Could your room layout save your life?

Plan in advance to maximize your chances

Have you ever thought about how arranging your meeting room, could increase your chances of surviving a violent attack? No-one wants to think about being the victim of a violent attack at work. Yet that’s the reality that a growing number of industries face. Whether in your premises, or out and about with clients, there are many things you can do to enhance your chances.

In this article we focus on what you can do before you are in a room with a stranger or where there is a risk worth managing. In future articles we will look at the during and after.

Some tips for safe room set-ups

1. Plan in advance

Aim to do a recce beforehand to be in control of your space; even in client venues you should always feel confident to ask for conditions which make you feel safer (e.g. an escort, duress alarm or layout modifications)

2. Know how to escape

Pay attention to entry and exit points, including all closed internal doors. Are they locked? Are they cupboards? Do they offer escape routes? Plan to keep the door open if possible.

3. Maximise your chances of being seen and / or heard

Note any CCTV cameras or viewpoints – if you will be isolated with a stranger, you want any potential incidents to be visible to others, then and/or later. If you are unable to keep the door open (e.g. for privacy reasons), position yourself to be visible through a door panel or window. Consider taking recording equipment in, if you are truly concerned, and make this clear (both to cover you legally, and as a deterrent).

4. Set up the room to suit your needs

Where possible, arrange furniture to mean you are safest – this usually means giving you a clear exit path whilst maintaining a clear view of the whole room

  • Usually, this means setting up the room at 90 degrees to the main door, so you are never hemmed in but you can see anyone entering

  • If there is a security guard present inside the room (e.g. if visiting prisons) you would probably position yourself closest to the door and rely on security to watch your back

5. Consider what weapons someone could use against you

Remove anything which could be used against you by an aggressor (before and during meetings). This includes water bottles and glasses; consider plastic cups as a safer alternative if security is a real issue.

6. Consider what you could use to help protect yourself

Be aware of “improvised weapons” – that is, anything that you could use to defend yourself, that is naturally in that space: This includes chairs, desks and equipment already in the room

You may also bring some in with you: Bags, laptops, stationery, umbrellas and even coats can make excellent defensive weapons.

What else can you do?

All the above can also apply to domestic situations where you believe there may be any risk, for example a first date, a party, making a private sale or an appointment in your home.

Remember, always trust your intuition and act on it. Never be embarrassed to call someone out on inappropriate behaviour; don't be afraid to call the police if you believe they may be needed, and know that you have the right to defend yourself if anyone does threaten your safety. The majority of adults - and particularly women - we train, tell us about occasions when they haven't felt comfortable insisting on their concerns being taking seriously, and this has led them into trouble.

There are many more things you can do to manage your own safety or protect your staff, if facing uncertain conditions. Dynamic Krav Maga teaches the world's most practical and efficient Self Defence system, ideal for normal people who want to protect themselves and live peaceful lives – at work and anywhere else.

If you think we could help your workforce be safe and more confident, check out our Frontline Protection options.

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