There is no silver bullet solution to keeping completely safe in a hostile environment, but thorough pre-travel planning will help freelancers minimise risk and prepare themselves in the best possible way. As Director of TYR Solutions, a risk mitigation company and one of RPT’s approved safety training providers, I am regularly asked to carry out risk assessments for journalists. When I do this, I try to think about the fact that we aren’t the same and that we all see risks and threats differently, based on our situation, knowledge, experience, and training. Individuals working in conflict zones always seem to identify the obvious threats, like bombs and bullets, but often miss some of the more important, and common, ones. Everyday threats Risk-wise, we are more likely to be involved in a road traffic collision around the world than anything else. Yet how many of us have jumped into the car of a fixer or a taxi without question? The answer is, of course, most of us. How many of us have got into vehicles where the driver does not speak our language? The answer again, is the majority of us. When working, a journalist’s aim is to get the story or take the picture in the safest possible manner, whilst also maintaining control over his or her environment. Yet, even though statistically we are most at risk of being involved in a road traffic collision, we regularly get into unsafe vehicles with unsafe drivers, and relinquish that control. Similarly, how many people take into consideration the health risks in the country or region they are visiting? How many investigate the standard of medical care in the area they are staying, take time to consider where the nearest medical facility is or how they might get there. And what about the level of medical training they possess and the medical equipment they are carrying with them? Another area that individuals neglect is environmental risk such as weather, diseases and venomous animals, which is odd because while only some of us may know someone who has been shot or suffered blast injuries, it can be guaranteed that almost all of us have suffered from diarrhea and vomiting at some point in our lives. Most freelancers are not well paid for their work, and just one day of illness can cost them. Being medically and environmentally prepared can allow you to better identify dangers and help you to mitigate risks. So ask yourself, if you are going into a remote or hostile environment, what medical skills do you have? What medical equipment will you need? Can you keep someone else alive and get them to a safe medical facility? Communications plans Another area we see neglected in freelancers’ preparations are communications plans. In our everyday lives we check in with people, be it our friends, family or loved ones. How many times have you said to someone “text me when you get there”, or checked on someone because you knew they were supposed to only take a certain amount of time to get somewhere and you haven’t heard from them yet? Yet oddly, in our working lives this simple communication often gets neglected. It’s not uncommon for some journalists to go away on assignments where their family and friends have not heard from them for days, or even weeks. You should be checking in with someone everyday, with a clear outline and response of what to do if they do not hear from you. By leaving behind a clear communications plan or risk assessment outlining your intentions, you enable someone to potentially take control if a crisis unfolds and you are not in a position to take control of the situation yourself. This will help not only yourself, but also your family and friends Steve Cook is the Director of TYR Solutions. TYR Solutions are one of the Rory Peck Trust’s approved safety training providers. This post is part of our Freelance Safety Series. You can find out more about our HET training bursaries at the Rory Peck Training Fund pages.