Survival Skills: Be Aware of Your Situation

(Editor’s Note: Guide Outdoors welcomes Tim MacWelch to its group of Featured Experts. Tim has just written, “Prepare For Anything Survival Manual: 338 Essential Skills,” a book filled with hundreds of specific wilderness and survival skills, hands-on hints, easy-to-use checklists, and strategies to help readers prepare for anything from economic collapse and terrorism to natural disasters, global pandemics and government surveillances. He is founder of the Advanced Survival Training School in rural Virginia. He is one of the country’s foremost urban and/or wilderness survival, homesteading and disaster preparedness experts. He’s provided outdoor survival skills training for all branches of the U.S. military, State Department and multiple other agencies.)

Tom's Blog Item on Survival Expert index 5-14Situational awareness is the combined ability to pay attention to details, process the information you gain, use this information to identify threats, and create plans to handle or avoid these threats.

The easiest way to explain this feat of mental multitasking is to imagine the mental state of police officers on duty. They are paying attention to everything around them, especially the things that look like trouble. While their training may not be available to the public, we can all take steps to develop a more alert mental state. And it’s well worth your time, as it can be a life-saving ability. Enhance your own natural powers of observation by performing these three simple actions.

Eliminate Distractions
Chatting on your cell phone or listening to music through headphones may seem harmless enough, but they are poison to situational awareness. These activities and other distractions are likely to rob you of the attention you should be paying to your surroundings.

Look At People
Don’t make excessive eye contact with strangers (who may perceive your stare as a threat), but check out those around you wherever you go. Try to sum individuals up in one concise phrase (biker dude, soccer mom, business guy, burger flipper, possible criminal), as any of these labels will help you to pay attention to the body language and actions of the people around you.

Look At Your Surroundings
Whether you are in the city or in the wild, it makes sense to pay attention to the “lay of the land.” Understand where you are, where you are going, and which way to go if you need to backtrack. While you’re at it, assess all possible dangers. The dark alleyway of the city and a predator-rich forest in the wilderness can both be dangerous to an unaware person.

Check out an interview with MacWelch and Guide Outdoors about his book Here.

Shop Sportsman’s Guide for a fine selection of Emergency Gear!

This tip, and 337 more survival tips, are in MacWelch’s new book Prepare For Anything. This latest Outdoor Life survival manual available at Amazon.

Follow him on Twitter @timmacwelch  And check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles in Outdoor Life Magazine.


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