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What is Situational Awareness?

Situational awareness is defined as the “perception of environmental elements and events” In other words, situational awareness is the ability to know and understand what is going on around you.

For example, walking alone at night, you should be conscious of your surroundings and ready to act if necessary. When driving, you should be conscious of other drivers and predict their moves, such as someone slamming on their brakes or swerving into your lane.

Your perception of your surroundings is unique, and it is affected by your knowledge, experience, and education. It is also influenced by the degree of activity and attentiveness in your environment.

It is particularly tough for anyone to maintain complete knowledge of what is occurring during an intense survival situation. Therefore, it is critical that property and mobile security patrol guards are aware of the behaviors that maintain situational awareness.

When practicing situational awareness, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I seeing? Is anything out of the ordinary happening? Is anyone acting suspiciously?

  • Where am I located? Can I evacuate staff/public if there's an emergency? Do I know where the exits are located? Is there anything blocking my escape routes?

  • How are other people reacting? Does something feel "off" about this situation?


As security professionals, we need to understand some basic rules for safety that are also essential for practicing situational awareness:

1. Learn to predict events

The most effective aspect of situational awareness is being able to predict how elements around you are likely to affect future actions and events.

After you have been able to identify elements in your site environment and understand the situation, it is time to take your situational awareness one step further. Use this information to think ahead and work out how it will affect future actions and events in the environment.

2. Identify elements around you

The first step in achieving situational awareness is to become aware of the important elements in the environment on your site. It is designed to help you expand and improve your perception of what is happening around you.

Start by noticing the threats that surround you and then expand your awareness to other non-threatening elements. This is the most basic level of situational awareness, where you begin to monitor, detect and recognize many different elements in your situation. These include objects, events, people, and environmental factors.

Basic situational awareness also requires you to notice the locations, conditions, and actions of the elements around you. For a property or mobile security patrol guard, these are skills you already use on a daily basis.

3. Trust your feelings

Disorder within your work environment or a gut feeling that things are not right can cause you to lose proper situational awareness. This clue is one of the most reliable indications that something is wrong because the body is able to detect stimuli in the environment long before we have consciously put all the information together.

4. Limit situational overload

Overload causes distraction, increased errors, and high stress.

During times of overload, you can help yourself survive by:

• prioritizing and delegating tasks

• minimizing surrounding distractions.

5. Avoid complacency

Assuming everything is under control will make you less vigilant. You have to keep yourself in actively the right mindset. When things are slow, or tasks are routine, we usually become complacent. The worst part is that complacency slowly creeps up on us, so we hardly ever notice it except in hindsight. To stop yourself from becoming complacent:

• continue to challenge yourself and those around you to be prepared for contingencies

• do a mental check every now and then.

6. Be aware of the time

Time is an important factor in mastering situational awareness.

The actions of individuals, task characteristics, and outside elements are constantly changing the pace of your environment. When unplanned events begin to arise, make the necessary changes to your schedule and goals to help you survive.

7. Begin to evaluate and understand situations

The next step involves understanding multiple elements in your environment through recognizing, interpreting and evaluating patterns.

Use this information to work out how these elements will affect your goal – which, in this case, is to survive. This information will help you build a comprehensive picture of your immediate surroundings and stronger situational awareness.

8. Actively prevent fatigue

Fatigue makes it harder for you to watch for possible danger or difficulties. Active steps you can take to prevent fatigue are to:

• try adjusting your work routine and following a disciplined sleep routine to prevent wake cycles longer than 18 hours

• get a sound sleep of at least five, preferably eight, hours every day to minimize sleep deprivation.

9. Continually assess the situation

When you are in a survival situation, always be prepared for changes around you. Continually assess and reassess the situation to work out if you are giving yourself the best possible chance of survival.

Learn what nature, the land, and new tasks are telling you before you find yourself in a difficult


10. Monitor the performance of others

Be alert for changes in the performance of people around you, which may be due to work overload, stress or mistakes. When you observe changes in performance, act by speaking up and helping out. A weak link in your team could be the difference between success and failure.


It's a common occurrence for security professionals to come across situations where they must confront someone. While it can be intimidating, it's also an excellent opportunity to practice your situational awareness and utilize your training to help prevent a potentially dangerous scenario.

Here are some tips for handling confrontations:

Positive mindset:

Practice positive self-talking as the body always follows the mind.

Examine the hands:

What is the person doing or not doing?

Check the area:

Is the path dark, narrow, and uneven? Are there dead ends?

Mental plan of escape:

If things become unsafe, where can I go?

Keep a safe distance:

Allowing enough space is the key to staying safe. The more space, the better.

Identify unique characteristics:

What unique characteristics is the person exhibiting? What is his body language telling you? Is he standing in a fighting stance? Is he closed off or hiding something?

45-Degree Stance:

This position provides better balance maneuverability and is seen as non-aggressive.

Deep and slow breaths:

To prevent stiff muscles, allow oxygen to the brain and muscles.

We hope that these tips and information are useful for starting a career in security.

Security Guard Group’s company-paid and on-the-job training ensures that newcomers to security are properly equipped and confident enough to succeed in their profession.

If you want to start your career or carry your career to new heights with us,

you can apply here.



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