“Be safe out there!”
It is a popular catchphrase. Every time something bad happens, you can guarantee somebody out there will say it. If you live in South Africa, you are probably going to hear it quite a lot.
But what does “being safe” actually mean? Is it but a forced colloquial expression of polite concern, or is there some practical advice hidden underneath it all?
A recent example of post-crisis “be safe” involves a very fortunate mountain biker who survived being attacked by two armed robbers whilst out riding. The one attacker punched the rider before making off with his mountain bike. The other robber wanted his cellphone, but refused to let his victim hand it over. Instead he revealed far more sinister intentions: “(he) wanted me to lie on my stomach. He said he will take my cellphone himself out of my pocket, and then he will kill me.”
Three women who witnessed the robbery in-progress started screaming loudly, interrupting the second attacker as he was busy assaulting his victim. The assailant then fled, fortunately without murdering his prey. Instead the biker needed only eighteen stitches to his face.
This man’s life was saved solely by the timeous arrival and actions of three women, without whom he would almost certainly be dead.
But what if they hadn’t been there? Would you consider unavoidable death an acceptable alternative?
Being safe means different things to different people. I have narrowed down a couple of aspects that stand out to me. Not necessarily in order of importance:
- Use your BRAIN – Be situationally aware. Think about where you are now, what you are doing, where you are going, what and who is around you, and what they are doing. Be aware of your environment and what goes on in it, and have a plan of action for if things go belly-up on you. No plan is perfect, but even a flawed plan is better than no plan. And listen to your instincts: if your gut tells you that Mr X looks like he is up to no good, he may just be. “Safety is what’s between your ears, not what you hold in your hand.”
- Use your TOOLS – Prepare a basic Every Day Carry (EDC) kit for different milieus that you are regularly likely to encounter. Although important, it involves more than car keys, cellphone, and wallet. A high quality torch, a small first aid kit, a folding knife, and a defensive tool (in my case, my handgun) are crucial to have when things go very, very wrong. Be competent with the tools you carry, and for goodness sakes carry them! They are useless to you if you leave them at home: if you need them, and you don’t have them on you, they may as well be on the moon.
- Use your SKILLS – Escape or Fight. If you are targeted by criminals, don’t think that submission will even remotely guarantee your safety. Anyone who tells you that it is better to submit to criminals than to resist them, is talking absolute drivel. Resisting criminals may in fact save your life, but to effectively do so you need the right attitude and the right skills. Where do you get these skills? From any of the numerous reputable self-defence instructors and trainers our nation has to offer. If you are unsure about where to start, I will gladly assist you.
Being safe has a lot to do with being acutely aware about your surroundings, and that is not limited to the here and now only. Many people who attempt to educate others about the severity of our national crime situation are frequently derided as pessimists and unrealistically negative. Nothing could be further from the truth in my opinion.
If we want to make a difference in our communities, and stand up against crime, we must leave Cloud 9 behind and stare reality firmly in the face. We must know the score, we must know our enemy, and we must know how they operate. Most importantly, we must prepare ourselves to be able to act on this information.
What does “Be Safe” mean to you?
The more we discuss “Being Safe”, the more of us may start doing things to actually make ourselves safe.
Stay safe, folks.