Are you aware of your surroundings? Alertness is a key component of self defense

Capt. Phillip Shively explains the color codes of awareness, and why awareness can help you avoid a self-defense situation altogether.

5 Color Codes Of AwarenessCUSTER, S.D. — Are you aware of what’s going on around you? When Capt. Phillip Shively with the Hot Springs Police Department and Certified Instructor for Enhanced Concealed Carry Permit in South Dakota talked about the five pillars of self-defense, one of the keys to self defense was avoidance.

According to Capt. Shively, avoidance starts with awareness, and he outline the ‘Color Codes of Awareness’ here.

  1. White: No awareness of surroundings. “If you’re in the color code white, it means you have no idea what’s going on around you,” Capt. Shively says. He explains that addiction to cell phones has decreased our awareness of our surrounding environment. “You’re not paying attention. You don’t know who’s around or what’s around, what threats may be lurking, different situations. So we don’t ever want to be in white.”
  2. Yellow: Alert and aware of surroundings. “When you’re in a building, you know what the anomalies might be…driving into the parking lot at Wal-Mart – are you under a light? Are you parked in between two vans? Is there a group of guys walking around trying door handles?” These questions are examples of what Capt. Shively thinks about when he’s making sure he knows his environment.
  3. Orange: Noticing anomalies in surroundings. When you’re alert and notice some of the above anomalies happening, you’ve made it into the orange area, but it may be time to leave instead of staying and engaging in self-defense. “When you see the anomalies, you have three anomalies stacking up, then it’s time to get out,” Capt. Shively says. “You don’t necessarily want to be there with your family to be the hero.”
  4. Red: Unable to avoid threat. At this point, the anomalies have indicated a threat, and you’re now unable to avoid the situation. “That’s when you’re fighting for your life,” says Capt. Shively.
  5. Black: Fight, freeze, or flight kicks in, and self-defense at this point might not be something you can even accomplish. “You’re living in white, completely unaware of your surroundings. The anomalies start stacking up. The threat is there and you have no clue what to do about it because you’ve been in white, you haven’t prepared mentally, physically, and then you’re frozen,” Capt. Shively explains. “Usually the fight, freeze or flight, a lot of times turns into freeze because we have what’s called a normalcy bias, and your brain starts explaining ‘this is normal, this is normal. Wait, maybe it’s not normal. I don’t think this is normal.’ And by that time, it’s too late.”

It’s important to note that you can enter and exit these color codes of awareness and move between them, possibly jumping from white to black in the worst scenario, or maybe even orange to yellow if you’re able to leave a situation that just isn’t seeming normal.

In summary, Capt. Shively says that “we want to stay in yellow. We’re not paranoid. We’re just alert and aware so that we can see something coming.”

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