Nothing could have been more timely than the August 10th presentation made by Geoff Fahringer, a longtime member of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office who has created the presentation to bring awareness of the challenges of today’s environment and the need to maintain a heightened sense of what he identifies as “Situational Awareness” in today’s society.
He was accompanied by Marco Island Police Sergeant Brian Hood as he made the presentation to a group of islanders at the Collier County Library’s Rose Hall on South Heathwood Drive on Saturday morning.
The terrible tragedies which played out only a few weekends ago in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio were fresh in the minds of those in attendance.
Fahringer stressed the importance of being aware of your surroundings, and what is transpiring within those surroundings. “Ladies and gentlemen, being aware of where you are and what is going on around you could save your lives,” said Fahringer.
Whether you are walking in a parking lot going to your car, entering a restaurant to have dinner or going into a movie theater or playhouse, he encouraged those in attendance to take notice of their surroundings. Be aware of exits, doorways leading to safe passage and other important ways out of danger or for concealment. Have a plan in place should something happen and be prepared to implement it should the time come.
Fahringer warned parents not to “label their children.” Don’t provide a potential abductor with an ability to gain a sense of familiarity with your child by labeling his name on his backpack. “Hey Jimmy, your mom asked me to pick you up. There’s been a small accident and I have to take you to the hospital to be with her.” Make sure your child has a secret code word only known to him or her, otherwise they may be easily fooled. Rehearse it with him or her so they know what to do.
Adults are as much of a target as are children. Fahringer provided many practical tips for increased situational awareness and personal safety.
Keep your car keys close and if someone appears to be approaching you in an aggressive fashion, use the “panic button” found on many of the new cars. Bad guys don’t want attention called to them, and nothing does that better than a car horn constantly blaring.
If you own a weapon, don’t leave it unsecured in your vehicle. Make sure it has a safe and secure location which is locked and unavailable to a potential car thief. The same applies to gifts and other items you might carelessly leave exposed within a car.
Don’t leave garage doors open at home, even if you are in residence, you are advertising some valuable equipment inside that garage and some of today’s thieves are brazen enough to enter even in broad daylight.
But one of the most important things as a neighbor you can do; if you see something out of the ordinary pick up the phone and call 911.