Situational awareness, the buzz phrase that took 2017 by storm. But what does it really mean? Simply, it means be aware of your surroundings. We learned this fundamental rule when we were children.
Walking, riding a bike or rollerskating in the street, our parents told us to watch out for cars. Walking in the woods or by a body of water, we were always told to watch out for snakes. Check under your bed for scary clowns like Pennywise from IT.
Later on, they told us to park in well lit parking lots, carry the keys a certain way, and stay out of certain areas. One of the biggest rules, know your exits out of a building in case of an emergency. The biggest threat back then was probably fire, but now it is likely an active shooter.
An active shooter situation is likely the most terrifying thing most of us may encounter in our life time. Nothing can stop us in our tracks faster and make our blood run colder, than hearing of an active shooter.
How would you react? Even more so, how do you survive? Well it all comes back to situational awareness. You HAVE to be aware of your surroundings and always prepare for the worst. Having a “This won’t happen to me” mentality may just make you a statistic unless you have your *hit together. Just like walking through the woods and encountering that Cottonmouth, you have to know what to do, how to get away or how to treat a bite if bitten.
How do you do that? Do your homework. The Department of Homeland Security has a whole webpage dedicated to Active Shooter Preparedness. Although it has been critiqued, the Run.Hide.Fight video has some very enlightening ideas.
Take a seminar. Many police agencies are offering half day seminars on what to do in an active shooter situation. I’ve taken one and it was not only informative but entertaining enough to keep everyone’s attention.
The most important thing you can do is to put that cell phone down, look around and use common sense. As you walk into a building, search out the exits. For example, when you walk into a restaurant, look for the kitchen. When was the last time you were eating and saw someone take the trash out through the front door.
Be prepared and aware. It empowers you. Learn what you can learn, use common sense and constantly practice situational awareness.