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How To Improve Your Situational Awareness: 13 Simple Tips

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In a survival situation, your mind is a lot more powerful than any of the countless tools you may have purchased.

It's your first line of defence against threats, and it's the tool that keeps you out of sticky situations in the first place.

One of the most important mental aspects of survival is situational awareness.

Situational awareness has a lot to do with understanding what's going on around you at all times. 

This means that you know what people are doing, what threats are in the area, what resources you have at your disposal, and what you can do to get out of a situation if it turns hostile.

All of that can be quite difficult in an emergency.

If you're not conditioned to handle the stress of an emergency situation, you'll likely find yourself in a life or death scenario, and you won't be able to find your way out of it.

That's why I've put this list together.

The tips featured in this blog post are to help you become more aware of your surroundings.

In a survival situation, being able to understand your environment is key to staying alive.

This list will teach you what key points to look out for, how to use the information you gather to your advantage, and what you can do to predict how an event will unfold.

1: Predicting the Future

Crystal ball with psychic

"I don't mean that you need to invest in a crystal ball."

At some point, we've all wanted to predict the future.

We usually don't think of it as a practical solution to problems, though.

However, that's exactly what you have to do in a survival situation. 

I don't mean that you need to invest in a crystal ball.

You should be able to predict how the actions of those around you will effect your ability to survive, though.

For instance, there are several signs that someone will attack you before they ever try to do so. 

By being aware of their movements, posture, and other actions, you can try to avoid a dangerous attack.

Even if it's not preventable, you'll be more prepared to deal with the attacker when they make their move.

Survival situations don't always include a dramatic attack, though.

Sometimes you just need to know that someone is smoking at the gas pump next to you, and you need to get out of the area immediately.

2: Understand Your Surroundings

If you're going to predict what's most likely to happen, you need to know what is going on around you in the first place.

That isn't just for emergencies, either.

You need to look at your surroundings in times of peace, too.

Looking for these next few key points should be a habit before a serious event unfolds.

The most important things to look for in your surroundings are threats.

These can be anything from violent individuals to broken power lines.

Identifying any immediate threats should be your top priority when you're assessing your environment.

After you've managed to identify all of the threats in the area, you can focus on other details.

You should count the amount of people around you, and you should get a feel for the environment.

Knowing where exits, high ground, and cover are can help you if you need to escape danger.

If you're the type of person that helps others, you should also identify people that may need your help during this phase of assessment.

You don't want to make a break for an exit, and suddenly see someone with a broken leg in your path.

That can lead to unplanned stops, and it can ultimately get you killed.

the video below can help you learn about other parts of your environment that you should look for. 

3: Your Gut Instinct is Important

A lot of preppers try to think about situations in as logical of a manner as possible.

However, that's not always possible.

When we're in a life or death scenario, we tend to think very quickly, and we often lose a lot of our situational awareness.

When that happens, our gut is all that we have.

Survival is stressful.

When the human mind is stressed, it doesn't usually function as efficiently as it does during times of peace.

However, our minds still gather information from our environment.

That information is then combined with past experiences and common sense on a sub-conscious level. 

That is your gut instinct​

It may not be the safest way to make decisions, but you don't have a lot of time to calm down and think properly during a survival scenario.

When you've become unaware of your surroundings, your gut instinct can help you get back on track a lot faster than starting the process over from scratch.

4: Prioritize Information

You're going to absorb a lot of information in your day to day life.

In a survival situation, the amount of information that you absorb is increased exponentially.

This can lead to a sensory overload experience.

If that happens, your awareness of your surroundings will become almost non-existent.

You can solve this by simply prioritizing the information you take in.​

If you see someone waving a gun around down the street, that's obviously more important than your neighbor tripping on her gardening hose.

So, prioritize the more important information, and stay aware of the big picture.

This will keep you from worrying about too many things at once, and it'll help you stay on track with your assessment of your surroundings.

5: Don't Get Comfortable

If you look up national wreck statistics, most car wrecks happen within 5 miles of the victim's home.

This is because people tend to become comfortable with their surroundings, and they stop being careful.

When it comes to prepping, the consequences can be a lot worse than a fender bender outside your house.

You're preparing for life and death situations.

You can't just assume that your surroundings are the same as they were in the past.

Things change at a rapid pace. You're likely to miss something important when you stop looking.

6: Know What Time It Is

Vintage pocket watch and hour glass or sand timer, symbols of time with copy space

If you haven't realized it already, emergencies can happen at any time.

They can completely throw our daily routines off course, and that requires the ability to adapt quickly.

By keeping track of the time and your schedule, you can more easily adapt your plans to accommodate any unexpected events.

For instance, let's say that your bug out plan requires you to get to a certain location by early evening.

You have 3 secondary stops to make along the way to that location.

During your first stop, your car tire flattens.

You don't have time to change it, and then do everything else. What do you do?

Well, if you're aware of the time, you can decide to cut out one of your planned stops, or you might be able to make it by foot.

If you're the type of person that loses track of time, making those decisions can be difficult.

More importantly, you can make the wrong decision, and you can end up dealing with some pretty serious consequences.

7: Look At The Big Picture

Your ability to survive depends greatly on understanding the big picture.

You should be able to put all of the information that you gather together, and be able to understand how that affects your goals.

If you're not capable of doing that, you're not going to get very far.

If you have a goal, you need to know how everything in your environment impacts that goal.

You can't simply know what threats are where and what they're doing.

You need to understand how your environment is going to react when you make your move.

Are the threats going to impede your progress, or will they simply be background noise as you slip out a back door to avoid them?

Will you need alternative exits because too many people are flooding specific areas?

Having a solid understanding of how everything around you is going to react to an emergency will help you make those decisions.

8: Rest

You should be gathering information about your surroundings every day, but that takes its toll on your body.

You also don't want to seem like a paranoid lunatic.

Never stopping to enjoy life can lead to you becoming extremely stressed out, and that will affect your ability to remain aware of your surroundings.

Also, being a high strung nutcase will most likely give you a bad reputation in your community.

To avoid this, you need to rest appropriately. 

You should get a full night's sleep regularly. This will leave you feeling refreshed, and you'll be able to think a lot more clearly.

Also, try to enjoy life.

You don't need to drop all of your favorite hobbies to constantly scan your perimeter. 

Your average day shouldn't feel as if you're Patrick Swayze in Red Dawn.

9: Keep It Up

You can't just assess your situation once, and then go about your business as if it'll never change.

When a serious event unfolds, you need to continuously re-assess your environment and the key factors we've talked about.

This is a key part of your daily exercise, too.

However, it's even more important when things get rough.

Your surroundings can change without notice, and your entire plan can become irrelevant just as fast.

This doesn't mean that you need to spend all of your time assessing your environment.

Once you know what's going on around you, take the time to put your plan into action, too.

While you're making progress towards your goal, you can make it a point to keep re-assessing your surroundings on the fly.

10: Look Out For Your Peers

It's not preferable to try to survive on your own.

However, bringing others along can present an entirely new list of problems.

Different people are affected by the brutality of a survival scenario differently.

If one of your buddies is struggling with personal issues or stress, they can easily bring your entire group down.

This can lead to your plans failing and people dying.

To keep that from happening, you need to keep tabs on your survival team.

Make sure that they're thinking properly, and they're capable of performing their duties without freaking out.

A group that has a high level of morale is likely to survive a lot longer.

11: Stay Calm

During your average day, you're probably not going to have much reason to stay calm.

You can peacefully condition yourself to remain aware, and there won't be much stressing you out.

However, it's a lot different when something actually happens.

The most important thing to remember is to stay calm. 

You can't do anything that I've listed if you're running around panicking.

Staying calm may be difficult, but you'll get better at it as you practice.

This story detailing how a bomb disposal expert stayed calm, and how it kept him alive, should show you the importance of calmness.

12: Find A Vantage Point

You can't get a clear idea of what's going on if you can't see.

This doesn't mean that you need to climb a cliff to stare at your town for several hours, but it does mean that you should get used to looking for vantage points.

A good way to practice this in normal life is to go to your local mall.

Instead of walking around and staring at the stores that are in your immediate vicinity, go to the second floor.

You'll notice how you can see a lot more of what's going on below, and you can assess your situation more reliably.

Then, you can plan your route, and move forward with ease.

The same concept goes for survival situations.

It doesn't matter if you find yourself in the woods, the city, or a swamp.

Finding a clear vantage point before you start assessing the situation is always a better option.

13: Actually Remember Things

So, you're practicing your situational awareness in your local mall.

You've mapped out the entire area in your head, and you've noticed that your wife has walked off.

She said that she wanted to go to the Bed Bath and Beyond store, and you think that's where she went.

However, you've completely forgotten where that is.

In a situation like that, the consequences aren't too severe.

You might get yelled at for not finding her quickly, but you'll eventually figure out where you're going, and your life will return to normal.

In a survival situation, forgetting what you've learned about your environment can be deadly.

You might forget where an exit is, and you might run into an active shooter while trying to find one.

In the wild, you might lose your bearings and forget where your water source is.

That's why it's important to increase your memorization skills.

You can't just gather information. You have to retain it for it to be useful.

Conclusion

Situational awareness is one of the most important aspects of survival.

You can have all of the fancy knives, guns, and fire starters on the market, but you'll fail to stay alive if you don't know what's going on around you.

That's why I believe that it's important to practice these things before you ever find yourself in need of them.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you pinpoint some of the finer aspects of awareness, and you'll have an easier time learning how to implement them when something serious happens.

If you've enjoyed the article, please feel free to share it with your friends.

As always, your comments are appreciated, and I'd love to hear your opinions.


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