The term ‘situational awareness’ may sound a bit intimidating, but at it’s core it’s nothing more than being aware of your surroundings. When you walk into a store, do you know where the exits are? If something happened could you escape or at least find shelter? I was a delivery driver for years and they constantly drilled us on ‘having an out’ in traffic, being aware of all four sides – that in a nutshell is situational awareness.
Have you ever been followed? I have a few times and it is unnerving to say the least; knowing someone is stalking you with intent to rob or worse will definitely ramp up your respiration and heart rate. Panic: even if you have run through this scenario in your head, the actual occurrence can be mentally overwhelming. Like anything else, practice prepares you for the real thing; if this happened what would I do, where would I go? On a recent hike I realized another hiker was pacing me; I speed up, they speed up. I slow down, they slow down. Miles from anything resembling civilization, shelter or even other hikers I needed an out, but at least I recognized the threat (or potential threat) before it fully materialized. Long story short, I was able to place some distance between myself and my pursuer and go off trail and remain unseen till they passed. Due to my own poor judgment, I was not armed at the time, something I corrected before my next hike.
Sometimes escape can be as simple as staying near other people, stopping at a gas station or McDonald’s, strike up a conversation with a stranger by asking them some random question – make yourself a hard target. If you think a car is following you, three right turns will quickly determine if you’re right or just paranoid – better safe than sorry. When you return home to an empty house, do you routinely scan the area, does something look out of place? Do you notice strange cars in the neighborhood or someone who seems out of place? When you walk from the store to your car are you scanning the area? This all may sound trivial, but it could save your life one day; put down the cellphone and actually know what’s going on around you.
Now think about the average Joe/Jane who is so unaware of their surroundings that they walk into the street while texting. Think about the recent church shootings and other terrorist acts – would you be prepared, would you know what to do. The world is full of evil people who seek to harm the innocent; commit to being more aware because we really are surrounded.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.