Situational awareness is important if you want to ensure you're a step ahead of any dangerous circumstances before they unfold. Read on and find out how you can improve your situational awareness and develop a defensive mindset.
Situational Awareness: Your Best Self-Defense
Situational awareness means paying attention to what is going on in your surroundings. It is your ability to discern any danger or potential risk while continuing to do normal activities.
If you can enhance your situational awareness, you can escape or mitigate the perils that can cause you harm.
It is also a significant part of training for members of law enforcement and the military. On that note, below are some of the things you can do to heighten your awareness and keep you safe in the face of an imminent danger.
1. Observe your environment
The first thing you need to do to improve your situational awareness is to be very observant of your environment or surroundings. The level of awareness you need to have varies depending on your location.
A city environment presents a different level of danger and distractions than a rural one. You have to know where you are, observe accordingly, and make a detailed assessment of your environment. In doing so, you can better prepare yourself for any possible risks that might occur.
2. Be alert and focus
More often than not, most criminals attack those people who are unfocused and distracted. They are on the lookout for the weakest member of the flock.
Always keep your head up, pay attention, and look confident at all times. This may require a conscious effort at first, but the more you do it, the more you'll get better. You will be able to see the bigger picture and identify any viable hazards.
3. Clear your mind
A cloudy mind can distract you and not allow you to see potential threats. Clear your mind, especially if you are not yet familiar with the place or situation you're in.
You can properly observe your surroundings if you're free from any distractions.
This doesn't mean you should be stressed when you are alert. You need to relax, even if you are vigilant about the things around you.
4. Use your senses
One of the excellent ways to improve your situational awareness is to turn on your senses. You need to utilize your sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste to strengthen your power of observation.
Again, this will require a conscious effort, but it will help you discern any imminent danger. This way, you don't have to recognize danger through visual cues alone.
5. Read body language
Knowing how to read body language is very significant in assessing the situation. It is a language that all of us speak and one in which it is hard to lie. This non-verbal linguistics can reveal the true intentions of the people around us.
We might not catch a criminal through their words, but if you can recognize behavioral cues by reading body language, you can have an advantage that may save your life.
6. Know your escape routes
Always have an alternate route, so you can avoid or escape any imminent danger that might befall you.
If you enter a restaurant or a movie theater or wherever, you should take note of the emergency exits. When there is a fire or someone indiscriminately discharges a weapon, knowing where the exits are can save you valuable seconds.
7. Have a plan
You need to know when to bug in or bug out in a dangerous situation. Know when to defend yourself and when to just walk away from the confrontation. Even if you have a concealed weapon, you need to recognize when to shoot it or just keep it where it is.
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If your people skills are good, you can talk your way out before it even occurs. Having a concrete plan all the time is necessary for survival.
Looking for more situational awareness tips? Watch this video and find out how understanding body language can improve your level of awareness!
We exist in a fast-paced world of uncertainty where danger persistently presents itself in every situation we can think of. However, you can avoid hazardous scenarios if you are aware and alert all the time.
If you have the ability to recognize and identify criminal behavior or any potential threats, then you have an advantage for survival. Situational awareness can help you outsmart a streetwise criminal.
Remember, it's not always enough to just carry a concealed weapon — your power of observation is a form of self-defense par excellence.
Do you know other situational awareness tips? You can share it with us in the comments below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 10, 2020, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.