Thursday, April 28, 2016

Security At A Rest Stop

We will be traveling soon a few states away. When I was younger we used to travel at night so that the kids would sleep. We’d also do very little stopping.
I traveled one time when were in the military from Texas to Arizona by myself. I don’t remember the circumstances, but I remember stopping at a rest stop. I rarely travel alone, especially back then, and I also rarely stop at a rest stop. As I drove in I noticed the people there. Nothing seemed out of place so I stopped. I was prepared to keep going. I was on high alert and was armed as I made my way to the men’s restroom. I was in and out in less than 2 minutes. These are some of the thoughts I have in thinking back on that experience.
If possible, don’t even use rest stops. It may be safer to use a more public option such as a gas station or a restaurant. Always remember, though, that the dangers can be the same no matter where you are.
As you pull into the rest area, take notice of its name or the closest mile marker, in case there is an emergency and you need to tell authorities where you are.
Proper lighting can go a long way in discouraging crime at rest areas. Buildings are often well-lit, but look for places where the parking lot is illuminated as well. At night, avoid the peripheral parts of the rest area, like picnic tables, trails and surrounding woods, where illegal activity sometimes occurs
Avoid parking close to tractor-trailers, which need a lot of space to maneuver and which could also block other people from seeing your car, providing the kind of cover that criminals often seek out.
Pay attention to how many people are in the restroom, where they are and what they are doing. Listen to people entering the restroom. Are they whispering? Are they making plans? Does it seem suspicious? Use all of your senses to help maintain your security.
It is a good idea to always take your kids in the restroom with you no matter what their age. Don’t let them go alone, don’t leave them in your vehicle and don’t let them run around the area alone. It only takes a few seconds for someone to scoop up a child and be on the highway and out of sight in no time. Another idea is to take your small kids into the stall with you. Have them use the bathroom and if you have to go, have them turn around. Its better this way than to have something happen to them.
If you are a couple with no kids, it’s a good idea to let one person go to the restroom and the other stand outside the doorway. This is just in case one or the other is in need of assistance.
As you enter the restroom, look around for alternate escape routes in case you need to get away quickly. Many restrooms and rest stops do not have windows or a second exit. Be aware that the door you entered could be the only exit.
Check the doorway before you enter the restroom, just like you should any door anywhere, and when you exit a stall or the restroom, check again. This could prove to be serious blunder if you just walk through without paying attention to what or who is to the side or in front of the door.
If I have to use the stalls, I always make sure not to use the last stall so as not to corner or trap myself. If I use the urinal, I use the reflection in the chrome pipes to see around and behind me. Don’t be afraid to always look over your shoulder, turn and look behind you, and see what and who is around you. It makes no difference if you make someone else uncomfortable in a public restroom by looking around; your safety is much more important than someone else’s feelings.
Look up. A simple common sense thing to do, yet most people don’t even think of it and generally never do no matter where they are. If you are outside the restroom, by the trees or the building, take a look up. Criminals could be up in a tree, on the roof of the rest stop or inside on a ceiling rafter waiting to jump down on top of you. This will take you by complete surprise and could prove to be fatal. Don’t think it doesn’t happen, because it does.
If you don’t already carry a flashlight, take one with you whether you are going into the rest stop or walking your dog by the trees. Even in daylight, a flashlight can prove to be helpful. You can use it as a defense tool or if someone turns the power off to the building.
While it may be cheap to spend the night at a rest area, it isn't necessarily safe. Many states have banned sleeping at rest stops due to increased crime, and many others have put up signs that discourage it. Your best bet is to look for campgrounds or state parks along your route where, for a fee, you can more safely snooze in your car
Stopping at a highway rest stop or using a public restroom should be like anything else you do. It takes common sense and being aware of what is going on around you and being prepared for what could happen. Don’t let the simplest task of going to the restroom make you complacent with your safety and security.
Always be of the mindset of security. Always have your head up. See problems before they become problems and avoid them. Protect yourself and your loved ones with a mindset of security.
Semper Paratus
Check 6