Situational Awareness

Awareness is empowering. - Rita Wilson

Personal Security and Mental Preparedness

An important element of the proper mindset is understanding the need to take responsibility for one's own security. The resources of any government are finite and the authorities simply cannot be everywhere and cannot stop every potential terrorist attack or other criminal action.

As Hurricane Katrina showed, when the government is unable to provided adequate assistance, many people will become desperate to find supplies wherever possible. And for some looting and rioting were the result. You should accept that the threat exist and you as a prepper could become a target. Its as simple as you have it, and they want it. In desperate times you need to realize that you are responsible for your security. All survival conscious people should be prepared for the probability of civil unrest during times of impending disasters and emergency situations.

You should be prepared both physically and mentally to protect your family and property from those who may wish to benefit from your preparedness. Part of being prepared is having a survival mind set, which includes being aware of your situation. The military developed a set of color codes which describe different levels of danger, Col. Jeff Cooper adapted it for personal "street" survival.

  • White - Unaware and unprepared. If attacked in Condition White, the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy or ineptitude of your attacker.

  • Yellow - Relaxed alert. No specific threat situation. Your mind set is that "today could be the day I may have to defend myself." You are simply aware that the world is a potentially unfriendly place. You use your eyes and ears, and realize that "I may have to defend myself." You should always be in Yellow whenever you are in unfamiliar surroundings. You can remain in Yellow for long periods. In Yellow, you are "taking in" surrounding information in a relaxed but alert manner.

  • Orange - Specific alert. Something is not quite right and has gotten your attention. Your radar has picked up a specific alert. You shift your primary focus to determine if there is a threat. In Condition Orange, you set a mental trigger: "If that goblin does 'x', I will need to do"x". Staying in Orange can be a bit of a mental strain, but you can stay in it for as long as you need to. If the threat proves to be nothing, you shift back to Condition Yellow.

  • Red - Condition Red is fight. Your mental trigger has been tripped. You should be acting on the scenarios you anticipated back in Condition Orange.

Apathy, complacency, and denial are all barriers to good situational awareness.

Scanning the clock

Ask yourself, consciously what is going on around you. After a while, your subconscious will take over. After this, once a day, make sure you do it consciously, just to make sure that you are reinforcing the habit. One method that can assist in your interrogation of your surroundings is called "The Clock Face". We have all heard the term "check your six", it originates from the clock face method. Imagine the face of a giant clock from a birds eye view, now place yourself in the center of the clock. You will always be facing the twelve o'clock position and your back to the six o'clock. When you interrogate your surroundings use the clock, whats happening at my immediate front (twelve o'clock), what about my left hand side (nine o'clock) or even the dreaded "six".

Another system tought in safe driving courses can de adapted for situational awarness and personal saftey, is called IPDE, pronounced Ip-dee. It is an organized system of seeing, thinking, and responding to threats


  • IDENTIFY - This is where you have identified a potential threat.
  • PREDICT - Interrogate, there's a high wall at my nine o'clock, my twelve o'clock there is a van along the curb, at three o'clock there's a alley, my six o'clock is clear. The potential for trouble could be three or twelve o'clock.
  • DECIDE - The third step in the IPDE method is to DECIDE what action you will implement. Should I avoid the alley way and cross to the other side of the street? What if the Van door opens as I approach? Make your decision on how you will respond to the potential threats.
  • EXECUTE - If the potential threat identified does materalize, you should execute your pre-decided response with complete detirmination. By responding with a pre-detirmined action, you reduce valuable time you would have taken in improvising a response. The time saved could make the differance in your surviving an assult.

Good pratices for awareness:

Being aware of your surroundings means not only paying attention to what you see but often what you don't, comparing and assessing what is normal and looking for things that are irregular. Pay attention to your feelings. If something feels wrong or uncomfortable, shift from yellow to orange.


When entering establishments/businesses try to pause and scan the area for any threats, do a headcount and look for anyone who's out of place. If you are going to be staying try sitting so you face any entrance/exits. Scan for locations that can provide cover and safety if necessary. After your evaluation, insist on where you would like to sit. When exiting stop outside and let your eyes adjust, and scan for any potential threats.

Learn to recognize signs and "bad areas" that can be identified as potential danger zones. Gang graffiti is not just vandalism; it's a form of advertising and communication. The graffiti is used to mark territory and should be taken seriously.


Make sure the doors at home are always locked. The warning you get if someone kicks the door is far better than someone just opening the door and entering.

Get a dog. The extra eyes and ears help, and most will likely be deterred by a large barking dog. Train your dogs to come to the car to greet you. Their behavior will indicate whether everything is OK in the property. Dogs have body language, just like humans. In fact even more perceptible, so invest a bit of time in getting to know how your dog reacts to abnormal circumstances, like a stranger on the property.


When in traffic always leaving enough room behind the car in front of you so you are never boxed in.

Avoid dark parking areas. Park as close to the entrance as possible. Pull thru or back into the parking space so you don't have to back out in case you need to leave in a hurry. When approaching your car check for vans and cargo trucks that have parked near you, approach with caution. Before you enter your car check the back seat to make sure its empty. Once inside, lock the doors and leave immediately.

On Foot

Walk with your shoulders back, your eyes forward and your head up and on a swivel. Remember to check your "six" often. Only focus on a single item long enough to determine its threat level - avoid target lock. When walking around corners make wide turns away from the corner to give you time to react to what's around the corner.

If confronted, don't worry about being "rude." politeness can be interpreted by predators as weakness. Be clear about your space and insist that that space be respected. Treat anyone who violates your "space" as a potential serious threat.