This article will define situational awareness and describe the advantages that this mind set gives to those who practice it. Situational awareness is the most important skill that people can learn to protect themselves from criminals.
Situational awareness is a mindset during which people are aware of their surroundings and are aware of what actions would be helpful to them to if a threat were to arise. Situational awareness gives them enough time to recognize possible threats and to formulate a plan to protect themselves.
As an example, if a woman notices that she is being followed by a suspicious looking man, she might enter a busy store for protection. Then, she could phone for a cab to get away from her stalker. This stalker then would probably move on to another person who is easier to victimize.
Let’s analyze the example of the woman just described. Situational awareness gave her enough time to avoid being overtaken by the following man. It also gave her the time to reach the protection she needed while she called a cab to get away from her follower.
If the woman had been in a secluded place, she would have made a tactical mistake. Her situational awareness, however, still would have given her enough time to take her pepper spray out of her purse, to make it ready to use, and to face her follower instead of being attacked, with no weapon to defend herself, from behind.
Let’s consider another example of situational awareness. A man has made the tactical mistake of walking down a secluded city street in a high crime section of his city. His situational awareness alerts him that a group of suspicious looking men are a block away. He wisely decides to turn off the street where he is walking and to take another route to his destination.
In yet another example of situational awareness, a man is riding in an empty subway car. A rowdy group of drunk young men board the subway car. The man moves to another subway car and, if followed, keeps moving to new cars until he gets off at the next stop, whether or not it is his stop. If still followed, he goes to the subway ticket seller who could summon the subway police.
In a final example of situational awareness, consider a woman who, is about to board an apartment elevator, and sees a suspicious looking man inside. Instead of boarding the elevator, the woman walks away from it and boards it when it is safe to do so. If she is on the elevator by herself, and a suspicious looking man boards it, she gets off of it when the suspicious looking man boards it.
What are examples of people who are not practicing situational awareness? People who are engrossed in their iPhone games, songs, or conversations. People who are daydreaming. People who look only directly in front of themselves. People who have their hands full of shopping items. These are the people who will be surprised by criminals and who will have no time to avoid criminals’ threats or prepare to respond to these threats.
Some people feel that such a vigilance will make them paranoid, and they do not want to live their lives like that. Situational awareness, however, is a habit that can applied in such a way that a person using situational awareness skills can relax when appropriate, but can be fully aware of and ready to confront danger when necessary. The people who are most likely to become paranoid are the victims who become paranoid after they are traumatized by a criminal.
Some are blaming the recent spike in crime on the “Ferguson effect.” Those who support this theory feel that the police are backing off from their law enforcement duties after months of protests and Justice Department scrutiny of the police departments in cities where there were police shootings. With an increase in crime and a decrease in police presence, it is time for citizens to take more responsibility for their own safety by using situational awareness.
Has situational awareness ever saved you from being victimized by a criminal? Please comment below.