Situational Awareness and Your Safety

Home Invasion
Home Invasion (Photo credit: Jason Edward Scott Bain)

The world is a wonderful place sometimes and at other times it is ok. When we are with family, on vacations, or out with friends it is fantastic. Most times working at the job, doing home chores or the myriad of other labours is at best ok. We wish we had won the lotto so we could afford to hire others to do this work instead of us having to do it. At other times though it is sheer terror. The news services are always reporting shootings, car accidents with many victims, home invasions and kidnappings. How do we keep ourselves and loved one’s safe? It basically comes down to being aware of where you are and what is happening around you.

Most people go through their day’s routine following a system they have figured out to get them through it. At work there is usually so much repetition that we do not always have to strain our brains to complete tasks. We have memorized the ways and go through the motions over and over. When we drive to and from work we know the way and where to the slow down at particular locations and the turns in the roads we have to make to get us to work or home. Then when we are home we tune out watching television or playing video games.

So we have become unaware of what is actually happening around us. If we see an accident we drive by, it is not our concern. When we hear the bad news on the radio or television unless it affects someone we know closely we are happy that our day is better, sure glad that didn’t happen to me.

But why are there so many home invasions, kidnappings, murders, and robberies? I know that we cannot prevent all crime or take all the criminals out of society but we can at least protect ourselves from some of these events.

We must become observant and aware of what might be happening. When we drive we must become more of a defensive driver watching for and anticipating that the car ahead might have a drunk behind the wheel or that the driver has driven for a very long time and might be falling asleep. While we are walking along the sidewalk instead of zoning out while we text messages or chat on our phones we must become aware of whom might be watching/following us. What groups of people are standing around idle, or what cars suddenly come to a halt close to us. We must take responsibility for our own safety. By the time the police come to the rescue it is too late, the criminal act has already taken place. An important element of the proper mindset is to first recognize that threats exist. Ignorance or denial of a threat or completely tuning out one’s surroundings while in a public place makes a person’s chances of quickly recognizing the threat and avoiding it slim to none. This is why apathy, denial and complacency can and often are deadly. Trust your gut feeling. If you have a bad feeling about something it is probably safe to say that you are probably right. Many times a person’s subconscious can notice subtle signs of danger that the conscious mind has difficulty quantifying or articulating. Many victims often experience such feelings of danger before an incident, but choose to ignore them. I am sure there are a few times when you felt something you were about to do was not feeling right but you did it and because it did not turn out like you intended said to yourself after” gee I should have listened to myself, I knew it wasn’t going to turn out for the best, why did I go ahead with it?”

We also say to ourselves” oh it will never happen to me” but the people it happens to probably said the same thing. We are so tuned out that when a situation arises that needs a fast reaction we freeze or panic because we cannot change mental states quick enough. An example is you are driving home zoned out after a day at work and thinking about taking your shoes off and just relaxing. Suddenly a child darts in front of you. It takes some time before you react and the reaction is probably the extreme of slamming on the brake. If you had been more aware you would have noticed the child along side the road before they darted out and been able to slow down anticipating that they might run into the street after a ball or for some other reason.

By becoming aware if you spot something out of the ordinary that could be a potential threat to your safety or the safety of others, you can bring yourself to a state of alertness and take precautionary action. For example this would be the difference between a car making a sudden stop in front of a person when the driver is practicing defensive driving, compared to a car that makes a sudden stop in front of person when the driver is sending a text message.

People all over the world face many different kinds of threats from common thieves, assailants, criminals,mentally disturbed people aiming to conduct violent acts to militants wanting to carry out riots and attacks against subways, cars and aircraft.

The steps required to conduct these attacks are accomplished in a way that makes the actions visible to the potential victim and outside observers. Sudden cars stopping in front of and behind you while you are driving, a car or van suddenly pulling up and stopping beside you while you are walking. These activities do not only happen on television or in the movies. It is at these junctures that people practicing situational awareness can detect, avoid the danger and call the police. When people practice situational awareness they not only can keep themselves safer but they can also help keep others safe.

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