I teach a lot of self defense classes, to various types of people, and one of the keys is being aware of your surroundings. We use the analogy of a traffic light to show the different types of danger areas, and how your awareness should change.
Green light: safe zone, or reasonably safe zone. These are areas that you feel safe. These might be at home, work, or any place that you have lots of people, cameras, employees, and security guards.
Yellow Light: Danger zone. These are areas where crime could happen or is known to happen. Examples would be; parking lots (especially at night), alleys, high-crime areas
Red Light: These are yellow zone that have turned into an area where you are being attacked.
Once an area turns into a Red Zone (or Light), it is now Fight or Flight. That is when your physical self defense training comes into action.
With proper awareness of your surroundings, you can limit the number of “Red Zone” encounters.
Inside a supermarket, you may feel safe, but your awareness needs shift to yellow zone when you go out to the parking lot. We have all seen the people that are distracted in a parking lot; on their cell phone, juggling shopping bags, digging for keys, etc…. Their perception may still be in the green zone, even after they have entered a yellow zone.
Predators, both human and animal, look for the weak, the sick, the old, and distracted. Predators want an easy victim to attack, so that their chances of success increase. Your goal is to make yourself look like you are not an easy target, so that the predator will be more likely to leave you alone.
Here are some tips to accomplish that:
1, Scan any yellow zone before entering them.
Walk around potential trouble spots. When in doubt, stay out
2. Put away the cell phone. Stay focused.
3. Walk with confidence, while continuing to scan the surrounding area.
4. Have your hand on a canister of pepper spray, that is attached to your keys, and be prepared to use it.
5. Take a self defense course that is longer than a couple hours.
You need lots of practice to be able to use those techniques while under the stress of an attack.