ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 44
Financial Times  

Security issues – Ensuring a happy holiday

Family protection during the festive season

By Damith Kurunduhewa

Bob Woolmer is no more. The ever smiling former English Cricketer turned guru was coach of Pakistan’s national cricket team. This gentle giant was found dead recently in his room at Pegasus hotel in Jamaica which stunned the cricketing world. The mystery death of Woolmer raises more questions than answers that interpret a crystalline breach of security. In the ultimate analysis, it is his family which loses him eternally and the world is (too) busy to recollect what happened in few more weeks. That is the tested reality of every disaster. Only the family suffers in the end.

Hotels and holidays are inseparable. As the traditional New Year season approaches, no matter what our faiths are, virtually every one of us plan for a holiday outing – distancing our busy minds from the rat race. Thereby, a hotel or a resort of our liking becomes our “home away from home” for a while. We take a great effort in debating on the hotels of our desire - mostly on scenic beauty, tranquility, guest comforts and niche feature holiday packages. Brilliant. Yet, not many of us critically contemplate how secure is the locality and the surroundings that shelter us during the holiday.

The aura of safety projected by few security officers at the hotel compound is beyond adequacy to protect us from all risks. Woolmer tragically left us teaching this lesson once more. “Are we learning?” is the million dollar question. A senior business manager of a star class hotel stated, “When foreigners come to stay in the hotel, they first want to know where the fire exits, emergency escapes and the assembly points are. We Sri Lankans are different. Many are only keen to know whether liquor can be brought in without corkage or could they go to the lobby restaurant in a pair of shorts.”We perhaps are seasoned holiday enthusiasts.

Mystery Deaths
Everything has been right thus far and therefore, we take our protection and the security of our kids for granted. We expect the protection to be there by its own virtue in a kind of automatic sense. But, every holiday tragedy has proved to us otherwise - over and again. The worry free past cannot guarantee the same for the present and the future. Every tragedy has a FIRST TIME and a FIRST VICTIM.

Mystery deaths in hotel rooms, robbery, car jacking, drowning and food poisoning are not alien to us in Sri Lanka. In fact, these holiday risks are in existence everywhere in the world. The best way to exceed this challenge is to muster our protective sprouts from deep within. That is to elevate our instinctive and intuitive minds to be the focal point of our protection. After all, we love dream holidays, not holiday nightmares.

Our holiday plan and the details should remain within the inner circle of family and friends. We consciously need to guard ourselves against the habit of making everyone aware that we are on course for a holiday. Enthusiastic chit chat over the phone could be well enough for a waiting ear to pick the vital clue.

Local Contact
It always pays rich dividends by exploring a reliable local contact from the area we plan to stay – in Sri Lanka or overseas. Awarding the status of reliability yet again is the right apprehension of the back ground, motives and the tested loyalty of the person. Many victims have fallen for superficial loyalty and thus walked into the traps set by the so called “reliable local contact.”
The protection of our home during the vacation too needs an effort focus. The home kept valuables, electronic appliances, left behind second car and office or family documents stimulate the harmful interest of intruders. After an ecstatic experience of a zest holiday, should we return to discover a home that is burgled and in shambles? A family experienced such a shocking discovery, not immediately after their return, but when they received a colossal water bill later. During the family vacation, their garden taps have been used to steal nothing but water - on a 24-hour basis for a construction site.

The fastened gate lock, uncollected newspapers, stuffed mail box, burning bulb in broad daylight or absence of illumination during the night are some clues intruders are spotting to pick their hunting home. Some houses which look like fortresses more than homes provide ideal cover for criminals once they get in. Many modern houses are architectural marvels, yet easily could be penetrated by seasoned intruders.

Holidays are few dawns ahead. Let’s dream fun – yet think protection. As the great German philosopher poet Goethe said “Be it king or a commoner, the happiest is he who finds peace and security at home”. May we add the word - hotel too? The Bob Woolmer tragedy certainly suggests so.

The author is Strategic Security Specialist / Pragmatic Trainer & CEO of the Strategic Security Solutions.
He can be reached at –

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.