Personal Safety (if you are alone)
In the USA (or Canada/UK) we take certain things for granted, and as a result, we might get a bit careless.
If anything bad happens, we can just call 911 (or 999, etc). Within minutes, help arrives. They pull up in a decked out ambulance with all you need to get somewhere for help. Or the police come pulling up and understand your need.
Starting around 20 years old and for the following 3 decades, I traveled a lot. I lived in Asia for over 3 years. I learned to be careful and cautious. Also in my younger years, I learned self-defense in Judo and Karate. Being a bit of a trouble maker I had some fight experience as well. Those things didn’t make me oblivious but rather taught me to constantly assess my situation. I learned to be careful because help might not be a few minutes away.
Like what? For example, I have cooked since I had to take care of myself at age 8. I learned by burning myself. By cutting myself. When I began traveling I realized I needed to learn to prevent small things so big things didn’t follow. There is nothing worse than finding yourself in a really bad situation, knowing if you had only done something different it never would have happened. Just imagine the concept of childproofing, then think about how you can “child-proof” your life.
I learned how to cut with the blade going into the chopping block, not my hand. What can be a simple cut in the USA can become a bleed out situation if you don’t take care. I learned not to grab pot or panhandles without a towel. Once in my foolish younger years, I got angry. I lashed out and kicked the wall. Only two problems. I was in my bare feet, and I slipped and kicked a window. It slashed the vein on the top of my foot. A massive amount of blood came gushing out and very quickly I got dizzy. I wrapped my foot in a towel and passed out, slipping in a huge pool of blood. Not only was it childish and preventable, but was potentially the end of my life. If only I hadn’t done that.
When I walk on a wet floor, I walk very carefully, step by step to be sure I am focused and don’t slip. When I go up and down stairs, I take one step at a time, looking where I am going. These things may sound silly, and in the USA we don’t really need to think about it. But when help is not a phone call away, the smallest issue can become huge. There just isn’t much I do anymore without thinking, and seeing it in my mind first. Even coming downstairs. I try to be aware of the possible things that can happen. Now that may sound paranoid, or no way to live. But I assure you it’s fine. It is really just living the lessons you learn about driving a car. You look at all points around you and watch out for the other guy.
I seem to be carefree to my friends as I walk around. And I am, but I am also observing people around me, where I am, any possible escape routes, any potholes in the ground. Perhaps because I have years of practice, it is just second nature to me. I prefer knowing that if something happened I already thought about it and have a way through it.
Now and then I still get bitten. It wasn’t that long ago, I had a potentially serious problem. I walked out on my second story patio, and let the door lock behind me. I had not foreseen this so I had nothing to open the door. There was no escaping. I was there for a few hours but it could just as well been days. I felt like an idiot. I sat down and worked the problem out. Battery nearly dead on my phone, almost no clothes on, and windows I couldn’t break (had nothing to break them with). I covered this in a video, but because I was careless for a moment there was a problem. Life goes so much better if you think things through before it goes south.
How to deal with a wallet. ID, Credit Cards. How to protect your phone and your person. How to prevent cuts and falls. What to do if you get sick. Who can you call if something does happen, and do you always keep your battery charged?
In the USA these things may seem petty. If you live alone, far from people, in a different country and you struggle with the language, you need to plan. You don’t want to face something serious and thinking “If only I hadn’t done that!” Take responsibility for your life and your safety. Be a Boy Scout! “Be Prepared”
What caused me to write this? I was thinking about the last time in Colombia. It was extremely dangerous in those days. I was even shot at. But I knew how to do OK. Colombia is no longer like that, but remembering those days caused me to reflect on something that is part of how I live my life.