We have come a long way haven’t we? So far we have established that situational awareness is a complex subject that can be surmised as an understanding of what is happening around you and how it relates to the safety of your family. We have looked at examples of behavior to look for and what to do if we feel a situation is about to become violent. As this series concludes, you will understand how frequently you need to practice situational awareness and how it can change your life.
How Often Do I Practice Situational Awareness?
Your active scan for threats should never stop. It should be second nature. There is a method developed by former Marine Colonel John “Jeff” Cooper as too how your mind needs to be to defend yourself from an attack. This method is Colonel Cooper’s Color Codes. Understand that Cooper’s color codes are not used for a threat level, they are used for the level of attention you should be giving a perceived threat.
Condition White - A person is completely unaware. This means they are looking at their phone or otherwise distracted. People in Condition White will not notice anything amiss around them. They are also an easy target for a criminal.
Condition Yellow - Individuals need to strive to be in this condition at all times. In this is a state of relaxed alertness a person will be able to spot threats while still enjoying the world around them. This is not an active state of paranoia. Consider this state to be pleasantly vigilant.
Condition Orange - This condition raises a person from yellow and means action may need to be taken, escape or fight. In Condition Orange someone focuses on a “target” (a person on situation) and gives it more attention. If a person decided that they need to get away, this is that time to flee. If escape is not an option then a mental line is needed. If a bad guy crosses that mental line, you must be prepared to fight.
Condition Red - This is when an attack is imminent. This means something is going to happen and a person must be ready to defend themselves.
It is hard to be a parent and stay in Condition Yellow while in public. Everything seems to distract you like your kids, sale prices and where you put your shopping list. I have been 15 minutes into a meal before I scouted the exits. It happens. Giving your tasks, kids and alertness attention is tough. If you can focus on what’s important and dismiss what is not, then situational awareness will be second nature.
So Should I Never Leave My House???
When situational awareness becomes part of your daily routine and thought process you won’t be able to turn it off. And that is the goal. This is a repeatable process that you can use in any location or situation. We can never predict where and when we will be in trouble. If we could, then we wouldn’t leave our house that day. But the fact remains that we need to live our lives. We have the right to live, work and worship safely. Situational awareness can be your first line of defense in keeping your family safe. Integrating this into how you see the world will give you the confidence to go out and experience life. If you know that you possess a skill set that can keep you out of harm's way, then you no longer need to live in fear.
Situational Awareness can be your first line of defense in keeping your family safe.
The purpose of this series is not to make you fearful of the world. It is was written to make you more confident when you are out with your family. As a parent you need to use this information as a basis for a secure family life. You’ll notice things that are out of place like guy in a big, puffy jacket in a store on a warm day. You will know to listen to your intuition when a stranger offers to help you put your groceries in your car. You will be prepared when the fire alarm sounds at movie theatre. Situational awareness exists to keep you safe while enjoying your life.
Do not give in to worry. Worry is wasteful, especially for parents. In Protecting the Gift, Gavin de Becker writes, “Thus the parent who chooses to worry all the time or who invests in unwarranted fears into children is actually making them less safe. Worry is not a precaution; it is the opposite because it delays and discourages constructive action.” Worry will not help solve a situation. Worry will blur your focus. Worry will eat away at you until there is nothing left. Take it from me, I am a Class A worrier. This advice has been around a long time. In the book of Matthew, Jesus says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34) Jesus is telling us not to worry about things we can’t affect or predict, but to focus on the immediate needs. Do not worry, instead be prepared. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) Use your power, love and sound mind to protect your family. Do not give in to unwarranted fears, enjoy life with an empowered confidence.
Starting putting situational awareness to practice today. Start off by looking around at everyone the next time you sit down a Starbucks. Then start watching to see if people are paying too much attention to you at the grocery store. And then one day, as it happened for me, you will intuitively be warned of a potential threat without even trying.
Do not give in to worry. Worry is wasteful, especially for parents.
I do want to make you aware that once you start looking for signs of potential threats, you may have a tendency to want to see more that what is really there. I’ve done this a few times. You have a new set of skills and you want to use them. The enthusiasm is great, however it is unlikely that 60% of the people at Starbucks are exhibiting pre-event indicators. This is called confirmation bias, which means you are searching for actions that support your preconceptions, or in this case, your newfound training. In other words you’re out looking for trouble and you’re going to find it - whether it's there or not. Practice makes perfect.
Thank you for taking the time to read this series. Thank you for being brave enough to realize that you need to see the world differently to keep yourself and your family safe. The unfortunate truth is that humans are violent. No amount of laws, public shaming or political correctness is going to change that fact. Armed with this new knowledge I ask you to take your new understanding a step further. Situational awareness is your first line of defense. I encourage you to seek out a form of personal defense that you feel suits you. Personal defense can be buying pepper spray, learning Krav Maga or getting training for a concealed weapons permit. Do what you feel most comfortable with. I hope you will integrate situational awareness into your everyday life to keep your family happy, safe and secure.
For more safety tips on keeping your family and home secure, stay up to date with The Secure Dad. To learn more about situational awareness I highly recommend Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life
by Patrick Van Horne and Jason A. Riley.
Learn how situational awareness helped me stay safe during road rage!