Situational awareness is one of the foundations of preparedness. By observing your surroundings — and teaching your loved ones to do the same — you'll gain an early warning of any trouble that's headed your way. Even if it only buys you a second or two to react, that time can be a literal life-saver. Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of our Road Trip Safety web series, which focuses specifically on situational awareness. For now, here's a real-life situation that illustrates this point.

Good observation and awareness skills are only part of the equation. You need to use that information to react quickly and defend yourself effectively — that means having the tools and the skills to take action. In the following video from Active Self Protection, instructor John Correia analyzes some CCTV footage of a defensive shooting in Brazil. His takeaways from this video are valuable to keep in mind.

The video begins with a woman preparing to move her car at night when her husband, reportedly an off-duty police officer, walks outside and stops her. While it's possible that he did this for some innocuous reason, it's more likely that he knew this area might be dangerous for someone alone and unarmed in a vehicle. If that's the case, he was absolutely correct in that assessment. A man walks towards them with a gun in hand, and attempts to carjack them.

Fortunately, the husband was armed and was able to react quickly and get the upper hand, thanks in part to his wife watching his back and alerting him of the danger. As we'll discuss more tomorrow, this is a great example of how a “pack mindset” and situational awareness are critical for the entire family.

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