We all learned about the triangle of fire when we were young. We know it takes heat, fuel and oxygen to sustain a flame

Well there are three points that apply to personal safety as well. If all three of these things exist then there is a heightened risk of danger. It's not guaranteed that something bad will happen, but it certainly becomes more likely.

We will use an ATM visit as an example.

It's after dark and you need some cash to pay the baby sitter. You decide to stop at the ATM on the way home. You drive up, and notice a group of people furthur down the sidewalk. You decide it's safe and make your way to the machine. As you complete your transaction, you become aware that the group is moving towards you. Before you can make it back to your car, one of them draws a gun and demands your money.

How this plays out isn't important for the purposes of this discussion. Instead we're going to focus on the circumstances that enabled you to become a victim.

It takes three things to make you a victim of a crime.

1st it takes an action on your part. In this case the decision to stop at this ATM as opposed to some other one.

2nd is timing. In this case, stopping on the way home instead of doing it earlier in the day.

3rd is the presence of a potential bad guy. In this case it was the group of people on the sidewalk.

If you had chosen to adjust your behavior for any one of these three elements then you wouldn't have become a robbery victim.

Obviously, it's not your fault you got robbed but you could have avoided it by making smarter decisions and thus breaking the triangle.

You could have chosen a different ATM, used this one earlier in the day or avoided it when you saw the people on the sidewalk.

You can't stop the bad guy from choosing you as a target but you can certainly do things to reduce the chance of becoming one simply by being smarter.

Pay attention, plan ahead, think about where you are and what's around you.