With all these creepy clown sightings of late, it’s made me stop and think about the importance of situational awareness.
You’re walking down the street, minding your own business when all the sudden a clown comes running up to you, out of nowhere, and you fear for your life. What do you do?
Self-defense does not start when the fight is on, but the minute we go out in public.
What does this mean?
Col. Jeff Cooper created a color code of awareness which is known as “Cooper’s Colors.” The color code is the following: White is totally unaware or daydreaming. These are the people that have earbuds in, are looking down at their phones, and not paying attention to anything going on around them. It’s hard to get their attention, and this dangerous because they are oblivious to warnings until it’s too late.
Yellow is relaxed awareness. This means that it’s difficult to surprise you because you’re aware of what is going around you. You have your head up and are looking around, taking notice of your surroundings without looking paranoid. When I leave my house, I start by placing myself in a state of yellow. I can respond quickly because I’ve already thought about what could happen, and I’m prepared to respond.
Orange is heightened awareness. You see something going down, but you are not involved. For example, you see a person dressed as a clown in the store parking lot hiding behind a parked car as you are going to your car. You are not necessarily in physical danger, but you watch and pay attention to how this situation might unfold, and are ready to warn others or take further action if necessary.
Red is the fight or flight stage. This means the fight has been directed towards you or a loved one. At this point, you are either engaged in a struggle or taking action to (either mentally or physically). The clown behind the car has turned his focus towards you, and verbally threatens you and starts to come towards you.
Black is, in a word, “death.” This is blind panic and psychological shutdown. In this stage, people freeze when attacked and if there’s no one around to intervene, then there is a good chance that you will be severely injured or killed.
Some helpful tips for conscious observation
Whenever you go for a walk, pay attention to all of your surroundings. Notice the cars in your neighborhood and the people. Get to know your neighbors.
When I enter a public area like a restaurant or store, the first thing I do is find the exits and any obstacles that might hinder a quick exit. I work in a school, and we practice this during fire drills. It’s important to be prepared for any type of emergency.
Take time to look at people in your area. What are they wearing? Is it appropriate for the season? For example, if someone is wearing a trench coat in the middle of July, then I want to pay attention to them. Notice their behavior. Working in a school, I have prevented many fights because I’ve watched body language of the people around the two people at the center of the conflict, in addition listening to their language and the elevated volume of their voices.
It’s important to identify objects in the room that could be useful to you. I made sure that my wife had a fire extinguisher in her classroom. It’s important for safety, but it can also become a useful weapon if, God forbid, an active shooter should ever try to enter her classroom. My friend tells her students to use their literature books to protect themselves, and we discuss throwing books, staplers, laptops, etc. with students, should someone try to break through the door and enter the classroom.
Follow your gut instinct. It seems like in many of the attacks many people ignore clues right in front of them.
The next time you are out, keep your head up and pay attention to your surroundings and trust your instincts. Predators look for easy prey, so be aware because they are surely watching.