that effect.
Online dating’s con artists and scammers
More and more people are turning to the Internet to find their ideal partner, i.e. national and international online dating websites, which are extremely accessible to just about everyone. However they can be a minefield of deceit, lies and fraudulent activity by unscrupulous con artists. The unscrupulous con artists consider their victims to be easy pickings and deliberately manipulate them by deceitful and fraudulent means. The culprits target and exploit lonely and vulnerable people who are just looking for love and companionship and who are then constantly deceived and lied to with the intention to fraudulently take their hard-earned cash. The problem is, once intense feelings start to develop, the victims can then be easily charmed, manipulated and then conned into parting with their money. The con artists know they are less likely to make a formal complaint for fear of embarrassment coupled with not wanting to make a fuss and keeping their dignity intact. Online dating agencies to avoid: Type in your search box on your computer international online dating scams. There is a whole list of websites (including FBI-Beware of Online Dating Scams () and Stop-scammers- Scams [*|*] Scammers Dating Scammers ) you can visit which will assist you with regard to recognising international dating scams and scammers.
Warning signs to look out for
Be aware of websites which deliberately try to stop you from unsubscribing, i.e. using pop-ups of gorgeous suitors whose job it is to encourage you to stay on the site by means of extremely seductive communications. Make sure the site that you are on doesn’t, without your consent, share your information with other dating sites they might be in partnership with, even though you have instructed them not to share your details. Be aware of websites that profess to be legitimate dating sites but are really just selling sex, i.e. your potential date manipulates and charms you, making you think they are interested in you, but their real intention is to coerce you into visiting a sex chat room where they are the host and you are one of many sitting and watching from the comforts of your own home, or similar, and being manipulated into parting with your cash to see your host perform for their guests!
Never give out your personal details, especially your bank details, unless you are absolutely sure it is to a legitimate dating agency. If you have given out your details go straight to your bank, inform them of what has happened and insist that all your details are changed. Does your potential suitor profess you are the only one for them; they love you and have been waiting for this moment for an eternity (or similar)? Are they sometimes difficult to contact or communicate with, as if they are also communicating with someone else, i.e. when you try to chat with them they don’t reply? This can go on for hours, but you know they are online because of a flashing icon. Their excuse is they have left their computer switched on. When you question them about this, they can get very defensive; this happens time and time again. You start asking yourself questions like are they chatting to someone else or am I just being paranoid? If you start to develop feelings for them, you could end up believing their version of events. Is your potential suitor drop-dead gorgeous and could date anyone they wanted to? You may start thinking, this is too good to be true. You might even think that you are pitching well above your weight but you don’t care, because they are so convincing. Their profile might state that they are looking for a partner from the age of 22–99. You start to question their sincerity and integrity because they are only 25 or 40 years of age themselves. If this is the case, I strongly advise that you question their true intentions and ask yourself if is this just to broaden their net.
Do they say things like, ‘It is fate that we met and I have been waiting for you for a long time,’ also things like, ‘I have been viewing your profile for a long time,’ even though you have just joined the dating website or you haven’t even completed a profile of yourself. Do they pay you lots of compliments, e.g. ‘you’re the best looking and most interesting person on this site,’ but you haven’t even uploaded a photo of yourself? Do they try and coerce you into buying them gifts or sending them money? Do they try and entice you into naughty talk, to get you hooked even more? They profess that you are the only one that they contact, but they seem to be on the site 24/7. They have literally just met you and yet they profess their undying love for you and they want to get married and have children. Are they reluctant to leave the site and communicate with you direct and do they make up all sorts of lame excuses, e.g. ‘I am just learning English and don’t understand,’ even though you have been communicating with them for months? You know this because you have been live-chatting with them in the early hours of the morning and they respond to your chat message really quickly, as if they were in the same room as you. So unless they have a live-in interpreter with an open mind, their excuse of, ‘I don’t understand’ is extremely questionable.
How to combat con artists that masquerade as potential suitors (partners)
To make sure they are sincere and telling the truth, use an alias and subscribe as someone else, i.e. using a different email address, password and credit card details, contact your potential partner again and again, to see if they are interested in anyone else. Ask one of your friends or family members to go online and do the same as above. Get your undercover clone to ask for a written letter. Would it be surprising if it was a duplicate of the one they sent you? Also using your alias, go online and monitor how many times your date, potential partner, wife, husband or life partner is using the site.
The above is purely a guide and its sole intention is to assist you in selecting the right dating site. It is highly recommended that you carry out the appropriate research into each online dating site. Remember that when you give any unknown company your credit card details it is always best to steer on the right side of caution. Once you are sure that you are the victim of a fraudster, con artist or scammer and you have enough evidence to support your claim/suspicions, then simply contact the police, your bank, the OFT (Office of Fair Trading), etc. and make a formal complaint but make sure that you have the evidence to back up your claim. But remember not all online dating websites are at fault. I know of several couples who have met online who are blissfully happy.
How to combat costly telephone numbers/calls
We all know how costly and frustrating it can be to phone a company or an organisation that uses a telephone number, that starts with 0870, 0844, etc. which can cost you an extortionate amount of money. It can be even more annoying when it is an automated system that isn’t very clear and gives you at least four options and then several more and, whilst you are deciding which option is relevant to your enquiry, you are being charged. Search the Internet for the standard rate or free telephone number for the company or organisation that you are trying to contact. There are many websites that can help you. If you use Apps, there are several that can assist you in looking for an alternative and cheaper telephone number. You can even try asking the operator for the standard rate telephone number; they probably won’t give it to you, but if you don’t ask you don’t get! However they might be able to point you in the right direction.
Once you have made contact with the relevant company, ask them politely to call you back. If a company that practices this trend tries to put you on hold, insist that they call you back. If they won’t, then wait no longer than about two minutes then terminate the call, but make a note of the person you spoke to and the time that you phoned, as proof that you have tried to contact them. Try an alternative means of communication, i.e. emails, fax or a letter, but make sure that you leave a contact number for them to contact you. If the company that you wish to contact is situated locally then why not pay them a visit? We are all aware that companies that carry out this practice are just doing it to make money. What is frustrating is that a lot more companies are jumping on the band-wagon and some of the biggest culprits are the companies that are supposed to be looking after our interests. So a little time spent searching for a cheaper option, is time well spent.
I hope that you have enjoyed your Think Safe manual and related to its contents, most of which we all take for granted. Hopefully it will encourage you to compile your own comprehensive checklist and useful information similar to the one in chapter 15 named the Think Safe quick reference form, enabling you to be better prepared for life’s every day security issues and day-to-day challenging situations. If you read and refer to your own manual as often as you can, you’ll be amazed how much information you can retain and improve on, thus enhancing your security awareness even more. It will give you peace of mind and comfort in the knowledge that you and your family are not only safe and secure but are constantly aware and vigilant with regard to their immediate surroundings, wherever they might be. Ensure your children (teenagers) have a copy of this Think Safe manual and if there is one thing in there that helps them in a tricky situation then it will be well worth it. It will be updated annually so keep in touch and Think safe! Don’t ever be afraid to help others, but be very aware of those undesirable individuals and fraudster knocking at your door.
Dedication to all Think Safe readers, the mark of a man/woman Autumn 2004
The mark of a man/women that is to be the best you can when you can and never be afraid to show how your heart can beat and glow. Never turn your back and just walk away from other’s needs, but assist and lead the way for others less fortunate and in need. Venture safely where no man/women dares, even though you are truly scared; your strength and breed will over power your fright and flight. Show compassion and compassion will be shown on all areas of life’s long road. Be big, be bold and sometimes be told, but never give up on the good that you hold. When a threat is breathing down your neck, don’t look back with regret, but advance forward and stamp on the so called threat. Not to be taken for a fool, but to take the fools and point them in the right direction. To give when you can, that helpful hand, but only when you are sure, that it’s not a fraudster knocking at your door. Got to go now got to rest, need my energy levels to be at their very best. That’s the mark of a real man/women.
© Stephen Wheildon Army Veteran
1961 – 2014
In order to help you fully understand the text within this manual, the author has put together a short list of some of unusual words, abbreviations and their meanings to help you throughout the manual.
CPO: Close Protection Officer.
Air Lock System: Is when you have two doors for the same entrance point, an external (outer) door and internal (inner) door. The air-lock system is the gap between the two doors and is usually at the front of your property. It can be used as a security aid to monitor and control any anonymous callers.
ETA: Estimated time of arrival.
ETD: Estimated time of departure.
GPS: Global Positioning Satellites.
DPS: Deposit Protection Scheme:
Targeted: Singled out for an attack of some sorts.
Triage: Prioritise / Priority.
ID: Identification card, e.g. driver’s licence, passport or a company ID. Whatever ID they show you, it must have a current photo of them on it.
Prompt: Quick to act / without delay.
Pattern-set: Repeatedly using the same route.
Sit-Rep: Situation Report.
SOPs: Standard Operational Procedures.
ETDs: Electronic Tracking Devices.
IEDs: Improvised Explosive Devices.
Mobile phone SD: Speed dial.
Mobile phone ETM: Emergency text message.
Feint or Decoy: Bogus, not real (distraction techniques).
RTA: Road traffic accident.
FSA: Financial Services Authority – Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
FA: Financial Advisor.
OFT: Office of Fair Trading.
PALS: Patient Advice and Liaison Services.
Anonymity: Your identity to be kept anonymous (secret).
Grab-Bag: A bag full of emergency kit, pre-packed and ready to go.
Strategically: A plan of action to aid you.
Succumb: e.g. Give in or back down.
Nondescript: No particular type or kind / not easily described.
Dry-runs: Carried out prior to commencing your journey to collate information, i.e. timings, obstacles, danger points, generally known as a reconnaissance.
Eyes-on[_:_] Watching events as they unfold.
On the ground: Actually being there as events unfold.
POF: Portable operations folder.
Buddy System / in pairs: Work with someone or take someone with you.
Safe or Panic Room: A pre-prepared room within your building, either at home or at work, that is safe and secured (impregnable) with basic amenities. Where you can go and wait in the event of an intruder breaking in, until help arrives.
NEPOC: Nominated Emergency Point Of Contact, e.g. your boss, a works college, a family member or a close reliable friend etc.,
This form covers: ETM & SD information / unsavoury visitors / unsavoury telephone calls / terrorists attack / suicide bomber / being attacked / decoy attacks / personal security / vehicle breakdown / vehicle accident / vehicle security / vehicle fire
This Safe Action For Emergencies form is purely the author’s own guide taken from this Think Safe Book which he calls upon when making a security or a life-challenging decision. Any information gleaned or used from this SAFE form by its readers is of their own free will and at their own risk! Its sole intention is to prompt YOU, to Think Safe!
Remember: Always have an emergency text message (ETM) ready on your mobile phone and the speed dial (SD) set up on your mobile phone or home phone.
Unsavoury home visitors: If a stranger/s visit your home let them in and if you’re frightened or unsettled call the police on 999 immediately. If you do decide to let a visitor in then ask a friend or relative to be with you throughout – Think Safe.
Unsavoury telephone calls: Finances permitted purchase two cordless electrically operated house phones – one for upstairs and one for down stairs. If you live in a bungalow put one in the front room and one in the bedroom. Leave your answer phone on at all times to censor your calls and also record any unsavoury ones. You can then use these recordings as evidence.
Terrorist attack: If you are unfortunate enough to be in the immediate area of a terrorist attack Think Safe and either hide or make good your escape and don’t go back for any valuables or personal belongings. Remember in today’s insecure climate terrorists are most likely going to kill you if they see or capture you so safely get away from the incident and adhere to the police and emergency services.
Suicide bomber: If you are unfortunate enough to be in the direct area of a suicide bomber and there is immediate escape Think Safe and if possible immediately protect yourself by making yourself a smaller target as possible by hitting the ground and staying as low as possible or hide behind something solid keeping very low to the ground facing away from the bomber or device. Adhere to the police and emergency services.
Being attacked by a person/s: The best option if possible is to run away and ask anyone for help. If that is not an option and you have been assaulted defend yourself, scream or shout out loudly and fight back by any means like your life depends on it – but within the law. Think Safe.
Remember THINK SAFE!
Decoy attacks: Always be on your guard as these types of attacks will be well planned and executed. If you think something is wrong walk or run away to a place of safety. These types of attack may be in well populated areas and could begin by distracting you. I.e. a small child pestering you or an adult bumping into you or asking you something; don’t be fooled and certainly don’t be soft or mislead. Be extra careful when visiting your bank or ATMs. Their distraction techniques are designed for you to feel sorry for them; don’t and Think Safe.
Personal security: Think Safe and always be aware of your surroundings and don’t venture alone in unfamiliar areas. Never take short cuts and always have a friend with you during nights out – someone you trust and make sure that one person in the group remains sober. Ladies don’t travel alone in taxis get your family to drop you off and pick you up. If you notice a person/s who look threatening or up to no good then cross the road and if they also cross – then this confirms your fears so run in the opposite direction and seek help.
Vehicle breakdown: If you break down Think Safe and have your breakdown emergency number available to call for assistance immediately. Get out of your vehicle if safe to do so and have a grab bag in your boot containing medication (if required) warm cloths, water and sweets etc. If your female and you’re on your own carry a man’s long coat, and hat in your boot in case you’re going to be alone for some time. Ensure you are in a safe zone away from other traffic to avoid injuries. Tell family or relatives what has happened and where you are and arrange for them to call you back every 10-minutes to check on you. If they are reasonably close ask them to make their way to you.
Vehicle accident: Think Safe and turn off your engine if safe to do so and help any injured persons if safe to do so, get everyone out if safe to do so. Always keep your vehicle insurance, documents and contact numbers in a handy folder. This will enable you to call the relevant people, including emergency assistance. Keep your dash cam switched on throughout and take photos of the scene etc. Never admit liability and ensure you are in a safe zone away from other traffic to avoid further injuries. Tell family or relatives what has happened and where you are and arrange for them to call you back every 10-minutes to check on you. If they are reasonably close ask them to make their way to you.
Vehicle security: When you’re driving out and about Think Safe and always keep your doors locked. Never leave anything valuable on show. If your involved in road rage don’t get confrontational and try to drive to the nearest safe place or to the nearest police station and sound your horn continuously for attention. If the other person is following you do not get out of your car to confront them.
Vehicle fire: In the event of a vehicle fire Think Safe and get everyone out to a safe place and stay out.
Add any other information that you require and keep this form on you at all times:
The information contained within this Think Safe Manual is from the originators previous experiences, many personal investigations and various life-challenging situations. Its sole intention is to prompt YOU, to Think Safe! He had over thirty years’ knowledge gained from within the security industry, both in and out of the Armed Forces which he turned into his own unique series of useful everyday checklists and information for most eventualities. It is his own personal guide which he has transformed into a unique household manual that encourages its readers to compile their own comprehensive, yet simple, manual of useful checklists and information that they believe they should know. This is in order for them to have and sustain a safer more knowledgeable and a much more secure living environment, as well as continually reducing any kind of security risk or difficult decision making. The Think Safe manual is not providing any legal, medical, financial or any other professional advice. All the information within is from the original author’s past experiences. Its sole intention is to prompt its readers to be more security conscious and aware of their surroundings and in a better position to make life - challenging decisions. It also encourages its readers to pick useful information from the guide that they can call upon at any time to assist them in unexpected emergency situations. It advises to report anything untoward to the police and emergency services and to seek the required professional training and advice they might need, e.g. first aid training, child care, self-defence training and financial advice etc., and to help others when they are in need of that helping hand. This manual will be updated periodically.