Situational Awareness — Notice what You See.

Being alert, aware of your surroundings is crucial when attempting to avoid being caught up in a situation that could put you and your loved ones in harm’s way. I am a Vet, from day one boot camp this was drilled into our heads. Head on a swivel. BE ALERT BE AWARE.

What does that mean? Well, if you’re at a gas station, it’s 2pm, 90 degrees outside and you see a dude wearing a stocking cap and long trench coat. That doesn’t look right does it? This should get those Spidey senses flowing. That is being aware of your situation.


The OODA Loop is an acronym John Boyd a fellow Airman came up with. It is a learning and decision making process that stands for:

Observe — See

Orient — Notice

Decide — process

Act — Move

In conflict. The OODA Loop walks you through the process of situational awareness.

The Observation or seeing portion of the OODA Loop obviously is what most people consider situational awareness. However, it is both Observe and Orient or notice, that makes up situational awareness.

Observation and Orientation

These two parts combined together is what makes situational awareness possible. You have to have the Orientation portion to put the Observation portion into context.

You witness something that’s about to happen and never even realize it. Why? You’re not sure how to interrupt what you are seeing. A simple reason may be that you’re not from the area.

Simply put Orientation tells us what to look for or (NOTICE) when we are observing or (SEEING) the event unfold. Then helps us put what we have seen into context so that we can interpret the info the right way.

Situational awareness is the greatest tool we have when it comes to keeping ourselves and loved ones safe. It’s, like any other skill, it takes training to hone it.

3 Exercises To Heighten Awareness

I have noted many times that victims walked through their lives in a haze of blissful bewilderment. Whether their heads are buried in their phones, or their reminiscing about that amazing avocado toast they had for breakfast, the one thing they ARE NOT DOING is being aware of their surroundings.

By simply maintaining a mindset of situational awareness, you increase your chances of arriving home safe, avoiding being a victim.

Here are 3 effective exercises that are designed to help you improve your situational awareness aptitude be aware of your environment and be a safer person overall.

Scavenger Hunt Observation

This is a great thing to do with the kids, turn a long walk in the woods or town into a fun game and a chance to strengthen their powers of observation!

Before you go, prepare a list of things the children should find; for example, on a nature walk you can put things like a bush with berries, a bird’s nest, moss, a pine cone, etc.

As you walk along, the kids will look for the listed items, and each time they will be the first to find one, they can mark another item from their list.

See who can find the most things. It doesn’t have to be a competition either; you can search the items all together as a family and keep one checklist.

Exit the interview

When you go to a restaurant or other establishment with your family, make a note of a few things about your environment: the number of employees behind the counter, the clothing and gender of the person sitting next to you, how many entrances / exits there are, etc.

When you leave and get in the car to go home, ask your children questions like “How many workers were behind the counter?” “Was the person sitting next to us a man or a woman?” “What color was his / her shirt?” “How many exits were there?”

Purpose Watching

In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study In Scarlet, Dr. Watson is first made aware of his future companion’s keen ability to observe and distract. When the couple sees a man walking down the street looking for addresses and carrying a large envelope, Holmes immediately identifies the stranger as a retired Navy sergeant. After the messenger confirms this identity, Watson was completely startled by Holmes’s powers of observation. “How the hell did you get that?” he asks. The detective then offers this statement:

“It was easier to know it than to explain why I know it. If you were asked to prove that two and two made four, you might find some difficulty, and yet you are quite sure of the fact. Even across the street I could see a great, blue anchor tattooed on the back of the fellow’s hand. That smacked of the sea. He had a military carriage, however, and regulation side-whiskers. There we have the marine. He was a man with some amount of self-importance and a certain air of command. You must have observed the way in which he held his head and swung his cane. A steady, respectable, middle-aged man, too, on the face of him — all facts which led me to believe that he had been a sergeant.”

With enough practice in this, you can exercise the power of observation and orientation, like Dr. Watson and Mr. Holmes. Your senses are enhanced, your powers of observation are widened and your situational awareness is heightened.

Soon you can say with Holmes:

“I trained myself to notice what I see.”

When you’re out and about doing what it is you’ve got to do there are some important points you should start to be aware of and begin doing immediately.

First, keep your “GRAY” gear with you at all times. (We’ll talk more about going GRAY in a later chapter.) Things are a powder keg and you never know what match is going to blow the whole thing up.

Next, keep your radio tuned to the local news station. As an extra precaution get a local news app. I have the Fox News app on my phone. For example; earlier this evening, I received an update about riots breaking out in Kentucky. Very handy.

IMPORTANT If you find yourself in a life threatening or terrifying situation YOU WILL develop tunnel vision. This is normal. The best thing to do to combat this is to repeat 3 times DON’T FREEZE. This keeps you focused on what is happening right now.

#oodaloop #situationalawarness

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Eric Stern

Eric Stern

Patriot Prep is for concerned citizens looking to become more self-reliant and better prepared. We focus on news, info, Family readiness, and much, much more.

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