In the introduction, we learned that situational awareness is a complex process that can be summed up by simply knowing what is going on around you. As we continue, we will see why understanding what is happening around us can give clues to future events and give us enough time to react to keep us safe.
When you are out with your family, it is far better to be aware of who is around you so you can be ahead of any potential threats.
Why Do I Need to Situational Awareness?
“It is better to detect sinister intentions early than respond to violent acts late,” writes Gavin de Becker’s in his book, The Gift of Fear. When you are out with your family, it is far better to be aware of who is around you so you can be ahead of any potential threats. You want to see the bad guy before he gets up rather than seeing him standing over you. Can you imagine what that would be like for your children to witness? So the best thing to do is take the time to scan your environment, see what looks out of place (if anything) and know how to get out if the situation turns bad.
The great news is that God has given you a great tool to be situationally aware and protect your children. This gift is called intuition. Sometimes we call it a “gut feeling” or “woman’s intuition” but we all have it. We need to know what the little voice inside our heads sounds like and what to do when we hear it speak. But this isn’t always easy. Van Horne and Riley sum it up the problem perfectly in Left of Bang, “Unfortunately, most people don’t do anything when ‘something isn’t right.’ They don’t allow their intuition to guide them.” You need to embrace the gift of intuition and don’t be worried about embarrassing yourself if there isn’t a criminal act. It’s much better to consider your intuition than regret not listening to it in hindsight.
We need to know what the little voice inside our heads sounds like and what to do when we hear it speak.
As an example, a mother and son are enjoying a warm spring afternoon in the park when the toddler spots a “doggie.” The toddler only knows dogs to be fun and good spirited. But the mom knows that some dogs to not react well to strangers. The toddler, as they all do, persists to go meet the large dog whose owner is sitting on a nearby bench. The mother is hesitant to approach the dog and owner. She doesn’t know why. There is only the little voice inside of her that say’s, “Don’t do it.” The mother fights an internal battle that ranges from, her child making a new best friend to the dog attacking. She thinks the owner looks nice so the dog must be nice. But again that little voice inside says, “Don’t go.” Finally she listens to the voice and dissuades her son into going to see the dog. They enjoy a snack instead. She’ll never know how the encounter would have gone. But one thing is for certain, her child is safe.
What Am I Looking For Anyway?
Now you know you need to pay attention, but what are you looking for? The key to situational awareness is to be observant of what is going on around you at that point in time.
- Does everything you see make sense?
- Does someone stand out to you?
- Do you have a gut feeling?
- Do people seem relaxed or unsettled?
- How do I get out of here if something goes wrong?
You need to take notice of the people around you and how they are interacting with the environment. Your God-given gift of intuition will help you determine where you focus needs to reside.These questions seem overwhelming at first, but after some practice they become second nature. Trust me.
You need to take notice of the people around you and how they are interacting with the environment. Your God-given gift of intuition will help you determine where you focus needs to reside.
Chances are you’ve spotted a creepy guy in public before. So you’ve used your intuition when looking around. It’s not always easy to determine exactly what is going on, but your senses can give you a pretty good idea of who needs more of your attention. When you spot a man in a store giving your child a lot of attention you need to quickly gather some information about this person. To do this we’ll use the Left of Bang “cluster” theory to find out more about them. Most of this will come from body language, which you already know how to read.
1) Does the person seem dominant or submissive? Dominant is bad in this case.
2) Is the person uncomfortable or comfortable? Uncomfortable is bad here. (Bad guys usually have giveaways about their act even if they’re experienced.)
3) Is this person interested or uninterested? We know they seem interested in your child and that makes you uncomfortable.
If you have two alarming answers to these questions, then you need to move away from that person and note where they are in relation to you, or simply leave. But that is a quick way you can determine if someone needs to be on your security radar.
In the next part of this series, we will learn about pre-event indicators and understand them in their context.