One of my favorite courses to teach is NRA’s Refuse to Be a Victim© (RTBAV). Each time I prepare for the course, I always kick myself for forgetting a piece of personal protection information that would supplement my current plans. I have been organizing and reorganizing my safety plans for years and they include situations that happen at home, at work, in the car, shopping, etc. Although being aware of your surroundings and being prepared to protect yourself takes conscious efforts, you do not have to spend a huge portion of the day or a lot of money to accomplish these safety goals.
Being aware of your environment is the first step in personal protection. According to the NRA, there are three levels of environmental awareness – low, moderate and high. Other groups have different ways of conveying these levels, but the NRA’s levels are simple and easy to remember.
As I am writing this article, I am comfortably in a low level of awareness. I am at home. All my doors are locked. I have a puppy sleeping in my lap. I am looking out the front window watching the cars and neighbors go by on a lazy, Sunday morning. At this very moment, I know that there are no strangers in my house. There is no need for me to be overly alert in this place at this time. Even in this peaceful situation, in the back of my head, I am also thinking that I may need to raise my level of awareness should a stranger approach my house or, worse yet, enter my house.
In a few hours, I am going to get into my car to drive to the range to teach RTBAV. As I leave the comfort of my home, travel across the city, and talk to a dozen people I have never met before, my awareness level will jump to moderate. It is doubtful that people who have preregistered for this particular class at a public facility will pose a threat to me or anyone in the room, but it is still a possibility and I cannot relax to a low level of awareness until I get to know these people better.
After class, I am going to head to the Big Red and Barbacoa Festival. (If you haven’t tried it, you should.) They expect 25,000 people this year and the festivities will include music, rides, food and alcoholic beverages. Criminals love these events where the community comes together in big numbers and a small venue. It is a perfect place for them to blend in, commit crimes, and sneak away without being noticed. My awareness level will be high. I will not be carrying a purse. My money and credit cards will be in front pockets. I will have multiple means of protecting myself considering this crowed environment should things go awry.
Criminals are looking for easy targets. If we can use our acute awareness to communicate to criminals that we know what their intentions are and we are not going to make it easy for them, in all likelihood, the typical criminal will move on to the next target.
In our daily life, we make accurate predictions regarding our safety and take actions to protect ourselves. We often predict when other drivers may do something that may cause an accident, then we consciously act to avoid the possible collision. For example, when another car may be forced to quickly change lanes and we happen to be in their blind spot, there is a probability that they will not check their blind spot and move into our lane. We can circumvent this situation by slowing down to allow room for the car to change lanes safely. The collision is avoided by predicting another motorist’s possible behavior.
We need to make these same types of predictions when it comes to our personal safety. What will I do if…the elevator door opens and someone who gives me the heebie jeebies (highly technical self-defense term) is waiting? …someone who I don’t know and haven’t invited rings my doorbell?… a stranger approaches me in a parking lot?…a dark figure appears from behind a tree in the public park that I walk in 3 times a week?…a fight starts in a crowded store?…I hear guns shots while I am at work? Having a plan to deal with these different situations is not being paranoid. It is being prepared.
Being prepared to protect yourself, which may include fleeing from the danger, is the next step in protecting yourself. Have a plan and, if at all possible, practice your plan. I hope you have an evacuation plan in case of a house fire. I also hope that you have practiced this plan with your family, especially your children. You should have a plan if a criminal enters your home. This plan might include leaving through a window or moving to a safe room. Your plan in your home with your family and your resources is going to be different than my plan or your neighbor’s plan. The key point is that you need a plan!
Take the time during your daily routine to be fully aware of your surroundings. Be extra cautious when you are moving between spaces, like from inside to outside or from your car to the parking lot. Compose “What if” situations during the day. Finally, make workable plans to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you need any assistance or ideas to create these objectives, take the Refuse to Be a Victim course.