It’s an all too familiar situation. While walking home from work you spot someone up ahead and you get a bad feeling. You’re out with friends and a car slowly cruises past. The feelings we get when things might be dangerous are very real. Looking out for those moments and knowing what to do when they happen is called situation awareness, and it just might mean the difference between life and death.
Distractions and Other Barriers to Awareness
Everyone is guilty of being a little too familiar with their surroundings sometimes.The places we sometimes think of as perfectly safe can still harbor dangers. It is in these places that we let our guard down and take a casual approach to our safety.
Another barrier to situation awareness is information overload. This really just means that you’ve got too many things going on at once. When you’re distracted, things happen out of range of your radar and this could have bad results. If you’re in a city or new place where lots of things are happening at once, choose a quiet store or cafe and get your bearings. Many people assume that a popular public event like a festival or sporting event are safe because there are lots of people around. Thieves actually target people in these situations because the high levels of noise, confusion, and distractions make an excellent cover.
Other barriers are the result of other influences. Fatigue, stress, or intoxication are often factors in self-defense situations. Those who choose to assault others look for people who are distressed and who may be unable to defend themselves. If you’re intoxicated lose a crucial ability to monitor your surroundings and drastically slows reaction time.
How to Stay Aware in Any Environment
There are a few quick actions to take to ensure that you are aware of your situation and your surroundings no matter where you are. This doesn’t mean that you need to walk through your life being afraid of what’s around every corner, it simply means that you make it a point to be aware of who is nearby and being confident of your actions.
You can apply these rules to times when you’re alone as well as when you’re with a group of people. Sometimes we can feel like we’re safer when we’re out with a few other people, but this doesn’t mean you can stop paying attention to what’s happening in your vicinity.
First, be clear on your objectives. This really means that you shouldn’t leave without knowing where you’re headed and how to get there. When you’re out, walk with confidence and keep your head up. Keeping your nose in your smartphone or blocking out all sound with pounding headphones can make you an attractive target. If you’re with a group of people, make sure that everyone knows where they’re headed and you have each other’s phone numbers in case you get separated.
After you are clear on where you’re going and how you’ll get there, the next objective is to continually be aware of your surroundings. This requires observant and assertive behavior. Keep your vision straight-ahead but be aware of movement, darkness, and other actions that are occurring in your peripheral vision. When you’re walking alone or with a group of people, stay focused on getting to where you’re going. If your group can’t decide where to go next or you think you might be lost, go into a nearby business and make a new plan, don’t stand around looking into your phone or map.
Finally, trust your gut! If you’re picking up a bad vibe from a certain person or place, move yourself out of the area. Your instincts when it comes to danger are actually pretty keen. If you’re getting the feeling you shouldn’t be somewhere, the best idea is to act on it. If you find out later that there was no danger, you can always head back and go exploring.
Concealed Carry in Dangerous Environments
Don’t have “Gun Courage”. Anyone who carries a concealed handgun for protection should be mindful of it’s influence on their behavior. Being armed with a deadly weapon is no excuse for exploring areas and situations that are dangerous. Take every opportunity to keep yourself safe by maintaining awareness of your surroundings. It’s important to practice every aspect of concealed carry, and that includes paying attention to the people and places that could be a danger to you.