Proactively Detecting Danger in Public: Situational Awareness – Part Two

Editors Note: This article is Part 2 of a Two-Part Article, Please Visit our friends at to read Part One.

Unknow Masked Robber
Proactively Detecting Danger in Public: Situational Awareness – Part Two

USA –  -( Those who claim that a criminal “just appeared,” or “came out of nowhere,” have typically failed in awareness, as human beings can rarely approach unnoticed if the intended victim is paying attention. After accepting the fact that violence can touch you personally, you will be motivated to maintain situational awareness. What practices, in particular, can we implement to foster and maintain this awareness?

I recommend a four-step mental process to go through whenever you enter a new space, and this process takes only several seconds.

First, whenever you transition to a new environment, be it a restaurant, a parking garage, a gas station, a parking lot, etc., look around to see who is already there and determine what they are doing. When you notice something that is out of the ordinary, an anomaly in the environment, pay attention to what your brain subconsciously tells you. Most people ignore the impulse of something not feeling right. If something alarms you, act on that intuition and leave the environment. A person just standing around in a parking lot, maybe paying too much attention to you, or a person sitting alone and acting hyper-vigilant in a restaurant, are clues to possible danger.

If it feels wrong, there is a good possibility that it is wrong, so leave.

Second, take note of the entries and exits that surround you in the environment. If something bad happens, be it criminal assault, fire, or any other emergency, being able to immediately evacuate the environment is important. Beyond providing an escape, entries and exits also provide entrance to others. And if a threat is not present currently, it may enter through a doorway or other entry point. When taking a seat in a restaurant or other public place, sit in a location that provides visibility to these entryways so that you can react if something does happen.

Also, sitting close to an exit makes good sense, so that you can remove yourself from the environment if bad things transpire.

Third, take note of the points of cover, or at least concealment, in your environment. In a restaurant or gas station, this may be counters or corners. In a parking lot, this certainly might be parked cars or curbs. Having a quickly accessible point of cover to move towards, should something happen, is a key tactic.

Fourth, take note of what the primary target area for robbery would be. In a parking lot, that might be you, yourself. In a restaurant or bank, it will be the counter or teller. Having an understanding of what a criminal actor, in the given environment, will likely target will provide you with a sense of possible dangers, and how best to deal with such.

Situational Awareness: This entire assessment takes only seconds. And it does two things for you.

First, running through this four-point checklist does indeed allow you to better equip yourself for an action plan, should it be necessary. And it will work towards your detection of danger, to begin with. Second, making a habit out of performing this assessment conditions your mindset so that you will be more likely to detect danger in the first place. If nothing else, intentionally running through this mental check keeps you switched on, and it reaffirms the mindset that bad things can indeed happen to you personally, and they can happen anywhere.

This is not being paranoid, and it will not make you live in fear. Rather, it keeps you alert and breeds confidence in your own ability to defend yourself.

While this initial mental checklist is very important when entering a new space, be sure to maintain awareness while you are in the environment. Think back to my gas station example [in part one of this article] as that represents an environment where a good deal of criminal activity transpires. People often become distracted while pumping gas, and criminal actors take advantage of this tendency. When approaching a gas pump, assess your surroundings. The initial mental checklist will prompt you to look for potential danger when you pull into a gas station and read the environment. But while filling up, certainly be alert and scan the lot for potential danger rather than bury your head in your phone.

Knowing the environment when you first transition into it, then maintaining awareness of what is happening around you, will go a long way towards avoiding the result of “he came out of nowhere.” The initial acceptance that criminal activity and violence can reach you, personally, fosters this vigilance, but it is a mindset that needs to be practiced.

Accepting that violence can happen to you, personally, and can do so at any time and in any place, will motivate you to practice situational awareness. Staying switched on in any environment will do a lot to avoid ever saying, “He came out of nowhere.”

This article is Part 2 of a Two-Part Article, Please Visit our friends at to read Part One.


About Salvatore DeGennaro

Salvatore is a firearms instructor, competitive shooter, and life-long practitioner of the concealed carry lifestyle. He strives to serve as a conduit of reliable information for the ever-growing community of armed citizens and concealed carriers. You can contact him at his website Reflex Handgun. Visit:

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Wild Bill

No human on the planet is better at situational awareness, than the ordinary family dog.


Yeah Bill, but what caliber is best for the dog to use?


Ummm, tasty and better than the damn Chinese Horseshoe bat in an open market food setting which brought us all this fun!

Wild Bill

@jh45gun, If you want the dog to do it all then he should be in charge. If you want to be pack leader, then you have to do your part.


Dog is in charge! He is very friendly so we attached his tail to the butterfly trigger on the M2 Browning which is aimed at the front door. When anyone comes up, dog’s tail wags, gun goes off and it’s the dog’s fault. Not sure what to do with the Fed Ex guy though.

Wild Bill

@jh45gun, Most humorous.

Wild Bill

@PUD, Intruders are not after the dog. They are after your assets. The dog and you are just in the way.


@WB – I took @PUD to mean that invaders are the takeout delivered dog food. Don’t want the pups going hungry after all. I certainly am better stocked for dog food than people food, TP or ammo.

Wild Bill

@Finnky, You have a good heart.

Wild Bill

@PUD, After the invaders lose, maybe I’ll let the dogs chow on them.


If they are hungry enough, maybe they’ll hide the evidence. My impression is that, at least in Texas, you are in better legal position if you shot the intruder than if the dog bites them. Regardless of circumstance, Texas state law requires ten day quarantine for any animal which bites a human. I for one would prefer my pups don’t develop a taste for human flesh. If we had hogs though, they are supposed to be far more efficient consumers. You’d want to be sure that their is nothing recognizable left as “fleeing the scene” (hiding evidence) is taken as… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Finnky, First, don’t take that comment too seriously. Second, the coroner could not tell if the bite came before the gunshot wound. Third, in Texas if someone attacks you on your own property, we have the presumption of right action. Fourth, the county sheriff’s deputy comes by every two years or so around Christmas time. Fifth, Many acres of woods set aside for the wild critters … many. Sixth, no corpses get to rot around here due to the large number of coyotes and turkey buzzards. Seventh, I am tired of typing.


@WB 😉


@jh45gun – Whichever loves your children most. Chihuahuas are a tiny target and tend to annoy or even trip invaders while raising a ruckus allowing even the slowest defender plenty of time to aim.


WB) That’s what makes the man/dog team so potent. Pair up a dog’s senses and absolute loyalty, with a human’s tool use and thinking (there go the sheeple… 🙂 ) and you have one powerful package.

Wild Bill

@Knute Knute, Not to mention opposable vice like jaws, awl like teeth, and a desire to use them. Dogs go low, man goes high, and the interloper has to choose which to defend against.
Many sheeple think that the dog can do it all, but he can not. If one has courage equal to the dog, then they make a formidable team.
God put the Labrador Retriever on earth to show men what they might ascribe to.

Wild Bill

@OV, Sammy is worth his weight in gold.


@OV – With all the delivery trucks (USPS, UPS, FedEx, & Prime) on our little 12 house street, I’m feeling less isolated than going to work where I’m in cubicle farm. Dogs are even getting bored with trucks.


Decent daily carry information but not needed in this crisis–you are not going to be in a restaurant, etc.. The real prep. is what you will you do for your home protection if things were to get really stupid–should that happen it will be a couple months off when people run out of stuff (if the supply chain stops) and might try “borrow” your stuff. Problem is bodies on your lawn are not going to make you popular with the cops when this is over. The best possible method to hopefully convince someone is a 12 gauge with the first… Read more »


bodies on the lawn act as sand bags. self defense REQUIRES that shoot-to-kill must be the first rule!


Just make sure you tell the local cops that. “I was required to kill him!”. Might try, “ I shot to stop him, when he continued on, I had to shoot him again. To stop him”.