It seems like every day we watch the news we see something new to fear: violent crime, kidnapping, natural disaster… With so much to fuel our feelings of insecurity, it’s natural to want to know: “What can I do to protect myself and my family?”
We asked former CIA officer Jason Hansen, author of Spy Secrets that Can Save Your Life, for some practical tips and tricks that will help you be better prepared to handle this uncertain world.
1. What questions do you get most frequently from people who take your spy escape and evasion courses?
People want to know how to better protect their homes from a home invasion; they want to know countries they shouldn’t visit when traveling internationally; and they want to know the best gear to buy, whether it be a knife, gun, flashlight, food storage, etc.
2. What is the most important thing you learned in the CIA and why?
Situational Intelligence: how to stay alert and aware of my surroundings. Most crimes are crimes of opportunity, so if you’re paying attention you can see the danger ahead of time and flee to safety.
3. What are some ways that parents can help protect their kids from both physical and digital threats?
Teach them to avoid fights by walking away, but to defend themselves when necessary. Teach kids very basic self-defense moves. For digital threats, it’s up to the parent to have the computer in the kitchen or a family room, not in a kid’s bedroom. Install software that blocks pornography and other sites. Also, talk to your kids about being careful with strangers online and urge them to talk to parents about the friends they meet online.
4. Why do you always carry bobby pins and a paracord keychain with you?
Bobby pins can be used to escape from unlawful restraint in handcuffs, as they can also be used to pick locks. The paracord keychain can be used as a self-defense tool, and can also be used to escape several types of restraints such as rope and zip ties.
5. What would you do if someone was following you on a quiet street late at night?
I would head for a better lit area in a more public place. I would turn around and let them know that I see them and I would make eye contact with them. You always want the person to know you see them and that you’re not afraid, the worst thing to do is to act timid and shy because they’ll think you’ll be an easy victim.
6. How can you deter burglars from breaking into your house?
Quality locks on the house such as Medeco or Schlage. Alarm sign in the front yards and alarm stickers on the back door of the house. A large dog bowl at your back door (even if you don’t have a dog.) An alarm system and cameras (even fake cameras will work on the outside of your house.)
7. What are three common mistakes people make while traveling that put them at risk?
- Getting into a taxi without pre-planning their route so they know if the taxi is taking them to the right place instead of taking them somewhere else to rob them.
- Not staying between the third-sixth floors in a hotel. (These are the safest floors for fire purposes and burglary purposes).
- Not matching the baseline. In other words, going to a foreign country, not blending in, and sticking out as an American, thereby making yourself an obvious target.
8.What survival gear is absolutely critical to have in your car and why?
Everyone should have a basic 72-hour kit for 3 days of food and water, a high-quality flashlight, and a good fixed blade knife. I personally have an Escape Bag in the back of my car that has 37 critical items for food, water, communication, lighting, and more.
9. How have your own survival and preparedness regimens helped you in your own life?
They’ve helped me avoid a mugging, a carjacking, and kept me safe while hiking.
For instance, once when my wife and I were walking to lunch, I noticed a man behaving very suspiciously. He had crossed the street in front of us several times, and he was giving me a lot of eye contact. While we were waiting for the crosswalk light to change, the man settled about two feet away from where I was standing. When the light turned, I purposely started taking very small steps; and I noticed that the guy matched my pace. After three steps, I turned to him and said, “Excuse me, do you know what time it is?” He looked at me funny, so I said it again. He responded, “four-thirty.” We stared at each other for about a second, and then he turned suddenly and walked away. I am not sure what he had planned, but I know it wasn’t good. If this guy were innocent, he would have kept walking.
10. What are the top three things you hope people will take away from reading your book?
- That they can do this: anyone can use these secrets to keep themselves safe.
- How to make their homes virtually intruder-proof.
- That they’ll teach their children the secrets in the book to keep their kids safer.
These essential tips were taken from Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life, available at these retailers: