Increase Your Situational Awareness
Situational awareness is defined as,
“The ability to identify, process, and comprehend critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regards to the mission. More simply, it is knowing what is going on around you.” *
Situational awareness is not just important for those in law enforcement, or the military, it is critical for all individuals to be aware of their surroundings for a number of safety and security reasons. Increasing your situational awareness may help you to notice a shoplifter, or may provide you with enough information to exit before an emergency occurs.
Jeff Cooper, was a former Marine who formed the Cooper’s Color Codes in the 1970’s, in relation to understanding and becoming situationally aware. The first color code is white, in this color you are totally unaware of your surroundings and would likely be a victim. In the yellow color, you are aware of your surroundings, you are calm, but alert and actively figuring out a plan if an incident does occur. This is where Copper recommends that everyone stay all the time. Orange is the next color condition, in this color, you have identified something suspicious, it may be nothing, but your radar should be alert and you should not be surprised if an incident does occur here. The final color is red, where a potential threat becomes a potential target. **
Having a heightened sense of awareness is beneficial to not only yourself, but others as well. In any environment that you enter, take in the setting and know the typical atmosphere so you can differentiate when a threat is present. One way to become situationally aware, is to place yourself in areas that allow you to use all senses and take in your entire environment, typically this is most easily attained by keeping your back towards a wall and being able to see all or most of your exits and primary entrances. By doing so, you can easily have an escape plan and fully take in your surroundings.
Another way to increase your situational awareness is to understand what behaviors are normal and which are abnormal in day to day life. For example, in a local coffee shop it may be normal for a few hushed conversations with others quietly studying or doing work. At a busy restaurant however, louder conversations with people entering and exiting quickly and often hearing dishes bang around is a typical setting. Behaviors where someone is loud and drawing attention at a coffee shop should peak your interest, and their behaviors and mannerisms should be investigated further before coming to a decision on their threat level. If you are interested in reading some broad suspicious behaviors that can be applied to a variety of settings, visit this page, where those are examined more in depth.
Situational awareness is something that each person can benefit from, it is not just for those specially trained in law enforcement or the military, instead it is a valuable tool that all people can use in their day to day lives to increase their personal safety and security. Luckily, situational awareness is something that can be learned and practiced daily by using Cooper’s Color Codes, and by knowing what to look for.