A car is approaching in high speed and one second after you hear the wheels rolling over bodies that collapse right next to you. You hear shotgun fires and you see people running in despair around you. You don’t know where the danger comes from and you can’t see your way out of this. You’re caught in the middle of a human turmoil that sweeps you and flows against your will.
How are you going to make it out? How are you going to survive?
The answer is simple but tricky: it’s not only the immediate actions that save you, but what you should have done before.
Safety Becomes Obsolete
When things turn sideways, like they did a couple of days ago in Manhattan or sooner in Las Vegas, you need to understand and accept that there is no safe place, and nobody – and especially the government – is not going to save you. Holding out an unrealistic hope that there is a safe place or that others will take care of you will cause you to perish.
It is up to you to find a way to survive, facing a danger that you could hardly anticipate in a matter of seconds.
Power in Numbers?
Crowded areas and military outposts, if these even exist, will be fraught with danger. Actually, in any type of disaster or chaotic situation, crowds and crowded areas can pose a very big threat to your safety and even your survival.
Look at what happened in New Orleans, Louisiana during and immediately after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. There was mass looting, assaults, sexual assaults, murders, and even police officers who shot and killed some of the people in a group of survivors who were crossing Danziger Bridge trying to find help.
Experts have found that in almost any life threatening or survival situation 3 out of 4 people become so bewildered or overwhelmed that they are mentally paralyzed, and they cannot act in their own best interest when it comes to staying alive and surviving.
Another 10% will be extremely dangerous because they will lose it and freak out, putting everyone in their vicinity at high risk of danger.
Only around 15% of individuals will stay calm and analyze the situation rationally. Would you be one of them?
Why are crowds so dangerous despite of the large number of people they include?
- A large number of people together could make the entire area or group much more noticeable or attractive to people looking for an easy score. This will attract other groups who may want to harm you or take what you need to survive.
- Rioting could break out and leave you open to attack.
- In a disaster or other chaotic event which is life threatening large groups could attract the attention of military or law enforcement, and you could end up in a deadly situation that you can’t get out of if these groups see you and others with you as a threat.
- Large numbers of people that you do not know greatly increases the danger because any one of them could become unhinged or dangerous at any time. You could quickly become targeted for theft, assault, or even something worse.
- A crowd can quickly go from calm to a full stampede in very little time. If you get caught up in a large throng of people all pushing you could end up trapped, or even crushed to death from the force of the crowd.
- When your life depends on keeping a low profile and avoiding any unnecessary attention the last place you want to be is in a crowd of people. Stay isolated and avoid crowds and crowded areas whenever possible if you want to stay safe!
The Sense We Call Situational Awareness
The simplest definition of situational awareness is to be completely aware of everyone and everything around you, paying close attention to even smaller details that many people would miss. When you are aware of all the important elements of a situation then you are far less likely to be caught by surprise or end up in danger.
Identify all the critical elements of the situation, process this information in a calm manner, and then comprehend how this could impact you.
If you see some men fighting down the block or a large mob gathered you can avoid the situation and protect yourself from any danger. If you are walking along in your own little world you could end up entering a very dangerous situation. You need to know where you are, what is going on around you, and how to escape the situation in the fastest way possible if this becomes necessary.
Practicing your situational awareness can seem like a game while training you for almost any survival or disaster situation. Make a habit of really paying attention to your surroundings and other people, taking note of even small details like the color of a building or what a person ahead of you in line is wearing.
After paying attention to your situation close your eyes and try to remember what you have seen and experienced. What color was that woman’s dress?. Where are the two exits closest to you in the building? As you practice you will be able to answer these types of questions faster because you will pay more attention to detail from the beginning.
Look around you and try to find things that seem out of the ordinary or abnormal in some way. If it is 100 degrees outside yet a man is wearing a trench coat or large jacket this can be a red flag. If a woman is standing still on a street corner and is holding a cigarette with a long ash but she does not take a puff for some time this is unusual. Someone who is profusely sweating while staying still when it is cold out would be suspicious.
When you first enter any building always make a mental note of the exits, especially those that are closest to you.
Look at the people around you and try to determine what they do, where they are headed, and what they are thinking. This will help you pay closer attention to every detail about that purpose and over time you will become more observant in a shorter time.
Visualize an emergency situation, such as a mass shooter or a bomb explosion, and practice what you would do in your head. This is similar to visualization and it can be very beneficial for this type of situational awareness training.
Predator vs. Prey or Alpha vs. Beta
All animals fall into one of two categories: predator or prey, namely those who kill to survive, and those who are killed for food. What the predator versus prey mentality means in a survival situation? Being prey means being a victim and the possibility of not surviving. Animals can’t choose the category they belong to, but you can turn from pray to predator if you train your skills and mindset well enough to make the swipe from one category to another.
Today the word predator is associated with negative things, but in a survival situation a predator survives while prey usually does not. Look inside yourself, then decide: are you a prey or a predator?
Another way to look at it is using alpha and beta model instead of predator and prey. The predator is an alpha, a top dog, someone who is dominant that others look up to and want to be like. Prey is a beta a follower instead of a leader and who is submissive to others. Alphas always tend to come out on top in any situation while betas rarely do. If you want to survive then you need to become an alpha, a predator.
If people around you see you as weak, then they’ll try to take advantage of this weakness, and this threatens your survival when things become more primitive and it is everyone for themselves.
How to awake and train you alpha senses
- Project confidence. This is different from being cocky or aggressive. When you are confident in your skills and abilities then this shows, and others pick up on it. Kill off negative thoughts that erode your confidence before these thoughts can take root and grow. Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations.
- You need to be psychologically dominant in order to stay alive, because this can prevent danger in the first place. This means refusing to submit and letting others know that you will do what is necessary if push comes to shove.
- Use body language to your advantage. Foes may be able to tell just from your stance, your facial expressions, and other obvious body language whether you will put up any resistance. If you seem like an easy target you are more likely to be engaged by an enemy. Assume an
- aggressive or fighting stance with your feet placed apart for stability. Stand up straight and look the opponent directly in the eyes.
- Learn to adapt to any environment or situation. Be realistic about what your strengths and weaknesses are, and then minimize the weaknesses that you have while maximizing your strengths.
- Practice persistence, even if you initially fail. Predators never give up and neither should you. Set a difficult goal, such as walking 2 miles with a 40-pound pack, and then be persistent in trying to meet it. Eventually you will reach this goal, and you will learn the value of
- patience while your confidence goes up.
- Practice situational awareness and mindfulness. Prey goes through life blindly, hoping that they will not come across a predator. An alpha will pay attention to even the smallest details and everything in their environment so that they fully understand the situation and can respond appropriately to any threat.
When your life is on the line, safety is just an illusion while everything is out of control, and feeling safe will make let your guard down. This makes you vulnerable and could leave you open to attack.
Don’t become a victim or put your survival at risk with a false sense of security. Train your senses and your skills to overcome the danger and survive!
This article has been written by John Gilmore for Survivopedia.