Situational Awareness

by Janice Talaroc

The holidays are a particularly busy time for most people.  Shopping, socializing and traffic, all increase this time of year.  Malls, restaurants, and parking lots may all become prime locations for criminal activity.  Maintaining physical security can be a challenge.  Criminals most commonly choose their prey based on vulnerabilities and location.

Awareness is the key to your physical security.  Observe your surroundings and the people in the area close to you.  Avoid people who are loitering, particularly near your home or office.  Keep a reasonable distance, and look around before entering or leaving buildings or areas.  Trust your intuition.  If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right.  ALWAYS have a cell phone with you.

Location and situation can determine your level of awareness.  In your home, watching TV, you may be unconcerned about your surroundings; and your level of awareness may be low.  Walking the dog in a familiar park or neighborhood during the day, your level of awareness may be at a moderate level.  At night, your awareness may rise to a high level.  If you see suspicious behavior, your awareness will most likely rise to an alert level.

As we go about our normal routine, day in and day out, it is possible to become complacent and settle into a low level of awareness.  When this happens, we become a more desirable target for criminals.  Every crime has variables that make it unique.  By increasing our awareness, we increase our chances of avoiding criminal activity.

Of all the variables of a criminal confrontation, the easiest to control is your environment.  Criminals like dark, isolated places.  Avoid or approach cautiously any entryway, hallway or parking area where normal lighting is not functioning.  Removing or breaking lights in such places is a common tactic of criminals.  If you find it necessary to be out in the evening, consider taking a friend along to accompany you.

Don’t look like an easy target.  Keep your head up, and look others directly in the eye.   Alert, confident people do not make appealing targets for criminals.  Maintain your personal space.  Set a boundary of three feet, and if someone moves inside it, simply move away.  Don’t compromise.  Two feet or less in Western society is considered intimate.  Decide and plan a course of action ahead of time in the event someone persists on violating your personal space.  This may include running or defending yourself physically.   Keep in mind: Physical confrontation results in pain/injury, regardless of the outcome.

Mental preparedness and conditioning are extremely important in survival situations.  Decide ahead of time how you will react to any given situation.  A plan is a starting point in developing awareness.  It engages the brain so the body can start moving.  Visualize, plan, act it out.  Develop your own Personal Defense Plan.  Mental conditioning, like physical conditioning, requires practice.  The moment a confrontation is occurring is not the optimum time to start thinking about how you will react.

If you chose to use a personal protection device, be informed ahead of time of the legalities for your state.  Know how it operates, obtain professional training, and practice.  Always consider all the ramifications and outcomes of any actions taken during a criminal confrontation: Legal, moral and physical.

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