Lost in the Woods: Survival Tips

With the recent news that Amanda Eller, a Hawaiian hiker, was found alive after 17 days of being lost, it’s worth it to know what to do if you’re lost and alone in the wilderness. Eller did many things correctly, according to multiple early news reports. CNN claimed that she picked guava and berries to eat when they were available. She only drank water when it looked clear, and she didn’t think it would make her sick. She also nursed herself when she got a bum knee and had a sunburn that was so bad it got infected.

If you’re hopelessly lost or injured, it is essential that you know about wilderness survival. Most people don’t realize that it is much about waiting to get rescued without making the situation worse. If you’re in good health and are fit, you might be able to hike your way out of the area, but the challenge is to know which one you should choose.

Stop to Think

Once you realize that you’re lost, remember to STOP. It’s a mnemonic term that means:

  • Stop. Stay exactly where you are, don’t panic, and sit down.
  • Think. What you do depends a lot on your location and situation. According to the US Forest Service, you shouldn’t move from your location until you have a need to take that first step.
  • Observe. You should get information about your situation and try to determine where you’re located. Do you have a compass and map? Look at the map or look around you to see if there are signs that tell you about trails or intersections.
  • Plan. Next, consider your courses of action and pick one. You might want to continue the way you’ve been going or consider turning back and backtracking. If night is about to overtake you or you’re hurt, it might be best to stay there as long as nothing is threatening you.

Plan Ahead

Once you’ve realized you’re lost, it’s too late to plan for getting lost, but most people are going to read this because they are curious and not because they’re currently in the wilderness and googling tips. Of course, if you are reading this in the wilderness, your cell phone has some battery life and a signal, so you should be calling 911 to get help.

Some points to consider include:

  • Always tell someone where you’re going. If you’re going for a walk in the woods, text a family member or friend to tell them where you’re going.
  • Bring the most essential survival gear, which includes emergency shelter options, sunscreen, first-aid supplies, bug spray and a flashlight.
  • Make sure that you can communicate during an emergency. Bring your cell phone and have a backup battery if possible. You may want to invest in an emergency GPS beacon, as well.

Know How a Rescue Works

If you do end up needing to get rescued, you should understand the rescue process. Most people think that your loved one calls the cops and a search is initiated immediately, but that isn’t likely to be the case.

Most of the time, the authorities get a 911 call from the person you texted to say you were heading out into the wilderness, and the law enforcement official gathers information to determine if you’re lost or just decided to leave town.

If they believe you to be lost, they’ll start looking. Cell towers can pick up your previous cell signal even if the phone is turned off. Searchers will get a description of you, such as what you wore and where you’re likely to be. They’ll search there and spread out to find you. About 97 percent of people who get lost in the wilderness are recovered within the first 24 hours. If it has been longer than that, it’s harder to find you, such as you’re in a challenging place to see.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Creating a “Plan B” for Survival

What do you do if you have a “Plan A” for survival, but you realize that it’s a bad plan. Do you have a “Plan B?”

Forget about doing things like running to the grocery store right before the snow storm of the century hits. Everyone else in your town or city will do the same.

The convenience stores are supermarkets are the prime places where panicked people will go for water and food. While they are doing that, however, you can get your supplies at places no one else will ever think to look.

Before the next major disaster hits, locate all of the companies and sources of water within two miles of your house. When making this list, don’t assume that a business you see won’t have something valuable. When the list is done, take your time and go through it to determine if they might have something valuable to you.

For instance, a business that you might not consider as a source for water, such as a dental office, absolutely has water. So do gyms and beauty spas. Speaking of gyms, they often sell food, too. Also, don’t forget the local hobby shop. It likely has twine and wood. Bookstores often have sandwiches, pastries, and bottled beverages available, and office supply stores often have things like candy, crackers, and other snacks.

It’s probably best if you use a bicycle to get to these places, because a car might not be able to get through. Also, don’t wait until the main event to see if your bike works. Test it out beforehand. Additionally, get yourself familiar with the different routes to get to these places. In a disaster situation, your normal route might be blocked. Finally, start “training” for this by riding your bike for a few miles a couple of times a week. Carry a heavy duffel bag with you, too. Doing this with no practice can be quite difficult.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Do You Know How to Use a Knife for Survival?

Using a knife in a survival situation is a skill that can mean the difference between life and death. But, you have to know how to use the knife. Here is some information:

Knife Safety:

  • Carry a fixed-blade knife if you are going outdoors. It is less likely to get broken
  • Always keep a knife in its sheath. If you trip, it could cut or stab you if it is not contained.
  • Practice pulling the knife from the sheath, so that you don’t get cut. You might need to draw it very quickly.
  • Drawing the knife is a two-step process: first, hold the handle with one hand to loosen the blade. While doing this, push against the knife’s sheath with the thumb. Next, wrap your thumb around the knife’s handle and pull the knife away from the body.
  • When handling a knife, always use slow movements.
  • When handing the knife over to someone, use your forehand grip. Rotate the knife between your thumb and your forefinger. The knife’s handle should face the person you are giving it to, and the edge should point up. Don’t release the knife until the other person is holding it securely.
  • A sharp blade is much safer than a dull one because it requires less force.

Gripping Your Knife 

  • For most uses, handle a knife with a forehand grip. The knife is inside of your fist with the edge of the blade facing the first finger.
  • When buying a knife, make sure that you can fully close your fist around the knife’s handle.
  • If cutting a cord, use a reverse grip. In this case, the edge of the knife is towards your thumb. When using the knife like this, pull with your torso or shoulder for the best result.
  • The chest lever grip is when you hold the blade with its edge pointed in the opposite direction of the forehand grip, which is up towards your hand’s knuckles.

The Uses of a Knife

  • Wood Chopping – Hold the knife in a forehand grip and use it against the wood. Use a wooden object to “hammer” the blade into the wood you want to cut.
  • Wood Splitting – With the forehand grip, place the blade of the knife over the wood. Then, use a baton to push it through the wood in the grain’s direction.
  • Slicing with a Knife – You have certainly sliced with a knife. In a survival situation, use a forehand grip to slice like you do at home.
  • Power Cutting – To power cut, use a chest lever grip. While doing this, hold the object you wish to cut. Using your back muscles, draw the blade through the object…HARD.
  • Controlled Cutting – Using the chest lever grip, work your way slowly around the object you wish to cut.
  • Drilling with a Knife – Place the knife’s tip onto the object, and then twist left and right. Don’t use too much force, as your hand can easily slip.

With all knife grips, make sure that there is no other body part in the path of the knife.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Is Your Bugout Bag Ready to Go?

It seems like there have been a number of natural disasters hitting the US over the past couple of years…hurricanes, wild fires, floods…the list goes on. If you are caught in the face of a survival emergency, do you have supplies? Consider a bugout bag. These are sacks that you can take with you in the outdoors to help you survive. Here’s what you need for a three-day bugout bag:

  • Water – At least a liter per person each day.
  • Food – Pack backpack meals or energy bars.
  • Large cup or small pot – This is for boiling water, but if you have iodine tablets, you might not need this.
  • Clothes – Pack pants, two shirts, sturdy footwear, two pairs of non-cotton socks, long underwear, a wide-brimmed hat, and rainwear jacket and pants.
  • Tent or tarp with a sleeping bag.
  • First aid kit – you can build one, you don’t have to buy one. That way, you know what’s in it.
  • Fire starters
  • Poncho
  • Survival knife
  • Two flashlights with extra batteries
  • Small mirror – you can use this to get the attention of airplanes
  • Weapon – pepper spray is a good thing. If you want to carry a gun, make sure you have the right training.
  • Sunscreen and sun glasses
  • GPS or similar in case you get lost
  • Baby wipes to clean yourself
  • Paracord

That should be enough to get you through three days. There are obviously other things that you can put into your bugout bag, too. Depending on where you live and your skills, you might want to put in a compass or a snake-bite kit. Small plastic bags and shoelaces are also important, as you can use them to trap water from non-poisonous plants. If you want to create a seven-day bugout bag, make sure to add enough to survive.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Storing Water for Survival

Do you think you know all there is to know about water storage? Most people think they have a good grasp on it, but they are in for a bit surprise. Below, there is a lot of information about storing water that might contradict what you think you know:

Storing Barrels – You can keep storage barrels on a basement or cellar cement floor. Cement that remains cool doesn’t transfer any toxins into the water. However, if the cement is warm, such as garage cement that might get heat from the driveway, you must store the barrels on floorboards. Also, store some of your water in bottles that are portable so they are easy to handle.

Reusing Your Bottles – You can refill old soda and juice bottles with water as long as there is a PET or PETE rating on the plastic. Do not use old milk jugs, however. If you are worried about leaching chemicals, you can treat the water…just make sure to do it when you consume it, not when storing it.

A Full Boil – You don’t have to boil your water fully to kill all of the bacteria in it. Instead, heat it to 160 degrees F for 30 minutes, or heat it to 185 degrees F for three minutes. This burns less fuel, too.

Drink Pool Water – Pool water is okay to drink as long as it is under 4 PPM of chlorine.

River Water – You can also drink river water, but treat it with iodine tablets, first. Keep in mind, in a survival situation, the river is where everyone will go.

Store Enough – Ideally, you should store more than a month’s worth of water. A huge disaster could mean many months, or even years, of water shortage.

Daily Amount – Each person requires about a gallon a day. This includes for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

Water vs. Food – Though food has calories that your body needs, water is much more important. You can go for many days, or even weeks without eating. However, you can onlyhandle a couple of days without water.

Taste – The water that you store might taste bad because it has been closed off from oxygen. Pour it between two glasses, back and forth, to get more oxygen into it.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

The Top 7 Things You Need in Your Survival Kit

Imagine that you are in the middle of nowhere for a few days, or that you are stuck in your home after a disaster, like a hurricane. What do you need to survive? Here are several things that you should have available. Remember, this is only a basic list; things that you might pack in a “go bag” that you can grab in a hurry. If you aren’t sure what something is, Google the keyword to learn more.

Clean Water/Iodine Tablets/Water Access

Your body is made of mostly water, so having water available is the number one tool for surviving. For three days, you need about three liters of water per person. To help to expand this, have some iodine tablets that you can use to purify natural water, such as the water you find in a stream. Also, think about investing in a 55-gallon water barrel to store water.

Food

Some of the best food to have in your survival kit include energy bars, canned tuna (don’t forget the can opener or a sharp knife), and “backpack meals.”

Clothing

  • Hooded rain jacket
  • Hiking footwear, or sturdy shoes
  • Bandana
  • Two pairs of pants and two shirts (not cotton, as it retains moisture)
  • Two pairs of socks (wool, if you think it will be cold)
  • Long underwear (choose polypropylene for warmth)
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves (for the cold and to handle rocks and dirt)
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • Plastic bags (to place over your socks to keep them dry)
  • Rubber bands (to keep the plastic over your feet.

Shelter

  • Tent (a tarp works too, but you have to have a way to set it up)
  • Ground tarp (to place your tent or tarp on to insulate against the damp ground)
  • Sleeping bag

Medical Supplies

You want to make sure you have a first aid kit, and it’s best to make one. This way, you know what’s in it. Here’s some necessities:

  • Cold pack (chemical kind)
  • Ankle brace
  • Assorted bandaged, gauze, and antibacterial cream
  • Ace bandage
  • Cotton balls
  • Tourniquet
  • Tweezers
  • Sunscreen
  • Small mirror (you can also use this to signal search planes)
  • Vaseline
  • Sawyer extractor (to deal with snake bites)
  • Anything else you personally need for your specific health needs

Survival Tools

  • A travel chainsaw
  • At least three different types of fire starters
  • Camp stove and propane
  • Small cooking pot
  • Two flashlights with extra batteries
  • A good quality knife
  • Compass and map (know how to use these!)
  • Cell phone with extra battery or power source
  • Topographical map
  • Survival GPS app
  • Solar powered charger

Weapons

  • A shotgun or other firearm
  • Pepper spray (The big cans of “bear spray” are excellent)
  • Whistle
  • Air horn
  • Golf club, baseball bat, or other blunt object

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

2013 Boston Marathon: My Best Worst Day Ever

UPDATE: April 15th, 2019. Today marks the 123rd Boston Marathon. As many of my followers know, I have ran the marathon seven times, and I look forward to it every year. My charity for the past 6 years has been The Boston’s Children Hospital, and I have raised upwards of $60,000+. This year I am proud to announce my 2019 charity – The Martin Richard Foundation, please donate here.

Training for a marathon is a taxing, physical, emotional and expensive process. For me personally, that has meant multiple cortisone shots, almost a hundred physical therapy appointments and a few arguments with my wife. Why do it? Why climb a mountain? Why be a police officer? Why be an emergency room nurse? Why detonate a bomb in a crowd of innocent people? We all make choices others wouldn’t and we justify our decisions based on our interests, options and perspective.

Shortly after the bombings, evacuating the city, carrying my 40lb child after running 26 miles. Hurt, angered, saddened and grateful to get to my family.

Shortly after the bombings, evacuating the city, carrying my 40lb child after running 26 miles. Hurt, angered, saddened and grateful to get to my family.

For me, I just wanted to lose weight, get fit and finally give back to a charity; killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. When you’re 50 with a young family and your health and marriage are good, bills are paid and life is settled, words like “health,” “gratitude” and “grace” begin to have more meaning. And when you become a runner, you join a special club of conscious people who enjoy challenging themselves and understand our time is limited .

In 2013 I was on my way to run about a 4:10 (my best time ever), but was stopped at mile 26 due to some a couple terrorists’ agenda.

During the 2013 Boston Marathon, my improved time put me on Boylston Street shortly after the blasts. There were two loud bangs, and as I rounded the corner I saw the finish line through dissipating smoke. Boston police immediately corralled runners from going any farther down Boylston because it was now a volatile area and potential crime scene. At 2:52 PM I called my wife, who was at the finish line, about 100 yards from the first bomb, and got no answer. A minute later, I got my dad on the phone; he was with my wife and the kids and he confirmed they were OK. I instructed him to leave ASAP, as another bomb could go off any moment. I told him to “walk down the center of the street and avoid any cars!”

But nothing was going to keep me away from them; I couldn’t just sit there and wait. In my mind, there were bombs going off between my family and myself. As a father, son and husband, the instinctual need to get your family to safety overpowers every sense of reason. I dodged a couple of police officers and ran down Boylston, the only runner on the field, putting myself in jeopardy and now also causing law enforcement to chase after me. At the 26-mile mark, I saw people on the ground, bloody and getting medical attention from the few paramedics that were on hand to take care of runners expected to be injured in more predictable, less violent ways. I made a decision to keep going. Which still doesn’t sit well. It felt like a 3D movie where the scene was pushing me back in my chair, but the sound was off. I know the scene was loud with sirens and screams, but I heard nothing.

Then I heard an angry cop (rightly so) blasting his voice in my ear before he wrestled me off the course. Eluding further apprehension, but onward to my family, I hopped a fence and ran down a back alley behind the restaurants, bars and shops that were evacuating people through their back doors. What I saw was people—many victims who must have made their way on their own or with the assistance of others—screaming, crying and making frantic phone calls…and there was blood. Some victims I saw lost anywhere from pints to whatever; I don’t know. I just remember freaking out and not wanting to run in it.

I ended up behind the finish line and found a way to cross Boylston. I made my way to the Weston Hotel, where I found my family, scooped up my four-year-old and hiked another half mile to my vehicle. Leaving behind two vehicles, we piled nine adults and children into my Yukon and evacuated.

Out of relative danger, our attention now turned to our two children and damage control. To gauge my seven-year-old’s feelings, I calmly asked her, “Did you have fun today?” She said, “Yes, today was awesome! Until the bombs went off!” Knowing she was shaken, the radio stayed off and adults did what they could to speak in code. Note to adults who may try this: It doesn’t fool a seven-year-old.

By this time my phone was going nuts, Facebook and Twitter were buzzing and my mother, who couldn’t get in touch with us, was in complete meltdown.

Once I got home and got the kids situated, we ordered a bunch of pizza because that’s what you do when a bomb goes off. People need to feel normal.

My mom showed up at our home shortly after we got there. She was a total mess, and after the kids saw her emotional state, they understood the gravity of the situation. Today, they are showing a tremendous amount of affection and gratitude, which seems to be a side effect of their trauma.

I posted a brief note on Facebook: “Im OK, I was on Boylston St. when it happened. I saw smoke, I saw blood and people on the ground. My family was 300 yards away, waiting for me and I got to them and evacuated from the city. More later.” And the comments and “likes” poured in.

Shortly after, I provided an update: “I was right there, bomb went off. Boston police removed everyone, I kept running toward the bombs because my family was at the finish line. Police got me off the road, I resisted then another cop almost tackled me (rightly so). I ran in the back alleys, people spilling into the alleys from the explosion, screaming, crying, blood, got my dad to get my wife and kids out of there concerned for another explosion. I’m telling it to Dr. Drew on CNN between 9:15ish and 9:30ish tonight.”

Again, comments poured onto my page like never before. People offering an outpouring of help and support. I never knew I had that many real friends.

I feel I have to explain the part about Dr. Drew and CNN.. It may seem opportunistic, but frankly, for me, it’s therapy. I do lots of media as the expert. My network is “the media.” So when I send a blast email to raise money for charity, my network knows I’m running the Boston Marathon. When I logged into Facebook and email, the requests came in from CNN, Extra and Canadian TV, along with a few radio shows too. So I spent the evening after the run as an eyewitness. And, because it’s who I am, I gave security tips too.

My cousin, who is an Iraq and Afghanistan soldier and flies one of those crazy killer helicopters, reached out to me via Facebook and said, “I think your situation was much worse than many Middle East situations I’ve been in.” Which I thought odd because he’s had his best buddy blown up right next to him. Then he said, “When I deploy I’m armed, geared up and expecting to fight. You were at a peaceful gathering around families and innocent civilians, not expecting bombs. That makes it much worse.”

We accept the possibility of death and destruction when we sign our contracts. I’m sure no one who signed up for the marathon expected this.

This completely messed me up, putting into perspective just how awful this situation is.

I only slept three hours that night, on edge, emotional and fragile. The next day, I headed to the media compound near Boylston to meet with Maria Menounos from Extra, who is a Boston girl. I connected with Maria, and within two minutes we were both crying. She started talking about how she loves Boston so much, then I started crying, then she started crying…which completely messed me up. I tell you this because she told me people should know this is real and they can’t forget. She was professional, but she was real. She put me at ease and we got through the interview.

Since then I’ve done more media on this than I wished, including the Boston Globe,  Dr. Drew, Extra, Current TV, Canadian TVagain and again, Fox Boston and some radio.

In early May after the blasts, I was asked to speak to the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council on the benefits of social media to law enforcement and how social can help get the word out in a tragedy. When I walked into the room to speak, everyone was in uniform. What I didn’t know was many of the men and women attending were the first responders saving lives at the finish line, and others who were involved in the capture of the bombers.

That was a very emotional speech for me. Check out the Huffington Posts blog on how the Boston Police did a stellar job using Twitter during the bombing.

At this point, my family and I are safe, like most of America. Emotions are still high for some. Even as I update this post from 6 years ago its messing me up. We were and still are angry.  This celebratory event will forever be marked by the visual of a plume of smoke that symbolized the evil intent of misguided people that do not value human life and have no regard for our freedoms. 

We caught the bastards and while there are no real answers, we may never get them. The movie Patriots Day actually did an amazing job of telling the tragic story through a composite character.

On behalf of my Boston, we are proud of our city, its first responders and its people, who showed the true measure of the human spirit through powerful acts of kindness and displays of citizen courage. We are strong as a city, undivided as a country and unbowed by this attack. No terrorist will be allowed to alter our nation’s course.

Please like my Facebook Page to stay in touch and see you at the finish line!

2013 Boston Marathon: My Best Worst Day Ever

UPDATE: April 15th, 2019. Today marks the 122nd Boston Marathon. As many of my followers know, I have ran the marathon seven times, and I look forward to it every year. My charity is The Boston’s Children Hospital, and I have raised upwards of $70,000.

Training for a marathon is a taxing, physical, emotional and expensive process. For me personally, that means five cortisone shots, almost a hundred physical therapy appointments and a few arguments with my wife. Why do it? Why climb a mountain? Why be a police officer? Why be an emergency room nurse? Why detonate a bomb in a crowd of innocent people? Not sure. We all make choices others wouldn’t and we justify our decisions based on our interests, options and perspective.

Shortly after the bombings, evacuating the city, carrying my 40lb child after running 26 miles. Hurt, angered, saddened and grateful to get to my family.

Shortly after the bombings, evacuating the city, carrying my 40lb child after running 26 miles. Hurt, angered, saddened and grateful to get to my family.

For me, I just wanted to lose weight, get fit and finally give back to a charity; killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. When you’re 50 with a young family and your health and marriage are good, bills are paid and life is settled, words like “health,” “gratitude” and “grace” begin to have more meaning. And when you become a runner, you join a special club of conscious people who understand our time is limited.

So I’ve spent the past two years raising money for Boston Children’s Hospital and disciplining myself to eat better and get in the best shape I can – I want to be of value to my family in 20 years. (Plus, “abs” has been on my bucket list.)

In 2012, there was the 86-degree heat and my awful 5:32 time, but in 2013 I was on my way to run about a 4:10 (my best time ever), but was stopped at mile 26 due to some a couple terrorists’ agenda.

During the 2013 Boston Marathon, my improved time put me on Boylston Street shortly after the blasts. There were two loud bangs, and as I rounded the corner I saw the finish line through dissipating smoke. Boston police immediately corralled runners from going any farther down Boylston because it was now a volatile area and potential crime scene. At 2:52 PM I called my wife, who was at the finish line, and got no answer. A minute later, I got my dad on the phone; he was with my wife and the kids and he confirmed they were OK. I instructed him to leave ASAP, as another bomb could go off any moment. I told him to “walk down the center of the street and avoid any cars!”

But nothing was going to keep me away from them; I couldn’t just sit there and wait. In my mind, there were bombs going off between my family and myself. As a father, son and husband, the instinctual need to get your family to safety overpowers every sense of reason. I dodged a couple of police officers and ran down Boylston, the only runner on the field, putting myself in jeopardy and now also causing law enforcement to chase after me. At the 26-mile mark, I saw people on the ground, bloody and getting medical attention from the few paramedics that were on hand to take care of runners expected to be injured in more predictable, less violent ways. I made a decision to keep going. Which still doesn’t sit well. It felt like a 3D movie where the scene was pushing me back in my chair, but the sound was off. I know the scene was loud with sirens and screams, but I heard nothing.

Then I heard an angry cop (rightly so) blasting his voice in my ear before he wrestled me off the course. Eluding further apprehension, I hopped a fence and ran down a back alley behind the restaurants, bars and shops that were evacuating people through their back doors. What I saw was people—many victims who must have made their way on their own or with the assistance of others—screaming, crying and making frantic phone calls…and there was blood. Some victims I saw lost anywhere from pints to gallons; I don’t know. I just remember not wanting to run in it.

Here is a screen shot my friend took from BAA’s website of me on Boylston running on the street then onto the sidewalk near Atlantic Fish, near mile 26 and closer to the second blast. Further down I made it into the alley.

2013 finishline05102013_0000

I ended up behind the finish line and found a way to cross Boylston. I made my way to the Weston Hotel, where I found my family, scooped up my four-year-old and hiked another half mile to my vehicle. Leaving behind two vehicles, we piled nine adults and children into my Yukon and evacuated.

Out of relative danger, our attention now turned to our two children and damage control. To gauge my seven-year-old’s feelings, I calmly asked her, “Did you have fun today?” She said, “Yes, today was awesome! Until the bombs went off!” Knowing she was shaken, the radio stayed off and adults did what they could to speak in code. Note to adults who may try this: It doesn’t fool a seven-year-old.

safr.me

By this time my phone was going nuts, Facebook and Twitter were buzzing and my mother, who couldn’t get in touch with us, was in complete meltdown.

Once I got home and got the kids situated, we ordered a bunch of pizza because that’s what you do when a bomb goes off. People need to feel normal.

My mom showed up at our home shortly after we got there. She was a total mess, and after the kids saw her emotional state, they understood the gravity of the situation. Today, they are showing a tremendous amount of affection and gratitude, which seems to be a side effect of their trauma.

I posted a brief note on Facebook: “Im OK, I was on Boylston St. when it happened. I saw smoke, I saw blood and people on the ground. My family was 300 yards away, waiting for me and I got to them and evacuated from the city. More later.” And the comments and “likes” poured in.

Shortly after, I provided an update: “I was right there, bomb went off. Boston police removed everyone, I kept running toward the bombs because my family was at the finish line. Police got me off the road, I resisted then another cop almost tackled me (rightly so). I ran in the back alleys, people spilling into the alleys from the explosion, screaming, crying, blood, got my dad to get my wife and kids out of there concerned for another explosion. I’m telling it to Dr. Drew on CNN between 9:15ish and 9:30ish tonight.”

Again, comments and “likes” on my page like never before. People offering an outpouring of help and support. I never knew I had that many real friends.

I feel I have to explain the part about Dr. Drew and CNN. It may seem opportunistic, but frankly, for me, it’s therapy. I do lots of media as the expert. My network is “the media.” So when I send a blast email to raise money for charity, my network knows I’m running the Boston Marathon. When I logged into Facebook and email, the requests came in from CNN, Extra and Canadian TV, along with a few radio shows too. So I spent the evening after the run as an eyewitness. And, because it’s who I am, I gave security tips too.

My cousin, who is an Iraq and Afghanistan soldier with all kinds of rank and medals, reached out to me via Facebook and said, “I think your situation was much worse than any Middle East situation.” Which I thought odd because he’s had his best buddy blown up right next to him. Then he said, “When I deploy I’m armed, geared up and expecting to fight. You were at a peaceful gathering around families and innocent civilians, not expecting bombs. That makes it much worse.”

We accept the possibility of death and destruction when we sign our contracts. I’m sure no one who signed up for the marathon expected this.

This completely messed me up, putting into perspective just how awful this situation is.

I only slept three hours that night, on edge, emotional and fragile. The next day, I headed to the media compound near Boylston to meet with Maria Menounos from Extra, who is a Boston girl. I connected with Maria, and within two minutes we were both crying. She started talking about how she loves Boston so much, then I started crying, then she started crying…which completely messed me up. I tell you this because she told me people should know this is real and they can’t forget. She was professional, but she was real. She put me at ease and we got through the interview.

Since then I’ve done more media on this than I wished, including the Boston Globe,  Dr. Drew, Extra, Current TV, Canadian TVagain and again, Fox Boston and some radio.

In early May after the blasts, I was asked to speak to the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council on the benefits of social media to law enforcement and how social can help get the word out in a tragedy. When I walked into the room to speak, everyone was in uniform. What I didn’t know was many of the men and women attending were the first responders saving lives at the finish line, and others who were involved in the capture of the bombers.

That was a very emotional speech for me. Check out the Huffington Posts blog on how the Boston Police did a stellar job using Twitter during the bombing.

At this point, my family and I are safe, like most of America. Emotions are still high for some. We are sad and angry. Our hearts are heavy, knowing lives were lost, and that so many will never be the same. We are not at ease, and we all want answers. We wonder, sadly, whether this celebratory event will forever be marked by the visual of a plume of smoke that symbolized the evil intent of misguided people that do not value human life and have no regard for our freedoms.

Safr.me We caught the bastards and while there are no answers yet, and we may never get them. We must keep in mind the immediate needs of the victims and their families. On behalf of my Boston, we also must declare that we are proud of our city, its first responders and its people, who showed the true measure of the human spirit through powerful acts of kindness and displays of citizen courage. We are strong as a city, undivided as a country and unbowed by this attack. No terrorist will be allowed to alter our nation’s course.

Please like my Facebook Page to stay in touch with my marathon progress, see you at the finish line!