A few weeks ago I read a Sunday Times article on how to stay safe in a hotel during a suspected terrorist attack. The article was written in response to the upcoming movie, Hotel Mumbai, a recreation of the November 2008 terror attack on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. It reminded me just how shocking the Mumbai attacks were. I remember reading updates from hotel guests who were Tweeting what was happening live to the world. Several hours later many of these guests were dead. The Times article made me think how lucky we were that an attack on that scale hadn’t happened since. The author suggested safety tips like avoiding holding meetings in a hotel lobby as that is where an attack is most likely to start.
Then sadly this weekend, the Sri Lanka bombings claimed 359 lives in a series of attacks on hotels and churches. The stories are heartbreaking. Sadly two children from my daughter’s school were killed, along with their mother. They were at the breakfast buffet in the Shangri-La Colombo, on the last day of their holiday. That a father has lost his wife and two children is simply unimaginable. My heart goes out to all the families who lost loved ones in the Sri Lanka attacks. If you are interested, there are many ways you can support the victims, including to the Sri Lanka Red Cross.
So how can you stay safe on your travels? Is there anything you can do to protect yourself? We are booked to go to Sri Lanka at Christmas and already my children are enquiring whether it’s safe. The real answer is that you can never know. You can check the advice of the UK’s Foreign Office which gives guidance on many things including risk of terrorism, health and natural disasters.
UK police advice is to ‘run, hide and tell.’
- Run. To a place of safety
- Hide. Barricade yourself in and remember to turn your phone to silent
- Tell. Once you are in a safe place call the police
It is always good to familiarise yourself with the Fire Escape route of your hotel/accommodation.
Statistics will tell us there’s more chance of being killed in a car on the way to the airport than in a terrorist attack. That said, it is wise to be vigilant and consider the advice of the Foreign Office carefully. Always be aware of your surroundings and have local emergency numbers programmed in to your mobile phone. It is sad to think that in addition to loss of life, places like Sri Lanka will now suffer hugely in a decline in tourism. Deadly terror attacks can bring so much destruction on so many levels. But we can’t let them win. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and my heart goes out to all the people who are affected.