Our Greatest Survival Tool : Awareness

Greatest Survival Tool

I believe that this may apply more than any other survival skill or tool:
Our greatest survival tool is awareness.

In ANY environment, awareness is the first link to action. Awareness comes first.


Greatest Survival Tool

– Awareness of self
– Awareness of others
– Awareness of your environment


Awareness of Self

To know your own abilities and limitations.
To understand your position in the current environment.

Being self aware in the moment of your thoughts.

If you have ever been in a situation where you may have experienced everything happening in slow motion (e.g. adrenaline dump), you will have noticed details of your thought process and the event. A heightened sense of awareness of your own self as it relates to the event or situation.

This can be practiced.


Awareness of Others

The knowing of, or observing others around you.

– Situational awareness of other people.
– Situational awareness of animals in an outdoor / wilderness environment.
– Any living being


Awareness of your Environment

Recognition of the surrounding environment and the potential affects thereof.

With practice we can learn to engage in a heightened state of awareness.

Situational Awareness (Like Jason Bourne)

The first and foremost greatest survival tool is awareness. The mind which interprets input and then makes decisions about what to do next.

99.9% of people simply go through their day while doing their routines. It’s usually pretty regular. It’s also pretty easy to get caught up in that regularity and to let your guard down – even though one’s normal environment may feel safe (normalcy bias).

You can practice heightened awareness anywhere. All you have to do is focus on you, others, and your environment. The key word is ‘focus’. Become the observer.

You may be surprised what you discover.


5 Drills For Situational Awareness
3 Drills To Practice Situational Awareness In Your Car
3 More Drills To Practice Situational Awareness

Similar Posts


  1. I was watching a “self defense” video a few days ago, aimed specifically at women. The “victim” strode along, head up, didn’t have a cell phone in her hand and her bag was held in her hand, not swinging. So of course she uses that bag (held in a way that most women simply wouldn’t) to go after an attacker. The whole video was like that.

    In real life people walk slowly, heads in their cell phones, possibly texting, bags swinging freely in one hand. A lot of people are going to watch that video and think “Hey, I could do that,” then continue with their old habits, not realizing that they behave differently than the woman in the video.

    Being aware of your own habits and behaviors comes first.

  2. I drill this stuff into my GF all the time, kinda irritates her actually, but that isnt stopping me,
    People suck and evil is all over

  3. Another thing to think about with regards to awareness is actually listening to people, if something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is,,,, go with your gut

  4. DW and I often play a GAME to identify any threats when we are out. We also discuss possible actions we could take to neutralize the threat. Most times those actions are avoidance and others are taking action to confront the threat. Thank God we have never had to confront a dangerous threat. When we are eating in a restaurant I always sit facing the door and preferably with my back to the wall. I also like to be near a rear exit if possible. DW also accuses me of looking at the pretty girls because my head is always on a swivel. When driving in traffic I always leave extra room between me and the next car especially at stop lights. I drive in the middle lane when on the interstate. These seem like silly things sometimes but they let me have option if things go bad.

    1. It’s not silly, it’s exactly correct!

      Yep, I always do the extra distance thing when coming to a stop- enough room to pull out if I have to. Middle lane driver too. Back to a wall where possible, looking into the crowd – knowing the exits. Extra observant in parking lots, stores, anywhere in public really…

  5. One thing that folks tend to forget about when scanning their surrounding, is to also look up above themselves. There may not be many bad guys up there, but there could be some inanimate object that could get you when you’re walking (low-hanging electric wires, broken and dangling tree limbs, loose building front), or when you’re driving (low wires, people or things on overpasses), and there’s nothing like driving a high load around in your back yard and tearing down your own service wire, or whipping that new motor home in under the restaurant canopy that is too low for it.

    CD in Oklahoma

      1. (Is that buzzing sound from a motor in the distance, or from a drone directly above me?)

        CD in Oklahoma

    1. Our best vision is peripheral, and that includes when looking up. Your mind “sees” what you’re looking directly at, but it pays attention to anything out of place at the edges as well. By looking up you’re training your mind to use that additional edge.

  6. @Nailbanger
    It is a well known sciencetific fact that the reason outer space is a vacuum is that earth ( earthlings) suck.
    Now seriously, being aware of my surroundings has protected me many times. I see many people going from one bad situation to another only because they do not think. As preppers we often talk about some SHTF event causing havoc, well, I can tell you this next SHTF event will be like none other. I think that this next event will be the extinction or near extinction of humanity depending upon whether there are enough people around that are aware to continue the human species. This is not promoting fear; I just see it all around and it motivates me.

    1. I agree. I think at this moment in time it isn’t even the promotion of fear. Even a casual glance at the state of our world from any of the different angles one may pick (spiritual, scientific, economic, political, etc…) is enough to realize all is not well in the wonderland.

      1. Macek
        Thst for sure, i almost cant stand looking at news and wouldnt if not for morbid curiousity.

  7. And that ‘gut check’ you are feeling may be telling you to “get while the gettin’s good – Feets don’t fails me now . . . “

    1. Gut check is right. Don’t even take the time to question a gut check just react or move.

        1. Over here every other car on the road on a weekend is a jacked up 4×4,,,,
          I pass a guy on the road most work days driving a dodge crew cab dually with 22″ alcoas and stacks, most of these guys somehow get away with 8″ lifts, i can barely get in my leveled 4×4 superduty,,, going to have to get steps when i put on the 35KMIIs, is funny actually, some sawed off little 5’4 portagee getting in a crew cab long bed F350 with a 8″ lift and 38″ tires,,,, circus!

        2. It would be hard to be gray around here drivin an unusual ride like that. Many of those in your area?

          1. wood56gas
            I have lived in this small town (1200) my whole life. Here at home, going gray ain’t gonna work, everyone knows everyone.
            I actually have 3 trucks, 07 LTD 3/4 Chevy. 82 3/4 Chevy, and 66 Dodge Power Wagon.
            The 07 is very tricked out, so no GRAY there, only one like it in town. The 82 Chevy is the one I drive mostly, had it since 82, everyone knows the truck.
            The Dodge is famous, it’s name is “Buck Snort”, and won the ugly truck award at the County Fair.
            So much for going Gray. NOT!!!!

          2. SMG
            Thats funny, my friend had a 80something dodge we called the goat roper

  8. Everyone should know by now the “Rules of Threes”, right?

    The Nornal list;
    3 Minutes without Air
    3 Hours without Shilter
    3 Days without Water
    3 Weeks withort Food

    I prefer the extended list myself;
    3 Micno-second (1/1,000,000 of a second) without thinking/Brain activity (a LOT of people fall into this crapegory)
    3 Millli-second (1/1000 of a second) without recognition of a threat (Keeping your sences active)
    3 Centi-second (1/100 of a second) without your mucsles reacting (Involuntary Reactions)
    3 Seconds analyzing the threat and reacting (Voluntary reactions)
    30 Seconds to Deferding and Protecting
    3 Minutes without Air
    30 Minutes from Hyperthermia (varies)
    3 Hours without Shelter
    3 Days without Water (Actuallly a lot less, in 2 days you’re probably becoming delusional)
    3 Weeks without Food (again a lot less, at 1 week your becoming weak and fatigued)
    3 Months without resupply (most have less than 3 months of water and food)
    30 Months alone/Hermit (Humins are social animals and WILL go crazy without interaction)
    3 years without rebuilding Society (a community will need to survive, or what’s it worth anyways?)
    30 Years without Country and inferastructure
    300 Years and we start all over again
    3000 Years for the Radiatiom to subside enough to live outside
    3 Billion years for the Sun to explode and the Solar System to fry
    3 Trillion years for the Universe to collopse and we start all over again

    Back to the Article;
    Awareness is not something that cam be done simply, as Ken said, you had butter practice…. See list of 3’s above.

    As practice, see how many miss-used/miss-spelled words are in my list/comment.

  9. Ladies especially walk down the middle of parking lot aisles, when you can. ie no vehicle coming.
    Then look around and turn to go to your vehicle. Take notice of every person loading and getting out of theirs. Are they LOOKING at you too long ??? Back in the day I could turn a head or two. Now days I would be HIGHLY suspicious of anyone giving me the once over !!!

  10. I don’t know if this observation matters in this text, But what I often wonder is “what do the other people see when looking at me?” My OSPEC is well tuned, I’ve been in some very bad situations, so I’ve learned the hard way to pat attention.
    I’ve had Ex military and LEO, security guards approach me , and comment on how I move through a store or crowd and how my head is on a swivel when I’m in the public. I ask myself, Is it THAT obvious?

    1. (But what I often wonder is “what do the other people see when looking at me?”)

      There are 2 sides to this.

      First side is I tend to go my own way and don’t really care what others think of how I do things or live my life. After it’s my life and I’m going to do as I see fit.

      But the other side of it is that I try to be The Grey Man and in doing that you have to not stick out. So some conformity has to be part of who you are and what you do in order to not make a lasting impression and to go about your business with the least amount of notice of yourself.

      I think this balance of going your own way and still looking like others around you do is important now and will be super important if we get a bad SHTF or a grid-down event.

      In tough times people will be much more aware of what is going on, they will notice those that are able to cope with the bad times. It could be that your clothes fit better then most people as you have access to food, your house has light when others don’t have any electricity. Food being cooked will give off smells that can be detected from a distance.

      Situational awareness is a 2-sided thing, be aware of what is going on around you. But also be aware of what others may see. OSPEC is a kinda reverse situational awareness in reverse. You want to craft the situation to make it as close to what the other person expects to see and keep anything that could harm you hidden.

  11. For the last several years I have been making a strong effort to watch other people when out in the public.

    I had something that almost happened to me, only missed it by a few min.

    Back in the early 1990’s a friend and I had just finished a meal at a local Big Boy restaurant it was a warm Summer night and we were enjoying the night, and were talking for a few min outside by our autos before we went home. It was like 10:30 at night, we were there for the better part of an hour. We finally went home to find out the next day a disgruntled husband with a gun chased his wife (they lived a few blocks from the Big Boy) and she ran into the Big Boy and he fired a few shots into the restaurant from outside.

    We left the parking lot only a few in before this happened and he fired into the restaurant from a position that was only 30a few feet from where we were talking. Who knows if we would have been shot if we were still there?

    After that I started to carry a gun more often on me. I also modified my parking lot educate as to how I parked my car and made myself much more aware of my soundings.

    I do these things all the time in case I never need to get away from a crazy person in a store or business.

    When going into stores and doing any shopping I always do a few things.

    I back into the parking space so if needed to get away in hurry I don’t have to back out, stop and then go forward. I just have to drop it in drive and go.

    I also park in locations close to the number or letter tags (A, B C or isle 1, 2 3 ) so I can easily find my auto in a hurry.

    I park at least one isle away from the store entrance so if needed I can use autos as a bullet stop if I needed to run to my auto.

    And I also turn around when almost in the store to get a picture in my mind as to where and what my parking location is and looks like.

    I talked to my brother about things like this (He’s a county Sheriff) and he says it’s common practice to lock down a business, be it an office, school or store when they have an active shooter. The purpose is to contain the shooter (I question this being effective) within the building. If it works or not it seems to me to be dangerous to me if I’m inside the store that gets the power to the doors cut to lock them when there is a person with a gun also inside.

    What I have done for the last several years is to have a small automatic center punch that will easily blow out any glass door or window. This punch only cost $5.00 at Harbor Tools, and is the size of a magic marker. If I feel I need to get out of a building that is locked down any glass door or window is easily broken with this thing.

    No one in a business has the right to keep me inside a building where some crazy person with a gun is shooting people. I decide if I should stay or run, not some manager flunkey.

  12. Would you like to see what situational awareness is in a parking lot or store…….try observing those who go to C*$tco. What a zoo, and no game keepers to keep them in line.

    Dh refers to it as $earch & de$tr0y missions just to find a parking space without adding any points to the hood ornaments.

  13. Not to be to big of a smart ass on here, BUT, What are you “Situational Awareness Failures”.
    We all got them, it’s just will we admit the?
    Mine, well. I work daily with my Daughter, and she finally had to tell me she was pregnant 7 &1/2 months pregnant, Some times thing right under our noises go un-noticed.

    1. Stand My Ground in the past I noticed that my Situational Awareness was not so aware when I carried a gun. I think (at least for me) it’s a case of thinking the gun gives me more control and I don’t need to be so meek when I have it on me.

      When you don’t have a gun on you I think a person is more concern for being hurt so it naturally makes you assess threats a bit more critically then you do when you feel the gun puts you a bit ahead of others.

      I try to fight this by understanding we all can be attacked, or suppressed and thrown into a bad situation with no warning.

      And just because a person has a firearm on them doesn’t make them bullet proof or somehow impossible to be harmed.

      1. Chuck Findlay
        I never, ever leave home un-armed. I’ve only had to use my weapon, twice, in my life time. )Bounty Hunter) Although, I have never pulled the trigger, just looking down that huge bore, was enough to convince them, maybe I wasn’t a good idea to resit or push this guy to hard. To many years of hard times, even armed, I don’t let my guard down. Only at my Homestead, the safest place I know, do I relax

  14. Situational awareness…..I can relate to that, big-time.
    I drive a forklift for my everyday job. I HAVE to lookout for idiots constantly wondering thru the warehouse. Any out of place movements catches my eye.
    Car guy yup will agree. Sit facing the entrance/exit. Hopefully not sitting with ur back to a windowed area, if at all possible. Watch people as they enter/exit. I know what ur saying about GF. The ex used to accuse me ALL the time of looking. So I stopped the awareness looking. Walking with my head down etc. At that point and time I was hoping for death. Lol
    Anyway this article sparked a Christmas gift GF gave to me a yr or 2 ago. Which I would +Strongly Recommend+ to anyone with a CCW.
    It was a class that used actual 9mm Glocks modified to shoot “paint bullets” – 9mm with paint tips. They thru u various senerios of what ifs. U with a weapon those others with a weapon shooting back at u. Parking lots with an actual car, a house clearing, city streets with ‘ buildings’ etc. Very educational.
    Very sobering. Very awesome.
    Head on a swivel…..

  15. Not to be a smart ass, but to be made by a security guard?😉
    Laughing with you, not at you. I was once working a project with a group of criminal psychologists and we visited a hospital for the criminally insane,. We entered a recreation ward of about 10 inmates, all of us wearing white clinical smocks, and before I opened my mouth, two of them shouted “that one’s a cop.” (the bad guys tend to be observant too)

        1. Joe c, nope, they were in a controlled access room, but the state hospital orderlies in those days all looked like NFL offensive linemen. I think the job description must have called for a minimum 6’3″ 300lb.

    1. Dennis my brother is a sheriff and even when not in uniform you can sense he’s a cop. It just flows off him in attitude. It’s quite easy to spot.

      Years ago I worked at a friends gun shop and it was so easy to spot cops when they came in in street clothes. They have a different attitude and it stands out that they couldn’t hide.

      Some might call it arrogance, but whatever it is it is easy to spot in no more then a few seconds.

      PS: Don’t ever work at a gun shop, while I got guns at cost all that meant is I spent way too much money on guns.

      1. Chuck
        I served papers to a young man one time.
        Your a cop ain’t ya? I can tell by the way you talk. I’m not fooling ya I’ve been in trouble before.
        No sir I ain’t a cop. But I play one on TV.

      2. Chuck, we were aware of how easy we were to spot even in plain clothes. I think it revolves around wearing the exposed handgun in conjunction with the uniform. Wherever you go, all eyes are on you. When you know every eye is following you even if your just in fast food joint to get a burger, watching your every move, you unconsciously over compensate for that. That feeling of “all eyes are on me” doesn’t go away when you’re off duty.
        Next time you’re out and about in a public place and a uniformed officer walks in, if you can pry your own eyes off him, observe the actions of everyone else, and see if I’m not right. It works both ways though, when an off duty or former cop approaches a uniformed officer in public, they most likely will recognize him as a non-threat, due to the lack of restraint (hesitancy) in his manner.

      3. Chuck, this is one of the things I love about Ken’s blog. The opportunity for folks with many varied backgrounds and expertise to share experience and knowledge that might help others.
        Your post about being able to spot a off-duty cop lead to the discussion of why this is. I responded with how this can be explained. Let me expand on this thread, because I think it is integral to the topic Ken began.
        Many of the mannerisms that make a cop easy to spot are taught to them. Academy instructors call it “Officer Presence”. I mentioned the trip to the state hospital. We were trying to discover/understand why some truly bad guys, who had been stopped or arrested hundreds of times w/o incident then, one time, decides to kill an officer. The common denominator was, time after time, “those other officers seemed sure of themselves and in charge, I felt it would be stupid to resist” or words to that effect. They were more or less saying they had contemplated shooting every officer who arrested them in the past, but their perception that officer was ready, confident, and competent dissuaded them.
        It’s been discussed on these pages in the past that how one carries themselves in public can prevent you from being a target. Same theory.

        1. – In a previous life, I was a classified Courier. For my job, I moved money, weapons, people and (lots of) paper. I once had a sky marshal comment that the briefcase I was carrying did not have a handcuff on it. My response to him was that ‘a handcuff kind of gives you away’. I will not go into detail as to what I was carrying, suffice it to say that my superiors felt it necessary and appropriate that I had a 1911 tucked under my left armpit. Having given that much information, I was a frequent flyer, at least partly because I was really and truly a health care professional and didn’t look like or ‘smell’ like a cop or other LEO. Despite that, I still come up as a former federal agent.on my County Sheriff’s computer, and still have a Concealed Carry License, Same as any other retired or former federal agent. My job as far a when I was doing it was not truly law enforcement. If anything I was a, ‘legal smuggler’, and making arrests was contrary to what I needed to do. Altogether, though I would have to say that the difference in demeanor was what made the difference. On the other hand, being able hit what I aimed at also made a considerable difference, and I was never accused of being ‘less than confident’. In fact, I was told on a couple of occasions that I bordered on arrogant. The only ones who ever really ‘made’ me were inmates in the same sort of situation as above, and that was when I was no longer doing that kind of work. The answer, “Not in a long while,” calmed them down, I just didn’t mention ‘a long while’ being about 6 months.
          – Papa S.

  16. Man, we live a boring life compared to most o yall,,,
    There isnt much ever going on around here, people for the most part are pretty mellow, farly decent, disconnected more and more but still most are ok,,, lots of good local folks just cruising through life, not much to worry about really, read about stuff happening occasionally but i gotta say, here on this rock, theres not much going on if your just an average stiff like me or my sweety or the folks we know, think thats ok though, might be the difference that really makes a difference somewhere down the line, like i told homesteader, i really want to go and travel around the country at some point, but that aint happening in the near future, so mellow island lifestyle it is! Not so terrible actually

    1. NB
      Nothing wrong with that.
      I would like to go to the ‘rock’ someday. Probably won’t ever happen. And travel in general in the here, at home, and continental US. Things are pretty calm here where I live too.
      GF just pushes me to expand. Is a good thing. Love her for it.

      1. GF always knew I wanted to be a cop. In my mid- thirties I got my associates degree in criminal justice. I then broke my hip falling off a freakin six foot wall, trying to qualify for the academy. ( Driving a stick shift 75 miles back home with an unknown broken left hip.) Clutches hurt.
        God’s answer to say to me, “don’t do.it”, I.guess.

        1. JC
          Everything happens for a reason! At least thats the way it always seems for myself,,

        2. You could apply for a desk job – crime analyst – using data from reports to crime map, etc. Every few days I go to the crimereports website and type in not my address (to protect from hackers), but the address of a close business which will include my street in the map. I like to know what is going on in my hood although the data is based on calls for service and some incidents will not get mapped due to sensitivity of ongoing investigations. Recently I have noticed a lot of drug overdose non suicide – does this mean Fentanyl?

  17. I just moved into my condo as I want to be an apartment prepper in my 50s and older as I live alone and feel safer within a condo community. The week before I moved in a woman 30-40 was trying for unlocked apartment doors. My just retired neighbours found her in their apartment, in the bathroom, looking through the medicine cabinet. One half of the couple had just gone out for a quick minute to the garbage chute and had left the unit door unlocked as many people do for those one minute errands. Immediately, the condo emergency number was called, signs were placed in the elevators, the police were called to file a report, and a security guard was hired for two weeks to monitor everyone (even the 80 year olds) coming into the building. To date, it is unknown if the person was a care worker (she was dressed as one) to the elderly, or an imposter into the building, or if she lives in the building. Needless to say she was looking for medications – either for herself or for some other unauthorised person.

  18. Immodestly I will say that I’m one of the nicest people I know. But if I’m going somewhere and have to move through a crowd of strangers, down unfamiliar streets, walk up to a residence outside of my neighborhood, or even through a grocery store parking lot, I’m ramrod straight, head forward, left hand in pocket or gripping purse, right (strongest) hand and arm free. And I stride or stomp even though my preferred pace is to amble. This comes from experience, some of it mine. I don’t think fearful thoughts; rather “keep the heck away from me” is radiating off of me. I don’t smile. My eyes sweep but don’t make contact. It’s deliberate. It was learned through practice. It’s made a difference.

  19. Saw a kid the other day maybe 16 riding his skateboard down a steep very busy main street with his ear buds in and staring at his phone…thinking to myself….there is the next victim…..When approaching my car I always look at the window to see the reflection behind me just in case anyone is coming from behind, rounding corners I always take the long way around to give myself the extra time to react….all above are great ideas friends…practice them daily and watch the ones who don’t…they will be the first victims….and there is a lot of them!

  20. And there is Information awareness. How many here know the Saudis Aramco IPO has been closed to the USA? Only China has access to buy this IPO.

    How much longer can we expect before Saudi oil will be priced in Yuan?

  21. For true awareness of what is happening, readers should read Qanon.

    qanonposts dot com

    The Great Awakening is happening!

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