Posts Tagged ‘situational awareness’

As Hurricane Sandy approaches the East Coast, I’d thought I’d repost the preparedness post from last month.  There is good information there on supplies you may need in the event you have to shelter in place or evacuate.

Click here to read the post. 

Zenshin™, LLC Urban Survival Tours


Kayaking Preparedness

In honor of preparedness month coming up, I decided to expand my knowledge base and take on kayaking.  Although kayaking may primarily be thought of a wilderness survival skill, there are many waterways around our cities and the skill of kayaking may come in handy if you need to get off an island, like Manhattan, in a hurry.  During the attack on 9/11 many people were trapped by the edge of the water and were rescued by good samaritan boaters.

So I signed up with Mountain Valley Guides in Cornwall on Hudson, NY and Bill was my guide/instructor for my three-hour tour.  Yes, I really did sing the Gilligan Island theme several times.  Mountain Valley Guide’s instructions were to bring only things you do not mind getting wet.  I emptied out my pack and brought only my snacks, my EDC and insect repellent.  What else could I really need?  I didn’t want to lose anything in the river that I would miss, so I left everything else behind.

Bill was a great instructor, he explained the mechanics of rowing a kayak, the procedures in the event we rolled out and how we were to communicate with each other on the water.  We rowed to several points of interest on the Hudson river and beached so we could have a snack and others in my group could go for a swim.

Unfortunately, as I exited my kayak, my sandal broke and I had to walk on the rocky shore barefoot.  I looked at what I packed to ascertain if I could repair my sandal. Nothing on my EDC could be used to poke a hole in the sandal to repair it.  It really didn’t matter because I didn’t bring my paracord bracelet so I didn’t have any cord to repair the sandal.  Ugh, I made the rookie mistake of assuming I didn’t need my basic kit!

I asked Bill if he had a multitool and he whips out the biggest Swiss army knife I have ever seen.  Well it helped poke a hole in the sandal bit I had nothing to fasten the straps together.  Once again, Bill came to the rescue with some cord and I repaired my footwear.

My McGyver moment

Lesson learned.  We take the time to put together our personal kits and we should trust that we made the right decision.  Although we always need to balance what we carry with us; there are people out there who carry tons of “needed” equipment, we should always assess our needs based on any given activity or environment.

If you haven’t taken a class/tour on kayaking, I highly recommend it.  That little boat may be your only way out someday. In addition, it is a really fun activity!

September is National Preparedness Month!  Yey!!!!!!  Whoo hooo!   Let’s celebrate! Okay……. enough of that.

National Preparedness Month gives us the opportunity (or excuse) to take stock of our preparedness abilities.  FEMA has a site that is dedicated to helping the average folk prepare for disasters.

It is a good site, if you are worried mostly about natural disasters and live in rural areas.  Their basic go kit is okay and is a good start for someone who has never put one together.  I went on recently to see if they had a section dedicated to the urban environment.  Hidden within the section for businesses there was a link to “Neighborhoods and apartments.”  When I clicked on it…. Lo and Behold, this is what I saw:

So, nothing for the good ol’ urbanites.  Well that is why I write this blog!  Here are some suggestions that can help start you off on your journey to urban preparedness.

1. Make a Go Bag.  Start with the basic one here  add or subtract items based on your needs.  For instance FEMA recommends a gallon of water for each person per day for three days.  For me and my two kids that is 9 gallons of water.  Each gallon is over 8 pounds (weight) each so that is almost 75 lbs of weight just in water!  I’ll buy a filtration kit.

The lesson, put in only what you need and can carry.

2. Put together a small tool kit.  Consider investing in a muti-tool, add a small flashlight, cutting tool, compass and lighter (easier than carrying matches).  This you can carry on your person.

3.  Figure out what best personal protection device you will need and feel comfortable carrying.  There is no looting in the jungle, but there is in the urban jungle.  A tactical flashlight and a legally obtained knife (check your state for rules) are a good choice to start.

Alright I know what you are thinking…… he didn’t mention a firearm.  That doesn’t mean I do not recommend them. Unfortunately not all states allow it.  But if you can legally carry one and can practice with it….. go for it.  Like everthing here,  it is your personal choice.

4. Subscribe to your local emergency notification sites.  Local emergency management offices and police departments have systems that will notify residents of issues that come up.  The one that I subscribe to for my areas also has traffic announcements.  This is helpful when you are trying to bug out of town and want to avoid others who are doing the same.

5.  In addition to road maps (try to get topographical ones and learn how to read them), obtain bus maps and subway maps for your area.  Plot out potentially dangerous areas like nuclear power plants (really, I have on in my neighborhood).

6.  Stock up on medications.  Pharmacies will be looted or closed.  Make sure you rotate your stock.

7.  Write down a plan to communicate with friends and family.  Establish check-in points and places outside of your area that will be your first choice to go to.  Understand that it may not be accessible and that you will have to designate an alternative place.

8.  Include in your go bag some items of comfort.  Pictures, books, ipod.  Yes, it will make the difference.

9.  Practice-Practice grabbing the go bag and going.  Practice driving northern routes, southern routes, etc.  Practice having to walk and plot along places that you can shelter in place if necessary.

10.  Suggest other things here to your fellow urban survivalists!

Happy Preparedness Month!

What would you do if you are walking alone down the street and realize there is a gang of people behind you and they are talking about you.  You hear them say derogatory terms about you and you are concerned……

For the sake of this exercise let me qualify what kind of gang I am talking about:

This kind of gang

Not this kind of gang

I usually get answers like run to a crowded place, look for a police officer or find a nice store to run into.  My martial arts friends would say something to the effect of first trying to defuse the situation then take a combative stance/action.  All of the above are good things to do.  However, I would like to introduce you to a different way of looking at this problem. The concept of the psychology of combat as it relates to urban survival.

To illustrate what I mean, I will answer the question posed above.  What would I do in this situation?  I would initially turn around, look then turn back around.  This action serves several purposes.  The first and foremost purpose is to break the gang’s learned behavior when they are trying to determine whether I am a potential victim or not.  I assure you, you are not the first person they preyed upon.  Since they were wee little baby gang bangers they learned what a victim response is and what an adversary response is and how to test it.

The taunting and derogatory remarks about you was the test.  They are looking to see if you behave as the other victims did.  It makes sense if you really think about it.  They could have just robbed you without saying anything.  Why make their presence and intentions known?  Because if you do act like a victim, they can reasonable assume that your behavior henceforth will be as a victim.  This what they learned. Others before you did and the roles of prey and predator have been well established.  You will act as prey and they will act as predator.  It boils down to a learned response.

When you break from the possible responses that have been learned, the gang does not know initially what to do.  Hopefully by the time they figure out a response you will be gone or would have gotten in better position ready for combat.  There is a practical reason to look back also.

Let’s go back to my response.  The gang conducted their test by taunting me.  They expected a victim to possibly cower and walk faster, certainly not at all confrontational.  An adversary (like a cop) would turn around and confront them.  I did neither.  I simply turned around, looked at them turned back around. I acted in a manner in which they were not accustomed to.  In addition to breaking their learned responses,  it gave me more information if in the event I do have to go into combat with them.  Had I not turned around I would not know how many were there, their positions, sizes, weapons etc.  All of that information was gathered within the one second I took to look at them.  I now know how many opponents I will have, who may be the first person I choose to engage and where I should go to engage them.  But that may not be necessary, my hope (and experience) is that the gang will pick on someone who reacts in the way in which they are used to and leave me alone.  What do you think?

Photo credits:

Sometimes I truly wonder if it would be easier to try to survive in the jungle or on a desert island rather than our urban jungle.  In the real jungle you have very few, albeit very important concerns; food, water, shelter.  In the urban jungle you have to worry about people stealing your identity and your credit card information.  My friend Ted has been traveling the world and has used many products that he found helpful.  This is one of them.  Maybe we need to start a topic of where in the world is Ted today and what the heck is he buying…..

Take a look at this video:

So, here’s the product that Ted has researched and recommends.  It prevents the devices from reading the chips with your credit card information.  They are styling too!  Kinda reminds me of what the AV squad used to carry in High School.
It can be found here if you want to buy one (FYI,I do not get any money from the referral).  I do love a good bargain though!

If you are at all interested in survival or disaster preparedness, you have come across the term Situational Awareness. In general, it is taught in conjunction with other techniques one would employ to stay alive in any given environment. Employing situational awareness gives us time to react to a threat.  For our purposes, we will look at how to employ situational awareness in the urban environment.

The first step is to recognize there is a difference between situational awareness and “being aware.”  Just being aware is passive.  Employing situational awareness is active.  Situational awareness is taking environmental cues and reacting to those cues.

Why it is important to use situational awareness

You were taught situational awareness early on in your life. The first time your parents said look both ways before crossing the street, they were teaching you situational awareness. You look at the traffic (both ways) then you take that information and then decide whether or not you should cross the street.  While crossing, you continually look for changes in the environment and decide if you should walk slower or faster.  This may take a fraction of a second.  Check out these illustrations.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, a lot of us have lost the lessons our parents taught us and have to be reminded about this kind of  basic situational awareness; common sense.  For instance, who would in their right mind would walk on a train track?  And if they did, would not constantly look around them for a train?  Well, this guy…

Even those people who are in theatres of danger have to consciously and constantly practice situational awareness.  It does become easier as we practice it, but we have to practice.  So the next time you are walking on the street take a second and take a 360 degree look around you, above and below you.  Ask yourself,  “do I see  any possible dangers that are within striking distance of me and how much time will I have to react?”

How much time did this guy have?  Sometimes you just have to be lucky……

Thanks to Bill B. for sending the videos and inspiring this post.

Next… Situational Awareness in the dojo.