OB Approved Safety and Security While Traveling

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Paris0514

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Having traveled for backpacking, back country discovery, and Overlanding for over 15 years I have developed a mindset around safety and security.

Many of these ideas come from shared experience in travel and a former career as a Law Enforcement Officer of 12 years with 10 years being in SWAT as a sniper, multiple discipline instructor, and operator.

Currently I am a Safety Director for a company and continue to look for ways to keep people safe while completing tasks.

Understanding where I come from I hope provides context for my thoughts on safety and security.

Recently a family was attacked by a wolf in Banf National Forest in Canada.

Traveling internationally the husband did the best he could in my opinion and prevailed.

Here are some of my thoughts on security and safety while traveling.

Security is a state of mind.

Vigilance and pre-planning is the first step.

Be aware of your surroundings. (What’s around me, who’s around me, what animals are known to be in the area)

If confronted by animal or human always have an escape plan.

Be prepared to fight if flee is not an option. (By fleeing do I put others at risk? Can I escape?)

Fighting (humans or animals) is a dangerous gamble. Especially in the back country. (Injuries can be severe)

If forced into confrontation fight to finish as soon as it is necessary. (Human or Animal the faster the threat is mitigated less likely you incur further injury)

Never go half way. If it is a wild animal or a human, both can cause serious injuries and/or death.

-Firearms-
To carry a firearm is a serious question and should be heavily considered.
There are many who say they will carry a firearm but are ill equipped to use one.
Whether it be the individual’s training and experience and/or their mindset to use a firearm in self defense.

If you choose to have a firearm with you consider the following:
FOLLOW LOCAL, STATE, AND FEDERAL LAWS
IF YOU CAN legally carry a firearm, carry it on you. (Each state has independent laws around reciprocity and carrying)(Anywhere than on your person is too far away in the moment you will need it)
Carry what you are comfortable using and carrying.

-Knives-
FOLLOW LOCAL, STATE, AND FEDERAL LAWS
If you legally can carry a blade you should.
For field and bush work a fixed blade is more versatile.
If you don’t have a fixed blade carry a folder.

-Lights-
Handheld lights can be a dime a dozen.
Get a good tail switch light.
The switch should be momentary only. (Multi-function are not good for self defense)
Lights can be good for blinding animals/people in low light environments
They are also important if you are being forced to defend yourself at night.
If you can have two. Two is one in the light world.

-Training-
Be trained in wilderness training, self defense, and first aid.
Find training to learn backcountry skills: Navigation, gear necessities, survival training, etc..
Push yourself to learn basic self defense skills.

Personal experience has shown, if you have to fight human or animal you WILL have injuries.
Get basic CPR and First Aid training and/or Advanced Wilderness First Aid
Have the means to keep the red in and infections out.
Keep a good first aid kit with you.
Carry a tourniquet and understand when to use it.

This training is great for day to day injuries or assisting with allergic reactions or medical emergencies while in the back country.

-Security-
Security of gear and equipment depends on where I am.
If in the backcountry with my vehicle I don’t lock anything for good reason. It delays me from getting in the truck or getting something else out.
If I must walk away from the vehicle for some distance it is locked. If I am in town passing through and leave my truck I lock it.
I keep a spare key hidden on the truck in case I lose my main key.

-Communication-
Have means to communicate for help.
Whether it be Amatuer Radio, Sat Phone, Garmin InReach, and/or Cellular Device have the means to get additional resources if necessary.
Understand your equipment and its limitations.
Each communication device has it downfall. Know it and have another way to compliment it’s limitations.

-Closing Thoughts-
Knowledge is the best thing you can take with you anywhere.

Best part, it’s also the easiest thing to pack in the vehicle before you go if you take time to educate yourself.

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Specter

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Great food for thought for people who are new to this, and a good reminder for those of us who aren’t. Thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts on paper.
 
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Paris0514

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Great food for thought for people who are new to this, and a good reminder for those of us who aren’t. Thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts on paper.
Thank you for reading and your response.
 

Specter

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Thank you for reading and your response.
I’ll add one thing - always carry a blade. Always.

Seems like such a small thing most days, but it can have a significant impact on your own survival and the rescuing of others. In the field I always carry a field knife (I’m a Bark River fan), around town it’s a small folder - but I always have one.
 

The other Sean

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The situational awareness is super important. I try to do this as much as possible, even when I am just out on a walk with my wife, son and dog. Even something as simple as agreeing that my wife is to pick up the dog and be ready to get moving the moment I say "grab the dog" as we have identified she will be more hindrance than benefit if something were to go down.

Once while traveling in Poland, I realized in a store that a young lady was intentionally placing herself in my line of view all around the place. I then realized her greasy Boyfriend was nearby and I realized they were looking to either rob me or beat me up (probably the later, guy appeared to be the kind that wanted to show his manliness and fight people) so, since we were in a foreign country, I simply told my wife it was time to go (another agreed upon thing we have) and we simply left the store to avoid whatever may be the issue before it starts.
 
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Enthusiast III

Some really good advice in your post of things to consider! I also appreciate and agree with the suggestion to have a good knife on you.

The only thing I would add that a lot of violence and risk to self when travelling is a result of situations escalating unintentionally. Ego and Emotion get in the way, people say things they shouldn't, and before you know it a disagreement with a stranger has become a full-on fight, which can be a very dangerous situation.

I strongly recommend people take some kind of course of verbal de-escalation of conflict. It can mean the difference between a tense situation you laugh about later, or death, and I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that. There are many types of training available throughout North America (Verbal Judo being a very good one that is available in most major cities).

I share this with some hesitation as I don't want people to think I'm trying to earn a buck off this community, but I run a company that specifically deals with managing the risks caused by human behaviour. While this is my business and part of my livelihood, I do want to freely support this community and other Overlanders as much as I can, so if there is interest, I'd be happy to throw together a free workshop/webinar for members on some conflict management basics that they can apply to Overlanding situations.

(Mods, if that's out of line, feel free to nuke this!)
 
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trikebubble

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Thanks for the read. We live here in BC and spend most of our leisure time outdoors, so interaction with wildlife is just going to happen.

I recently came back from a 2 week back country trip roaming around Northern Vancouver Island with the dogs. Black bears are everywhere, wolves are known to wander the beaches on Northern Van isle (among other places), and I believe the highest concentration of cougars in N. America is on Vancouver Island. I think the main thing I try to keep in mind is to always be aware of my surroundings. Not paranoid to the point of not wanting to go explore the beaches, waterfalls, hiking trails, and backcountry campspots that I enjoy...but just to be aware all the time. Funnily enough we saw only 2 bears on our entire 2 wwek journey. One was far away in aclear cut, and the other (while was originally close to the other side of my truck/camper) was scared away as soon as my dog saw him and started barking like a demon.
 
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Paris0514

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Everyone great points. Glad to see the thread getting some thought provoking comments. If you liked the original give it a like.

Thanks again.
 
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