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Situational Awareness The Key To Personal Safety

With the increasing spate of kidnappings locally and heightened public alert globally due to terror attacks, it has become of paramount importance to take preventive measures to ensure ones personal safety while carrying out daily activities.

While the society is quick to shift blame and the prevailing belief is to place the sole responsibility for security at the doorstep of the state and security agencies, recent happenings worldwide has shown the inadequacy of state police to handle our security. They are mostly equipped as emergency and reactionary forces after the deed has been done.

Therefore we should have a paradigm shift to 'Security and Safety being everyone's responsibility'. In addition, you are responsible for your personal safety. Ours should be a growing community interested in Who We Are', 'What We Are', 'What is Happening around Us'.

The key to this is Situational Awareness. Situational Awareness as the name implies is simply knowing what’s going on around you. This is a skill to be developed though sounds easy in principle but in reality requires much practice. In the film 'Bourne Identity', the protagonist, Jason Bourne had this seemingly superhuman ability to observe his environment, make detailed assessment of same and with a heightened sense of alert (ready to move or strike). This best describes situational awareness skills though his was more pronounced because of his CIA trainings. This skill boosts your power of observation and develops your cognitive abilities.

"Situational awareness is the perception of environmental elements with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status after some variable has changed, such as time, or some other variable, such as a predetermined event. - Wikipedia"

How to develop situational awareness

While there are tons of resources on the subject and diverse models on the web, one common model stands out and generally accepted though with variations too.

The Colour Code Model

The key to personal safety i.e optimal situational awareness is to always be in condition yellow. This is the minimum acceptable standard for good situational awareness and where you are in a relaxed state but very aware of your surroundings. In practical terms, this means the following:

While Walking/Jogging/ Running
• Use of phones and earpiece reduced to the barest minimum (tough call in this age of Pokemon Go right?)
• Occasional glance at your surroundings
• Ensure location is well lit preferably daylight
• Not alone. Be in company or group.
• Be wary of people behind you or keeping up pace.
• Walk facing oncoming traffic

Seated in a building/ public place (cafe, restaurant e.t.c)
• Position yourself optimally for a good view of your surroundings (including entrance and exit points) with your back against the wall possibly.

While Driving
• Avoid use of phone or other gadgets.
• Don't blare music. Don't attract unnecessary attention
• Leave space between cars for possible manoeuvres.
• Full frontal alertness while periodic view at rearview and side mirrors for anomalies.
• Notice the colour, make (and possibly plate numbers) of car behind you. Double check to ensure you are not being tailed/ followed.
• When you get home, before opening the gates to drive in, do a quick reconnaissance to reveal anomalies in your surroundings.

General instructions
• Do not draw attention to yourself. Military tacticians and strategists would advise blending to the background. If possible have regular, common colours for cars, clothes where one can't be spotted in a crowd. Don't be loud or blare music in public places. Avoid public and unnecessary display/flaunting of wealth.
• Conduct background checks on domestic staff. Most kidnappings had insider help.
• Don't set up yourself as targets. Most crimes are crimes of opportunity.
• Be situational aware, it is easy to miss something you are not on the lookout for.
Situational awareness does not totally eliminate the threats; however it lowers the odds in your favour. BE SAFE, STAY SAFE.

' Most crimes are crimes of opportunity'.