Situational Awareness: See the Danger Before Seeing You

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Image: Large group of pedestrians crossing a white striped crosswalk

We often think situation Links to James Bond or Jason Bourne movies. Perfect for a Friday night, a bowl of popcorn, or a cool drink. (And at least one Hollywood show teaches you a bit.)

But what about real life? How is your life? After all, you are not a highly trained spy to save the world from international villains. Still need situational awareness?

You bet you do.

The lives of you and the people you love depend on it.

What is situational awareness?

Situational awareness is a great way to say you know what’s going on around you, what the possible impacts are and what actions you need to take. A lot of people refer to it as fixing their head on rotation and always looking around to see what’s going on. I like to think of it as taking the blindfold off.

From traffic controllers to first responders to moms at parks or bus stops with children, concertgoers to businesswomen walking through parking lots at night, situational awareness is critical to safety.

It is just as important in a familiar place as it is in an unfamiliar place, in a crowd at a public event, or in a hotel room when you are on vacation or on a business trip.

Let’s see why it’s so important.

Why is situational awareness important?

According to the FBI website, 538,203 violent crimes in 2020. This is an estimated statistic based on data from 85% of the country’s law enforcement agencies.

How many of these accidents could have been avoided if the individual had assessed his or her environment? Please understand. This is not demeaning the victim. Victims do not deserve what happened to them.

But in the perpetrator’s eyes, if I’m walking with my head down, fumbling in my wallet to find my car keys, that’s a much better sign than I’m walking into the car and looking around. ready key. (For reference, I was both.)

If you were a bad guy looking for an easy chance, who would you choose?

Unlike robbers, ne” do well like choosing victims who are shy, afraid, or unaware of their surroundings. People examining their environment appear to be none of those things.

It’s body language, dude, and we have to keep in mind what we say.

We also need to be aware of the information we share that we may not realize we are sharing.

Too many people are ignorant of the world around them. Their eyes are either fixed on the phone or just a kind of drifting day spent in thought. Given that the earbuds are often in place, these people can also be blind and deaf.

That said, they are easy targets.

I know I don’t want to be an easy target. I don’t think you are either.

On the other hand, practicing situational awareness builds confidence. And by raising your head and observing the world around you, you are in a much better position to not only detect and avoid possible threats, but also respond quickly and efficiently.

In other words, we sometimes have some control over whether we are in the wrong place at the wrong time. And we can control our reactions when something threatening, dangerous, or fatal begins to happen.

The level of control we have, or at least the level over which we can control, comes from integrating the three levels of situational awareness.

What are the 3 stages of awareness?

Psychologist Mica Endsley developed a model of hierarchical stages of information processing. There are other approaches, such as Cooper’s Color Codes and OODA Loop, but I will use Endsley’s model as a framework for discussion.

The three levels are awareness, understanding, or understanding and prediction.

Level 1: Awareness

Where are you now?

male? work? car?

Maybe a grocery store or a park?

Are you alone? with children? hanging out with friends?

Stop reading this, look around and come back. I’ll wait.

Okay, who did you see? What are the appearances and behaviors of that person or people? What is your environment? What are the entrances and exits to your location? what did you hear Smell? feel? What’s up?

The first level is to recognize important details.. You are making future decisions based on the information you collect. Perhaps in the very near future. Now that we have collected it, we need to process it. Then move on to the next step.

Level 2: Understanding or Understanding

You are not gathering information to impress your friends with your Holmesian observation skills. What does that information mean?

You must interpret the data and determine its meaning.

Is the man near the playground spending time while the child plays, or is he wandering around looking for opportunities with his distracted parents?

Hopefully, your observations turn out that he is here with one of the children at the playground. Perhaps he is the parent of a helicopter floating in the air. This interpretation leads us to predict what will happen in a different way than if we judged the person as a potential predator.

Level 3: Prediction

Your judgments about the man, your conclusions about his actions will make you anticipate or anticipate the possible consequences and possible actions you will take.

That way you have the best chance of getting the most favorable results.

It is important to remember that this level is also completed, not 1-2-3. In a dynamic context, new information emerges that must be incorporated into the framework. It’s a more iterative process.

How do you develop or improve situational awareness?

My eldest child recently received a study permit, also referred to as “temporary” in this section. There are many things that become second nature after driving for nearly 30 years.

I don’t think realistically and consciously about looking in both directions before entering an intersection, whether the lights are on or not. And it’s a routine matter to keep an eye on oncoming traffic to make sure none of those vehicles veer into your lane.

But for new drivers, all of this can be new and confusing. How can I keep an eye on the road ahead, cars around me, speedometers and fuel gauges while simultaneously tracking where I am and where I am going?

But over time, they will all become second nature, right? Developing proper habits just takes a little time and a little practice.

The same goes for situational awareness.

To become more aware of the situation, you need to develop the right habits.

Practice these 6 behaviors to develop a mindful mindset.

Because it is a learned behavior, anyone can improve situational awareness. To do this, intentionally and consistently:

  1. be careful around
  2. pay attention to others
  3. Identification of entry and exit points
  4. Prediction practice
  5. be vigilant
  6. believe in yourself

Higher levels of situational awareness can be developed, improved and implemented by anyone with the will and training to do so.

This includes children. ‘If the… ?’ There are also ways to play with them and defend yourself.

What factors influence situational awareness at any given moment?

The way we perceive, understand, and predict is negatively affected by certain conditions, such as:

  • fatigue
  • stress
  • Prejudice/Attitude
  • distraction

Even those who are proficient in situational awareness habits should be aware of the impact of these factors.

What are some clues that you have lost situational awareness?

Any condition that reduces the level of situational awareness increases the risk of inappropriate decision-making and, consequently, mistakes. Some of them are:

  • delirium – That is, are you anxious or anxious?
  • obscure information – Are you receiving conflicting information from multiple sources?
  • Focusing or Tunnel Vision – Have your focus been on very little or one thing, missing the big picture?

When you realize you’re going through thisTake action immediately to fix it.

Can situational awareness prevent terrible things from happening to you?

The sad fact is that sometimes you don’t see danger until it’s too late. I can’t imagine the horror of being in a place like Charlie Hebdo, Twin Towers or the Route 91 Harvest music festival. All the signs were probably seen by people on the outside rather than inside.

Nevertheless, some were better positioned to survive than others.

Consider the record of one person. able to escape From the terrorists while the gunman reloads. First of all, I had the mind to act while reloading.

Second, he took a seat in front of the theater, near the exit door. He helped at least one injured person escape with him. Some of his friends found a small room to hide in the building.

Their quick thoughts and actions may have saved their lives.

So while you can’t prevent bad things from happening, they can affect the outcome.

How aware are you of the situation?

How attentive do you think you are to your surroundings? Test yourself with this video.

How have you been? Here’s another one.

Track your progress in real life with this simple exercise.

  1. Go to crowded places like parks or shopping malls with friends.
  2. Take a few minutes to observe what’s going on around you.
  3. Then have your friend ask questions about what they might have seen, heard, smelled, or felt.
  4. Repeat this in other situations, such as going to a quieter place.
  5. Keep practicing until it becomes second nature.

You can also do this exercise while walking your dog. Have you noticed something about the area you live in that you never knew before?

not situational awareness

To be clear, the idea here is not to act as if every trip to the post office is a dangerous mission deep in enemy lines.

Rather, focus on what’s around you instead of watching the latest Facebook status updates or Tik Tok videos.

We live in a beautiful world. And although that’s not the world of espionage and espionage, there are still risks for most of us anyway. Situational awareness and learning are skills that we all need to practice and use in our daily lives. Because it can help you survive when bad things happen.

How did situational awareness keep you safe?

This article was originally published on November 14, 2015, and has been updated and corrected. Thanks to Jim Cobb for providing insight into this article.

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Bethanne is a multi-faceted writer who lives in the suburbs (after the suburbs) with her husband, son and cat. She has been writing for Survival Mom since 2010. You can learn more about her books, including the series “Survival Skills for All Ages”.
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