Just like I use a color coded event level system of green, yellow, and red to depict the severity of a disaster event, I also use a similar color coded system to detail situational awareness. Situational awareness is being mentally alert enough no matter what your surroundings are to be aware of potential dangerous situations, and avoid hopefully to avoid them. As well as being a prepper I am also firm believer in personal defense, and in my opinion every prepper should be able to defend themselves and their loved ones. Having good situational awareness is a must, not only in a survival situation, but in your everyday life when you are out driving to work or walking in the park with your kids. A fight for survival may not come in the form of a green level event such as an earthquake, tornado or severe weather. The fight for survival may come from the jerk who wants to beat you up in front of your kids so he can get initiated into a street gang.
Situational awareness is a skill you can train yourself to use, and eventually it will become second nature to you without having to give it much thought. Most people already have some sort of situational awareness, some don’t have any. But just like the event color code system that I use to define disaster events, I use a similar color code system to define how alert I am.
- White – this is the color code of somebody who is asleep or somebody who just does not have a clue at all about the need for situational awareness. In this color code condition you are an easy person to prey upon by criminals, and are likely to not see the car that is speeding down the road faster than normal as you step off the curb onto the street. In this color code condition you are easily caught by surprise.
- Green – this is the level of situational awareness that you will want to be in the most of the time. At this color code condition you should be relaxed but alert to things going on around you. Once you start adapting these color codes of situational awareness and apply them all the time, you will eventually be in this green level subconsciously. A good example of this level of alertness is when you are walking down the street and pass a large store front window and not only notice the goods on the other side of the window, but also notice the reflection in the window and what is going on behind you. Or when you are sitting in a restaurant and subconsciously look towards the door to see who is entering or leaving every time the door opens. Or when walking in the park your head is up and looking around at what is going on around you. You may take notice of people and the clothes they are wearing; is it a hot summer day and you notice a person wearing a black trench coat? You may take notice of an out-of-place object, like a duffel bag sitting outside of a building without anybody in attendance. Also, when you are relaxed but alert you will show it in your body action, and criminals watching you to decide if you are an easy mark will pick up that you are alert to your surroundings and be more than likely to leave you alone. Some people might call this paranoia to be constantly alert, but many of those same people probably don’t have a mindset to prepp. It’s all about hoping for the best, but being prepared just in case.
- Yellow – this is the level of situational awareness where you have identified something that is out of the ordinary and you are more focused on what is going on. A good example would be you walking down the sidewalk when you notice two young men across the street gesture amongst one another then nod towards you. That right there should put you at a yellow level of alertness, where you should be prepared and able to make a quick plan of action within a few split seconds. Maybe you decide to move quickly away down the sidewalk, maybe you decide to enter into a busy store where there will be more people, or maybe you decide to stop walking and turn and face in the direction of the young men, letting them know you are aware of them by looking at them and continuing to look around between quick looks in their direction. The point is that there might be a potential threat and that you are alerted to it and paying more attention to what is going on around you while thinking of ways to avoid a potentially bad situation. If you are aware early on of possible danger you can usually do something to avoid it. And if you can do something to avoid it, do so. If you can’t avoid it then the next couple color codes come into play.
- Red – this is the level of situational awareness that you should be in when you know without a doubt there is a threat to your safety, or to your family’s safety. It’s very simple really; perhaps somebody is after you to physically to cause you harm or somebody is trying to break into your house to steal your survival supplies (looters). The possibilities are endless, but without a doubt you know there is danger looming and you will have to deal with it in some way eventually. What will you do to deal with it? You need to have a plan in mind. You need to think ahead of these horrible situations before they occur and ask yourself what you would do to protect yourself. You need to think about what actions the bad guy is going to do that is going to set you into action. Basically you are going to do “Y” if the bad guy does “X” by drawing a mental line in the sand and acting without hesitation with whatever your planned action response will be. Situational awareness color code red is when you know there is a very real threat, and you are going to have to deal with it, and you need to know how you will deal with it ahead of time.
I always preach that a faster response to a threat is better than a delayed reaction of waiting to see what might happen if you do nothing at all. Most people are optimists that hope for the best and tend to wait and see what will happen. That can get you hurt or killed when faced with a dangerous situation that can easily turn deadly. I preach to react, and react fast. By doing so you can catch the person off guard that is threatening you.
- Black – This is the level of situational awareness where you react to deal with the danger before you. The bad guy has done “X” and crossed your predetermined line in the sand, and now you need to respond with “Y”. Situations can vary, but your focus on the situation before you should be complete. So this is why you need to think ahead and put yourself and your family in different potentially dangerous scenarios. Different situations call for different reactions. It may be better in some situation to turn and just get away as fast as you can. Maybe you are in your car when you notice you are possibly being followed (condition yellow) and then somebody in the car behind you waves a gun at you (condition red). The best reaction would not be to pull over and stop, but perhaps to make the very next turn to see if you are still being followed (condition black, if the bad guys continue to follow they have done “X”). If you are still being followed then you need to react with “Y”. Stay driving and get on your cell phone to call police and tell them what is going on and where you are currently driving and where you are going so they can intercept or meet you. Another example; Perhaps you can legally carry a concealed handgun and do so on a regular basis, and the day you take your family to a local restaurant some crazy gunman decides to go on a shooting spree which law enforcement calls ‘an active shooter event’ – you need to think ahead of time and decide how you will react. An active shooter event like this should put you immediately in color code black because the active shooter has done “X” so what is your “Y” reaction going to be? Will you use your gun to shoot the crazy gunman? Or will you try to stay hidden or try to run away and hope for the best? Remember, condition black is when you have established there is threat that needs to be dealt with which requires you to react. A bad guy has done “X”, and you respond with “Y”. The outcome will hopefully be “Z” with you safe and alive.
The above color codes are great to adapt in your everyday life and will serve you well in a survival situation as well. The way you react in a color code black situation should depend on training you have had. For instance, if you can legally carry a concealed weapon, please seek out advanced defensive training in the use of the weapon. There are many fantastic training centers around the country, and you may be surprised that even a few of your local gun ranges teach such classes. If looking for larger scale and more in-depth training in defensive techniques, then you should check out places on-line such as TDI Ohio and Front Sight.