Situational Awareness is the ability to identify, process, and comprehend information about how to survive in an emergency situation. More simply, it’s knowing what is going on around you. It is dynamic, hard to maintain, and easy to lose.
Knowing what is going on all the time is very difficult for any one person, especially during a high stress survival situation. Therefore it is important that you know what behavior is effective in maintaining Situational Awareness.
Here are a few ways you can improve your situational awareness today before you need it in a survival situation:
1. Learn to Predict Events
The most effective aspect of Situational Awareness involves the ability to project the future actions of elements around you.
After you have been able to identify elements in your environment and can comprehend the situation, it is time to take your Situational Awareness one step further. Use this information to think ahead and determine how it will affect future actions and events in the environment.
2. Identify Elements Around You
The first step in achieving Situational Awareness is to become aware of the important elements in your environment. Start by noticing the threats that surround you. Then expand your awareness to other non-threatening elements.
This is the most basic level of Situational Awareness where you begin to monitor, detect, and recognize multiple situational elements. These include objects, events, people and environmental factors. Basic Situational Awareness also requires you to notice the locations, conditions and actions of the elements around you.
This may sound overwhelming, but do not worry. These are skills you already use on a daily basis. The first step is designed to help you expand and improve your perception of what is happening around you.
3. Trust Your Feelings
Disorder within your family or a gut feeling that things are not right can cause you to lose proper situational awareness. This clue is one of the most reliable because the body is able to detect stimulus long before we have consciously put it all together.
4. Limit Situational Overload
Overload causes distraction, increased errors, and high stress. Prioritizing and delegating tasks and minimizing surrounding distractions can improve survival during times of overload.
5. Avoid Complacency
Assuming everything is under control will affect your vigilance. You have to actively keep yourself in the right mindset.
When things are slow or tasks are routine complacency usually occurs. The worst part is the slow creep of complacency is hardly ever noticed except in hindsight.
Continue to challenge yourself and those around you to be prepared for contingencies. Do a mental check every now and then.
6. Be Aware of Time
Time is an important factor in mastering Situational Awareness. The pace of your environment is constantly being changed by the actions of individuals, task characteristics, and outside elements. When unplanned events begin to arise, be sure to make the necessary changes to your schedule and goals to help you survive.
7. Begin to Evaluate and Understand Situations
The next step in involves understanding multiple elements through the processes of pattern recognition, interpretation, and evaluation. Use this information to determine how it will effect your goals or in this case your ultimate survival. This will help you build a comprehensive picture of your immediate surroundings and a better understanding of Situational Awareness.
8. Actively Prevent Fatigue
Fatigue affects your ability to watch for possible danger or difficulties. Try adjusting your work routine and imposing sleep discipline to prevent wake cycles longer than 18 hours. Make sure you get at least 5 and preferably 8 hours per day of sound sleep to minimize sleep deprivation.
9. Continually Assess the Situation
When you are in a survival situation always be prepared for changes around you. Continually assess and reassess the situation to determine if you are giving yourself the best possible chance for survival. Learn what nature, the land, and new tasks are telling you, before you find yourself in a difficult situation.
10. Monitor Performance of Others
Be alert for changes in the performance of those around you caused by work overload, stress, and mistakes. When changes are needed, take action by speaking up and helping out. A weak link in your family could be the difference between success or failure in your survival.