Developing Situational Awareness

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by magnus, Sep 18, 2014.

  1. magnus

    magnus Monkey

    Developing situational awareness begins simply and slowly. You begin by making a conscious effort to take notice of everything going on around you. Who is close by? What do they look like. This means describe to yourself their appearance. Male or female. Adult or juvenile. Try to estimate age. Height and weight. Nationality/ethnicity. Hair color. Eye color. Complexion. Is it pale, tanned, dark, etc. How are they dressed.
    Does their attire match the climate and geography.
    For instance if I was to describe myself it would be like this: Male white approx 6ft 200+ brown/blu.
    This gives the immediate information of what I look like. I would then add additional identifying info.
    Such as I am balding, have a mostly white beard and mustache, no visible marks, scars or other unusual
    physical characteristics.
    Get into the habit of doing this and it will become second nature without having to think about it.

    Next you should pay attention to what people around you are doing. At this point you are looking for anybody who might be a threat to you. You probably won't be very good at this. It takes practice and experience to get really good. Don't worry about it.

    You should also pay attention to your surroundings. If you need it is there any cover close by or will you have to go some distance to get to it. Find it, identify it as a safe place and store the information in case you need. Always be thinking and planning. It will be become habit and you will be able to do it without using all your attention to do it. Just remember, you want to know who and what is around you all the time. If you have to fight do you have enough room or are you confined or limited in your movements. But more important than having room to fight, is the way open to disengage and get away. Just remember you want to be able to go home. Only fight if you have to.

    More to come.
  2. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    This came from a site that got this from Lee Child's novel Gone Tomorrow.

    Suicide bombers are easy to spot.They give out all sorts of signs for the simple reason that they are,
    by definition, all first timers. Israeli counterintelligence wrote the defensive playbook, using pragmatic
    observation and psychological insight, and came up with a 12-point checklist, 11 for women—you'll
    see why. If you want to see the list being applied, I recommend Lee Child's book.

    Now, the twelve signs that you might be looking at a suicide bomber.

    1. Inappropriate clothing: bulking clothing helps hide the explosive vest. If someone is wearing a
    heavy coat in spring or summer, that could be a hint. If you're living in the sections of the planet where
    you have never seen real snow, that's less of a hint, and more like a neon sign.
    2. A robotic walk: Bombers walk like a robot for a very simple reason: they're carrying approximately
    40 pounds of additional weight. Also, many suicide bombers tend to be high before they go towards
    their target—raw opium is standard, usually tucked between the gum and the cheek. So, either take the
    added weight or being high, or both, a suicide bomber walks funny
    3-6.Variations on a theme: irritability, sweating, tics, nervous behavior. These people are in the last
    moments of their lives: scared of the pain, drugged out of their mind. Motivation doesn't matter, nor
    does sincerity of one's beliefs—they are about to die, they see it coming, and they haven't exactly had
    to do this before. The stress becomes visible.
    7. Breathing.Breaths come low, and controlled.It's more or less a matter of the bomber trying to
    control their breath so they don't hyperventilate.
    8. Staring. No one is 100% sure why, but suicide bombers stare straight ahead, fixed on a target.
    Perhaps it's tunnel vision, perhaps it's blocking out everything but the thought of being about to meet
    ones maker. Every image of bombers before they blow up shows them with the exact same stare.
    9. Mumbled prayers. To date, everyone who blows themselves up in a suicide bombing has done so
    for religious reasons. Surviving eyewitnesses have all seen continuous, formulaic incantations on
    visibly moving lips, usually before all hell breaks loose.
    10. A large bag. Fresh dynamite is a stable explosive that needs to be set off by specially prepared
    blasting caps. These caps are wired with cord to an electricity supply and a switch.A nine-volt battery
    will do, or a large square battery—these are too heavy for a pocket, usually, therefore, a bag.
    11. The most recent point: You can't see the person's hands.If the person's hands are in the bag
    consistently, it could be resting on a button.In the earlier days of suicide bombings, a good bearhug
    would pin the bomber's arms to their sides, preventing them from reaching the button.The bombers
    learned, leading to....hands in the bag.
    12. Male bombers only: Recently shaved beards. Usually, this is done so the bomber can blend in
    better. However, it has an obvious flaw: when they shave off their beards, they're leaving an obvious
    tan line where the beard used to be, the lower half of the face is paler, since it had not been exposed to a
    great deal of sunlight in a while.
    How to spot a suicide bomber

    This is the youtube of above. Basically the first chapter of the book. Note how the character knows and can describe every person in the car.
    kellory, vonslob, chelloveck and 2 others like this.
  3. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Of course, if we get into terrorism™ and the whole fear aspect by eyeballing our neighbors and suspecting our neighborhood weird guy with a twitch who sometimes talks to inanimate objects as being potential bombers, then the bad guys have already won.

    But, more on the subject of the actual discussion, being aware of your surroundings is important. There are everyday threats which have occurred since forever, and will continue to happen, and it is wise to know a few things. Despite my military training, I have a bit of a "disorder" of my own, which includes not trusting anybody. If I go out, I will sit in a location where my back is against a wall and I can clearly see the door. I will circle the restaurant and check the back door permits an escape. I will park where I can bee-line to the truck if I need to, never on the opposite side of the building. I will check to see if the tables can be flipped up for cover and take note of how many obstructions between myself and the exits there are. I can scan a room and pick out government agents and men who have had military training. Most importantly, I learned from living in Europe how to blend in and move about without being noticed as anything besides a regular, common citizen. Yes, it's tougher to blend in back at home sometimes. Some folks may know you, which can be good or bad. Also, small town Americans are pretty nosy and paranoid. Might have something to do with too much news.

    There are lots of things to learn, some helpful, some might just be a waste of time. Bottom line is, you have a greater chance of dying from a car accident or a bee sting than anything violent being done to you by another person in your lifetime. So, drive safe and always pack some Benadryl.
  4. NotSoSneaky

    NotSoSneaky former supporter

    It's not just suicide bombers and terrorists but also everyday muggers and strong-arm robbers.

    Every so often turn around and look to see who's behind you, if someone behind you stops suddenly and looks away, congratulations !
    You just spotted the person most likely to rob you.

    Also, listen with both ears, when on the street listen for someone calling out "Mark !" or "Vic !" (as in victim) as you walk by. Decades ago when I was getting out of a bar in a big city at about 3:30 AM and when I passed one guy standing on the sidewalk he shouted out "MARK!". Fortunately I was stone cold sober (and bouncer) so the first thing I did was to spin and punched the SOB as hard as I could upside his head. I grabbed him as he fell and shouted "MY NAME AIN'T MARK ! M#@*+%^&#@*R !" and let him drop. The two guys
    up the street remembered they had business elsewhere and walked the other way. I went back inside to alert management and called the cops for a cleanup on aisle 5.

    Learn to look up, as in who's up the street from you, who's hanging out, where and how many. If someone steps in front you - sidestep, keep going and glance around to track anyone starting to follow you. Use shop and car windows to see the reflections of people around you without drawing their attention by looking directly at them.

    In parking lots, pull your keys before getting to your car and walk a car or two around your vehicle to check for BG's crouching between rows, do a complete circle then get in and lock the door before starting the engine.

    Lot's of this is common sense but then again, common sense ain't so common anymore. [tongue]
  5. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    This brings up a subject I have been mulling over for sometime. Who is more aware of their surroundings, men or women? I don't want to sound misogynistic but in my experience most women (that I have known) go through life with blinders on. Totally unaware of anything happening around them. For example;
    Attending a party at a club one time, my wife and I and a few friends are sitting around in a semi circle of chairs talking. Directly behind my wife is the pool table. My father, who was about 70 at the time was playing pool with a guy in his 40's. I could tell that the guy was drunk and he was starting to get mouthy. I leaned in and told my wife to move to the side some (so I could get to this guy if he started anything). She was annoyed that I had interrupted her conversation and slid her chair over a couple of inches. By this time the guy is in my Dads face and getting louder, just a foot or two behind my wife who is completely unaware of it. I told her again to move over, she shot me the "what's your problem" look at about the same time as the guy took a swing at my Dad. I came out of my seat and knocked her and her chair over as I passed and proceeded to give the drunk a lesson in respecting his elders. When I came back to my chair, guess what? My wife was mad at me!
    I have always had an awareness of my surroundings. I don't know if it is an innate sense or something developed over time. I work in an industry where if you are not aware of where you are and where you're putting you hands, feet, and body you tend to end up missing digits, if your lucky. And I have traveled and worked in some not very friendly places. I always scan an area I am passing through. I always look to see where the exits are, never sit with my back to the door, always have an escape route in mind. This all comes naturally, it's not anything I really think about. I don't like to be right on the bumper of the car in front of me at a red light. I always leave room that I can cut around them if I need to. I always scan the room and take a brief notice of the people around me. I may watch out of the corner of my eye or casually listen in to a conversation if something or someone tickles my spidey sense.
    But back to women. Another example, and I could cite dozens, but one time my wife and I (latest wife) are coming out of a store in the Middle East. There is a car parked at the curb a few yards from the doors. I notice two guys in the car and as we walk past they start the car. I keep walking but I shift my keys to my left hand with my finger on the "panic" button of the key fob that sets off the lights and horn of the car. I casually put my right hand in my font pocket next to the 5" lock blade folder I keep there. My wife never misses a step, never misses a word of the story she's telling. We got into the car without incident. The woman the men were waiting for had come out right after us and they were merely picking her up. But my wife was completely oblivious to all of it. And of course when we get in the car and she asks me something, I have no idea what she was talking about so guess what? Yep she's mad at me for not paying attention to her!
    I could relate dozens of stories just like these. And like I said this only the women I have known personally. I know there are some women who take personal security much more seriously. But I haven't met them. So is it in our nature to be more aware as men? Is it some left over survival trait from our primitive hunter gatherer lifestyle? And is it something we all posses to some degree or is it a learned attitude? Hmmm,
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014
    3M-TA3, tulianr and kellory like this.
  6. mysterymet

    mysterymet Monkey+++

    I think it is the women you know. There are some women and some men who have situational awareness and some who don't.
    chelloveck likes this.
  7. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    I am very lucky to have a wife that was raised on Situational Awareness... She was the one who taught Me, and the children, to ALWAYS be aware of what is happening around us. In the Room, outside the Room, or anywhere inside 100 Yds, when outside. My FIL was one of those fellows that lived in that mode, even to this day, and he is well over 80 years Old.
    chelloveck likes this.
  8. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    There is no doubt that applying situational awareness will help tilt the odds in one's favour, and give one more options in avoiding or at least mitigating threats, regardless of one's gender. Although it's interesting to speculate upon the extent to which men may have greater inate situational awareness than women, relying on any residual inate situational awareness possesed by 21st century urban dwellers as a legacy from their prehistoric hunter gatherer forebears would seem just a little silly.

    Situational awareness is not assumed as an inate skill by the military, law enforcement, emergency services and other similar occupations where hazards, risks and threats are a matter of daily experience, regardless of gender. The importance of situational awareness is such that significant effort and resources are invested in developing that skill in those professions. We as preppers should do no less for ourselves and for those we care about.

    One factor that few people seem to consider in a situational awareness context, is their own behaviour in the environment that they may occupying or transiting through. What messages are we, by our dress, behaviour, appearance, sense of alertness, and attitude, projecting to potential perps who may be assessing us as potential victims?

    I am presently reading a book called "The Wisdom of Psychopaths" authored by Kevin Dutton. The Wisdom of Psychopaths the new book by Professor Kevin Dutton One eye opening claim in the book is that psychopaths can reasonably reliably identify potential victims, simply by observing the gait of individuals as they walk past.

    The following Youtube videoclip shows an instance where a lack of situational awareness could have had fatal consequences. The following website gives a commentary on the mistakes made and some suggestions about what could have been done to mitigate the situation.

    Self-Defense 101: Situational Awareness is Everything - Danger & Play

    Part of one's situational awareness mindset should be awareness of oneself as well as the environment that one is in, and whether you are effectively conveying to others that you are not a potential victim.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
  9. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    It may well be more a testament to my choice in women!LOL!
  10. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    Just watching who and what is around you gives you a much better chance at avoiding things than most. Observing (not just looking) areas before entering/exiting may be the few moments that will save your life.
    chelloveck and kellory like this.
  11. vonslob

    vonslob Monkey++

    I dated a woman that had been previously married to an air force para- rescue guy and he had done a great job of teaching her situational awareness. She was on top of it. She always had something kinda nasty things to say about him, but i thought that he had trained her well. She does not know it but she owes him a lot.
    mysterymet and chelloveck like this.
  12. hedger

    hedger Monkey+

    Thank you to all of the previous contributors!

    This thread has been forwarded to my wife and it may be worthy of forwarding to those you care about.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  13. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    I had to revisit this thread again because I find myself becoming relaxed and passive in my awareness. As we go about our life, as things become routine sometimes awareness diminishes. I have noticed after a terror attack, I follow the rules of situational awareness quite well. I am alert to surrounding and my eyes are always moving. As times passes I find myself acting like a sheep. I need to stop being predictable and relaxed in my behavior and make situational behavior the norm in my everyday life.
    Yard Dart likes this.
  14. chimo

    chimo the few, the proud, the jarhead monkey crowd

    I take situational awareness to the next step...which I call "planning for Murphy". It's not enough to be aware of what is going on around also have to be able to connect that awareness of the situation with an awareness of the possible events, good or bad, that can come out of that situation.

    For example...when you are driving and approaching an intersection where you have the right-of-way and notice another vehicle approaching the intersection from the left, where there is a stop sign. Do you just assume that vehicle will stop as it should...or do you plan for the possibility that it will blow the stop? The latter is planning for Murphy...or, in the context of driving, aka defensive driving.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  15. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    Drive a motor cycle a while , either you get smart, or die stupid.
    Been On a bike since I was old enough to be sat on dad's harley gas tank .
    Knowing the conditions around you ,watching how other people are driving especially if there's one that is texting or on the phone .
    Then there is debris on the highway or bad roads ,too many things to pay attention to NOT to be situationally aware.
    Now that I'm retired, I spend a bit more time in public and watching people , its fun and interesting.
    I just had a short conversation with a sheriff here, and he seems to indicate they are quite busy and it not just traffic .
    It's surprising but then i've never looked for nor read the paper.

    on a side note the BBC had a program on the subject ,can't remember the name ,but it was a good program.
  16. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    I always think they will blow the sign. I do not trust other driver especially now that people are always on their phones. It is way to dangerous to assume anything.

    If you ever recall the name of the show, please let us know. Many of us have netflix etc..
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
    chimo likes this.
  17. chimo

    chimo the few, the proud, the jarhead monkey crowd

    I've spent years on motorcycles...but even more years on bicycles. Riding a bicycle in traffic requires even more spidey senses than a motorcycle because you don't have the option of SPEED when you need it. ;)
    Ganado likes this.
  18. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Situational Awareness Day so bump to read again. Good info and vigilance is a must.
    BlueDuck and Ganado like this.
  19. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    Believe me I've searched the BBC for the program again but they must have pulled it.
    Being PC they are sucomming to the fears they had them selves, been warning about.
    Not firing on all thrusters . A few fries short of a happy meal. So much security they've locked one another in their own looney bins.
  20. avagdu

    avagdu Monkey++

    I know it's an odd suggestion, but hang out around liquor stores. It will train you to look around entrances and parking lots and everyone flowing in and out of them. You'll also be able to mark all the criminals and troublemakers living in the surrounding area within a fairly short amount of time. I've been a witness to scamming, loitering, vagrancy, DWI, shoplifting, traffic collisions, fist fights, break-ins and battery all at the same location in our "safe" little town.
    Motomom34 likes this.
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