Reading Matters

Oblivious? You need these life-saving ‘Spy Secrets’

This book was written for me: Spy Secrets that Can Save Your Life: A Former CIA Officer Reveals Safety and Survival Techniques to Keep You and Your Family Protected (Perigee, $24.95). I’m left-handed and spacey; I’m addicted to my I-phone; and I rarely imagine that anything bad is going to happen.

If you care about staying safe in an uncertain world, author Jason Hanson is your guy. One tip that seems aimed directly at me is his directive not to read your cell phone while you’re pumping gas. Hanson wants us to cultivate what he calls “situational awareness” or knowing what’s going on around you.

To deter home break-ins, he suggests (in addition to quality locks and alarm signs front and back) placing a huge dog bowl outside your back door, even if you don’t have a dog. “Dogs are loud,” he writes. “Burglars don’t want to deal with your dog.”

When traveling, Hanson recommends staying between the third and sixth floors in a hotel, which, he says, are the safest floors for fire and burglary purposes. Who knew? And don’t book a room near the stairwell. Those rooms, he says, are popular targets for criminals.

If someone approaches your car window and wants to talk to you, Hanson says to talk through the window. Do not open it. “The window provides a psychological barrier as well as a physical one,” he writes.

You have to be a bit paranoid to write a book like this, which is why it’s such an excellent handbook for people like me. Bottom lines: Head out of the sand. Think like a criminal.