Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Five Levels of Situational Awareness

In order to be prepared for anything that might happen, you need to be situationally aware.  Now I know some folks who could have a robbery take place ten feet from them and they would have no idea, while others that you see on the news are so involved in their cell phones that they walk right in front of a train or something.  Hopefully most people are more aware of their surroundings than that.  There are five levels of situational awareness that you should be aware of (pun not really intended), in order to have a good idea of what is happening now and what could be happening in the future.

Picture this like a pyramid.  The first level, the base, is a global look at what is happening.  There are several sites that will tell you of every disaster currently happening in the world but that is a bit of overkill when you just need generalities.  The national and world news can fill you in on major happenings, from famine in Venezuela to threats from North Korea to solar flares which could toast your electronics.  If you take a bit of time to read the daily news you should be adequately informed about what is happening.

The next level up is regional news.  This sort of news usually falls into the weather category (like the Nor'easter scheduled to hit the east coast later today), or any other major event that can affect an entire region (like a refinery fire that may raise gas prices for a while in the region, or regional shortages of food which are quite rare but do happen).  Again. a good regional news source will inform you of any pending problems that should be on your radar.

The third level is state level.  What is happening in your state that should have your attention?  This could be anything from state epidemiologist reports on flu activity in your state, state hazards like a drought or wild fire report, changes to state laws that you should be aware of, and state activity that could impact you (ie: the state is budgeting more money for schools).

The fourth level is local news.  What is happening in your city or within a hundred miles of your area?  Things in your immediate area tend to have a more dramatic impact on you and your family than far-flung news.  Things you may need to know include the farm report if your local economy is heavily dependent on farming, crime news so you will be aware of a localized crime wave, information about the local school district, what restaurants were closed down by the health department, and what chain stores are slated for closure in your community.  Most community news will alert you to things that can impact your health, your money, your education, your safety, and other pertinent things in your life that you should either already be prepared for or need to add to your planning.

The fifth level, the top of the pyramid, is what is happening immediately around you.  This is kind of a big category but it includes any immediate threat to your income, big bills you will need to pay (like taxes coming up next month), how things are going at your job, what is happening with the security of your home (do you need a more robust security system installed?) and with general security in your neighborhood (you may hear on Next Door that a neighbor's home was burglarized).  How are your kids doing in school (including grade-wise, with their teachers, and any threats they may perceive), how road construction will affect getting out of your neighborhood, what that strange acting guy in front of you at the grocery store is doing, where the exits are at the government building in the event of an emergency, and whether you need an umbrella or sunscreen today.

On levels one through three, you are basically taking in information and making general decisions based on this information.  If there is a big storm brewing in Boston, you may want to change your travel plans but if you have nothing to do with Boston the situation won't impact you.

On levels four and five you may need to be more proactive and either seek out additional information or take steps to mitigate any problems you see headed your way (if the flu is getting worse consider getting a flu shot, wash your hands more often, and don't touch your face at all with your hands).  If you hear things aren't going well financially at your job, you may want to polish up your resume and start networking for a new job.  If the guy in line in front of you at the bank who has been acting odd now becomes even more erratic you may need to go into run-hide-fight mode.

The bottom line is to be aware of what is going on in your world, notice any significant changes, observe possible threats, and plan various courses of action based on possible outcomes.

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