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There is an appropriately growing interest in America’s citizenry for information to better protect oneself and family in the home.  The sources and variety of information out there creates a daunting and overwhelming environment.  This and the following essays will serve as a starting place to begin one’s search for knowledge or tweak one’s already existing plans with ideas, techniques and perspectives maybe not previously considered.

Realizing that one is vulnerable and has a need for personal security knowledge is the first step.  Why the interest?  Did a news story or local incident awaken the realization of an unknown vulnerability or make a known vulnerability disturbingly real?  The first step in one’s search for personal security information is assessing what threats are most likely and most dangerous to you.  The plans, resources and preparations needed to counter a team of trained professionals hell bent on doing you and yours harm is far more than is necessary to address the daytime opportunistic burglar looking for an empty home.

Some things one can do to protect oneself are free like researching crime trends in one’s neighborhood. Others require significant time, resources and cost like building a state of the art safe room (not that you need one).  Selecting a firearm should be accompanied with a lot more investment than just purchasing it.  ALL consist of a fundamental and often the most important ingredient, the will to put interest and ideas into action.  We address situational awareness in many of our personal security courses.  The Refuse to Be a Victim program is all encompassing and focuses on strategies to minimize your potential to being a victim of crime.  The Home Defense course focuses on situational awareness while at home.  The Every Day Carry course emphasizes awareness of your surroundings outside the home to provide you warning to avoid dangerous situations or be able to respond if they are thrust upon you.

As one waits for the next installment in this series one can start increasing one’s personal protection status today.  That step is developing your situational awareness.  Criminals not only look for profitable victims.  They look for those that are unaware that they are about to become victims.  The simple realization that a victim has recognized a potential threat can be enough to ward off an attack.  Awareness eventually becomes the archway that every other personal security decision or action must travel under in one’s quest for personal security.

Situational awareness includes an awareness of one’s surroundings, individuals in the area and often forgotten, one’s personal activities.  Putting one’s change away from a recent purchase in public view is as much a function of one’s situational awareness as is noticing the unkempt individual staring at your purchases or belongings.

Common military and police awareness models use colors to describe four to five various levels of awareness.  From highest to lowest, they can be called “alert” for when one is under attack or imminent attack.  “Alarm” is a state where something has gotten your attention.  “Aware” is as described, a conscious acknowledgement of one’s surroundings.  The lowest level of awareness is “unaware”.  This is the condition one displays while sleeping, reading or texting while walking.

Where one wants to consistently be (unless a threat is appropriately identified or in a “safe” location) is at the “aware” level.  Importantly, fear or paranoia isn’t part of this state.  Being “aware” is akin to the state of mind a defensive driver has as he or she effortlessly negotiates traffic but is constantly aware of what others are doing.  Achieving this state as a habit can be exhausting at first.  It requires one to look around, listen and consciously acknowledge what’s happening around you.   Distracting habits like wearing headphones which limits your ability to hear what’s going on around you need to be avoided.

A helpful approach to develop a constant aware state is to turn life into a game.  Ask yourself what color clothes were the people that just walked past you wearing?  How many people were in the room, bus or grocery store you just left?  What is the emotional state of the people standing next to you?  Over time one will notice individuals that aren’t congruent in a given situation or may be paying you too much attention.  Most importantly those “noticing” you will realize they are being noticed.  Developing this habit sets the groundwork for being conscious of one’s own behaviors, immediately raises one’s personal level of security, costs nothing and starts creating the self-discipline to continue on a path of increased personal protection.

My follow on articles will address general subjects like how to assess what is your most likely threat, how to improve the security posture of your home, what a home security plan should include, how to summon the police, defend oneself, the aftermath of a violent encounter and more.  We’ll expand on specific subjects like creating a safe room, firearms selection and training, and how to interact with the police when they arrive.

In the meantime, start becoming aware of what’s going on around you.

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