Acorn Notes

Issue No. 3, May 2006

Insisting on safe work practices and enhancing abilities to work face-to-face with foreign partners are critical elements of business success for international industry today. Yet we often dedicate too little time and attention to managing our personal safety while traveling and working overseas. As the amount of travel to potentially dangerous locations persists, and as the extent of violent crime in some of these areas increases, we need to continually sharpen our abilities to minimize and mitigate the risk of crime on the road.

This edition of Acorn Notes provides a selection of travel-related crime prevention and mitigation tips, from various sources, that I have found to be most useful during nearly 20 years of extensive travel in developing countries.

Many of you have your own travel and security departments that provide safe travel advisories. The information that follows is not intended to be, and should not be, used as a substitute for that qualified advice. While sources of each tip are referenced, none of the tips have been verified by qualified independent sources. Rather, these are simply the top 10 tips from referenced sources that I have personally found to be useful or sensible while traveling and working overseas.

A. Most Useful Tips for Minimizing the Risk of Crime

  1. Air travel – Do not discuss specific travel plans with strangers (e.g., the person sitting next to you on a plane.
  2. Air travel – While waiting in airports, try to avoid crowds. Sit in a restaurant with a clear view of the entrance and easy access to an escape route.
  3. Air travel – Dress conservatively, avoid bringing expensive luggage and jewelry.
  4. In the hotel – Allow the bellhop to take your bags to the room. While there, ask him to inspect for any signs of intrusion and make sure the deadbolt on the door functions properly.
  5. In the hotel – Try to select a room on floors 3-5. (Floors 1 and 2 are more often targeted by thieves and floors 6 and higher could be more difficult to escape or access by fire fighters.)
  6. On the street – Learn about your surroundings, ask a reliable source (and confirm) about directions and what threats may exist before walking from office or hotel.
  7. On the street – Walk with confidence and purpose; do not attract attention.
  8. In taxis – Take only authorized taxis from a hotel or known taxi dispatching service. Note the taxi number and have a bellhop or known dispatcher record the number.
  9. In taxis – Always carry a working cell phone. After entering the taxi, call your local office or hotel to report the taxi number. If the phone does not work or the call does not connect, fake the call.
  10. On the street and in cars – Vary your route when taking repeat trips (for example from hotel to office.)

Most Useful Tips for Managing the Risk of Crime

  1. Before leaving home – Copy the first page of your passport and tickets/reservations; leave one copy at home with a family member and carry a second copy in your luggage. (This will help you obtain a replacement passport if needed.)
  2. Before leaving home – Prepare a list of telephone numbers and addresses of the places you plan to visit. Carry this on your person and leave a copy at home with a family member.
  3. Before leaving home – Carry only one credit card plus about $100 cash in your wallet.
  4. Before leaving home – Do not carry personal business cards, PIN numbers, or family photos in your wallet.
  5. In the hotel and other facilities – Always check the location of fire exits and escape routes
  6. In cars – If assaulted while in or opening your car, raise your hands, look down (avoid looking directly into the eyes of an assailant) and listen carefully to what he/she is demanding.
  7. In cars – In the same case, allow assailant to take the car; negotiate that they can have your car, wallet, valuables, but to allow you to stay out of the car
  8. In the event of an assault - Always be clear and slow with movements, and keep your hands in plain view. Tell the assailant what you are going to do (for example, "I have my wallet in the bag and am going to take it out.")
  9. In the event of an assault – Try to keep assailant calm (for example, repeat: "Stay calm–I will do what you tell me to do.")
  10. In traffic – Keep at least a half car length back from the car in front of you if stopped in traffic so that you can escape or create a collision if needed to frustrate an assault.

Again, check with your company travel/security office for qualified and up-to-date advice. Safe travels!

Acorn International Notes

Acorn Notes is a series of periodic papers to share ideas regarding EHSS and sustainability management for international industry.

Issue 21 - March 2014: Above-ground Facilities and Stakeholder Engagement: Deploying the 'CAC'
Issue 20 - March 2014: A Starting Point for Shared Equity
Issue 19 - March 2014: What It Takes to Run a Great Consulting Firm
Issue 18 - February 2014: Considering Human Rights - Trends and Lessons in Oil and Gas Impact Assessments
Issue 17 - June 2013: Managing Environmental Health in International Development Projects
Issue 16 - January 2013: Integrating Environmental and Social Performance throughout the Project Lifecycle
Issue 15 - January 2013: The State of Shale Play in 2013
Issue 14 - August 2012: Building Environmental and Social Governance in Host Countries
Issue 13 - May 2012: Human Rights and Business: A New Era
Issue 12 - February 2012: Extractive Industries Confront Pressure for Greater Transparency
Issue 11 - January 2012: Key Updates to the IFC Sustainability Policy and Performance Standards
Issue 10 - June 2011: Oil & Gas and NGOs: New Rules of Engagement?
Issue 9 - February 2010: Annual Study of Sustainable Development Priorities
Issue 8 - January 2009: Annual Study of Sustainable Development Priorities
Issue 7 - May 2008: Top Ten Lessons Learned About Health Impact Assessment
Issue 6 - January 2008: Annual Study of Sustainable Development Priorities
Issue 5 - September 2007: Results of web forum with our International Partners
Issue 4 - January 2007: Annual Study of Sustainable Development Priorities
Issue 3 - May 2006: Suggestions and tips for safe international travel
Issue 2 - January 2006: Annual Study of Sustainable Development Priorities
Issue 1 - November 2005: The Top 10 "unspoken" criteria for determining the success of EIAs


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