Awareness and Survival – Did You See That…

guest post by By MsgtHug

Ask yourself, why am I busy storing, planning and preparing while most of my neighbors and friends continue with their casual, routine lifestyles? The answer can be explained with one simple word: AWARENESS.

Does that mean we are living under constant fear, awaiting the next SHTF event? Because of our increased awareness we have a greater understanding, and the knowledge to be able to respond properly to these events. The more you know about a potentially fearful encounter, the more aware you become; the more likely you will survive. If we live under fear we often make irrational and spontaneous choices. In awareness mode, we can make choices based on knowledge, and clear, calm thinking.

My first significant encounter with awareness was what now seems to be many years ago. I was testing for employment with a large police department. A black and white photograph was projected onto a screen for a matter of seconds for the entire group to observe. The photo remained in place for a matter of ten to fifteen seconds, then removed. A questionnaire was given to each of us about the photo. It included questions such as:

  • How many people in the photo?
  • How many were wearing caps?
  • How many books were on the shelf in the photo?
  • What time did the clock indicate?
  • Were the windows open or closed?

You get the point. It was all about awareness and seeing the big picture. I got the job and spent the next thirty years developing awareness of what was around me.

What do you look for? Perhaps the most important is where are the people? Think about leaving your local WalMart. Most people walk out the door, pushing their cart and start looking toward the parking lot trying to remember where they parked. What about the people? Do you look to your left or right, near the building to see what is there? Is anyone there, or perhaps even a group of people? The people you do see, what are they doing? Are they looking into cars? Are they watching you or the other shoppers? Are they walking or standing in one place? Are they talking to anyone? How are they dressed? Do you hear anything that could be important? Do you hear anyone walking behind you?

Is any of this information important to you? It may not be, but what if you were also aware the local newspaper has reported several purse snatchings in this area. The more related information obtained the more awareness increases.

It is very important for you to develop strong survivalist awareness. However, it will be just as important for you to not stand out in your efforts. Think about it this way. People who run while others are walking stand out. People who walk while others are running stand out. People trying to “look around” to quickly look nervous and stand out.

Think about watching someone who turns their head and looks to their left then turns their head and looks to the right. Awareness would make you think “lookout”. You can be just as effective by using your peripheral vision. Practice using your full field of vision, not just focusing what is directly in front of you.

You can take it one step further by looking at something other than what you are facing. For example, you can turn your face toward a particular object but use your eyes to look to your target which may be off to the right or left. Sunglasses are a great help here. Just remember you must fit into your surroundings or you will be an awareness victim.

Your own property is a great place to start practicing your awareness. Notice the position of the sun during particular times of the day. Where do you feel it’s heat on your body? Where is the sun in the sky during the morning and during the afternoon? What about noon? Is it straight overhead as most believe? Check it out.

Would this information help you navigate in an emergency? Are there fresh animal tracks around the garden? Has anything been disturbed during the night? Is any of your gas gauges below what they should be? If you practice awareness you can quickly and accurately answer these questions.

Whether you plan to bug out or are forced to leave your location choice to retreat to the great outdoors, your survival awareness may even be more critical. Are you familiar with the local potentially harmful animals and plants in your area? Do you have a compass and know how to use it? Can you navigate unknown terrain? Can you navigate through the area without drawing attention? Do you know about camouflage and concealment? Do you know how to travel in a straight line to prevent going in circles?

I believe the first step in survival is being aware of the possible threats. By becoming aware of those dangers you are more likely to avoid potential risks. Start with simple issues such as what you are wearing. Next work on you immediate surroundings. Finally, reach out for an awareness of your environment.

It is extremely important for each of us to have survival awareness. We need to see the big picture and not have tunnel vision. It is easy to miss something you are not looking for. Therefore, we must acknowledge and accept what is going on around us. Doing so is imperative for your survival.


  1. Red Tower says:

    Good article. I grew up in the country, where my DD fostered the concept of awareness. His hope was that I would never get lost in the woods. I haven’t, either. In college, as a geology major, I was chosen to bring up the rear of the pack on trips since I could gather in the stragglers and never get lost. I knew how to backtrack, because I was observant and aware of my surroundings. We never wandered into bear or cougar territory because we saw their signs.
    Awareness in the city is just as important. Maybe critters don’t leave tracks in concrete, but some people can be just as dangerous as a predator. Getting lost or turned around in a city is possible, even if you’ve lived there (My DH, another country kid, has trouble navigating in a city.)
    Great suggested exercises to help people develop their awareness. Thanks

    • patientmomma says:

      Very good article! Most people are oblivious to what is going on around them as they are blasting music in their ears or texting. My dad was Army Intel and I grew up around the world in foreign cities. Even as little kids, my siblings and I were taught to be aware of our surroundings, where we were and how to get home, who was looking at us, and never to say anything we didn’t want published in the newspaper. As we grew older we were taught to be aware of vehicles, i.e., models, colors, license plates. My dad taught me to look at people’s faces and eventually I developed a “sixth sense” to read people. This gift has served me well over the years. Unfortunately, my kids have not developed the skill (yet) even though I still work with them to be “aware.”

  2. mom of three says:

    Yup, I agree to many people are just looking at their phones, or dealing with small children, and not looking around. I always look out my door, before I go out to make sure there is no one in my yard. We always lock our vehicle doors, we even have locking gas caps with the key on our key ring. Anything of value is put under our seats, I never leave anything on our seats or cup holder’s. We even leave a light, and use motion detectors, at our home and at our other property, when were not there. Knowing your neighbors, and not have a regular routine, so people won’t know if your home or not. Thank you for a great reminder!!!

    • I read on another forum that locking gas caps are not very effective at preventing a thief from getting the gas in one’s tank anymore, b/c most gas thieves have a cordless drill & a container that fits under the gas tank. Why bother siphoning when a small hole in the bottom of the tank is faster. So locking gas caps are effective only if the potential thief doesn’t have a cordless drill. Having said that, I admit that I don’t have a good way to secure the gas in a vehicle tank.

      • RedC,

        Locking gas caps keep the opportunists out of your tank. Anyone with a drill, cordless or not, can breach any kind of lock to include your vehicle door, or your ignition. Let’s face it, most thieves aren’t that smart to bring along their own drill or container. The ones that do are professionals and it doesn’t matter what you do, they will get what they are coming for. The fact of the matter is, most thieves are not professional.

        It’s like the old saying goes, locks only keep honest people honest. Professional thieves will get in and take what they want.

        • Awareness of your surroundings I believe is critical especially for yourself personally, not if you are going to be interviewed by an LEO. In firearms handling you have white, yellow and red. I usually attempt to remain within the yellow wherever I am at. If something is going down I don’t want to be a part of I head toward the front of the building and wait (happened once and was a false alarm and has been most of the time). I try to stay aware of vehicles, who is driving, how many in car, type of car, color and licenses plates if possible and last known direction. Some of this I do mostly just to keep my mind sharp.
          One technique to use is to take a dish and several items and put into the dish. study it for a few minutes and recall what is in the bowl, In crease the number over time. Also taking a book and reading as much as you reasonably can and write down what you read. The more you do this you begin to get better. What good it is I don’t know. I will also set up scenarios in a store if it is being robbed, having a plan is significant for you and your loved ones safety, everyone else comes next if you feel the uptuitivneness to re-nter the facility. Problem here is that no on and especially the LEO’s won’t know if you are good or bad and yelling out you are a good guy does not give the LEO any confidence. There are games on the internet you can play that sharpen your observation shills as well. Good luck.

          To the drilling of a gas tank. How do they keep a spark from ingiting the gasoline and blowing you butt up.

        • mom of three says:

          Very true, very true, for us it’s just an extra step living in the city. Just like our fence, anyone could jump over or even walk in but it was an extra step to keep people out. As soon as we took our fence down with in the first week my son’s bike, was stolen even though it was way in the back of our side yard, just because we took down that small fence, people could, and would and did steal from us…

      • Drills make noise and may have sparks. Gas tanks are thin metal or plastic. A homemade punch and one good whack with a hammer would make a nice round hole.

        In the radio business, I made punches by sharpening a point on a short scrap of the long, thick antenna rod that CBers or rural fire trucks use. The punches were used to make radio mounting holes in the floor transmission tunnel back in the days of rear-wheel drive, without twisting the carpet up around a drill bit. If you didn’t learn the right feel of when to stop when you were through the carpet, padding, and floor, the homemade punch would continue right through the transmission housing with no effort at all.

    • Axelsteve says:

      I used to work at a toyota/lexus dealership. I have almost been ran over by a pruis a couple or a few times crossing the lot from toyota to lexus. I was in deep thought on a mission and you don`t hear a pruis driving 5 or 10 mph.

  3. Good article. One thing that I would add is: Look Up.

    I learned years ago that most people don’t look above head height.
    There could be objects that could fall on you, things to hit your head on, or even attackers (human or animal) waiting to pounce on their unsuspecting victim.

    Situational awareness is seeing the “big picture.”

  4. PrepperDoc says:

    Yep, great points.
    Awareness probably includes:
    1. food source stability
    2. water source stability
    3. job or income stability
    4. currency risks
    5. 2-legged nearby risks
    6. national risks (attack)
    7. disaster risks ( nuclear plant risks, mercury risks, EMP, cyber warfare)
    8. current developments in surveillance techniques that might be in process watching you
    9. current development in communication techniques that might be of USE to you
    and on and on…..there is so much going on it, I don’t think most people pay attention to the breadth of resources and threats that envelop them.

    • PrepperDoc says:

      And, i might add, the risks you yourself can create by drifting away from your Creator!

    • TheWulf says:

      1) How about knowing what will poison you…that you may already eat on a regular basis?
      2) There is none. Gone. The gravity of this crisis cannot be stressed enough. It’s not, “If and when…,” it’s “We need to figure out ways to mitigate this crisis much more quickly than we are.” Today is time to make tough decisions- tomorrow you won’t be able to think clearly. No one can think clearly while dehydrated. Reality check: There Is Not Enough For Everyone. Oh, and trying to deny girls & women free access to hormonal cointraceptives, and trying to enslave females as breeder stock by saying “Burn the pregnant 16-year-old girl at the stake if she needs to terminate her pregnancy. Because I say abortion is wrong,” is making the problem worse (oh and, girls never “irresponsibly he themselves pregnant.” Girls lack the ability to impregnate themselves. Another Reality Check: Girls Aren’t The Ones Trying To Bed The Opposite Sex.
      3. Correct. You suddenly have zero household income. You have saved enough though…right? Even if your kid breaks his leg? Dog needs his rabies shots? Spouse needs an appendectomy? You can keep the lights on for the next 8 months…right?
      4) Yep. Do you even have 200 Euros? Obviously you know what the most stable and valuable currency in the world is…And you wouldn’t mistake the valuable British Sterling Pound with the NI Pound, of course…right? You’d know whether to invest in Singapore’s currency or invest in Malaysia’s currency, yes? And you know the current value of the Franc? What’s that- the Franc was replaced by the Euro? No…the SWISS Franc still exists. Don’t you have any?
      5) Heck yes…duh. They’re most likely to be male. That’s a fact, not discrimination.
      6) Which is why you have somewhere to go and a plan to get in contact with your family members that everyone is already well aware of, correct? I know exactly where the rendezvous point is, and it’s about 80 miles further than The Middle of Nowhere.
      7) Quick: Nuclear Fallout cloud is approaching. You know what to do, obviously… And you know where the masking/painters’ tape is off the top of your head, right? Tape up the cracks in those doors and windows. And buckets? You should be filling them with water now and you’d better stop when the cloud is nearby. What if you’re stuck outside? Is there a structure nearby? Get really close to it, face it, and keep your head down and your mouth closed. Cover as much skin as possible with clothing or other items. Hold your breath and close your eyes. It will move through quickly- don’t be tempted to look at it. After the cloud passes, get the heck out of those clothes (yes, right there outside!) and Shake The Dust Out Of Your Hair Right Away. Go ahead and spit once for good measure.
      8) You must be joking. Your life has been on camera every moment you have been out of your house for the past 20 years. If you’re worried about being bugged for surveillance…what are you up to anyway? If nothing, go ahead and bore “them” with your mundane life.
      9) Yes. An obvious example would be the dedicated radio communications channels for sending pan-pan, Sierra-Oscar-Sierra, and Mayday distress signals. You know your Morse Code? How about your NATO alphabet? Surely you’re at least bilingual, working on your third language, right? I’m studying my sixth language- and no, I’m not counting my Morse Code, NATO signals, flare codes, or flag messages.
      10) Uhhh don’t forget about tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, hail, icestorms, blizzards, lightning, heat waves, wildfires, landslides, avalanches, mudslides, mine collapses, coal-sludge flows, volcanic eruptions, methane lake bubbles, extreme cold, damaging winds, floods, microbursts (I’ve been in one of those…I watched as everything was leveled… trees to their stumps, buildings to their foundations…semi trailers crushed like they were cardboard boxes…all in half a second. Bam. Like a bomb. Shards of broken glass as tall as me, metal bleacher seats torn into razor-sharp strips, pipes bent into spirals, live electrical wires with ripped ends reaching into every puddle…a flagpole crushed the way you would crush a soda can…You know what a microburst is, right?)

      Awareness. This article is a sad, sad joke. Everything in it, and everything in the comments- that’s how I live. That’s how I have to live and it is how I’ve always lived. You forgot about watching the sidewalk for shadows while you’re walking. Park your car under streetlights. Never use the stairwells of parking garages. Am I the only one who has a compact cosmetic mirror that I subtly use to look around me in all directions? I call it my Saving Private Ryan mirror (Remember what Tom Hanks used to get up the beach?). I know when to stroll past a cop and without turning my head, say “Officer, let’s walk and talk.” And he or she steps and starts walking beside me and asks, “Anyone in particular you’re trying to shake?” I know when to yell and when to duck and be silent.

      I’ve been a hostage at gunpoint, and I convinced the guy to shoot very close to my head rather than shoot me in the head so everyone would think he killed me without having to risk facing homicide charges- and the moment both guys blinked, I knew how to disappear without a sound in half a second.
      I’ve escaped from a drunk stranger who didn’t understand “No,” by leaning out a 4th floor window and telling him he either let’s go or goes down with me. He let go. I landed on my feet on the 3rd floor fire escape I had been “aware” of.
      And sometimes, when the police sprint down the alley, they won’t get there in time, and sometimes the guy grabs your No-Griz away from you first thing.
      And that’s why sometimes the 22-year-old girl in the pink summer dress, with the designer handbag and matching shoes, walking through the city, already has a blade ready when a creep corners & lunges at her. And that’s why sometimes creeps get shanked.

      The cops wiped off the knife with disinfectant and simply gave it back to me.

      Awareness? Amateurs.

  5. This is a good article. It contains useful information.

  6. I know we all like to think we’re very aware of our surroundings & are more alert than most other people, but after reading all the comments, I wonder if some of us are a bit over-confident. I know I don’t always pay attention to my surroundings b/c my mind gets distracted or I have something else on my mind. Be careful, b/c over-confidence can be dangerous.

  7. Curley Bull says:

    Msgt.Hug, this is a very well written and accurate article. I solute you. I would add that (par. 5) when in a parking lot also use shadows and reflections. If you can see your shadow in front of to the left/right, notice if another shadow is coming up close. Shiny paint jobs and windows (especially darkened) make great mirrors to help watch behind you. As you know, this alertness is what has kept some of us alive in the past and will help to do so now and in the future.

  8. I agree with the group…this is a very good article and well written. I learned this lesson the hard way. When working evening shift in the big city, I decided one spring evening (still daylight) to walk over to a fast food restaurant a couple of blocks away from work. It was a nice walk, but what I didn’t notice was a lack of people around. I mean there are always walkers out and about, but for this particular trip, no one but me on the sidewalk. Then a man came out of a store and started walking directly toward me. I will never forget the look on his face. His eyes were locked on me like a vicious dog about to attack and As luck would have it, another couple stepped outside of a place of business and this joker did an exit stage left and took off running. The experience left me weak in the knees and I never went out alone again, and I am definitely aware of my surroundings from that lifeless on. God was with me that night, and I learned a very important lesson on being aware.

  9. I sent this to my kids to use with their kids last month. Thought the games would help the little ones learn without being aware they were learning a much needed skill.
    10 Tests, Exercises, and Games to Heighten Your Senses and Situational Awareness

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