A realistic guide to Surviving a Terrorist Attack

Terrorist attacks are random by design. Countries have agencies using thousands of people spending billions of dollars trying to determine where these terrorist events will happen. Even with this extreme effort, terrorist events are happening everywhere. Yea, I get it. Tell you something you don’t know, right?

Terrorism like this used to just be mostly in the Middle East. Sure, we had the occasional disassociated American who would react to his anti-establishment nature by killing some innocent people. But that was few and far between, so most of us didn’t worry about being caught up in someone’s public rage.

Today’s life in America has us thinking about the possibility of a terrorist attack no matter where we go. Statistically, only a very few of us will find ourselves engaged in this kind of violence, but that doesn’t stop us from being concerned.


So, short of staying home with a remote job, an Amazon account, Uber Eats, Netflix, and a severe addiction to social media, you’re not going to be able to completely avoid a terrorist attack. Anywhere you go, where there are other people, it can be a possible scene for an attack. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that you are more likely to get injured from, or die from a car accident, be in a plane crash, get bitten by a shark, and a thousand other things that you hardly even ever think about. Statisticians can live a worry-free life in terms of being a victim of terrorist violence. But the rest of us are thinking about it every time we go somewhere.

Some people won’t go to certain places from fear of a terrorist attack. Two years ago, I went to Europe for an extended period. I remember worrying about running into terrorism over there before I went. And when I talked to people about going, some of them said they wouldn’t go to Europe because of it. After being in Europe for about a week, I stopped thinking about terrorism. The people over there just continue to live their lives despite the potential of terrorism. Europe is less concerned with security than the US. They are more interested in living their lives freer of worry.

Americans are obsessed with security. Unfortunately, the more security you get, the more freedom you lose. It’s simply a trade-off that most Americans are OK with. So, with every terrorist event that happens here, we attempt to further protect ourselves by sacrificing more and more freedom. The other day, I went to Universal Studios Orlando and had to give my fingerprint in order to get in. I must say that it didn’t feel right giving up my fingerprint just to get into a theme park. I don’t think it’s worth giving up freedom for security. But this is the country I live in and too many people are too scared. It’s only gonna get worse.


Being a victim of one of these things can be as random as winning the lottery so you can forget about being able to completely avoid the possibility of being in one. Sure, you could go live in the woods of Alaska somewhere. But if you live in an American society, you are vulnerable.

As a man, I admit that I think about finding myself in a terrorist attack. I think “what would I do? Will I be brave and try to save the people around me? Or will I just freeze and be stuck with fear, only doing the things I can to save only myself”? The fantasy, of course, is to be the hero. To save the fucking day like Cameron Poe in the movie Con Air. It’s nice to think that I will have what it takes to risk my own life just to protect and save those around me of some asshole distraught over abortion laws or something.

Heroism though is a fickly state in real life. So who knows how I or anyone else will react in the face of sudden violence and death. I mean, the baddest mother fucker can be caught off guard when he’s at a concert or enjoying a festival or any other event where he is relaxed. I suppose you could be always prepared if you assume the possibility of something happening every second of your life. But that is no way to live, and unless you are really fucked up from some severe post-traumatic stress disorder, your guard is gonna be down at times.

So, short of being an ex-CIA agent with PTSD and an earpiece connected to a security detail, here are some things to consider if you find yourself in a terrorist event:

  1. Assess your environment beforehand.No matter where you are or what the event, when you get there, check out the layout. See where the exits are. Look for safe places you could hide. Think about what might or could happen based on the layout and where people are. After you’ve assessed the area, pick a place where you, and whoever is with you could potentially be the safest.
  2. Decide now that you are going to protect and save those you love over your own self. This may seem unnecessary, but it helps a lot. Telling yourself that “if something bad goes down, you’re gonna try to save those you love first”, will set your brain in that motion. It will make it less likely that you go into “self-preservation” mode. Think now how it would affect you if you didn’t take actions to help those with you and something happens to them while you survived. That would totally suck, right?
  3. Make eye contact – The eyes will tell your psyche more than any other body language. Make it a habit to look people at the event in the eye. I’m not saying to be creepy. Just try to make it kind of a habit to make quick eye contact. You may see someone who is about to go off and be able to keep an awareness of where he is. All because you didn’t like what you saw in his eyes. Eye contact prior to the violence may subconsciously divert the asshole terrorist from going after you. It may be easier for him to commit his evil acts on the people who didn’t look at him.
  4. Have a plan beforehand – When you got there, you assessed the area. After that, make a plan on what you would do if something happened. Things may not go how your mind thought it might, but your brain having a plan will help to prevent it from shutting down, so you can continue to take actions to survive.
  5. Have awareness – This is probably the most important thing you can do to survive. During super stressful situations in life, our brains will shut down. We do this to help us survive and it works well at protecting your brain from taking in things that will fuck you up mentally later. But this shut down can kill you too when you are in a violent moment. Stay aware of where the assholes are during the siege. Listen and look when you can, it might give you the information needed for you to survive. Picking a hiding spot and not moving no matter what may save you too. The odds are better overall if you keep your head out of the sand.
  6. Don’t shut down, keep thinking. When you’re “in the shit” with all kinds of terror going on around you, your mind may want to shut down. Don’t let it. Keep thinking and being in the moment. It may go against your brain’s survival mode, so tell yourself right now to keep a small voice in your head to tell you to keep thinking.
  7. Learn some self-defense – It may not be worth it to you if you don’t think of terrorism much. If you are somewhat consumed by it though, learning some self-defense will lessen your worry by giving you confidence. When I trained in karate, we would occasionally work with taking away a handgun and a knife. Even though it’s been quite a few years since I’ve practiced, there is a small level of confidence that has stayed with me. Just knowing that if the life or death opportunity of struggling over an aggressor’s weapon happens, you will have at least a plan on how to do that. And chances are good that the terrorist won’t have any training in that respect, so that’s good for you. You don’t have to be Chuck Norris, but if this is what it’s gonna take to not die, then it’s best to be even a little prepared.
  8. Have a gun – I know this is super controversial, but it’s absolutely worth considering. In most cases, you won’t be able to be “packing” wherever you go, even if you have a concealed weapon’s permit. Personally, I’m a fan of an armed society but I also see the negatives of it. I don’t have an agenda on this, so you’ll have to decide if you should be armed when you can be or not. I mean, I’m gonna have guns regardless, so you can do what you want.If you do have a gun, it’s a good idea to shoot it once in a while. It would suck if you were in a position to defend yourself and others from a terrorist with your gun, and you not be able to use it accurately. Know your weapon.

In many cases, surviving a terrorist attack is just pure luck. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, you’re not gonna make it no matter who you are or what you know. But if you are only close to the wrong place at the wrong time, there can and will be the opportunity to survive. And those who can keep themselves in the moment have a much better chance of living through it.

The best way to not be a victim is to plan on not being one, both physically and mentally. And as a man, others may look to you for their survival. You may not be any more capable of surviving than those around you, but if you at least give some thought to it, it may make the difference.

Leave a Reply