Lets talk about situational awareness…..

I am prompted to write about this from a fellow bloggers blog today. http://burnthebutterfly.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/its-people-like-you-who-perpetuate-violent-attacks/

It was in my reading of this post that brought to mind a class I used to teach to military and non-military personnel, it is about situational awareness, or being aware of your surroundings at all times. Now this is similar but different when taught to both classes I go into two different ways for both to be aware of their surroundings, and the reason I was asked to teach this class was for two different reasons, on the military side I was available and on the civilian side I was an architect and I have a very good eye for detail and paying attention to details was part of my job in both fields.  This goes not only for single people but married couples as well; I want everyone to take some simple precautions to protect themselves. I will be talking mostly about single people or married spouses of deployed soldiers, but it is a good idea for everyone to read this and try to use the tools and advice I am giving you.

First I would like to talk about you the person; you are your own protector, period. You and only you can keep you out of situations where something bad may happen, doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, if you aren’t aware of what is going on around you, you could walk right into the very thing you don’t want to happen, confrontation. Now this covers a varied and wide subject area from bumping into someone and them cussing you to, getting beat up, to rape, to getting run over by a car. Now I have used some mundane things and I have used some severe things, it happens, it happens all the time.

One of the ways you can use to keep yourself out of trouble is simple, you usually walk the same way to the train, to the coffee shop or to your favorite hang out spot for lunch and I will start there because we are creatures of habit and we always do the same thing time and again, now I am not telling you to be secret agent and change your route every time you go someplace, but here is what I am telling you to do, the sweep, well what is it I am going to tell you, when you walk the same way more than once you figure out what is there and usually who is there it will normally be the same every time you go so you get complacent and that is the first sign of trouble, you feel safe because you have walked this way many times and nothing has happened right, right and it is probably true, but there is always that one time that it will be wrong, and here is where the sweep comes in, what you do is look around you at as much as possible is it the same as yesterday, is there more people there now than normal, has there been a new street vendor or a new shop that has opened? Well if you are sweeping you will know these things, what about the type of people you see are they mostly dressed the same way, is someone dressed differently, these are the things you want to watch out for, you can still text on your phone, or carry on that conversation with someone who is walking with you, but just look around and sweep the area, not a big deal and it will tell you so much about your surroundings that you probably didn’t know, don’t ever and I mean ever walk with your face to the concrete even if you are scared or in my case have some mental issues it marks you as just that scared, keep your head up and you don’t really have to make eye contact but just look around, sometimes it is impossible not to make eye contact, do it but make it as brief as possible, it is going to happen, it is a part of daily life, and here is one point that the civilian training and the military training differ we always make eye contact with as many people as possible, we are not inviting danger we are letting them know we are here and we see you, I still do this every day of my life and most of the time it puts people off and they look away before I do. Never do this unless you are very certain about yourself, I cannot stress that enough some people will take it as a sign of aggression and will probably not approach you but you have the one asshole who thinks he is a bad ass and will challenge your right to look at them, usually they, on my part end up crying in a little ball laying at my feet, and no I am not a bad ass I just know what I am capable of and how to handle bullies, first and for most if they approach you keep walking and find an area of crowded people this will defuse the problem quickly especially for them, if you cannot find a store or a crowd, keep walking and if they start to taunt you don’t respond, if you feel them getting closer run as fast as you can to an intersection or a place where you can be seen, I usually tell the women in my classes to take a course on using mace, yes take a course, mace is dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. Mace will drop the biggest man right in his steps if you deploy it correctly the first time by getting him right in the face and the best way to do that is with surprise, now only use mace if you have no other alternative like I said it is dangerous if you do not know how to use it, once again only use as a last resort and where the surprise comes in is that if you are being followed and it has escalated to where you feel threatened then spin around and spray that fucker right in the face right in his eyes, and he will drop right in his tracks. You may have wondered why I haven’t brought up yelling for help, yes this works but only when people are around and to be honest only 1 out of 10 people will probably help you, sucks I know but people really don’t want to be involved, and yelling help in a crowded are will bring attention to the situation and more than likely stop whatever is going on, but I am talking about last resorts here not perfect situations. After you have maced the attacker or supposed attacker or the person following you get the hell out of there don’t wait around to see what happens next, get to your home or to a store or somewhere there are other people and call the police and tell them exactly what happened and where you are, don’t embellish or tell them fantasy they won’t appreciate that, give them the facts plain and simple, then wait for them to get to where you are at, 9 out of 10m times the person that was following you will have fled by then but you have giving the police a reason to step up patrols in the area at least for a few days.

Next we will talk about where you live, you live there and know it better than anybody else, so pay attention to your living space, I don’t care how messy or how clean it is pay attention to your home place, now this was very important for young military wives whose husbands were being deployed because they were going to be in their homes most of the time by themselves with children. Always keep the doors locked even in the day time, and this is good advice for anyone who lives by themselves so pay attention. Keep your windows locked, most of the spouses don’t live on base where they are provided a measure of safety by the MP’s and civilian patrols, so these are good ideas, once again keep all doors and windows locked, have an emergency escape route planned for fires and a meeting spot outside for you to gather. Every time you enter your house just look around and see if anything is different, just like when you are out sweep the area when you first come in, if anything looks out of place don’t go in, get back in your car and call the police they don’t mind sending someone to check out your house to make sure it is safe especially if they know you live alone, doesn’t matter if you are male or female and guys just because you are guys don’t mean barge in and grab the baseball bat and start charging around the house looking, cause the one time you do that there maybe someone there and they might have a gun and if you happen to startle them they might just shoot you, so please follow my advice, call the police. We are almost done here and I hope that what I am talking about makes some sense and I will tell you about some exercises we put some people through to see if they are paying attention.

Your car is the next thing, look at your car before you get in it, is the door ajar did you lock it when you got out, now for most people this is second nature and it has become a habit of just pushing a little button on the remote, but if you have to take in groceries or you are running late for an appointment or you just plain forget, this is a good idea. Look at your car is it the same way you left it the last time? Before you get in the car look at the backseat of the car or if you have a minivan look at the inside before getting in even if it is locked, only after you do this should you get in the car, why am I asking you to look at your obviously locked car before you get in, watch the news, in our city alone there have been several kidnappings for parking lots and garages over the last year even though the car was locked. This is why I am telling you to look at your car before you get in, I do it every time, and so should you, I go one step further and walk around the car but that is not only for the above reason I am checking tires and the car itself, hell you might notice that you need air in a tire. I am not telling you to do a 360 around your car but it does help to look at your car once in a while.

Ok so I have given you some basics about situational awareness and could really go more into detail on the subject but I won’t because of the fear factor involved, I just am asking that you be aware of what is going on around you and to be safe, and if this little blog helps you out in the least I will have done my job, and I also hope I haven’t created any monsters out there and that I haven’t scared the shit out of you, it is just something that most people are not even aware of that gets them into trouble in the first place. Please remember to do these simple things for you and your family’s safety, and yes there is a lot more to it than I have given you, but this is a good start. Don’t make yourself paranoid and don’t scare the hell out of yourself but just do it and it will become habit and you will be aware.

Now for a funny, we did this class before the last deployment and we had around 10 wives or girlfriends in the room and we had put items in and around the room that were obvious and not so obvious and we gave our lecture and slide show (got to love the military and the power point presentations) and I started to notice that some of the women were looking around, good for them, well most of them were not and you could tell that they were the type that this is not going to happen to me, well I don’t know what to say about them, so. Well I had put a red box on one of the tables in the back of the room it wasn’t very big but you noticed it upon entering the room or so I had thought. After my briefing I ask them to stand up and take a minute to look around the room and see what was there and after a few moments we asked them to step outside and grab a soda or coffee or just hang out. I moved the red box from the back of the room to the front of the room while they were out now red being an eye dominate color I had hoped that most of them had seen the box where I had it and would now notice that the box was moved to a different location, so after about 5 minutes we asked them to come back in and to look around the room and tell us what was different, well after about 5 minutes when no one answered I asked them if anything had moved and all of them said no things still looked the same, I said ok we will try it again and asked them to once again look around the room for a minute and then asked them to leave again and I put the red box right on top of the projector that I was using for power point and we brought them back in and asked again if the room was the same and again after a few minutes one girl finally piped up and said that the red box wasn’t on the projector the last time she was in there. I don’t know if that was funny or not but it sure does prove my point, most people don’t pay attention to their surroundings.

With much gratitude and devotion,

Dan Kline

While I did do this for the Military I am by no means a professional about this subject, if you wish to know more then there are classes taught in your area on self defense and awareness, get in contact with them and take the course.


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