12 Habits of Awareness
Fun fact: more than 70% of New Year resolutions are health-related. Quit smoking. Drink less. Go to the gym. Lose weight. Take that pilates, or karate, or kayaking class you’ve always wanted. Since personal safety is closely linked to good health, we recommend making the Habit of Awareness one of your resolutions for 2017.
How many of these 12 tools for awareness and personal safety do you already use as part of your everyday self-defense? How much safer would you be if you did?
1. Scan Parking Lots & Garages. As you enter a parking lot or garage it’s important to note the details of what’s going on. Are there people around? Are there places people might be hiding? Is something happening that feels “off?” Apply this while selecting an area to park your car, and when leaving a shop to go to your vehicle. Get in the habit of scanning the area automatically at both sides of your errand, and of turning around and leaving if anything seems unsafe.
2. Wallet In, Keys Out. Always have your keys in your hand as you approach your car or home door. Looking for your keys, with your head down and your hands full, while standing at the door to your safe space is a bad tactical move, and one criminals watch for specifically. A great way to build this habit while shopping is to practice taking out your keys as you put your wallet away. Having your keys in hand as you approach your car, when you get out of your car, or any time you’re on your way to your home, will prevent you from being an easy target.
3. Lock It Up. Keep your car, home, and apartment doors locked at all times, even (especially) when you are in them. Home invasions and carjacking are potentially deadly crimes where the bad guy gets immediate access to you and the privacy to do whatever he wants. Get in the habit of locking up as soon as you close a door, regardless of which side of it you’re on.
4. Have a Plan. Develop a set of prepared responses for uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situations. Responses can range from just walking away from the person, to using a firm “No thank you,” to shouting, “STOP!” or “HELP!” while making an escape. Think about common, uncomfortable encounters and how you can use a prepared response to avoid or end it quickly and safely. Being prepared will make you more confident in handling these situations, and a much less attractive target to the bad guys.
5. Know Where You’ll Go. Use mapping apps or GPS to plan your route to any place you don’t know how to drive or walk to by heart. Do this before you start your trip, so you can minimize how much time you spend fiddling with your GPS while en route. This also provides a chance to research the neighborhood your destination is in, and to make extra safety decisions if it’s less than ideal. Make this part of your get-ready-to-go routine, right along with finding your keys and bringing a bottle of water.
6. Always Have an Out. Whenever you enter a new place, find out immediately where the exits are. Public spaces are required by law to have at least two ways in and out. This is important for two reasons. First, it helps you escape if something bad like a fire or an attack happens. It also makes you aware of where a new element could enter the room. Practice checking for exits (including windows and stairways) in every new place you go, until it becomes automatic.
7. Trust Your Gut. Have you ever met someone and immediately felt something was wrong? If your instincts tell you something isn’t right, or that something bad is happening, listen to them and act immediately. So many victim interviews include words to the effect of “I knew it was going to be bad, but I didn’t do anything about it.” Don’t let being polite, or hoping it won’t happen, lead you into serious danger. Whenever your gut speaks up, develop the habit of asking yourself very seriously, what it noticed that you didn’t.
8. Use Safety Apps. Your phone is one of your best safety friends if you stop letting it distract you, and start accessing the tools it gives you. Some of my favorites include the map and GPS, flashlight, SafeTrek, Life360 Family & Friends Locator, and Mobile Personal Safety. For one month, make time to work with one such app for 5-10 minutes each day. By the end, you will have developed a working knowledge of two or three potential lifesavers.
9. Be a Hard Target. Don’t make things easy for thieves. Keep your purse or backpack closed, with the zipper forward to foil pickpockets. Men, keep your wallet in your front pocket to do the same. Keep belongings under the table (not on it) in public. Don’t leave valuables easily visible on your car seat. Develop the habit of checking yourself in the mirror before you go out and asking, “If I were a thief, what opportunity would I take here?” Then fix whatever you identified.
10. See Blind Spots. Indoors and out, scan your path ahead for blind spots. These are corners, thick shrubs, pillars, vans, fences and other places where somebody could be hid ing with ill intent. You can’t see into blind spots, but you can recognize them, and walk a route that gives you plenty of room around them. More than 99.999999999% of blind spots have nothing bad in them, but building the habit of watching for them helps build your overall “awareness muscles.”
11. Put Your Damn Phone Down. I mentioned this earlier, but this gets a habit all its own. Having your head down, app open, and texting your bestie is not an aware or empowered position. It’s the kind of inattention that gets people hit by cars, as well as noticed and victimized by the local wildlife. Be like a predator, not like prey, and get in the habit of letting your guard down and using your phone only when in a safe space.
12. Hold the ACE. Criminals need Access, Control and Escape to successfully commit their crime. If you have your attention on, or control over, all three – or even two – of those elements, criminals are much less likely to even try to victimize you. Those that do are far less likely to succeed. By incorporating Habits of Awareness, you will know how to prepare, be aware, and will know your options for staying safe.
Awareness and good habits take practice and time to develop. Try incorporating one or two of these each month, and soon you’ll be one of the safest and most empowered people you know!
Want to learn more? Contact Dawn@ThinkSafeSeminars to schedule an Everyday Self Defense class for your business, non-profit or social group!
© 2017 ThinkSafe Seminars