Category Archives: Situational Awareness

Situational Awareness: Part 2 – SAFETY



The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER


In the last post, we discussed Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s a premise that a person must have basic foundational needs met before they can move on to relational, social and intellectual growth. Safety is a basic foundational need, on the pyramid it follows the physical needs of food, water, clothing and shelter, and health.

Safety is not tangible or easy to quantify need. Complicating that, safety is a highly personalized perception.  What one person considers safe, may completely terrorize another.

It is easy to take our safety for granted until a situation arises that threatens us. Natural disasters: hurricane, blizzard, earthquake, drought, tsunami, extreme temperatures, and Political and Social situations: war, terrorism, political strife, poverty, crime and inequality; each bring primary needs like food, water, clothing and shelter to the forefront, along with safety concerns.

Safety should be recognized and treated as a responsibility of an independent adult. That requires understanding the dynamics of situations we are in, which is easy to say, but can be difficult to pin down.

Throughout the earlier years in a woman’s life, roles are fairly well defined. Depending on our health and what road we travel, we are first children, then student, partner, employee, mother, teacher, and caregiver well into the beginning of our elderly years. Physical changes occur  gradually and differently for each woman, and our  roles also shift at varying rates to less defined ones. Younger women begin to take up what had been our past responsibilities. We are becoming the grandmothers, retirees, elders and role models.

At this stage of life,  a woman is typically reliant on  life partners, children, friends and those in professional capacities, church affiliates and society in general for her safety.  More often than not, what an older woman is relying on is her perception of safety, not the reality of any given situation. She expects to be safe because she’s always been. .  It’s not a problem of denial, it’s generally because nothing has happened to cause her to review.

It’s an accepted fact that change becomes more difficult the older we get. Habits of a lifetime, and sometimes just the lack of energy required to change, affect our ability to respond to challenging and unexpected situations.  Complications of health problems, medication, arthritis, vision and hearing loss can leave an older woman an easy target, or make responding to an emergency more difficult. Without attention to a positive proactive plan, fear will blossom. And again, fear tends to paralyze our ability to process and assess.

Situational Awareness is training yourself to recognize and assess before you find yourself in harms way. Making it part of your “tool box” of go-to solutions you aren’t required to formulate on the fly gives you an advantage. Good news is: it’s all based on common sense, everyday things that you can easily accomplish.  The hardest part is making it a part of your daily life. That requires motivation and commitment.  We’re talking life-style change. That has so many benefits, and allows you to continue to “climb up the pyramid.”

The first step in gaining this awareness is keeping yourself in shape, physically and mentally. Paying attention to diet, exercising, getting quality sleep, is a good start. You’ve got to take care of those basic physiological needs before you can move up the pyramid ladder and take an active part in maintaining safety for you and yours. There’s work to do, and just because we’ve moved into our “golden years” doesn’t end that.

The second step is accepting your responsibility for your safety, and those dependent on you for safety.

So, ladies, where are you in meeting your responsibility for your own safety?


Do you give any thought to it?

Are your taking care of your basic physical needs?

Who and what do you depend on to provide safety? Is it real? Or just a perception or wish?

Do you routinely pay attention to your surroundings at home, work, shopping, traveling?

If you find it difficult to answer any of these questions, try writing down your thoughts. Make a list, or begin a daily journal. How did you feel while you were out shopping, visiting, at church, home alone, traveling?  Get to know when you are fearful, “zoning out” what is around you, or engaging with other people. Help yourself to understand what you are doing right here and now.

Next post we’ll look at some specific physical, mental and emotional factors that may have an affect on our ability to remain safe.

~~  Peggy


The rain came down,

the streams rose,

and the winds blew and beat against that house;

yet it did not fall,

because it had its foundation on the rock.

— Matthew 7:25









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Situational Awareness: What is it?


The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

Situational Awareness is a component of self defense that belongs in everybody’s toolbox of personal preparedness. At its most basic level, it means being aware of, discerning, assessing and factoring in the elements – people, place, things, events, and even time – that are around you, and how you are or might soon be affected by them. Taken to the next step, training in responses available to cope with possible situations, and learning how to relate and react to situations.  Situational Awareness is taking personal responsibility for where we are, what we encounter, and how we act.

We have had many commonsense basics drilled into us in our youth. Why does that early training tend to fade and be forgotten so easily as we become adults? I think it’s because it’s not a vaccination you get as a baby that stays with you and lasts your lifetime.  It’s more like the daily food and drink you ingest, to help you grow and keep you strong and healthy.  You need to attend to it every day of your life, or — like the saying goes —  If you don’t use it, you lose it.

As parents we teach our children not to talk to strangers, look both ways before crossing the street, tell your parents where you’re going and when you are coming home. The responsibility for a child’s safety lies in the adults around them – family, neighbors, friends and professionals of  “the Village” that protects and raises that child.

During adolescence and the teen years, a shift begins. With new friendships and relationships, it’s a time of testing boundaries, and immersion in experiential  activities. After high school, many kids go off to college, the military, or find jobs, marry, or take longer to leave the nest while finding their place in the world. But still the protective “shield/umbrella” of childhood lingers. Mentors coach them as they develop into adulthood.  For young women these lessons are critical. Awareness of their surrounding, taking care of how they dress and learning not to put themselves in bad situations, checking in regularly and not going places alone, and some practical self defense classes help immensely.

Once childhood is fully behind, chances are few keep their situational awareness a priority, unless a tragic or frightening situation is encountered.

Many, but not all, tragedies might have been lessened or  avoided if time had been spent developing a routine of awareness, which means taking responsibility for learning and knowing what surrounds or comes within your scope.  Making that as much a part of life as the air you breathe and the food you eat.

That sounds like setting a high, unattainable standard to some. Or maybe just plain paranoia. Afterall, just how important could all this attention on being safe?

One theory that helps put that into perspective is psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, proposed  first in 1943 in his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”, and expanded and developed in his widely accepted 1954 book Motivation and Personality. And it has stood the test of time. A pyramid diagram has developed over the years since then, to illustrate his premise that the needs on the bottom (foundational) must be met before a person can experience the next level, and so forth.


In this diagram, Safety is a foundational need, outranked only by basic physical needs like food, clothing, shelter.

Safety is intangible and never permanent. How we perceive we are safe is highly individual, and can easily be a false sense. We may feel safe when we are in a group, when we have family close by, have trust in law enforcement and other professionals. But what happens when we are alone, traveling, out of touch, or someone or something interrupts that feeling of safety? When our trust that others will keep us safe is betrayed, or they are unavailable, or have left.

This blog has posted in length about fear, and proposes fear typically incapacitates and interferes with our ability to respond appropriately or quickly to threats to our safety. Unless we have thought about and practiced what we need to do for a variety of potential incidents, we would have to formulate a response while under stress and duress. That doesn’t tip the odds in our favor very often. This is not a “preppie” or extreme survival issue alone.  It is basic common sense for responsible adults.

Next post will look specifically at factors women face as they grow older. We’ll look at reassessing things that have changed in your life, and some ideas to include situational awareness into your daily routine, specifically geared for our “golden” years.


~~  Peggy









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