The Beginner’s Guide to Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is the practice of being aware of what is going on around you in an effort to ensure and maintain your safety. Sounds simple, right? Not necessarily.

by | Apr 9

3 min read

While many of us may assume we’re already aware of our surroundings and potential threats, cultivating situational awareness takes practise and patience. Being actively aware and processing the sights, sounds, smells and people around us requires we expend more energy than we typically do, but the payoff is worth it should you ever find yourself in an emergency situation. 

Develop and hone your skill of situational awareness by understanding the three stages involved: identification, reflection and forecasting.

1 Identification

This is the first step in cultivating your situational awareness. To begin, start gathering information about the things around you. From entrances and exits to the time of day, the weather and the people around you, transition from reactively observing to actively seeking new information about your environment. 

How to practise identification

Each day, observe what’s around you and then close your eyes. Using all your senses, mentally describe your surroundings. When you’re done, observe your surroundings once again and take note of anything you may have missed. 

2 Reflection 

In this second stage, you’ll want to assess your physical and mental capabilities while considering your environment. Are you hungry, tired, injured or inebriated? Are you stressed or overwhelmed? There are many factors that may impact your ability to to gather information about your surroundings, process it, and act accordingly. 

Knowledge and understanding of your thresholds and limitations is imperative when it comes to maintaining your safety through situational awareness, as objective reflection prevents you from becoming overly confident or ignorant. 

How to practise reflection

Once you’re confident with your ability to ‘identify’ and observe your surroundings, you can get to work checking in on your mental and physical capabilities. Throughout the day, take a moment to ask yourself how you’d respond if something were to happen in this exact moment.

3 Forecasting

This is where identification and reflection meet. Once you’re able to effectively assess your surroundings as well as your cognitive and physical ability, you can begin to determine potential threats and plausible outcomes. 

An example of forecasting

You’re driving home via an unfamiliar route and are approaching a red light. You scan your surroundings and see a sign warning you that this is a hijacking hotspot. You’re feeling rested, in-control and comfortable driving the car you’re in. You double-check your windows are closed and your doors are locked. You leave a car-length space between yourself and the car ahead of you, ensuring you have the room to maneuver your car should you need to. 

With some patience and practise, situational awareness can become a valuable tool in your personal-safety toolbox. Combine it with smart tech safety solutions such as AURA’s app or physical panic button, and power through your day knowing you’re covered anywhere, anytime.