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We all go out to run errands every day. We go to our places of work, the grocery store or maybe drive to the park to enjoy a trail walk. It’s so easy to fall into our routines that the days can seem to run together with not much difference from day to day. Some of us go to the gym or drive the kids to and from school.
But let me ask you this: How much time do you spend or dedicate to your actual safety? I mean actual time where you plan out what could happen or what to do in case of an actual event or crime is happening to you or around you?
If most of us were being honest, we would probably say not much. Sure, we wear our seatbelts and lock our doors when we leave home, but that is kind of automatic, don’t you think? Events change constantly. It’s easy to expect that nothing will happen when you’re going about your daily activities, until it does. Are you seeing what is around you before it happens? Are you prepared for the situation or planned out your actions and escape route?
This is called “Situational Awareness.” It’ a mindset and a practice of knowing what is actually happening in your immediate area and the know-how on how to avoid the situation or react to defend yourself and get away from harm. My hope in this month’s Safety Zone is to get you to start practicing situational awareness when you are out and about and avoid being a victim.
Let me ask you a question: Do you go around and pet every dog because you’re an animal lover or only avoid the ones that bark or growl? It’s been my experience that the quiet ones are more prone to bite the most. But if you train your brain to look for the signs that dogs display before they bite, such as the tail, head position, and what you are doing to aggravate the dog, it’s much easier to avoid a bad situation than to assume every dog is safe to pet.
The same thing can be said when you are out and about. Don’t assume everyone has good intentions because they are being friendly. In reality, they may have chosen you for a reason. Maybe you were oblivious to them following you around a store. Maybe it was because you were distracted by walking to and from the area while looking at your phone. It could be that you drove into an unlit area where someone could not be seen. At any rate, scanning your area for “potential” threats is key. Avoidance of those “potential” threats follow.
In the Lilburn Police Department’s Women’s Self Defense Class, we teach colors to represent our state of mind and what is happening. They are as follows:
White-This is a state of being oblivious. There is no danger or potential threats. Just relaxed with not a care in the world.
Yellow-This a state of mind where you would be scanning the area for threats and identifying potential danger and areas to avoid. Being cautious and having a spatial awareness of others and knowing conditions to watch for.
Orange-This is the state of mind where there are immediate threats near you and there is a real danger present. Must plan on action and escape routes.
Red-The threat is happening, and action must be taken. This could be an assault, carjacking or aggravated crime upon a person.
Black-This is a state where the individual does nothing and is frozen by fear. This is the worst-case scenario because the individual can have great harm inflicted on them.
Are you in the color white when getting gas at night? That could be a real issue for an individual in a target-rich environment. Yellow would be the appropriate color for the state of mind we need to be in.
I would say that living in an orange state of mind could lead to health problems because of the stress. The main thing is to be aware of potential danger. Learn to describe things if you need to recall details later to 911 or an officer. Think about clothes, facial hair, height, weight, vehicle details such as damage and license plate numbers. Take a picture with your phone if something isn’t right. Pay attention to those red flags. Listen to your gut if something isn’t right. It’s usually right!
Don’t go to poorly lit parking lots. Report such to employees of the store you enter. Have an employee walk you out to your car or go back inside the store and call 911 if something is off. Remember that parking spots look very different at night than when you parked there earlier and it was light out.
Never give out personal information to a stranger. Look people in the eyes when passing. Think about items you may have with you to defend yourself if it comes down to it. Avoid places where you identify potential danger. Know what to do if a threat exists and action must be taken. But don’t do nothing and expect a good outcome.
Report suspicious activity immediately to your local police.
Stay safe Lilburn and have your head on a swivel!