7 safety tips for on-the-scene journalists

Jul 6, 2014
7 safety tips for on-the-scene journalists

It is a journalist’s job to seek out developing stories and give firsthand accounts of things happening around the world. Sometimes this requires putting yourself in harm’s way and risking your own safety in order to capture a story. If you are a journalist who covers news that is sometimes dangerous, consider the following safety tips.

1. What to Carry. Part of keeping yourself safe in dangerous situations is making sure you have the right gear with you. A first-aid kit, a map of the city in which you’re working and copies of important documents are all good items to have on your person. Keeping spare cash with you is another good idea as you never know when you’ll need extra funds in an emergency.

For journalists with various kinds of disabilities, don’t forget to keep the equipment that you need with you. Inhalers, crutches, medication and braces are all examples of items you should travel with in case you find yourself unable to leave the news scene safely. There have been many instances of journalists finding themselves stranded overnight in an unfamiliar area due to natural disasters or civil unrest.

2. First-Aid Kit. More specifically speaking, the first-aid kit that you carry shouldn’t just be a simple kit with a few Band-Aids in it. Creating your own first-aid kid will ensure that you’re thoroughly prepared for just about anything. Eye drops and an extra pair of glasses are good options for protecting your eyes. If there’s a chance you might be exposed to tear gas, carry an onion or a piece of fruit soaked in onion that you can use to reduce irritation. Packing these uncommon items in your kit will leave you more prepared than if you simply bought a standard-issue kit from the store.

3. Be Aware of Your Surroundings. When you arrive at a potentially dangerous scene to shoot video or record events you need to remain vigilant. Upon arrival you should scope out potential escape routes and keep an eye out for landmarks that can help you maintain your bearings. If the situation you’re dealing with involves a large crowd, try and stay on the outside of the group in order to protect yourself.

4. Bring Important Information. If a potentially dangerous situation boils over, it can lead to anything from violence to problems with the police. In order to ensure that you’re prepared for these scenarios, you should carry your accreditation and important contact information with you. This includes the phone number of your lawyer and boss.

5. What to Wear. Proper attire is another factor that can save your life in dangerous situations. Sturdy boots that you can run in are a wise choice as well as natural fabrics that aren’t flammable. A helmet and ear plugs are items that can protect your head in the event that people are throwing objects or setting off fireworks. Gas masks and vests are further options for protective gear that can help to combat any police crowd-control tactics you might encounter.

6. Take Care of Yourself. While you’re in the heat of the moment, covering a big news story, it can be easy to forget basic necessities. Make a concentrated effort to stay hydrated and eat regular meals. Also, good hygiene is smart if you have the necessary amenities available to you.

7. Don’t Work Alone. Perhaps the most important tip for working in a dangerous location as a journalist is to avoid doing so alone. Traveling with other journalists and keeping in constant contact with your editor and colleagues is the best way to keep yourself safe and to ensure that there are people looking out for your well-being.

Have additional safety tips while reporting in potentially dangerous situations? Share them in the comments below!

Kayla Matthews is a productivity blogger with an enthusiasm for Green initiatives and promoting the betterment of society. You can follow her on Google+ and Twitter - or at ProductivityTheory.com - to get updates on all of her latest posts!

Photo: Crime scene via Shutterstock

About the author

Senior writer @makeuseof. Bylines on @theweek, @motherboard, @technobuffalo and @venturebeat. Interested in personal and professional development, apps, VR, AI

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