The most basic human instinct is survival, we all have subconscious safeguards that try to keep us away from danger. However, these instincts can be developed into techniques and rules that can help you stay safe in everyday life. The most important instinct (in my opinion) to develop is situational awareness. This is the ability to know who/what is in your surroundings, or an area you are entering. Then identifying if there are any threats to your personal safety. This is a real-time, in the moment, skill that can save your life through split second reactions.
On the 23rd of March 2017, a terror attack shook London, killing 5 and injuring over 50 others (I would like to take a moment to recognize the brave men and women, both police and civilian, that ran towards danger on that day, and may 5 souls lost that day rest in peace). The attack took place in the middle of the most densely populated areas in London. But could more people have avoided death or injury? It’s a question we should all be asking, as any injury or loss of life is a big deal when it comes to acts of terrorism. Looking at the situation on a fundamental level, I truly believe that if civilians in the area had been more alert and had better situational awareness less people would have been injured. When we go on vacation we tend to drop our guard, assuming that you are safe because of a preconceived notion that vacations should be relaxing and care free. This is what gets most people into dangerous situations, if the people on the bridge had been more aware of their situations people could have moved out of the way of danger. Now I am not saying everyone should go to the extreme of using the military tactic of constantly finding cover/protection within the surrounding environment. But when you enter a new area everything is so fluid that constant change brings a constant ability for danger. Having the awareness of what is in your surroundings can keep you away from danger, and protect you if that danger becomes real. The people on the bridge could not have never expected a terrorist to mount the pavement and mow them down. But they could have been aware enough to react to the situation. By knowing what is around you, there becomes options when a situation turn dangerous. Things like knowing where you could move to for protection in the event of an attack.
When you step out your house your mind should go into “condition yellow” a state of mind that makes you constantly aware of your surroundings and on the lookout for potential danger. If you spot something odd or what you see as a potential threat you should move up to “condition orange”. This stage puts you in a heightened state of alert and you should keep an eye on the person/situation. When that person/situation becomes dangerous you should move to “condition red” this is the final stage and when you activate your survival instincts. At this point you should be moving to cover, fighting back, or running away. How you react to a situation should always be reasonable but swift, careful but aggressive. In the case of the London terror attack the pedestrians on the bridge had to make the call of how to get out of the way of the car. If you are situationally aware you are able to react quicker as you know where you can go and where is blocked off. If you are looking at your phone the entire time and not aware of what is around you, the awareness is not there and you might not react in time to save your life.
When you are out in public in fluid and dynamic environments, you have to take responsibility for your own safety. If you are able to stay situationally aware you can increase your chances of staying safe in a dangerous situation. Take the time to look around and become aware of your environment, because you never know when a situation will become dangerous and you need to get out quick.
I highly recommend everyone takes the NRA Refuse To Be A Victim class, or even just look into it online, as it develops deeper into the topics touched upon above.
Stay safe and aware friends.