Situational Awareness 101

Situational Awareness 101 by Tom Marlowe for The Survivalist Blog

One of the most fundamental tenets for preppers and other self-defense minded folks is the reminder to “always keep your head on a swivel,” “stay Condition Yellow,” and “Stay aware.”

All essentially mean the same thing: stay present, conscious and cognizant of who is around you and what is going on around you. Stay situationally aware.

It is good advice, no question. Without awareness, without taking in the important information that will alert you that a threat might be rising or imminent you won’t be able to react to it at all until it is right in your face.

That’s a bad play when your first clue that you are being threatened is actually being wounded or injured.

While lots of articles and lots of people will tell you to “maintain situational awareness” few will tell you how to do that.

It is one of those things that gets bandied about so much that everyone just assumes everyone else knows how.

That might not be the case, or someone might not know the best practices. In this article, we’ll fix that and tell you exactly what it means to be situationally aware and how to implement “SA” procedures in your daily life.

The Case for Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is the practice of gathering and assessing information provided by the environment and the people around you in order to detect possible or imminent threats, be they other people or not.

With poor situational awareness, you will only be alerted to the most obvious or overt threats ahead of time. With no situational awareness, you won’t be alert to even the most blindingly obvious threats until it is way too late.

Conversely, good situational awareness will allow you to perceive a threat with time enough to react before it is upon you. Excellent situational awareness is a borderline superpower.

Unlike superpowers, though, you won’t get good SA by being bitten by a radioactive lightning bolt after you cybernetically modify a ritual for communing with cosmic forces.

No, you’ll become and remain situationally aware the old fashioned way: learning what to do, how to do it and then being disciplined enough to apply your knowledge and skills daily.

While it is not infallible, and it is impossible to remain completely situationally aware at all times (you have to sleep eventually!) you should strive to maintain a sharp but relaxed alertness at any time you are awake, dialing that up as the situation dictates, such as when out with your family or when an elevated risk level is in effect.

You should know that the overwhelming majority of attacks perpetrated on a civilians feature a total or near-total lack of SA on the victim’s part. In short, criminals are actively looking for those who show a lackadaisical attitude toward the environment and people around them.

So, we know we need to be alert. What are we looking for? And how do we look for it? We’ll address both of those questions below.

A Constant State of Relaxed Alert

Your primary state of alertness when awake should be that of relaxed alertness. You aren’t jumping at every loud noise and snapping at everything that crosses some unseen line on the sidewalk.

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The Survivalist Blog

Over the years, I’ve studied all facets of survivalism and have learned what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t. My calling is to teach others how to become better prepared for an uncertain future. My books and articles are based on real-world experience. You will find helpful tips, guides, and checklists – focusing on a very modest budget.