October 2023

Photo credit: Tammy Cobb
Location: Lulu Lake, East Troy, WI

Focus of the Month – Situational Awareness

Reading Recommendations:
Non-fiction book – The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker
Fiction book — The Rule of Three by Eric Walters

While situational awareness is absolutely part of an overall defense plan, it is important enough to warrant its own discussion. In simplest terms, situational awareness is just paying attention to the world around you. For example, rather than keeping your face buried in your phone as you walk to the store, you have your head up and you’re watching for potential dangers.

Understand, though, that this isn’t about turning yourself into some sort of Jason Bourne superspy, capable of discerning the motivations and intentions of every person you see. Instead, the idea here is just to be alert to what’s happening in your immediate proximity as you move through the world. This has applications well beyond noticing someone lurking in the shadows. When you’re hiking, it means paying attention to the trail so you don’t stumble over a rock. When you’re camping, it means looking up to ensure you’re not pitching your tent under a dead branch that could come tumbling down on top of you. When you’re walking down the sidewalk, it means watching for other pedestrians.

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The Gift of Fear is a landmark book and one that should be required reading for everyone. In it, Gavin de Becker talks at great length about alert signals that give clues that violence could be imminent. He goes into detail about what he calls pre-incident indicators (PINS) that can help you determine how best to proceed, such as cutting a conversation short before it turns ugly.

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I first read The Rule of Three when it came out in 2014. Author Eric Walters followed it up with three more books, and rumor has it that more might be on the way. In The Rule of Three, we’re introduced to Adam Daley. He’s a fairly average teenager living in a suburban neighborhood. His mother is a police captain and his father a commercial pilot. When an EMP hits, his world is turned upside-down. But, he finds that having a retired government spy as a next-door neighbor could have some advantages.

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October 17 — Participate in Your World

Keep your head on a swivel.

Watch your six.

These and other similar sayings all sort of mean the same thing – situational awareness. I think of it as “taking the blinders off” and paying attention to the world around you. The basic premise is that if you’re aware of your surroundings, you’re in a better position to see threats and risks before they can visit harm upon you. Often, this is thought of as watching people in your immediate area in case there might be a shooting, mugging, or some other violent encounter.

However, there is a lot more involved with situational awareness.

By paying attention to what’s happening in your immediate vicinity, you’re more likely to notice things like:
–Widow makers (large branches above your planned campsite that might fall in a strong wind).
–Snakes and other critters who might not take kindly to being stepped on as you walk.
–A manhole cover that’s only half covering the hole and is right in your path.
–The kook carrying that “The End is Nigh” sandwich board.
–The car that didn’t come to a stop at the intersection in front of you.
–The young child about to dart into the street after a ball.

Get your face out of your phone and be an active participant in the world. Our planet is a pretty cool place, all things considered. There is beauty to be found pretty much everywhere. Make it a personal mission to find as much of it as you can. You’ll only be able to do so by paying attention as you move through your life.

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October 30 — Workplace Emergency Kit

There are any number of reasons why you could end up stuck at work long after quitting time. Could be the weather has caused the roads to be impassable for the time being. Or, perhaps there are demonstrations occurring in the immediate area and hunkering down at your desk for a while is a better plan of action. It doesn’t take long to put together a small kit you can keep at work, stuffed in a locker or under your desk. Here’s what you should consider putting in it.