Most people put themselves at risk of violence every day without even realizing it.
They go about their business in public with very little thought to their safety and security. Often, they’re too distracted to notice of what’s going on around them.
They don’t think violence will happen to them – until it does. And if you’re unprepared, it’s too late.
Being alert, aware and prepared, otherwise known as practicing Situational Awareness, is your first line of defense against violence and danger.
We’re going to show 3 simple ways you can learn to use Situational Awareness to help keep you and your loved ones safe. But first, we’re going to show you the three most common ways you put yourself at risk every day.
3 Dangerous Attitudes
Violence will not happen to everyone. But if you do these three things, you make yourself an easy target and increase your chances of violence.
- Being Complacent
It’s easy to be complacent about personal safety when you live in a first-world modern society. There aren’t lions hunting us nor are we in an active war zone. Most people will spend their day more concerned about their jobs, caramel latte or Twitter feed than their personal safety.
You may be aware of violence in a vague sense but think that it only happens rarely or in bad neighborhoods. The truth is a bit more startling.
According to the Bureau of Justice, “The total number of violent victimizations (that is, the total number of times people experienced violent crime) rose from 5.0 million in 2015 to 6.4 million in 2018.”
Here’s some more statistics:
- About 1 in 3 violent crimes occurred in or near the victim’s own home.
- 1 in 5 violent crimes took place in open areas such as yards, playgrounds, fields, on the street or in other similar locations.
- More than 1 in 10 property crimes occurred in parking lots or garages.
- Being Distracted
People are more distracted today than ever before – I’m looking at you cell phones. How many times have you seen a video of someone with their nose in their phone completely oblivious to the truck about to run them over?
If you’re distracted, someone can walk right up to you with the intent to harm you and you won’t notice it until it’s too late.
- Being Unprepared
Even if you’re more alert than average, what’s your plan if something goes down? Most people would just say, “Uuh, uum . . . run away, I guess?”
If you’re unprepared, you’re going to freeze when an event happens losing precious time when seconds matter.
What Is Situational Awareness?
There are many definitions but at its core, Situational Awareness is nothing more than a refined survival instinct. It’s being aware of your surroundings and whether anything poses a threat to your personal safety.
There are only three simple rules to Situational Awareness you need to know: Be Aware, Be Alert and Be Prepared.
The 3 Keys To Practicing Situational Awareness
- Know Your Surroundings
Evaluate the level of risk for your location and adjust accordingly. Obviously, a friendly coffee shop isn’t as high-risk as a dark, deserted alley in a bad neighborhood. But wherever you are, you should practice at least a minimum level of Situational Awareness.
- Observe People Around You
Without being obvious, take a casual glance or two and see who’s around you. Is anyone acting strangely? Is someone sweating, fidgeting or wearing a jacket on a hot summer day? If there are people, or groups of people around, what are they doing?
- Locate Exits
If you’re inside, make a point to locate all the exits. If you’re outside, locate a safe place to run to if you need to escape danger.
- Avoid Obstacles And Hazards
If possible, avoid high-risk situations such as deserted alleys, stairwells or elevators. Look for any obstacle that may block your vision or where someone could hide behind like a pillar or corner. If you’re at a restaurant, try sitting at a table with a clear view without anything behind you.
- Identify Possible Weapons
Is there a stray branch, trash can lid, brick or chair around? Make note of anything that you could use as a weapon or shield if you need to.
- Avoid Complacency
It’s easy to feel safe in a comfortable, familiar situation and let your guard down. While you don’t have to keep yourself on high alert all the time, make an effort to go through the basic Situational Awareness points regularly.
- Reduce Distractions
No one can be hyper-focused all the time, but try to reduce your distractions, especially in public. This means looking up from your phone from time to time – and if you’re wearing ear buds listening to music, you may not hear what’s going on around you – like yelling or a gunshot.
- Use Your Senses
Your 5 senses are your window to the world and your first line of defense. What do you see, hear, smell, taste or feel? Do you see and hear an argument? Can you smell smoke or a chemical odor? Take a second and run through each of your senses for something out of the ordinary.
- Trust Your Gut
This is your most valuable survival tool – and one that too many people ignore.
That prickly sensation of unease you feel when walking to your car in an empty parking garage or seeing a suspicious person leaning against the wall ahead of you – that’s your survival instinct warning you.
You don’t know why you feel uneasy about that person – you just do. We just call it “a bad feeling” but actually, it’s your subconscious brain working on a higher level than your conscious awareness.
There are subtle hints and cues that your lower brain picks up on from thousands of years of evolution telling you that something is wrong.
Listen to it.
If you feel uncomfortable by someone coming up to you asking for the time – get out of there. Don’t worry about looking silly or foolish. If your gut is telling you something is wrong – listen to it and act accordingly.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Being prepared means at its core means having a plan thought out before anything bad happens. Your best prep is always going to be finding a way to escape or avoid a dangerous situation.
Preparation can be something as simple as locating the easiest path to a back exit in a restaurant or movie theater. Or having a self-defense weapon ready as you walk to your car in an empty parking lot.
It can mean also taking self-defense classes and legally carrying a weapon like pepper spray, a knife, tactical pen or concealed handgun.
But remember, confrontation and fighting are always a last resort.
- Play “What If”
Playing “What If” means just running through scenarios in your mind. What if someone with a gun comes through the front door of the restaurant? What will I do if that weird guy who was staring at me starts following me?
Run through the most likely scenarios and what your reaction should be.
- Make A Plan
Devise a plan. Keep it simple and uncomplicated. Your first priority should always be to evade or escape the situation. Again, fighting and confrontation are a last resort when you can’t get away safely.
- Execute Without Delay
You hear gunshots, someone confronts you on the street or a fight breaks out. You’ve made your plan. Now you must execute it without delay. Every second of hesitation puts you deeper in danger.
Often when something shocking or out of the ordinary happens, we tend to freeze. It’s a natural reaction. But if you have your plan ready to go, you’ll minimize your reaction time and increase your chances of escape.
You don’t have to be a specially trained professional or Jason Bourne to protect yourself from dangerous people and situations. And it doesn’t require you to be on hair-trigger alert 24/7.
All you need to do is stay aware, alert and prepared to dramatically increase your chances of survival and getting home safe.