While I was writing my article on being prepared for terrorism and mass shooting events, I touched some on having situational awareness. And after writing that, I realized that I need to expound on situational awareness even more. This subject is so important, it warrants its own article.
In fact, I’d rate the skill and ability of situational awareness as one of the most important skills you can have as a prepper. (If not the MOST important!) So I decided that I needed to expand, and really take a look at this truly important and potentially life saving skill!
Situation awareness is, according to the USCG, the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team (you) with regards to the mission. More simply, it’s knowing what is going on around you.
By reading this, I hope to make you aware of the varying stages of situational awareness, ways to improve your awareness, things to be aware of and look for/habits to get into, and developing potential plans of action. All of these will increase your situational awareness, which will in turn increase your odds of surviving a dangerous scenario.
I have taken bits and pieces of the mass shooting article and used them here. So if a paragraph or two looks familiar, that is why. 🙂
Stages of Awareness
First, awareness can be broken down into 4 different stages. Some people may have already heard about these four stages, but if not they are as follows:
According to the US Dept. of Transportation, there were over 253,000,000 cars registered in the US in 2012. Chances are, you probably own at least one of those vehicles. And if you are like many Americans, you probably commute to and from work, use your vehicle to run errands, and take road trips and vacations with it. This means you spend a lot of time in your car.
But what happens if disaster strikes when you are in your vehicle? What if you need your vehicle to get home DURING a disaster, or OUT of a disaster area? Is it prepared and able to help you? If you aren’t sure, then read on to learn how you can prepare your vehicle for a crisis situation!
Start with a Plan
If you have been following this blog, you know that I advocate beginning anything with a plan. All the gear in the world won’t be of much value without a plan or the knowledge of how it works and in what situations to use it. I would first sit down and determine not the worst case scenario, but the most likely scenarios. The chances of you having a flat tire or being caught in a massive traffic jam are MUCH more probable than an EMP attack.
I talk about this in my article 3 Types of Preppers You Don’t Want to Be.
Once you have your bases covered on the most likely events, then start looking at worse case possibilities.
Do you live in an area that experiences hurricanes? Tornados? Is there a chance that you might need to “bug out” to get out of harm’s way? If so, you need to have an evacuation route (and at least one backup route) planned. I’d also have some possible contingency plans in place as well for unforeseen events.
To help you draw up some evacuation plans, I thought I’d give you some pointers and things to consider when drawing up your plans:
- Have a final destination already planned out. Simply bugging out into the unknown should be the LAST thing you want to do
- If you have multiple members of your group/family, the chances of you all being together at the time disaster strikes is slim and none. Make sure everyone in your group knows the plans and the final location.
- I would have pre-determined rally point along the way to meet at if your final location is a long way off. You might also devise a means of communicating with them should the rally point become unsafe
- Know the routes AND the area in general ahead of time. Where are the gas stations? Is there a grocery store nearby? A hospital? What other points of interest are along your intented route?
- How many different ways do you have of getting to your destination? Your primary route may suddenly no longer be accessible, so have contingency plans in place for different routes to take or even different means of getting to your final location
- Do you have not only the gear you need, but a way of safely and securely transporting it?
- Identify areas that you could potentially cache supplies. Are there friendly areas (a friend’s house for example) that you could make a pit stop if needed?
- Identify areas that could potentially be choke points or trouble spots, and ways to avoid them
Part of being prepared is keeping your mind and body in decent shape. Eating right and exercise should be something you do every day. But sometimes that is not always easy. Especially when you aren’t sure if what you are eating is really healthy or not. Hopefully this article will begin to show you that sometimes, what you think is healthy may not be.
Hopefully, you are more conscience about what you eat AND what goes into the food you eat. America has become caught up in a health food craze. (That’s not a bad thing!) And trust me, the “food industry” is taking notice.
For example, many fast food restaurants are now offering “healthy” alternatives. More research is being done into GMOs. And more “health food” stores are springing up.
As a result, food companies are changing their labels and how their food is packaged and presented to the public. But as always, some of this can be a bit misleading. Here are 10 “misleading” food labels, and what they really mean!
Labeling food “natural” or “all-natural” is a really just a way to get people to think that the product is healthier than others because it comes from nature. In fact, “all-natural” is an very general and vague term for which the FDA doesn’t even have an officially recognized definition.
According to the USDA, meat can be labeled “all-natural” as long as it doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients or chemical preservatives. However, it can be full of broth or saline water.
If you are new to prepping, or have been at it for a short time, congrats! The fact that you have the mindset to be prepared ahead of time puts you at an advantage if/when the SHTF! But I want to caution you against certain mistakes I see new and/or inexperienced preppers make. If you find yourself doing any of these, stop and reassess your preps and your priorities.
Stockpiling guns and ammo and believing you are all set
I would never downplay the important of protecting you and your loved ones in a disaster. I have many guns and plenty of ammo. But I caution people to not focus solely on that. Many people confuse their love and collection of firearms with being prepared. It is NOT the same! There are other things that are more important in my opinion.
To those who think that skill and ability with (and possession of) firearms top all other skills in an emergency (even more important than the ability to find and purify water or more important than finding/making shelter from the elements for example), then let me say this:
I have been in numerous disaster situations. I lost an apartment to a tornado a few years back. The next year I worked in Moore, Oklahoma where a tornado killed 24 people and did over $2 billion dollars’ worth of damage. I experienced an ice storm several years ago where I lost power for two days and was snowed in. My brother lost his job last year, and lived on his food storage for about 8 weeks until he found a new job.
Never once did firearms come into play. Food did. Water did. Shelter did. My family and group helping me out did. But not firearms.
Prepping isn’t just about collecting guns for long term, grid down survival. It’s about keeping you and your loved ones prepared for ALL disaster situations. Click here to read a great article on why you should NOT prep for just TEOTWAWKI.
Even if we lose the grid for an extended period of time, you will need food, water, and shelter WAY more often than you will need a gun! So balance your prepping! Spend some of that firearm money on other gear and preps!
Buying premade survival bags, gear and/or not testing them out beforehand.
First, let me say that buying a ready-made survival kit/bug out bag is better than having nothing at all. Many ready-made kits have a lot of handy and useful items that could save your life.
But in my experience, I see many people buy a pre-made bag, toss it in the closet, and not think about it again. Hence the items in the bag do NOT get tested or used before they are truly needed. Some folks may not even know what all is in their bag or how to really use it. Or they may know what’s in the bag, but not where certain gear is located.
In the middle of a disaster is NOT the time to try and figure out how to use your emergency radio. Or find out that the batteries for your flashlight don’t work. Or that your bag only has one poncho and you need 4.
Will you waste valuable time digging through your bag looking for flashlight? Sure hope it isn’t completely dark when you need that flashlight and can’t find it!
By building your own bag and acquiring the gear separately, you will know exactly what and where your gear is. You will be more inclined to test it and become familiar with it ahead of time. And you will most likely save yourself a little money.
I see the question all the time, “I’m new to prepping and am looking for tips on getting started.” Enviably, that is answered by others with tips on creating bug out bags, storing food and water, purchasing firearms, etc. And while those are certainly very important, many times I see simple, everyday tasks that get overlooked.
And these tasks are not hard. They are easy. Easy enough that everyone should do them. These tips will help you not just in a disaster setting, but also in everyday life.
Always keep your phone charged.
In my 8 Lessons Learned from Disaster article, I mentioned an officer whose battery died while working in Moore, Oklahoma after a tornado, and was unable to communicate with anyone.
Imagine if you are caught in a quickly developing emergency, and your primary source of up to the minute information is dying because your battery is not charged. Not smart!
Having knowledge about what is going on around you is vital to your ability to survive a disaster. Being able to communicate is equally important. With today’s technology, a smart phone allows you to do both.
When a tornado recently hit my area, I used my cell phone to live stream the weather, and to text my family to keep them apprised of the situation. During that storm, my phone battery had plenty of life in it should I have had to make a speedy exit. I stayed up to the minute with news and information during the entire storm.
If you are like me, you probably have a pet. For me, my pet is a part of my family and has been included into my preparation plans. I would NEVER think of leaving him behind in a disaster. (He was also my partner for years, and at times risked his life for mine.)
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that there are 70-80 million dogs and 74-96 million cats are owned in the United States. Over 1/3 of all US households have a pet.
So if you are one of those people who have a pet, have YOU stopped to think about what you would do with them/for them should a disaster or emergency strike?
Any type of emergency or disaster preparedness starts with a plan, and the same is true for your furry or feathered friends. Formulating a plan now will save you time, energy, and potential heartache for you and your pet if the unforeseen happens.
I want to give you some tips and insights on how to come up with an emergency plan for your favorite animal companion. These include some overall general tips, some tips for bugging in with your pet, and some tips for bugging out with them.