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How to Avoid a Terrorist Attack

Updated on August 23, 2017

Be Safe in a Dangerous World

We live in an uncertain world. While the United States has not been hit by a terrorist attack for quite a while, the threat still exists. Most of the time when a terrorist has tried to attack, we have been saved by their incompetence.

You don't have to live in fear of terrorism. You can be prepared.

I am writing this to help you put things into perspective, and to help you be prepared in case the threat of terrorism rises.

Photo by Francis Tyers.

Ducks in bathtub.
Ducks in bathtub.

Know Your Risks

It really bothers me that people are willing to give up their liberties to protect themselves against terrorism, when the threat of terrorism is so small. A little bit of scrutiny is a good thing, but is it necessary for people to take off their shoes? Do we really need to limit liquids in our carry-ons? I believe that the additional expense and increased hassle is not worth the slight decrease in the risk of terrorism.

The truth is, you're more likely to drown in the bathtub than to die from a terrorist attack. I heard this statistic before the September 11th attack. After the September 11th terrorist attack, I decided to recalculate the statistic to see if it was still true. It was. Now, most bathtub deaths are likely to happen in children under five, not adults. I don't have an excessive worry about my three-year-old drowning in the bathtub either, and you don't need to worry excessively about terrorism. I do spend a little effort to monitor my child in the bathtub, but I don't worry about it.

Airplane photo by spanishwor
Airplane photo by spanishwor

Nobody Can Eliminate the Risk Completely

There is no way to completely eliminate risk from your life. Risk is a part of life. We all want to take precautions, of course, but things happen.

Terrorists could make a bomb in an item as small as a soda can. They could sneak weapons in body cavities. They could set off a bomb to go off in a line at a sporting event, or in the security line at an airport. Risk is just something that we have to deal with.

Fortunately, like many risks, the risk from terrorism is very small. Thinking outside of the box can help.

Terrorist photo by Agpvtr
Terrorist photo by Agpvtr

Watch for Suspicious Activity

While you don't have to live in fear about terrorism, it does make sense to look for suspicious activity. If you see something that doesn't look like it belongs, you should report it. Here are some examples:

There is a bridge that is overlooking the street right outside the San Diego Naval base. You have to cross it to get from the Navy Exchange to the part of the base with the ships. One day as I was crossing the bridge, I noticed some Middle-Eastern looking people standing on the bridge with notepads, scribbling on notepads. This seemed a little odd, so I notified the gate guard when I entered the base.

At the airport, I noticed a suitcase in the bathroom. Nobody was standing by the bag. The bag was there when I entered the bathroom, and it was still there when I left, even though I waited around for a bit to see if someone would claim it. I notified a security guard.

Prepare for Anything

What makes a person a survivor? How do people get through difficult experiences like terrorist attacks or other disasters? Ben Sherwood's book, The Survivors Club profiles people that actually have survived disasters, examines the characteristics that make a survivor, and tells you how to improve your characteristics for survival.

The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life
The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life

Terrorist attacks are very rare... and so are plane crashes and other catastrophies. It helps to think out of the box to be a survivor of anything.

Suitcase photo by jason816.
Suitcase photo by jason816.

Avoiding Terrorism when Traveling

If you want to avoid terrorism when traveling, there are a few additional precautions that you should take.

When planning your trip, you might want to check the travel warnings that the US State Department issues. If the country that you're planning to visit is on the travel warnings list, you might want to postpone travel. If, you need to travel to a country on the travel warnings list, be sure to read the travel warning for that country. The state department works hard to provide accurate information for the areas in question.

Even if your country is not on the travel warnings list, it helps to know a little bit about the country that you are traveling to before you go. The State Department issues country-specific information on security when traveling. You can find information about security, crime, medical information, traffic safety, and more. It helps to know a little bit about how to be safe in a country before you go there.

Keep a low profile when you are traveling, especially if you are visiting an area where the risk of terrorism is elevated. Although patriotism is admirable, you don't have to shout out your country of origin by the clothes that you are wearing. Don't wear flags on your clothing or on your bags. Perhaps you could make an exception of you were at the Olympics or the World Cup or some other international gathering, but outside of that one specific instance (and only in that area, not out in the city), you don't need to let anybody know where you are from.

In most countries, people dress more conservatively than they do in the United States. Try to dress nicely; think business casual. T-shirts with pictures of your favorite rock star on them are going to stand out.

Liberty and Fighting Terrorism - Give your $.02

Do you think that we should give up more liberties to fight terrorists?

General Halsey would be a high profile terrorist target.
General Halsey would be a high profile terrorist target.

High Profile Terrorist Avoidance

I once watched a video that suggested that in order to avoid terrorism, you had to take a ton of precautions. Before you got into a car, for example, you should walk around the car and inspect it to make sure that nobody has tampered with it. My first thought after watching that video was "I'd rather take my chances with the terrorists!"

An ordinary person doesn't have to worry much about being specifically targeted by terrorists. If you are a high-profile target, you might want to take a few more precautions; how much time and effort you want to invest would depend on how high-profile you are. High profile targets might include American officials living abroad, celebrities, and other people that the terrorists might target. Most people are not on the terrorist's radar.

Other than inspecting automobiles before driving, high-profile terrorist targets might want to vary their route when driving to work, and even vary the time they leave their house in the morning. Terrorists will often study a person before making an attack; if your actions seem random to them, it will make it harder for them to plan an attack.

It would be hard for most people to remain on the alert for extended periods of time. If you are a high profile target, but it's not feasible to take these precautions every day, try to increase your alertness when the terrorist threat level goes up.

Alert - If you are an oil executive, or are related to an oil executive, you are currently a high-profile target for (most likely) domestic terrorism. In a recent story, a lady was bombed by a box of chocolates. She lives in the home owned by an oil executive.

Letter from a Terrorist
Letter from a Terrorist

Suspicious Packages

Everybody can be on the alert for suspicious packages. Although terrorists don't usually randomly send out bombs to ordinary citizens, they have sent packages to newspaper workers, professors, and government workers in the past. If your company has angered the terrorists in the past, they might decide to target people at the company.

If you receive a package with excessive postage, oily spots, protruding wires, a package that is heavy for its size, foreign names on the package, or handwritten notes saying "confidential" can also be suspicious. If you do find a suspicious package, notify the authorities so they can take a look at it.

Terrorism Survival Guide

This is a guide that tells you more about how to respect yourself from terrorism.

The Complete Terrorism Survival Guide: How to Travel, Work and Live in Safety
The Complete Terrorism Survival Guide: How to Travel, Work and Live in Safety

If you are concerned about terrorism, this book will help you select a hotel room, keep yourself safe at work, and keep yourself safe in general.


My Recent Research on Al Qaeda

You may have heard about the recent attacks in Egypt. Some theorize that the powers that be are trying to form a caliphate. My independent research suggests that is correct. In fact, the actual facts are worse than that. Al Qaeda actually has a 20-year plan to form a caliphate. Check it out for yourself.

This doesn't mean that we should give up our liberties though. That's what they want.

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What Do You Think about Terrorism?

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    • geosum profile image

      geosum 5 years ago

      History will continue to repeat itself if we don't learn anything from the past. Now that the elections are over, terrorism and the attacks on our liberties will increase.

    • profile image

      reasonablerobby 7 years ago

      Thousands more people die from diarrhea than terrorist attacks. Terrorists create fear because of what psychologists call the 'availability heuristic' i.e. we see something reported and we judge it is more likely to happen to us. Civilian vigilance is key. Giving up liberties is playing their game. Regrettably powerful weapons and medieval mindsets are a dangerous combination.

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 7 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      I think we've thrown too many lives, dollars, and fears at the threat of terrorism.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      There is not way to completely avoid terrorism. Giving up our liberties or our privacy will not change a thing except our own personal rights.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Not a lot. Why allow these people to alter your life.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 7 years ago from USA

      Nice work. I love the photos you've chosen!

    • Brookelorren LM profile image

      Brookelorren LM 7 years ago

      Israel is a different situation than most of the rest of the world. I think their risk of terrorism is something like 10x greater than ours. I don't think the risk is so bad that I wouldn't risk going there on vacation, but it definitely makes sense to take precautions there.

    • kohuether lm profile image

      kohuether lm 7 years ago

      In Israel they take the suitcase thing very seriously! I had an instructor in school who was vacationing in Israel and he left his small suitcase (one of those small ones for toiletries) where he was sitting by mistake. He noticed it practically right away and ran back to get it. The Security detail already had the bag surrounded!