Have you ever felt the need to look over your shoulder, but didn’t, because you didn’t want to draw attention?

With the increase of violence caused by mental illness or just being confronted by a person will ill intentions, it has become an everyday requirement to know what is always going on around you and your family at all times.

Recent events have dictated the need for situational awareness, whether with your family or alone. Mall, Office, and House of Worship shootings as well as robberies, assaults, and other felonies have shown there is a need to be aware of your surrounding and to be able to identify, process, and comprehend information about how to survive in an emergency situation. Situational awareness is NOT easy, it is active, difficult to maintain, and easy to forget.

There are steps you and your family can take to improve your safety, as well as, chances of survival when confronted by a person, or persons, who want to do harm to you or your family.

1. Learn to Predict Events

The most effective aspect of Situational Awareness involves the ability to project the future actions of elements around you. After you have been able to identify elements in your environment and can comprehend the situation, it is time to take your Situational Awareness one step further. Use this information to think ahead and determine how it will affect future actions and events in the environment.

2. Identify Elements Around You

The first step in achieving Situational Awareness is to become aware of the important elements in your environment. Start by noticing the threats that surround you. Then expand your awareness to other non-threatening elements. This is the most basic level of Situational Awareness where you begin to monitor, detect, and recognize multiple situational elements. These include objects, events, people and environmental factors. Basic Situational Awareness also requires you to notice the locations, conditions and actions of the elements around you. This may sound overwhelming, but do not worry. These are skills you already use daily. The first step is designed to help you expand and improve your perception of what is happening around you.

3. Trust Your Feelings

Disorder within your family or a gut feeling that things are not right can cause you to lose proper situational awareness. This clue is one of the most reliable because the body can detect stimulus long before we have consciously put it all together.

4. Limit Situational Overload

Overload causes distraction, increased errors, and high stress. Prioritizing and delegating tasks and minimizing surrounding distractions can improve survival during times of overload.

5. Avoid Complacency

Assuming everything is under control will affect your vigilance. You have to actively keep yourself in the right mindset. When things are slow or tasks are routine complacency usually occurs. The worst part is the slow creep of complacency is hardly ever noticed except in hindsight. Continue to challenge yourself and those around you to be prepared for contingencies. Do a mental check every now and then.

6. Be Aware of Time

Time is an important factor in mastering Situational Awareness. The pace of your environment is constantly being changed by the actions of individuals, task characteristics, and outside elements. When unplanned events begin to arise, be sure to make the necessary changes to your schedule and goals to help you survive.

7. Begin to Evaluate and Understand Situations

The next step in involves understanding multiple elements through the processes of pattern recognition, interpretation, and evaluation. Use this information to determine how it will effect your goals or in this case your ultimate survival. This will help you build a comprehensive picture of your immediate surroundings and a better understanding of Situational Awareness.

8. Actively Prevent Fatigue

Fatigue affects your ability to watch for possible danger or difficulties. Try adjusting your work routine and imposing sleep discipline to prevent wake cycles longer than 18 hours. Make sure you get at least 5 and preferably 8 hours per day of sound sleep to minimize sleep deprivation.

9. Continually Assess the Situation

When you are in a survival situation always be prepared for changes around you. Continually assess and reassess the situation to determine if you are giving yourself the best possible chance for survival. Learn what nature, the land, and new tasks are telling you, before you find yourself in a difficult situation.

10. Monitor Performance of Others

Be alert for changes in the performance of those around you caused by work overload, stress, and mistakes. When changes are needed, take action by speaking up and helping out. A weak link in your family could be the difference between success or failure in your survival.

Photo Credit: USACARRY