November 21, 2008, Newsletter Issue #70: (89) Remember LACES

Tip of the Week

All travel safety involves some basic rules. If you forget everything else, but remember the basics, you’ll be a safer cruise traveler. LACES stands for Lookout, Awareness, Communication, Escape, and Safety. These principles were originally developed by wildland firefighters after analysis of multiple firefighter injuries or death events revealed at least one (or more) of the LACES principles was violated in each case. The LACES principle also applies to cruise safety. (Think about shoelaces as a reminder.)

Lookout means “looking out” for your companions. Lookout is a partner seeing and/or perceiving threatening situations. For example, pickpockets may create a diversion by jostling your spouse while a cohort steals their wallet. Your spouse may not sense the threat, but you’re on the lookout. Awareness is having “situational awareness” of your surroundings (especially if you’re alone without a lookout). Awareness is “big picture” instead of “narrow focus.” Continuously look around and appraise surroundings. Pre-occupied tourists make easy targets. Before going ashore, ask what areas are safe. On the street, keep looking around and behind you. Most importantly, keep a clear head and trust your instincts. Being high or intoxicated on a strange street or a cruise ship greatly reduces your ability to perceive and react to threatening events. Communication is sharing information with those around you. Give a written itinerary to friends or family before you set sail. Communication means knowing who to call in an emergency. Emergency numbers are not 9-1-1 worldwide. Communication also means reporting anything suspicious to a ship’s officer. Escape means planning an exit route. Think about which direction you’ll take to get to safety. On board ship and on shore in restaurants, theaters and shopping centers, always think, “Where’s an exit or escape route?” and “Where is a back-up exit if that one is blocked?” Safety means finding a safe zone. Safety is exiting a building in a fire or attack, or running to a firehouse, police station or lighted area if you feel threatened. Safety is the lifeboat station on a ship or the emergency slide on an airplane. A safe zone is the end of an escape route or a muster site.

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