One of the things we teach in concealed carry class is how important situational awareness is. This is a practice that extends beyond gun owners as well and is a large part of ensuring you don’t become a victim.
In my concealed carry class, I learned to be SAFE: Stay away from strangers, Aware of my surroundings, Follow my instincts, and Evaluate my options. These four simple rules not only help me to be prepared for anything, but also to avoid dangerous situations. Although no one can ever ensure complete safety in every single situation, gun owners and concealed carriers know that we carry to level the playing field should danger cross our paths.
I take this a step further with my own children with a practice my husband and I call Playing it S.A.F.E.: Situational Awareness Family (or Fun) Exercises.
As we are out and about with the kids, we keep tabs on things and people around us which, as former private detectives, comes as second nature to us. We quiz them throughout the store with questions like, “How many people were with us in the last aisle?”, “What was the last announcement about?” or “Where is the closest exit?”. Many of these questions are simple, but only for people who are truly aware of the situation they are in.
However, upon returning to the car, we announce “Here we go, let’s Play it S.A.F.E.!” and the kids know: it’s on.
We ask routine questions like, “Did anyone notice what the cashier’s name was?”, “How many spaces in were we parked from the store?”, “Who can describe what the customer behind us in line looked like?”, but we also take it up a notch: “Did anyone see was on the front page of the newspaper right inside the door?” or “What color were the balloons tied onto the clearance racks in the Girl’s Department?”. The more you challenge yourself and those around you to notice your surroundings, the better you’ll become at increasing your situational awareness.
Plus, it’s just fun! Last week, I was in Target with my son and after leaving the customer service desk, he said, “Mom, did you see her name tag?”. Admittedly, I hadn’t but he did and noticed she had it on upside down! He ended up going back to let her know and I was really proud – knowing that it’s because of our Play it SAFE game that he has become such an observant young man.
Now that my kids are intent on quizzing (and stumping) me on different things they observe while we’re out and about, I hereby pass the torch onto you to Play it S.A.F.E with your family, friends, and loved ones!