2019 May 7
Nobody likes living in fear. Being prepared, extending your cooperation whenever necessary and being vigilant at all times are tremendously important during a time when our public security is threatened.
Following the terror attacks on Easter Sunday last month, a state of emergency, which can usually last up to a month (unless otherwise extended by Parliament), was declared by the President of Sri Lanka. During this time, in order to increase public security and public order, certain regulations are put in place that would allow state security personnel to perform actions that they may otherwise not be permitted to do.
As the nation slowly and steadily settles into a normal state of affairs, here are a few practical and proactive tips for you to follow during a national state of emergency:
1. Always carry identification
Make sure you have your NIC or passport whenever you leave. As an extra precautionary step, make duplicate copies of important documents and leave them in a separate, safe space.
2. Cooperate with security personnel
Several regulations have been put into place such as mandatory checks before entering a public area and parking your vehicle only at allotted car parks.
If you’re a parent, comply with regulations issued by schools. From using only plastic/polythene bags instead of normal school bags and transparent lunch boxes and bottles to coordinating pickups and drop-offs, always cooperate.
Find a list of the allotted parking lots for school vans and buses here:
- If or when authorities want your house searched, do not be nervous and cooperate instead.
- If you have any items that need to be handed in to your local police division, do so without delay.
Some movie theatres have issued guidelines to follow before entering the cinema hall. Some of them include arriving early for security checks, including vehicles and handbags. In order to make the process faster and easier, it would be advisable to avoid carrying a bag if possible.
Remember to thank all those in charge of protecting us. Small sentiments go a long way.
3. Pre-program emergency numbers
Make sure you have emergency numbers saved on your mobile phone. Here are a few (mostly toll-free) numbers:
- Police – 119
- National Help Desk – 118
- Fire and Rescue – 111
- Government Information Centre – 1919
- Ambulance – 110 / 1990
- Police Emergency – 011 2433333
- Accident Service (General Hospital) – 011 2691111
4. Tips for travelling
- Try to avoid public spaces and large gatherings as well as any demonstrations.
- Notify relations or loved ones on your whereabouts whenever possible.
- Be ready to comply with frequent security checks when travelling.
- Be vigilant when using public transport and report any suspicious persons or items immediately.
- Park your vehicle in an allotted parking lot. If this is not possible, leave your name and number in a visible area if you park on the road.
- Always make sure that you lock your car door, since many perpetrators resort to carjacking during an attempted escape.
5. Protect your health
Carry essential items with you, especially medication. This is particularly useful in case your workplace, school/institute or wherever you are at during a given time, goes on lockdown in the event of a potential threat.
6. Talk to your children
Although it is a difficult topic to discuss with a child, it is important to talk through certain drills during an emergency, especially if they find themselves in a situation where you are not with them.
7. Be vigilant and trust your gut
Conduct a risk assessment whenever you are in a public space and be vigilant of any suspicious activity at all times. Know the exits to the building you are in. Trust your gut and report any activity that you think may be wrong and remove yourself from the area immediately.
8. Avoid spreading fear
Play your part in putting an end to the present trend of fear mongering and circulation of false threats and unverified information. More details can be found here: http://www.pulse.lk/everythingelse/end-the-fake-news-cycle/
9. Live your life
Lastly, it is not necessary to make drastic changes to your lifestyle. As long as you are vigilant, prepared and willing to comply with public security regulations, there is no need for any major changes in your daily life.
More importantly, do not give in to the fear. Stay united and hopeful for peaceful times ahead.