Situational Awareness and Why it’s Important to You

Imagine a situation where you walked into a diner and ordered some coffee and maybe something to eat. You chose the table in the middle of the room, sat down with your back to the door and started playing a game on your phone, using a headset, and with the volume cranked up. After a few moments, the door is slammed open as two armed gunmen enter, waving their firearms in the air and shouting for everyone to get down. You however, are completely oblivious to the situation and continue to entertain yourself on your phone. Now, is there any way you could have avoided being in this situation? Yes! There are steps and precautions you can take wherever you are, to ensure that you are in the safest of environments. This skill is called “situational awareness” and it’s an ability that everyone can take advantage of – men, women, children, and it doesn’t even matter what your job or current occupation is.

Situational awareness is basically a long fancy word for “always being aware of your surroundings and knowing what is where and what is out of place”. When entering a new environment, always be sure to establish a baseline. A baseline is an expected behavior for the denizens of that environment. For example, folks at a coffee shop will be talking in hushed tones, peering at their gadgets, reading books, or talking excitedly with friends. Establishing baselines will more easily allow you to spot an anomaly – that is, when something is out of place. The definition of an anomaly is something that should happen but doesn’t, or something that doesn’t happen but should. A lady reading a book in a coffee shop isn’t strange at all, but a man glancing nervously around with his hands in his pocket sure does seem suspicious, doesn’t it? Of course, it doesn’t necessarily make him guilty – he could be anxious about something from work, he could be in a hurry, could have financial problems, etc. But this is simply one thing for you to look for – an indication if you will, of a behavior which possibly could materialize into a matter of life and death.

By increasing your situation management and situational awareness, you are directly increasing your odds of survival in any given scenario in which you are faced with danger. Take some time to practice being aware, and you’ll find the skill to be extremely beneficial.

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