Situational Awareness – the Best Defense

Our world is more complex, faster paced and, in some ways, more dangerous. We can avoid danger by never venturing outside our homes or we can rely our eyes and ears and logic to keep ourselves safe. The US Coast Guard refers to this as Situational Awareness – the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regards to the mission. More simply, it’s knowing what is going on around you.

For the private citizen, the team is Mom, Dad and the Kids; and, situational awareness is really just another word for mindfulness. It is up to us adults to practice all the time. Before long, it will make a big difference in your day-to-day decisions. Much of those decisions have to do with how we perceive those around us. Are there people present that could present challenge? Are there ways to avoid it?

These same principles can also be applied to help your children understand situational awareness. You can even make a game out of it. For instance, when you are out with your family try playing the observation game. Tell your kids to pay attention to their surroundings – the people, the locations of doors and windows, dark places, etc. Then, when you are on your way home, ask them questions about the people sitting next to them or where the exit doors were located. It’s a fun way to train your kids about awareness and safety.

Overall, I suppose we should live under a continuous condition of caution. Pay attention to who and what is around. We should use common sense and listen to our instincts – from avoiding the shortcut down a dark alleyway to leaving an area if we feel uncomfortable or threatened. We should do our best not to allow ourselves to become victims. As a civilian, especially if we have taken on the added responsibility of carrying concealed, we must pay attention to who and what is around us. It is up to us to make the right decisions ahead of potential danger and to protect those who depend on us to look out for their well-being.

Mind you, I don’t think there’s anything very new or profound about basic safety. We learn these things as kids – or should. But sometimes it’s a good idea to revisit old lessons and remember to share them with our loved ones. Planning ahead and thinking about our surroundings are effective ways to be safer as we’re out and about in our daily lives.

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