3 Personal Safety Tips From a Situational Awareness Expert
Heather Post was 14 when she left home. A career in law enforcement eventually led her to develop and perfect the skills she uses as a motivational speaker, author, and workshop host specializing in body language and situational awareness training.
“There is no greater gift you can teach yourself or your child than to be situationally aware and to prepare to not fall apart when facing danger or uncertainty,” body language and situational awareness expert Heather Post tells CircleAround. “As children grow up, these skills will help them read others’ body language, strengthening their interpersonal and communication skills.”
Post advises people to practice actions that train them to become more observant. “Your vigilance will also help your children become more aware of their surroundings, avoid undesirable situations, and adequately respond if they are unavoidable.”
She recommends practicing these three daily exercises to build muscle memory and focus on how to act responsively under challenging situations.
1Train Your Eye To See and Acknowledge Details
If someone asked you to describe a scene or situation, how much detail would you be able to offer? Having that level of awareness could increase your safety or help provide the necessary information to solve an issue. “Try to remember as much as possible about people you interact with,” Post suggests. “When you return to the car at the convenience store, ask yourself these questions: Was there anyone else in the store? How many clerks were behind the counter? Can you describe one person who was in line with you?”
2Take Note of Your Surroundings
“Another habit you can create when you are out and about is to stop and think about your specific location within the restaurant, store, or building you are in,” Post says. “For example, can you note at least two exits?”
Being aware of your surroundings can make you feel — and stay — safer in an emergency. Along with identifying exits, look for potential obstacles (such as tables and chairs, etc.) that might interfere with the need to escape quickly. It’s also a good idea to look for areas where you can take cover or shelter if you need to.
3Stay Focused and Observant
Train yourself to be observant at still moments. It might feel tedious at first, but your mind will eventually train itself to be alert, so these habits become second nature.
“Scan the entire intersection when you are stopped in traffic,” Post provides as an example. “What’s going on in front of the businesses? Is someone walking on the side of the road? Don’t let yourself get so absorbed in your car’s interior, your thoughts, or your phone that you become oblivious to what’s happening around you.”
Make Situational Awareness a Routine
“If you practice these three suggestions routinely, after a while, they will become a habit and create a solid foundation of situational awareness,” Post tells CircleAround. “And while practicing, you can teach your children and family members the same tools.”