Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Using Situational Awareness to Protect Yourself

I was having a chat with my postal-person friend yesterday about situational awareness.  In case you're not familiar with the term, it's pretty much what it sounds like - being aware in whatever situation you're in, particularly when the situation has become hazardous to your health (i.e. someone has come to assault you, rob you, or rape you.)  She's alone in a rural post office all day - one that has been robbed before, albeit at night when she wasn't there.  And this post office is about 3 miles from the little country store that was robbed at knifepoint last year.

Anyway, I was talking about making sure that wherever you are, you should always be aware of the things within reach that can be used to defend yourself - provided you aren't already carrying a gun somewhere on your person.  In seconds, I pointed out the things right there at the postal counter she could use - including a hefty-looking metal postal scale.  And she thanked me. 

I also showed her my pepper spray and told her she needed to at least get one of those.  I carry mine everywhere.  99% of the time, it's in my pants pocket.  The other one percent, it's in the front pocket of my purse (because I'm wearing pants without pockets).

I also carry my keys in my pocket.  Keys can be an excellent way to defend yourself.  Put the biggest one sticking out from between your finger and you can either stab at someone who's attacking you or slash at them.  My key fob also has a button on it that sets off a really loud, annoying alarm in my car which could attract the attention of others.  (Provided they don't ignore it the way most of us ignore car alarms these days.) 

When I'm out at the lake, by myself and a long way from most other humans, I also have the knife in my tackle box.  If I can't reach that, I have my fishing pole which I could beat someone with.  And that's gonna hurt.  Barring that, there are a lot of rocks just the right size for grasping in my hand and hitting someone with.  Hell, if I have to, they're getting a bobber to the eye.  (I use the pointy stick-like bobber, not the round ones.)

I also have my cell phone, but that's less about defense than calling for assistance.  Which could take a while out here, and which I hope I have time and signal enough to use at any given time.

Running is good, but with this bum leg, I can't really use that as an option.  It walks fine, but running?  Nope.  The best I can manage is a kind of weird hop/run thing.  It ain't fast enough to get away from any attacker. 

I may not survive the encounter because all of these things are fairly non-lethal and only stopgaps, but I hope they're enough to give my attacker pause.  One thing's for sure, I won't be going down without a fight.

And since this is a writing blog, thinking about situational awareness is good for your characters.  Joan Wilder used her attacker's own cigar against him and a stick to beat him off.  Think about it.

Anyway, what kinds of weapons do you have within your immediate grasp right now?  For me, I have scissors, pens/pencils, a really heavy ashtray, a paper weight, my stapler, and depending on the time, I might have a lit cigarette.  I used to have a letter opener... I wonder what the hell happened to that...


  1. I used to teach situational awareness through a police community service office. I even (untentionally) knocked out my partner--a big burley patrol officer--with my purse. Of course, the fact I had a hard-back book in there at the time helped. I don't wear heels any more but they make nice weapons, both defensively and offensively.

    As I'm in my office, there's teh usual pens, scissors, letter openers, keyboard (hey, I need a new one anyway!), dogs (though they'd likely just bark and not attack but one never knows), books (good for throwing to keep an intruder at bay while calling 9-1-1), desk phone and cell phone. My weapons are in the bedroom closet and yes, I've been known to answer the door with a holster on my belt if I don't recognize the ringer of the doorbell. Usually, I ignore anyone I don't know but will grab one of the pistols (and they are loaded) and wait by the door until they leave, just in case they're casing the house for a break-in. Usually the barking dogs take care of that.

    Out and about, I have my purse--a shouler style with a strap which works well to keep someone back until help arrives or I can get to a safe place. I have an electronic ignition so no keys but I do keep a couple of old keys on there just in case. I also have a window punch/seatbelt cutter tool on my key chain. And even though I've got earphones in listening to an audio book when I shopping, I'm constantly aware of who's around me and remove them immediately if someone approaches and tries to engage me in conversation. Not that I'm paranoid. Or anything. 😜

  2. Hmmm. Coffee mug (full of water at the moment), teapot (empty), stapler, scale, various mugs full of pens, many big heavy books (that I probably would forget were useful - I was trained to protect books, not the other way around).

    When I was out and about, it always seemed that the more *obviously* aware of my surroundings I was, the less I was bothered. The only time I remember getting hassled, I was wandering around in a dream (it was England!, after all) and some jerk flashed me. I turned away from him and marched on, but I did pay better attention afterward.

    These days, I'm usually out with Mom, and figuring out what she's chattering about takes most of my concentration. I need to get back in the habit of watching everyone around me.