What is Situational Awareness and Why It is Important

Through experience and recognition of the need to have situational awareness, soldiers develop internal situational awareness.

What is Situational Awareness and Why It is Important
Photo by Mitchell Hollander / Unsplash

Situational Awareness is knowing where you are, for how long you are there, why you are there, and how to get out of there. To be situationally aware is to have a 360-degree view and appreciation of your surroundings. The military trains soldiers to be situationally aware as enemy and enemy forces can infiltrate the location of the soldiers at any time, and without notice. The same kind of vigilance is essential for every one of us as a way to allow us to navigate modern living and to ensure security and safety.

The Beirut Explosion and How the Lebanese Government Lacked Situational Awareness

Our condolences to the families who lost their loved ones to the Beirut, Lebanon blasts; Our hearts and prayers go to them. We wish all those who were injured and in the hospital a speedy recovery. As seen in this particular occurrence, we cannot always be situationally aware at all times, and some tragedies happen in the blink of an eye. The blasts in Beirut included a fire at first. It was flashing in a way to indicate that there were likely fireworks in the burning warehouse.

In a matter of moments, the city was shaken and shattered by the blast. The implosion was so massive and had packed such force that it was visible. For an explosion to cause a visible wave, it takes a lot of explosive energy. In this case, it became suspected that ammonium nitrate caused the colossal explosion. Ammonium nitrate is used as fertilizer, among other uses, and is highly explosive. It is the same material used to blast quarries and construction sites. The Lebanese government lacked situational awareness as someone should have been concerned about the Ammonium Nitrate stored at the port.

Why Situational Awareness is Important for Health and Safety

When construction workers are digging a tunnel, for instance, and using explosives, they wire the explosives and go as far as possible to avoid injury. Blasts implode and send shock waves that can be like being hit by a moving wall. Dealing with explosives and such material even in a non-military environment requires a lot of concentration and situational awareness. The military professionally teaches situation awareness, and soldiers appreciate it as a survival tactic on the battlefield.

How Soldiers Learn to Master the Art of Situational Awareness

On the battlefield, soldiers can be ambushed at any time and need to be situationally aware even when they rest or go to sleep. In most instances, soldiers sleep outside and in full regalia as a way to ensure that they stay prepared. Preparedness entails having weapons at hand and a helmet on. After seeing so much death and destruction at war, soldiers are more susceptible to suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In some instances, the symptoms of the disease can manifest as being overly situational aware.

Situational Awareness and Its Importance in Perceiving Danger

After returning from war, soldiers will likely wake up in the middle of the night, screaming and imagining that they have heard gunshots. Through experience and recognition of the need to have situational awareness, soldiers develop internal situational awareness. They can perceive behavior that is abnormal or ill-intent.

How Situation Awareness Can Help Us perceive Danger Easily

For instance, if a gunman entered a restaurant, a soldier would have the ability to notice this individual even before they take out their weapon. Through constant training and necessity, soldiers develop survival tactics, including situational awareness. To be situationally aware is to have a complete picture and understanding of our surroundings.

The Need for Situational Awareness in Risky Environments

In a club, for instance, you should always know the direction to the entrance or exit and possibly a back door. The world today has a lot of bad people, and there is a lot of evil, and part of protecting oneself is developing soldier-like situational awareness. Wild animals are very good at knowing what their surroundings are like and even have the ability to sense scents and movement.

How Situational Awareness Makes Up for a Lack of Animal Instincts in Humans

As humans, we lack that animal instinct, so to speak, when it comes to personal protection and security. It is why pickpockets usually operate in cities and not in rural areas as they know that on top of a lack of intuitive situational awareness, we are most often distracted.

How Technology has Made Us More Distracted and How that is Detrimental to Situational Awareness

The advent of technology and the smartphone era has led to even more distraction, and you will most likely meet a few people on the streets walking with their phones in hand. It can be deadly as you can be walking with your headset or headphones on. By distracting the senses, an individual loses situational awareness and is at increased risk for injury. Please always do one thing at a time. Only use your phone or listen to music when at home, in the office or at a restaurant, i.e., where you are seated and have a scope of your surroundings.

Are you situationally aware?

Avoiding Crowds as Part of Situational Awareness

Think of stampedes and the danger of being in crowds. The current pandemic is teaching us to be more conscious and situationally aware. You can lack situational awareness by being in an environment with increased risk and too many probable dangers such as stadiums or concerts. Even more so, being in such places and taking alcohol or drugs increases the danger several-fold. Intoxication limits inhibition and one is likely to engage in risky behavior such as overexcitement and even violence.

How Drugs and Alcohol Limit Situational Awareness

Drug and alcohol abuse also incapacitates the individual, and one becomes expected to lose the ability to run or even scream for help. Such drug abuse can reduce the situational awareness of the individual significantly, and as a result, they are at increased risk of something terrible happening. An individual could walk into a sinkhole just by being intoxicated.

Educating Others on the Need and Importance of Situational Awareness

Children can lack the knowledge or understanding of situational awareness and the need for it. As such, it is upon parents and guardians to always know the whereabouts of their children. Children can be very adventurous, and it is only proper that parents keep an eye on their children at all times.

Parents' Role in Teaching their Children About Situational Awareness

Parents should watch their children while they are in an environment with too many variables. For instance, if the child is playing in a park in the middle of the city, they are in increased danger when they wander out of the park, as compared to a park in a rural area. As such, by teaching children to develop situational awareness from an early age, we can all become increasingly better at predicting danger and avoiding it.

Environmental Factors and How they Can Limit Situational Awareness

Environmental factors such as air pollution can limit situational awareness, and an individual can fail to smell something burning due to air pollution. It can leave them inside a burning building or a house on fire, especially when the fire breaks out while they are asleep. Therefore, as the soldiers mentioned earlier, we need to develop a sleep-wakeful sense that allows for perception even when sleeping.

Why We Need Situational Awareness and Why We should Prioritize It

By having situational awareness, we can perceive danger and effectively respond to stimuli. It would increase security and minimize the risk of injury or even fatality. We should all be responsible. We should also be cautious not to put ourselves in risky and possibly fatal situations. Don’t drink and drive. If you drink, which I don’t advise as in defeating addiction, please have a designated driver. You probably need to invest more in a chauffeur and less in partaking in alcohol. Your health and wellness are far more critical.