Improving Personal Safety by Practicing Situational Awareness

Issues surrounding personal safety are not a new concept. However, it seems that now, more than ever, society is required to reconsider what personal safety measures to take every single day, even when completing what were once benign tasks – like traveling, working, or just going out in public. This ‘new-at-least-for-now’ normal has many people begging the question – what can ‘we’ do to stay safe – not just from the coronavirus, but while moving about in our day-to-day lives, as well.

Situational awareness is typically defined as having an accurate perception of one’s surroundings, with the capacity to understand and appropriately respond to threats to one’s personal safety. Possessing situational awareness allows an individual the ability to make sound decisions and take appropriate actions during an emergency event. While the current climate requires social distancing, which creates space, it also is a time of high tensions and uncommon behaviors. Here are some examples in which situational awareness can provide you the powerful tools you need for your personal safety arsenal.

Assess Your Surroundings

By simply looking around and taking account of the type of situation you are in, you will be better prepared to recognize and react to many different threats. Have a plan at the ready for things that seem ‘out of place’. Be prepared to take detours to avoid situations if needed, and be mindful of your ‘gut feelings’. If a situation feels threatening, take heed and leave or seek assistance. When in public, always think ahead and have an escape route available.

Don’t Get Distracted

Always pay attention to what is going on around you. This is an especially timely reminder, as more people are flocking outside to exercise. Don’t allow yourself to focus on phones, e-mails, texts, or music, to the point that you are not paying attention to what is going on in your immediate vicinity. Allowing this to happen will significantly decrease your situational awareness, making you an easier target for criminals. Utilize the military’s ‘Head on a Swivel’ technique, which emphasizes continually scanning areas around you when outdoors.

Avoid Isolated Parking Lots

Whenever possible, do your best to stay in populated, brightly lit areas of parking lots – especially at night. Try to avoid using remote parking spaces, and opt instead for a space in a well-lit area that offers a direct route to your intended destination. If you have automatic locks on your key fob, program it to only unlock the driver’s door. If you observe anyone loitering near your car, go back into the location and seek assistance, or ask for an escort to your vehicle.

Masks and Facial Coverings

In the past, seeing someone in a mask walking into a store or approaching you on the street would cause alarm, but in today’s world, wearing a mask in public is not only common, but even required in some places. Given these circumstances, practicing situational awareness as it relates to face coverings takes on a new approach. Be sure that when you are wearing a protective mask, your peripheral vision is not blocked. Having good peripheral vision can make you more aware of someone approaching you to grab your purse, pick your pocket or worse. Conversely, when you see or are approached by others wearing masks, do not become complacent. Criminals can and will take advantage of being able to conceal their identities while moving about freely, with having little to no attention paid to them.

While law enforcement professionals are always on-hand to protect and serve, individuals are ultimately responsible for his or her own personal safety. By utilizing these simple measures of being considerate, mindful, thoughtful, and prepared, you will go a long way in ensuring that you lower your risk of becoming a target or a victim of a crime. For more information about the security offerings of P4 Security Solutions, visit