Series on Personal Safety

Welcome to MEI Security’s series on personal safety.


  • these 16 posts will cover personal safety online and in the physical world
  • risk = adversity * probability
  • We help you understand your risks so you can decide what risks to take
  • Glossary and FAQ will grow over time


Over the next 16 posts we will cover specific areas related to improving your personal safety/security both in the physical world and online in the virtual world. Each post will introduce an area related to your safety/security , help you understand how it may be relevant to you, and provide steps you can take to improve your personal security in this specific area.

Throughout this series and throughout our website and training you will find a common theme. We will help you understand your risks. Then we will help you manage those risks. We want to empower you to manage your own risks in your own way. It is true that in some cases you can manage risk without understanding it. For example, you do not need to understand all of the risks associated with driving a vehicle in order to purchase car insurance, which transfers some of those risks to the insurance company. Also, you can help others manage risk without them having a full understanding of risk. For example the “count the exits” game for kids which we cover in an upcoming post. This game helps children know where the emergency exits are in a location without explaining to them why they might need one, which is perhaps a topic more suitable for when they grow up. However, as has been said “Knowledge is power”, and at MEI Security we want to empower you with knowledge both of what your risks may be as well as how to can mange those risks. With that knowledge you can decide how to manage the risks for yourself and those around you.

Risk Terminology

Let’s define some terms for this discussion. Some of these will be listed in the Glossary, but they are worth repeating here as we start to talk about risk.

In general terms risk is the combination of two things, the adversity of any outcome and the probability of that outcome. But those are some big, heavy words. Let’s take an example, getting to work on time. Let’s say that it takes 30 minutes to travel from your home to your work location, but that’s the travel time in the middle of the day. On the other hand, it can take as long as 60 minutes for the same trip during the morning rush hour when many other people are also traveling to work. In broad terms then risk has two components: (1) the penalty for arriving at work late and (2) the probability that you will arrive late. Let’s take these one at a time.

(1) penalty for arriving late: If you do not need to be at your work location at a specific time then this penalty can be low or perhaps even non existent. On the other hand, if arriving late means you lose your job or you have some other severe penalty then the “adversity of this outcome” can be very high.

(2) probability of arriving late: If you know that traffic will be nonexistent (say for instance you need to go to work on a holiday) then the probability may be low, but if you know that there will be lots of people traveling on a specific day then the probability of a late arrival may be high.

As you can see combining these two can be complicated, but let’s take a few examples.

  • High Risk: You need to get the office on time, because your whole office is leaving to work at another location for the day, and if you are late then you will miss the entire day’s work. Also, it is a typical Thursday morning with higher levels of traffic than other days.

    In this case the risk is high, and to manage this risk you will probably want to leave extra time to get to the office on that day.

  • Low Risk: You expect a slow day at the office and there is no penalty for arriving late. Furthermore, it is a holiday for most other businesses in the area, so the probability of a delay is low.

    In this case the risk is low, both because there is no penalty for a late arrival and because the probability of being late is low.

  • Medium Risk: You need to get to the office on time, but there is no reason to expect delays. Many risks are in this category. They may have an adverse outcome, but there is no reason to suspect a high probability. Weighing these risks is a judgment call. How much is it worth to you to make sure you are not late to work? How you manage risks like these depends on what is called your “Risk Appetite”. Are you a risk taker in this area? Do you like to live “dangerously”, or do you prefer to take extra care and time to avoid risks? This is entirely up to you.

For each of these the risk is different, and for any risk you consider in your life there are likely to be similar concerns and calculations. How you decide to manage your risks is your decision. Our intent is to help you understand what your risks are and how you can manage them. You may choose to live “dangerously”, and that is fine. We encourage you to know your risks so that if you are living that way you are doing it by choice and not by accident.

Other Resources

As we continue to provide more details on managing risk we will add items to the Glossary and the FAQ . Please check there for any terminology that might not be clear, and please let us know if there is anything that needs to be added to those areas.

Please feel free to ask questions, we will respond and post answers on our FAQ section and we will add items to our Glossary section as appropriate.

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