Situational Awareness

Rule #1 of a gun fight - don't be there!

One of the most important safety skills you can develop is situational awareness. Pay attention to your surroundings. Someone with malicious intent will reveal themselves; only if you're looking!

Jeff Cooper coined the color guide shown but many people have their own take on it. 

White is scrolling through your phone looking at social media. Headphones & hoodies reduce your ability to react to your environment. Watching TV or reading a good book can put us into the white zone.

Yellow is where you want to be most of the time. Alert, conscious of your environment. It's okay to look people in the eye. Even better, look at people's hands. It's the hands that have the potential to hurt you. 

Orange is when you see something that gives you pause. Maybe their hands are obscured and they have '1000 yard stare'. Maybe they have locked eyes on you and are intentionally moving your direction. Maybe a couple of guys are starting to square off a half block up the road. Make a plan - and quick!

Red is taking action. At 90-120 beats per minute; you can rationalize and make decisions. Once that adrenaline kicks in and your heart starts thumping at 150+ cognitive thought goes out the window. Your action plan had better be ingrained. 

Black is panic and your odds of survival start diminishing rapidly. 90+% of people freeze. If you don't like those odds - start practicing now.

Dry Practice

Want to improve your situational awareness? Practice! Train your mind.

First - break the habit of having to check your phone 80x a day. Only check your phone from a secure location; locked, parked car for instance. Eliminate headphones in public; or, keep the volume to a minimum. 

Keep your head on a swivel. Don't be so focused on what's in front of you that you miss what's happening to your left and right. Occasionally, look behind you and up.

Anyone that gets within 21' if you - look at their hands. Don't just look - SEE. Do they have a tool in their hands? Are they intentionally hiding their hands?

Start going through scenarios in your head - "if someone yelled 'fire!' right now; what would I do?" "if that person collapsed in front of me, what would I do?" "if someone came out of that door with a bat, what would I do"

Don't drive yourself into insanity with all of the possibilities but start working through your regular routine and decide now what you would do in case of emergency. Don't limit yourself to a personal assault - think medical and environmental.

Make a point of checking for emergency exits. Look for fire extinguishers or AED signs. 

Nobody woke up this morning and thought 'today is the day I'm going to be in an emergency situation' and yet it happens to millions of people every day.