<--photo of the U.S. Embassy bombing in Nairobi, Kenya 1998
Don't watch it from the line of sight of the soldier or the war lord, but rather the people ducking for cover as they run across the street in the back ground. Cause friend that's you.
To start with know where the U.S. Embassy or Consulate is in whatever country you are going to. It sounds like a given, yet its surprising the number of Americans who travel and assume there is an Embassy nearby.
To put it in perspective, Indonesia has two American stations, one is The Embassy in Jakarta and the other is the Consulate in Surabaya. However, Indonesia is comprised of 17,508 islands, of which 922 are permanently inhabited. Sooo there can be sometimes a bit of distance between you and soil-away-from-home.
Prior to and throughout your trip check on-line with the Over Seas Advisory Council. Not just the country you're in, but any additional ones that you are planning to visit. The OSAC issues press releases for each country, and advises its citizens abroad of everything from deteriorating political climates (ex: this spring in Madagascar) to city specific areas to avoid.
If you find yourself in need to evacuate and don't know how and are too far from the Consulate or Embassy. Call them.
Tell them you need contact information for local English speaking security services.
Companies like International S.O.S. , will provide you with estimates for out-of-country-extractions to local ex-pat English speaking security types (Mercs) to escort you to the airport.
Social disruptions vary, and no place is safe. Just like here at home. When rioting and looting broke out after Hurricane Katrina the entire Gulf Coast was on high alert. This didn't affect anyone in Missoula, Montana.
So it can be a regional problem and not a national one. If you're in a foreign country on business or pleasure and social break down ensues in the area and you have business elsewhere move up your time table and go. But let's say the shit has really, really hit the fan (that's why you're reading this anyway).
It's time to go shopping.
Ask the Concierge or front desk where the local hardware store is as well as any local sporting goods store. Its important to remember that you want anything you can get. And it will probably fall into one of two categories: Bladed or Blunt.
This is about makeshift weapons. Most (save maybe the U.K.) have things like bush knives, machetes, pangas etc. If you can't get long bladed weapons buy a few cricket bats. Look for something with reach that is lethal. Buy butcher knives, steak knives and the like. You are also looking for a hammer, crow bar, flat head screw drivers (extra large and medium size), and sharpening equipment or files. Duct tape, and if possible a decent cordless drill and bits (remember this part as you will see it again in another up coming article).
One other thing. Always...always pack a decent high lumen flashlight like a surefire , a l.e.d. headlamp and extra batteries for both. Power outages are common all over the globe under normal conditions. Even in the five star hotel you are in. Local bad guys will always bomb the electrical sub-stations first (terrorist incite terror) to cause black outs. Bet on it.
Cardboard and duct tape can make for field expedient in-the-waist-band knife sheaths (complete with belt loop) to stove that butcher knife or extra large flat headed screwdriver in. Your Hula girl or Ex-Officio button down short sleeve shirt will cover the handle.
The nice thing about being an American overseas, no one (cops included) think about America touristas walking around with butcher knives in their pants.
One travel writer said that you can carry a hard plastic bic pen with the end snapped off at a rakish angle for a discreet weapon and walk down the street well armed. Hmmm no thanks, if I have to pick between pen and concealing a steak knife, I'm picking the knife every time.
In the tropics and the islands there is one thing you can find: A Dive shop. Where there is Scuba equipment there are knives and spear guns.
Roll your eyes if you so choose. But let me remind you of this. Some where lost in your DNA are your ancestors. Shocking but true there was some blood lineage version of you in the times of Caesar (and farther back). Until the prevalence of firearms came about man fought with knives, swords, spears, and arrow. They either lived or died, and you are no better than they are.
Laugh if you like, but you are the same one who would say "better a .22 in your pocket than the .45 left at home." When you have neither its either bare hands or get nasty.
Personally I'll take nasty.
If you have nothing, something beats that.
The good hotels to the outstanding ones have in each hallway two on the fly weapons. Fire Extinguishers and Fire Hoses.
A firehose? Really?
The normal range of pressure for a firehose is between 8 & 20 bars (or 100 to 300 psi), they can also have a burst pressure range of 83 bar (or 1200 psi). This pressure level is capable of breaking in weaker brick walls. If water can knock a hole in a wall what do you think it will do to human skin at twenty feet. So its more than capable of knocking down a bad guy with an AKM.
Three people can operate a hose. Knock your bad guy down and keep him there and send one man off hose to retrieve any and all weapons and reloads. The two men operating the hose can direct flow as necessary.
Give no quarter.
Recover the weapon and kill them right then and right there.
Its not pretty, but you can either finish that fight there or let them run back and get friends, and your going to have to fight them again with increased numbers. Minimize your threat.
If you obtain a gun remember that the weapon is hot. If its foreign to you and you can't figure out the safety mechanics Rule 3 (keep your finger off the trigger) is your safety. Look for additional weapons from pistols to grenades and spare magazines and take them. This isn't a house shooting in Burbank and you don't know when it's going to be over or where you will be. More than likely its just getting started. Retreat to the room and take stock of the newly acquired gear.
If its an automatic rifle it has a safety and a lever or button that removes the magazine. If a magazine goes in, it has to come out. If it shoots it has a way of not shooting.
Its called Dark Arts for Good Guys for a reason.
They started the fight and you best end it, because if you don't they will.
It's not about politics or religion its about the law of the jungle, which is to say every man for himself.
Like travelers in the Oberoi in Mumbia did last year or the Virgina Tech Massacre the year before you have one of two choices. Either lie down and die or stand and make a fight. That is it.
Its not a "nice" thing to say and in all honesty regretfully true.
Thirty-two people were murdered and more wounded by one s.o.b. at Virginia Tech, because of the hundreds of people who saw Seung-Ho Cho walk by them no one, not one, fought back.
Holing up in the room waiting for the door to be kicked in so you can stand unarmed between a gunman and your family is a senseless and cowardly way to die. Frankly. It is pathetic that your entire life (and that of your family) led up to the moment of being slaughtered because you (and they) did nothing to prevent it.
I would rather my life end in a fight in the hall or doorway with an empty and dented fire extinguisher than found in pieces on a blood smattered hotel wall and bed with my wife, while the gunman walked to the next room and did it again.
he ain't talking about me: En masse evacuations in the last ten years