Situational awareness is being aware of your surroundings, no matter what situation you find yourself in. Because of your natural fight or flight reflex, your senses are heightened whenever you are put into a stressful situation. Your hearing and vision become sharper. Your mental ability to discern between potentially harmful and neutral factors improves instantly.
In short, you become slightly superhuman as long as your brain perceives some type of stress or danger that might possibly affect you.
This happens automatically as an unconscious survival tactic. However, humans do not live in nearly as chaotic an environment as we did when we lived in caves and ran from saber-toothed tigers. This means there are less stressful or possibly dangerous situations we find ourselves in on a daily basis. That is why you should practice situational awareness all the time.
Because the odds of you encountering a dangerous situation are small, your fight or flight response is probably not as sharp as it should be. You can hone it to a razor’s edge, while simultaneously alerting yourself to potential dangers in your personal environment, by staying alert and aware of your surroundings. Here are 14 things you can do to improve your perception of potentially dangerous situations you can find yourself in as you move through your normal daily routine.
1 – Locate potential exits any time you enter a room. This includes windows as well as doors.
2 – Pick out a random individual at work or in some public place. Note their eye and hair color, what they are wearing, and any other physical details. Do this enough and you will sharpen your ability to spot potential dangers all around you.
3 – Get your keys out long before you reach the door to your home or car.
4 – Use shadows at night to warn you of an approach. If your shadow is falling in front of you as you walk, the shadow of someone approaching you from behind will get to you before they do.
5 – Never text while walking. More than 5,000 injuries are caused in the United States each year from texting while walking. This activity totally shuts down your ability to see what is going on around you.
6 – Don’t flash money. Take any cash you are going to use for a particular purchase and have it ready in your pocket long before you hit the cash register.
7 – Trust your feelings. If alarm bells are going off inside your head, there is probably a good reason (unless you have just downed your 4th cup of coffee or 3rd Red Bull).
8 – Look for threats everywhere. This is not paranoia in today’s danger-filled world.
9 – Keep your head up, and look people in the eye.
10 – Stop being complacent in comfortable environments. Your home, workplace and favorite restaurant or bar – your situational awareness begins to plummet in these and other places where you feel safe and cozy.
11 – Keep track of the time. This means being able to gauge the time of the day or night even if you have no watch or smartphone.
12 – Recognize, interpret and evaluate. Once you recognize any element in your environment, try to interpret what its meaning is for you. Then evaluate whether that relationship is dangerous, neutral or advantageous.
13 – Start getting 8 hours of sleep every night. Fatigue is the number one deterrent to being alert.
14 – Notice changes. If you see someone doing something drastically out of character or routine, pay attention.
You can learn more about emergency preparedness throughout our website, including accessing our guides to emergency food companies for starting your survival food pantry, among other helpful survival guides.