Your Personal Safety
The world today is not lacking for news stories about violent attacks where the victims have been injured and killed by their attackers. News Stories of these attacks being thwarted by the potential victims are rarely highlighted by the main stream media.
If reading these news stories don't tell yourself it happened in another city, county or state. During my law enforcement career I heard far to often from citizens in the communities I served nothing ever happens here. Each one of them would name a neighboring community as one that they would expect to become a victim of criminal acts if they lived there. This was not true as each incident and community share similar statistics, and these folks were over looking criminals travel for the same purposes the rest of us do. In our mobile society having 30, 50, or 100 miles between you and the city you think is more violent than your own is not enough to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime.
If your concerned about your personal safety there are many steps you can take to keep your family and yourself safe. While each violent criminal's motivation may have been uniquely their own. Some of the traits they all share is a lack of respect for other people and our laws that prohibit the crimes they commit against their victims. Victims of violent crimes far too often wait too long to take action.
Levels of Awareness
Your safety begins with maintaining your level of awareness with the activities going on around you. Many firearms instructors and self-defense instructors over the years have written about and developed different methods to help a person maintain their awareness. The NRA's Levels of Awareness used in Personal Protection Classes by far seem to be the easiest remember and use.
This system uses four levels of awareness: unaware, aware, alert and alarm.
Most people spend most of their lives in the unaware state, this is best described as not being aware of the activities taking place around you. This often occurs when a person is devoting their total attention to one thing, such as sleeping, watching t.v. or reading a good book. While it may not be possible to avoid being in the unaware state at times. The unaware state should be avoided as much as possible since it will slow you response to potential danger even after it has been spotted. Remember criminals act committed by these predators may be planned for times and situations in which the victim feels safe and will be in an unaware state of mind.
In this state of mind you are aware of the events and activities going on around you. In the state of general awareness you are able to identify the activities taking place around you using all of your senses. While being aware it is best to avoid anything that can impair your senses. It is during this stage you are evaluating if the observed activities demand a higher level of awareness. Once an activity or a persons actions have been identified as a potential threat you may begin to use a heightened level of awareness for short periods of time. During this phase you will be determining whether you need to dismiss the activities or move into the alert level of awareness.
It is important to remember it will be difficult to maintain this hyper level of awareness for long periods of time in environments that seem safe.
Once you have arrived at the alert level has identified a specific potential threat or threats, you must further evaluated to determine their potential threat to your safety. Not every thing that brings you to this level will turn out to be an actual threat. During your evaluation process first you will formulate a plan of action regarding this identified potential threat. Having a plan will allow you to act quicker than having to react and try to decide what to do. If this turns out to be a life threatening event these precious seconds will increase your safety. Potential plans may include: avoidance, flight, issuing a verbal warning, calling 911, using less lethal force, and when justified deadly force. Remember using deadly force to defend your life is a last resort when faced with an attacker placing you in fear of great bodily injury and death.
When making plans of action it is important to have more than one option. There are times when the best plans do not work. It is important to keep thinking ahead, planning, watching for opportunities as they present themselves, while being flexible enough to change your plans to the changing circumstances.
Response plans to a violent confrontation or attack may fall into two categories: evasion or defense. Step one Evasion - avoiding a violent confrontation is all ways the better option. Even if forced to use force it is important to be watching for opportunities to evade the situation. Remember using force or deadly force should be only used as a last resort. Step two is to establish limits that will initiate your plans of action. Once an attackers actions has crossed you will go to the next level of awareness alarm. At this point your plan may be initiated immediately.
What types of actions may elicit the plan being initiated? The approach of a stranger with in a certain distance, their refusal to leave when told to leave, making verbal threats, taking actions indicating an intention to do harm, or presenting a threat of a weapon.
At this level a specific threat has been identified and crossed one or more limits you have established becoming a real threat to your safety. While everyone will form their own plan to fit their lifestyle and be compliant with the laws of their local. Below is a sample plan if faced with a home invasion by an attacker(s) putting you in fear of great bodily injury or death.
Sample Safety Plan:
- Retreat to your Safe Room securing the door.
- Acquire your personal protection firearm if part of your personal protection plan.
- Call 911 to summon the Police stay on the line with the dispatcher.
- If the intruder(s) attempts to gain access to your safe room at this point.
- Issue a verbal warning for the police are on the way and tell the intruder to leave.
- If the intruder(s) ignores warnings and enters your safe room with a weapon(s).
- Use your personal protection firearm as allowed by your specific states laws on self-defense.
In closing remember a defensive firearm for personal protection is a tool of last resort when no other options are available. At Schlueter Firearms Instruction we strongly encourage people to attend training on the use of a personal protection firearm.