What To Do In the Event of a Bomb Threat
Although a bomb threat can be a stressful situation it is important to remain calm. The information you are able to obtain may make a difference in the outcome of the situation. Act with purpose but do not give the offender the satisfaction of making you lose your composure. It is also important to remain courteous and not antagonize the individual while talking with them. Treat all bomb threats seriously. Most bomb threats are received via a telephone call. If this happens, listen carefully to what the caller is saying. Keep them on the phone as long as possible, asking as many open-ended questions as possible.
While keeping the caller on the phone, alert a colleague to call the police (911) due to a bomb threat situation. It is helpful to have some signal worked out with colleagues prior to such an event occurring. Keep in mind that cellular phones should not be used to make a call to the police. The cellular signal could possibly detonate the bomb. It is also advisable to immediately discontinue the use of any two-way radios. The radio waves could also potentially detonate the bomb. Write down the numbers and letters displayed on the caller ID readout.
Ask the caller what type of bomb it is, what it looks like and when it will detonate. Be alert to how the caller speaks, paying attention to the tone and pitch of their voice, speech patterns such as accents or speech impediments, types of words they use and their demeanor. Try to identify whether the caller is male or female as well as their approximate age. Also, pay attention for background noises or anything that might indicate the location of the caller. Write down as much of the information as possible, using the exact words the caller used.
If the caller says something to offend you, do not hang up on them. If the caller hangs up, do not use the same phone to call the police. Use a different phone and keep other people from using the involved phone. Activate your organization’s bomb threat protocol. If your organization does not have a protocol, one should be established.
Vertex has developed a Bomb Threat Checklist, which can be used as a guide to document the information obtained from a bomb threat. The checklist contains appropriate questions to ask the caller and provides areas for recording the answers. The checklist can be downloaded from our new “Bonus Intel” section of the Vertex website at www.VertexPerformance.com.
If a bomb threat is received by a note, handle the note as little as possible and contact the police (911) immediately. If the bomb threat is received via voicemail message, an email or a text, do not delete the message and contact the police (911) immediately.
Safeguarding Valuables in Your Home
Homeowners often have a variety of valuables in their residence such as jewelry, cash and collector coins, which should be safeguarded. Thieves who target homes look for these types of items, which are easy to carry off. The first-place thieves will look for these items is in the master bedroom. The reason for this is because, that’s where almost everyone keeps them! If you want to throw off a criminal, store the items somewhere else. A small amount of cash can always be kept in a dresser drawer in the master bedroom as a decoy to make thieves finding it think that’s all there is.
I recommend keeping your valuables secured in a quality safe. The safe should not be in kept in plain sight. It should be kept in an obscure location, to avoid detection. Smaller safes should be anchored to the floor or wall so they cannot simply be picked up and carried away. If you don’t have a safe, there are other options available. These include keeping the valuables in a hollowed-out book, fake toiletry can or soup can, which has been opened from the bottom. Most thieves are not going to look through numerous books on a bookshelf, check hairspray cans or look through your pantry for valuables. Hollowed-out books can be purchased from some distributors or easily made yourself.
Companies such as Damsel in Defense sell toiletry cans with false bottoms that are lined with foam on the inside so they appear real and don’t rattle when picked up. Most thieves want to get in and get out as fast as possible to avoid detection. Not leaving valuables in plain sight or in the normal places costs the criminal time; time they don’t normally have. Look throughout your house and assess how easy your valuables are to find. Take steps to not only secure these valuables but make them hard to find in the first place. Also, it’s wise to check with your insurance company to make sure you have adequate coverage. In some cases, you may need to purchase an additional policy to make sure your valuables are fully covered.
Startling Statistics (United States)
- One in five homes will be the victim of a break-in or home invasion.
- A burglary occurs every 18.2 seconds.
- 73% of burglaries are residential.
- 85% of burglars cased the homes prior to striking.
- 94% of burglars are high on drugs at the time of the crime.
- 70% of home invasions occur at the front door.
Source: F.B.I. Universal Crime Report
Situational Awareness & Cell Phones
In an effort to understand what criminals look for when selecting their victims, various pictures of people were shown to inmates in prisons. Almost invariably, the inmates chose victims who were not situationally aware. In other words, they were not aware of their surroundings. Criminals normally are looking for easy marks. Most of the people they selected were walking with their heads down, looking at their cell phones and not aware of anything that was going on.
On a recent business trip, I was waiting for a colleague of mine so we could go eat dinner. I took a seat in the city’s center and just watched people. It was amazing how the majority of people were talking on their phones, reading texts or looking at social media. Many of these people were walking through the city while doing so. The point is, anyone could have easily walked up to them and either assaulted or robbed them before they ever knew what was happening.
While cell phones are great tools, they are probably the biggest hindrance to situational awareness ever created. It’s not so much the phone’s fault, but how we use them. Next time you are walking down the street, waiting for someone or eating; put the phone down and pay attention to what is going on around you. You just may notice something that saves your life. At a minimum, you just may enjoy the nice things around you and actually have a good time. What do you have to lose?
Reading the Room
You’re sitting in a restaurant, enjoying a nice dinner. Suddenly, a man walks through the front door with a gun in his hand. What do you do? Where do you go? Are you even positioned to see what is going on? How many times have you sat in a restaurant or somewhere else without knowing if there were alternate exits to get out?
The problem is, most people never pay any attention until the unthinkable happens. Unfortunately, at that point, it’s usually too late. One of the things I constantly preach about in my seminars is being situationally aware. Part of this is reading the environment. This takes practice but can be accomplished in a matter of seconds once you grow accustomed to it.
When walking into a building or a room, scan the area. Look at who is in the room and what is going on. Look for alternate exits (other than the one you just walked in through) and remember where they’re at. Often, there are exits that you don’t immediately notice. Many times, looking at the building from the outside can answer this question. I can also pretty much guarantee you that in every restaurant, you can find an exit leading from the kitchen. With that said, make a mental note where the entrance to the kitchen is.
Pay attention to where the emergency equipment, such as fire extinguishers and automated external defibrillators (A.E.D.) are. If a fire breaks out or someone has a heart attack, they will be needed. Ask yourself, if a predator strikes, what could I use to shield myself from an attack or improvise as a weapon do defend myself?
When things go bad, you don’t have time to sit and figure it out. You must be prepared to immediately react to maximize your chances of survival. Make a commitment right now and begin the practice of reading the buildings and rooms you walk into. You will be surprised what you start to notice. If the unthinkable does happen, you will have an edge that most people don’t. That edge just may save you and your family’s life one day.
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