Situational awareness is, in the simplest of terms, being aware of your surroundings. It may sound easy, but with the speed at which our lives move these days and the number of distractions we encounter on a regular basis, it’s far more difficult than one might realize.

Here are a few tips to help you hone this personal safety skill set:

  • Keep your head up. Walking with your eyes glued to a mobile device or other distraction significantly decreases your ability to take in what’s happening around you or notice potential danger.
  • Use your peripheral vision. This takes practice, but try maintaining your point of focus while using your peripheral vision to be monitor a wider degree of space to be more aware of what’s happening around you.
  • Don’t just look. See. We all scan a room when we enter, but are you taking notice of where the exits are, whether there are any unattended or out-of-place objects around or if you notice anyone acting suspiciously?
  • Use reflective surfaces. Instead of looking through a store window to the merchandise inside, look at the window to see the reflection of what’s behind you or outside of your peripheral vision.
  • Trust your instincts. Your inner self has a way of alerting you to potential danger. You just have to listen to it. If you are uncomfortable for any reason, remove yourself from the situation, speak up to a friend/coworker/store employee or, if you think a crime is about to be committed, call 9-1-1.

By practicing situational awareness, you can avoid being in dangerous situations and even identify criminal behavior. The more aware we are of what’s going on around us, the less opportunity there will be for accidents, crimes or other unfortunate circumstances.