Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Safety Awareness Tips For The Holiday Season

The Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season is rapidly approaching. During this time of year most folks pause to give thanks for what they have and to celebrate the birth of Jesus. However, there is another class of people who are rejoicing during this period: violent predators. For these low-lifes, the holidays translates into their version of the Superbowl: car-jackings, armed robberies, and home invasions.

During a typical end-of-year shopping season, the criminals know that law-abiding citizens will most likely be distracted and will be prone to have larger sums of cash in their possession to buy gifts for their families and friends. The purpose of this post, is to arm law-abiding citizens with some fundamental awareness skills to reduce the likelihood of them being victimized.

Being in a proper state of awareness can reduce a person's odds of being a crime victim. Keep in mind that no one single strategy is fool-proof, however, seeing events as they unfold can provide one with time to execute other options. There are four levels of awareness: unaware, aware, alert, and alarm.

In the first state of awareness - unaware - a person is completely oblivious to his surroundings and is not paying attention to others around him. Perhaps, you have seen an unaware person. He is the person who is watching the television screen while pumping his gas at a Speedway gas station, the person walking down the street with an Ipod earpiece attached to his head, or the person talking via cell phone to a friend while sitting in a parked car.

All of the aforementioned persons would make great crime victims. They aren't paying any attention to a person who may decide at a moment's notice to make them an unwitting victim. Any of those distracted citizens could be hit with a pipe upside their heads or could have a handgun shoved into their torsos without any warning. It is these unaware folks who claim that the predator "popped out of nowhere."

The sad truth is that violent predators do not have access to Star Trek type teleportation devices. These criminal lowlifes were there the whole time watching the soon-to-be victims completely disregard the entire world around themselves. Being unaware is how criminals "get the drop" on their victims. The only time that a person should be in the state of being unaware is when they are sleeping.

In the next state of mental awareness - aware - a person is actively engaged in his environment. As such, he sees everyone in his immediate environment, has looked at everybody good enough to describe them if the need ever arose, and doesn't let anyone violate their personal spacial boundaries. The aware person knows that distance is his friend and is willing to preserve the space even at the sake of hurting someone's feelings. An aware person can not be followed without knowing about it unlike many victims today who are trailed home from the local drug store to be robbed in front of their homes.

An aware person is always sizing up relative risks that others can present to his safety. An aware person looks into an area, such as a gas station, before entering it. In a similar fashion, he looks around when leaving an area to ensure that no surprises await his exit. It is very hard to startle a truly aware person. An aware person can avoid a potentially bad situation simply by leaving the area before a planned crime can be initiated.

The next level of awareness - alert - is achieved when an aware person senses that something is amiss in his current environment. Often, to an aware person there is a feeling or sensation that another person is "up to no good." When this level of awareness is reached, a tentative plan of action is to be put into play such that if a violation of an established threshold is violated, the person in alert status definitely knows that further action is warranted to preserve his safety.

For example, a woman is walking down a neighborhood block when four guys decide to get out of a car and walk down the same street on a path to intercept his journey. She was aware because she saw a potential threat to her safety. Bells went off in her mind as she thought that "something might be up." Rather than "being nice" by continuing to walk towards the guys for risk of hurting the feelings of the guys coming her way, she elects to cross the street. Further, her threshold for action was established; she decided that if the guys also crossed the street, her safety was definitely in jeopardy.

The last level of awareness is alarm. A person reaches this state when circumstances are such that an alert person's threshold for action has been violated. In the above example, the woman needs to immediately implement her "safety plan" immediately. Obviously, the more tools, training, and strategies that she has at her disposal to call upon during this trial, the more likely she is to make it through this situation safely.

Awareness skills, by themselves can stave off some attacks, as some predators prefer victims who are completely unaware of their surroundings and as a consequence could not make good witnesses for law enforcement officers whose jobs are to hunt down the criminals in the aftermath. On the other hand, simply being in the state of awareness can not be solely relied upon the keep a person safe. However, being aware can buy crucial moments of time to put into play additional personal protection strategies to successfully execute a defense against violent predators.

Be aware!
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