When talking about self-defense and safety, situational awareness is always going to come into the conversation. Having good situational awareness will allow you to avoid danger entirely or at least respond to it quickly so as to increase your odds. But what exactly are you supposed to be aware of?
The easiest thing to be aware of that has a direct effect upon your safety is the time. If it’s dark out, there is an increased chance of violent crime, but there’s more to it than that. Is it a holiday weekend? If so it’s likely that there are a lot of people drinking, which means fights, but also drunk driving. Is it about 2:00am? If so, you might want to be careful, “let out fights” don’t only occur at the bar or the club, but also at convenience stores or gas stations after people who have been drinking are kicked out and have no place else to go before the night is over and are still looking to cause trouble.
There are locations that are statistically more likely to be the scene of a crime, you should be in a heightened state of awareness when at these places. These places include gas pumps, parking lots, and bus stops. But even if you are not in these places you should still be taking in to account your surroundings. Are you in a high crime neighborhood? Where are the entrances and exits of the building you are in? Could you see a threat coming from where you are? These should all be considered and addressed.
Since situational awareness is primarily a defense against violent crime, being aware of who is around you is paramount. Is there anyone that looks out of place? Do you see someone who appears to be confrontational or aggressive? If you see someone like this you should already be planning your response, including running, if they get violent. Are you out of place? Are you only one of your age group, gender, race, political affiliation, or even wearing your sports team’s gear? Then you are in a vulnerable state and should consider getting out of that location. It’s bad enough to think that people would be targeted for their race, but the reality is that people have been beaten half to death for the baseball team they support. Don’t take such things for granted when threat assessing.
Before you enter into a situation you need to consider the threat level and what you will do if that threat level is higher than expected. Once you have entered into a situation you need to continue to address the ever-changing level of threat, and keep a plan of action in mind. Basically, always think about the worst thing that could possibly happen given your surroundings, and what you will do about it if it does happen.
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