No matter where you are each day, be it at home, in your office, in the mall, in a grocery store, et al, it is important to know your environment. Whenever you enter a new environment (ie: meeting a client in a hotel bar, arriving at your office, shopping at the big box store), take a couple minutes to stand still and note the following items:
- Where are the exits (both conventional exits and emergency exits)?
- What is the fastest way I could get out of here in an emergency?
- Is there any emergency equipment located nearby (ie: a fire extinguisher or an AED on the wall)?
- Who is in my immediate area? What do they look like? What are they doing? Why might they be here?
- Who might be immediate threats in this area? In a hospital it may be the handcuffed patient that was just brought in, in a biker bar it could be just about anyone, in a school it could be a thug kid.
- What other threat situations may occur in this location? In a hospital it could be a TB outbreak, in a nightclub it could be the threat of a fight or retaliation with a gun.
- What types of weapons are there at hand that I could use? Maybe a hatchet in the hardware store or a steak knife in a restaurant.
- How is the crowd flowing? Usually when there is a problem, you will see a majority of the crowd looking towards the action.
- Does anything seem unusual? If you enter into a store but notice that, according to the sign on the door, it isn't supposed to be open until two hours later, there may be a problem.
- How do the employees seem? Happy? Pensive? Nervous? Bored?
I mention all of these items because most people go through their day on autopilot. They do the same things at the same times each day and never really notice anything out of the ordinary unless it is an extreme aberration. You've probably even seen videos of people who walk into a convenience store during a hold-up, pick up a pack of gum, pay for the item, and leave the store without ever knowing something was wrong. The bottom line is that you need to pay attention to your environment, even your ordinary, everyday, environment in order to be prepared for anything that might happen.