Getting Home Safe – Alert Your Spouse with a Safe Word or Phrase

by Michael W Loos

Condition Orange
Getting Home Safe – Alert Your Spouse with a Safe Word or Phrase
New Gunner Journal
New Gunner Journal

USA –-(Ammoland.com)- It's late at night, you and your Spouse are walking through a heavy fog in the parking lot of the local Theater – the light standards providing nothing more than a feeble dull glow, its normally bright light unable to cut through the pea soup – the quiet of the night is further muffled by the thick air, the only sound is the soft clicking of your shoes on the asphalt.

The movie you attended was the last one showing, and as you walk through the chill night air you become aware of the few cars still in the lot, scattered here and there like huge rocks in a barren desert.

Your antennae is up, reflecting Condition Yellow, as you make your way to the corner of the lot.

As you move within 50 yards of your car, you begin to see shadows moving in the foggy darkness beyond your car, several of them.

Due to a combination of the late hour, fog and remoteness of your vehicle in the parking lot, you move from Condition Yellow to Condition Orange, your focus now sharp, mind alert and ready as you assess the immediate area and the influx of new sensory information.

At 25 yards, the shadows are now a group of people – five or six – standing on the far side of your car, about 25 feet past your vehicle. You do a quick 360° sweep and quickly refocus your attention on the people.

Still walking, you touch your Spouse's arm and say “Keep your eyes open and stay close to me.”

“Why?” They ask, looking at you suspiciously.

“Just do what I say… please….stay close and be alert.”

“Why? What the heck is going on,” and they pull on your arm, trying to stop you, to make you explain your intentions.

Your mind is working, assessing your surroundings, the possible threat, distance, who they are, what are they doing – and while you do this, you are whispering harshly to your Wife to be quiet and stay close.

Finally, at the last 10′, keeping your car between you and the possible threat, you can hear some laughter, normal chatter, no threatening posturing, and as you get to your car, you catch the eye of one of the young men and nod, he returns the nod and you open the car door, let in your Spouse before coming round – still in Condition Orange – get in the car, start it up and motor away unscathed.

Your Spouse is now a chatterbox of questions, why, why and why?!

The drive home is a step by step explanation of what was happening, the possible threat and your own high alert and why you were asking them to just “… do what I ask without questions!”

“Safe Word”

A “safe word” is a code word – one word (or phrase) that explains you are on high alert – something you can say to your Spouse that should instantly make them aware there is a possible problem or threat and they should immediately be quiet, stay close and be ready to react to instructions.

When a Condition Orange situation arises, you want two things to happen;

  • One – Be able to focus completely on the possible threat.
  • Two, to focus on the possible threat without confused peripheral input from your Spouse.

I explained to my Wife we needed a word that would bring her to the same high alert as me, in an instant. We decided on a phrase – “Hon, we have to get home and let the dog out.” We don't own a dog, so she will immediately know there is a problem. No confusion. It's also a phrase I can say while at a store standing an aisle or two over from where she is, without it sounding odd. After settling on the phrase, we talked about what it is I would expect from her.

“Actions”

I explained to her that when I am with her, my only concern, my only thought, my only job, is to make sure she gets out safe. That's it, nothing else matters to me.

But how do I accomplish this? I told her that when I give the safe phrase, she should be quiet, open her eyes, get her head up and be aware of our surroundings – where we are, is there somewhere safe to go – and, if I say so, be ready to run.

I explained I want her to stay a half-step back and go to my weak hand side. Put her hand on my back (or grab my belt) and move when I move, where I move, without questions.

I'm not looking to pre-plan what to do in full on Condition Red – more of Condition Yellow / Orange. “Hon, we have to get home to feed the dog” – and she will know immediately there is a potential problem. To stay close, be quiet, eyes open and aware.

Self Defense Conditions
Self Defense Conditions

AmmoLand Editors Comment: Note that author Michael W Loos did send us the correct image, regarding condition black, AmmoLand made the decision to run the above image, not the author. Based on the comments below that was a questionable choice, but since there is so much discussion it would now be confusing to remove the image, so we have provided this note.  Thanks for all your support and having our backs. Below is his original image.

Mental Awareness Color Codes
Mental Awareness Color Codes

We all know you can't plan what to do in a gunfight – beyond the immediate reaction, a gunfight is a fluid and volatile situation – but you can make sure your spouse is not caught off guard. I want my wife thinking along with me, seeing the problem and working to get home safe. So I wanted something easy to remember, to keep her thinking and calm.

I wanted to break it down to something simple, so these are the Four Rules I wanted her to remember.

1) Quiet
2) Stay Close
3) Be Aware
4) Do exactly what I say – no questions asked.

“Condition Orange”

It's also important to note that these precautions are – for me- used in “Condition Yellow / Orange”. The Safe Phrase is meant to bring her up to Condition Orange immediately and is an attempt to keep us out of the fray before the fray has a chance to begin.

“Have a back-up plan, because the first one won't work. “No battle plan ever survives 10 seconds past first contact with an enemy.” Use cover or concealment as much as possible.” ~ Joe B. Fricks

The Safe Phrase or Word cannot protect you once you move to Condition Red and the fight has come – the chaos of such situations will put the pressure on your training and your ability to adjust, improvise and overcome – But it can put you in the best position to get you and yours home safe before the shooting starts.

And in the end, isn't that what we all want?

Concealed Carry and the War on the Second Amendment
Concealed Carry and the War on the Second Amendment

Stay Safe and Carry Responsibly,
Hipshot – NewGunnerJournal.

My new book – Concealed Carry and the War on the Second Amendment, a collection from the New Gunner Journal – is now available at Lulu.com, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you have any questions about Concealed Carry or are sitting on the fence, this would make a nice Christmas present to learn about the lifestyle and those who live it.

Order now… “Concealed Carry and the War on the Second Amendment”

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    LesWolMichael LoosHipshot PercussionjackDave Recent comment authors
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    LesWol
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    LesWol

    LOL! If the little lady cannot be trusted to keep quiet and assess the situation she shouldn’t be with you- she needs a condition white kind of a guy. As a woman I’ve been in a lot of condition orange situations and occasionally found myself looking for an impromptu weapon. Pretty soon after that I bought my first handgun. The last time my husband and I found ourselves in a dicey situation he was driving our motorcycle and I was the one that reached for the .45 🙂

    Michael Loos
    Guest
    Michael Loos

    LesWol,
    This could just as easily be the other way around – Wife with a gun Husband clueless. I wrote it from my perspective. Everyone SHOULD live in Condition Yellow, but sadly, far too many don’t. If everyone lived in Condition Yellow, crime would drop like a rock.

    LesWol
    Guest
    LesWol

    Thanks. I enjoyed your article, thought it was well thought out, but wanted to present the feminine side. Truth is, I have been with a clueless male and I had his back.

    The idea of living in Condition Yellow is worth spreading and teaching. No one is saying you shouldn’t enjoy life and live in the moment, it just reminds you to be aware of your surroundings,

    jack
    Guest
    jack

    I disagree with both. First, why add a 5th condition? yellow, orange and red (taking action) are enough. What’s the difference between ORANGE: Recognizing a threat and RED: Ready to fight? Actually, you should be Ready to fight in Yellow. 🙂 I don’t think BLACK is Freeze/Panic. If you freeze/panic, you were in White. The best way to teach Black (if you insist) is as a Killing Rage. It’s alright to get in a fight, it’s alright to kill, if you have too. It is never OK to beat someone to death after they give up, after that are out… Read more »

    Hipshot Percussion
    Guest
    Hipshot Percussion

    Jack, I definitely don’t think Black is ‘killing rage’ and in fact, is dangerous to label it as such. Black – in my opinion – agrees with what I posted in a reply above. You are in the fight. Anyone who has been in a fight – not just a scuffle, but a fight – understands that as the fight is happening, you are in the moment. Fear drains away. Your movements and actions are instinctual and practiced all at the same time. The punches don’t hurt. Your mind is in complete reactionary mode. That, to me, is Condition Black

    Hipshot Percussion
    Guest
    Hipshot Percussion

    Unfortunately, the picture in this article – describing Condition Black as “Panic’ – is not the one I supplied. The one I supplied has Condition Black as “in the fight”. I’m sure they needed a higher resolution pic to print and grabbed a stock one from their files – not realizing the definition for Black was different. Condition Black was not an original color and is not included in Col Coopers list – but was added later. I have never known Condition Black to be anything but “in the fight.” As I stated above in a separate reply, this is… Read more »

    Michael Loos
    Guest
    Michael Loos

    For clarification – The picture in this article identifying Condition Black as “Panic” is not the one that I supplied. The picture I supplied refers to Condition Black as “In the Fight”. Sometimes pictures aren’t clear enough to meet Ammoland’s publishing standards and are replaced with suitable ones. I’m sure they added the “Condition” photo without realizing the color Black had a different meaning than the one I supplied. It was nothing more than a mistake and lets face it… it happens. I have never known Condition Black – not an original color code of Col Jeff Cooper – to… Read more »

    Dave
    Guest
    Dave

    The mental color codes (white thru red) you describe are the product and invention of Colonel Jeff Cooper. You should mention him when mentioning them. Condition “black” has never been a condition of mental awareness and has never been taught by Colonel Cooper. He and many others, myself included, do not believe that what you call condition “black” is a mental color code at all. If you freeze up in combat, you have no business carrying a weapon in the first place. People who wet their pants are small children who normally wear diapers. They are not men carrying the… Read more »

    David
    Guest
    David

    Damn… It’s so nice to get up in the morning and read a great article. One that I can apply and will be useful to me. You could say I’m “Scenario based”, and this one’s going in the bag. We’ve had a couple of instances where this exact thing has come up where I needed to get my wife to settle & focus quickly while I had to asses & plan. Both times it seems like 30% of my focus was forced trying to handle questioning and her low level nervousness being to escalate. Thinking this will be great to… Read more »

    Hipshot Percussion
    Guest
    Hipshot Percussion

    Thanks David! If you enjoyed this, take a moment and check out my book “Concealed Carry and the War on the Second Amendment – a collection from The New Gunner Journal” This article and many more like it are in the book

    Take care, stay safe and carry responsibly,
    Mike

    Herb
    Guest
    Herb

    Great idea and will likely work…unless you are married to Pollyanna. Pollyanna thinks that nothing will almost never go wrong and if it does, will only happen to someone else. My Pollyanna likes to talk, does not know how to be quiet, and talks in stage whispers, thinking nobody can hear her. So, if TSHTF time arrives, it will be a most difficult time if the little woman is with me.

    durabo
    Guest
    durabo

    I always give a talk to my CCW students concerning state of awareness, and tell them that Condition Black is when they have the training and the means to survive, but freeze and DO NOTHING. In western societies, black is the color of mourning. Psychological conditioning is required in order to have the predisposition to hurt another human in self defense.

    Hipshot Percussion
    Guest
    Hipshot Percussion

    This is what I know of Condition Black – Black: Condition Black came later – as a matter of evolution. It is explained by Ernest Emerson… “Condition Black is the place in a fight, in combat, where you cease to exist. The you that I am describing here is the conscious you, the thinking you, the you that you know. It is in this condition (Black) that all cognitive operations cease to register. There is no thinking, no decision making, no internal dialogue, no reasoning, no regard for safety and importantly, no fear. There is no before. There is no… Read more »

    Dave
    Guest
    Dave

    Condition black is BS. If you are going to faint or freeze up when you can save your own life you have no business carrying a firearm and should go back to condition white.

    STW
    Guest
    STW

    I’ve a retired friend (Oakland PD, DEA, USMC, USAF, FBI profiler, 2 Ph.d) whose safety phrase meant his wife needed to get the hell out of Dodge. His job was to take action when needed. Luckily, most of us are not in his situation. (He has a very funny story about a guy trying to rob him in a San Diego parking garage.)

    Silence Dogood
    Guest
    Silence Dogood

    It just might be better just to shout, “SHOOT THE DIRTBAG, DEAR!”