When most people think of Homeland Security, they often conjure up thoughts of federal agents engaged in protecting our country from global acts of terrorism and monumental threats to safety. However, protecting our homeland also extends to ordinary citizens taking a more active role. That is why this Halloween season, ICDC College is giving you tips on how to stay aware and protect yourselves and neighborhoods from acts of violence!
While Halloween can be a fun and magical time for trick-or-treating, it’s important to remember that this occasion can open the door to increased injuries to children and pedestrians, traffic accidents, and higher incidents of crimes, such as assault, burglaries, DWI citations, vandalism, and alcohol and drug-related arrests.
Pumpkin Patrol Safety Tips
While Homeland Security professionals engage in a variety of safety techniques on Halloween, such as emergency response management and situational analysis, ordinary citizens can use what we call “Pumpkin Patrol” safety tips and strategies to help keep their families and neighborhoods safe.
- Engage in Situational Analysis – Look Out and Stand Guard! This Homeland Security concept is simply learning how to be more aware of your surroundings to protect yourself against any acts of violence or injury. The act of trick or treating and the increase of individuals attending Halloween parties outside of their own residential area, means an influx of traffic and persons visiting unfamiliar neighborhoods. Always remember, criminals wear masks too, so be alert to suspicious individuals who may loiter around your neighborhood. Set up neighborhood watches in your community, and if there is a concern, be sure to call 911 immediately.
If you’re driving, pay attention to what’s happening on the road. Slow down and obey all laws. Watch out especially for pedestrians and young children who may dart across the street unexpectedly while trick or treating. Avoid walking alone in alleys or dark-hidden areas where perpetrators are more likely to tread. And finally, if you have young children, make sure you inspect the candy they bring home and toss out any collected treats that are unpackaged.
- Practice Security Management Tactics – Is that Halloween Costume Safe? While dressing up as a witch, ghost or goblin, may be fun and entertaining, the greater question is whether the costume is safe. Select costumes that are flame resistant, easily visible at night, and have bright and reflective materials incorporated into the fabric. Choose costumes that fit securely and are not free flowing, since loose material often accounts for increasing your chances of slipping or falling.
- Emergency Response Preparedness – How to Better Mobilize Yourself Against Crime. So now that we’ve talked about applying Homeland Security situational analysis techniques and security management practices to ensure a safer Halloween, let’s talk about ways to better prepare yourself in the event that you are a victim of a crime or a trick gone bad.
During the Korean War, a fighter pilot, Colonel John Boyd, USAF (ret) developed the OODA concept, “Observe, Orient, Decide and take Action” that was designed to increase your chances of survival in a dangerous situation. Civilians can use this same concept to detect signs of danger and prevent violent encounters by applying OODA during Halloween. For example, if you are trick or treating and you are fast approaching a group of individuals who are drinking beer and screaming obscenities at you, your first action is to remain calm, unemotional and in control.
Engaging in crisis emergency response preparedness in this situation is to first take inventory of the individuals in front of you, which includes identifying any marked characteristics that you can easily recall later. Orient yourself to the area surrounding you, and decide if there are alternative routes you can take to avoid an encounter. Take immediate action, such as calling 911, or joining another group on the street for help.
Choosing to incorporate Homeland Security techniques on Halloween can make this occasion more safe and secure for you, your family, friends, neighborhood and overall community.
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