How observant are you in your day-to-day life? Many people, and preppers are no exception, walk around with “blinders” on and pay little attention to the world around them. This is something you’ll need to change about yourself if that’s the case with you.
In what seems like a lifetime ago, I spent about a decade working in retail security. I spent countless hours being paid fairly well to watch people, both on camera and from the sales floor. Due to this experience, I became very adept at reading people and even anticipating their movements and actions. I also quickly learned just how little attention people paid to what went on around them. Countless times I saw a shoplifter conceal merchandise in their coat or pocket within just a few feet of other shoppers. These other people had absolutely no clue what had happened as they were too involved with looking at the merchandise in front of them.
Colonel Jeff Cooper, one of the most well-respected firearms instructors our country has ever seen, developed what came to be called The Cooper Color Code. Basically, it is a way to refer to the level of awareness you have at any point in your daily life.
Condition White: You are paying very little attention to the world around you. You’re relaxed and calm with little or no worries.
Condition Yellow: You are aware of your surroundings but there’s nothing going on of real significance. You are alert to potential threats but nothing concrete is on your radar.
Condition Orange: You are alert to a specific potential threat but thus far, there is no real danger. You are still scanning for other threats but there is at least one that has caught your attention.
Condition Red: There is a real, immediate threat and you are prepared to act against it. You may not have to physically react yet but you are ready to do so if need be.
Here’s how these conditions could relate in the real world. You and your spouse are sitting at home one evening. It is around 9:00PM and the two of you are deeply involved in the last act of a movie you picked up from Redbox. You are currently at Condition White.
Then there comes a knock at the front door. You immediately shift to Condition Yellow. There’s no real threat as of right now but you weren’t expecting any visitors, especially that late at night.
You look out the window and see an adult male standing on the front porch. You’ve never seen him before and he certainly doesn’t look like he’s there to inquire as to whether you’ve been “saved” or not. You move into Condition Orange. You don’t know who he is but he’s not made any overt threats. Could be he needs help as his car broke down.
While standing away from the door, you call to him and ask what he wants. He tells you he’s there to read the water meter, an obvious lie. You are now at Condition Red and take whatever action you feel is necessary. If, on the other hand, he does say his car broke down and he’s hoping to either borrow your phone or ask you to call a tow for him, then you’d stay at Condition Orange until he has left the area.
It wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world to get into the habit of telling yourself, non-verbally of course, when you move from one color to another. Doing so will help keep your mind focused.
Situational awareness is a key element of an overall safety and security plan. You absolutely cannot predict when trouble may visit you or your loved ones. It is only through being vigilant and observing the world as you travel through it that you’ll be in a position to act quickly and decisively when it becomes necessary for you to do so.
It does take practice. Awareness is not a skill you’ll develop overnight. Here are some practice exercises.
1) When you and your family are driving somewhere, make mental note of the vehicles passing you in the opposite direction. Color, condition, that sort of thing. Quiz each other from time to time with questions like, “What color was the last vehicle that passed us?” Looking in the rearview mirror is cheating.
2) When on foot, make it a habit to “check your six” regularly. Checking your six is taking a look at whomever is behind you. At a mall or other similar location, this is easily done by stopping to look in a shop window, then glancing around behind you before you move on. Pay attention to anyone who seems to stop when you do over and over.
3) When you’re out shopping, make a point of always noticing who is in the same aisle as you. Male or female, alone or with kids, attire, demeanor. Then, quiz yourself or each other when you get a few aisles away. What color was his shirt? Did she have a boy and a girl or two boys?
The takeaway from this week’s lesson is to rip off the blinders and pay attention to what is going on around you as much as possible.
This week’s assignments:
1) Practice your situational awareness exercises and develop a few more of your own. Kids can really get into this if you present it as a game.
2) Add more rice, beans, and/or canned fruit to your storage.
3) If you can swing it, add an extra $10 to your kitty this week.