Situational Awareness: Protect Yourself from Violent Crime

Situational awareness is being aware of what is going on around you. Sounds easy and logical, but in reality, it takes a lot of training to remain vigilant.

The good news is that this skill can be developed. The first step is to maintain an awareness of your surroundings.

–Notice if anything looks out of place.
–Pay attention to your “gut” as it can tell you if something is wrong.
–Listen for any increased level of noise or activity nearby.

These could be indicators that danger is lurking. By remaining aware, you are ready to address situations as they unfold.

One tactic used by criminals is distraction–trying to take your mind off of what is important by asking a question or forcing you to focus on a disturbance. Meanwhile, someone else is picking your pocket or purse, or worse, becoming physical by grabbing just-purchased items, a purse or cell phone.

Suggestions: When you get onto an elevator, notice who is in the car with you. If you are in line at a store, be aware if someone is standing too close. Generally, human beings consider an area of three feet around them to be their “personal space.”  We’ve all experienced when someone “invades our space” while standing in a line at the grocery store. If you are at a concert, pay particular attention, as your focus will likely be on the performer. The lights, noise and atmosphere are an ideal environment for a theft to go unnoticed until it is too late.

Two notes of caution. If something seems unsafe and avoidance is possible, do so. Second, if you feel in immediate danger at work, at home or in your regular day’s activities, take action immediately and call 911. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Apathy, complacency and denial are obstacles to maintaining situational awareness. These are what thieves, burglars, and other criminals count on as they select their next target.