I've been seeing some discussions over on facebook on some of the pages I follow about being aware of your surroundings and decided to put my two cents in. Unfortunately my two cents turned into a whole blog so I'm posting it here on my blog and will attach it to my SassyShooters.com facebook page.
First - Cell Phones. While cell phones can be great things they can also be harmful things. I've seen that studies have shown "bad guys" are looking for targets that are oblivious to what's going on around them. And cell phones will for sure make you oblivious. You're checking facebook, texting hubby to see what he wants for supper, checking your email, or playing words with friends, and that makes you completely unaware of what's going on around you. That makes you a "target". So, my suggestion is put the phone in your pocket and pay attention. I know it makes you feel kinda weird being cautious and looking around watching for "predators", but it also makes you less likely to be a "target". If you have to use your phone, use speed dial and do the old caveman thing and talk to the person you need to communicate with, but keep your eyes up and pay attention while you do.
I guess you're wondering what I mean by "target". I'm talking a victim of a violent crime. Someone who the bad guy wants to rape, mug, or murder, and I'm pretty sure I don't know ANYONE who wants anything like that to happen to them. I know I don't. And through all of this I am not, Praise the Lord, speaking from experience. I'm sure that is not something I want to deal with and will do my best to keep it from happening.
Anyway, back to being aware. . .
Second - Parking Lots. Parking lots are scarey for me, always have been. I especially HATE parking garages, they are all closed in and get me all turned around. I try to avoid them whenever possible. Thankfully in rural Oklahoma we don't have many of those unless you go to the big city to a hospital or the likes and, again, thankfully I don't have to do that often at all! Here's what I do in a parking lot, like wal-mart or the grocery store. I try to always park with my driver door next to a shopping cart return thingy, I am almost always alone so I don't have to worry about a passenger. The reason I do that is so that when I get in and out of my car I don't have to worry about someone pulling up next to my driver door and "pulling me outta the car" or "grabbing me before I get in". While I am loading my purchases I try to stay aware of my surroundings and load as quickly as possible. As soon as I get in the car, paranoid me, normally locks the door. When the shopping cart thing is not an option I have to make due with an end parking spot and paying attention.
Third - Leaving a building. When I leave work I walk out of the building and around a corner to a side street where my car is. I've caught myself here lately not paying attention, off in my own world thinking about where I'm headed and the tasks I need to be doing. Bad Missy! I had a friend walk around the corner right into and yell BOO and scared the baegebies out of me because I wasn't paying attention, he easily could have been a bad guy and hauled me off! So, when you walk out of a building pay attention to what's going on around you! Keep your head up! (again don't be messin with your phone).
Forth - What are you carrying? And I don't mean gun wise, I mean bag wise. Do you have your hands so full that if you needed to get to your firearm you would have to take extra seconds getting rid of stuff to do it? Extra seconds could make a huge difference in what happens. Extra seconds puts the "predator" within arms reach instead of 10 ft away. So, what do you do? Well, when I get out of my car at work I normally have a large computer bag, a large purse, and misc. other stuff. I try to carry them in away that I can still get to my firearm with my strong hand quickly! I need to take time and practice this but haven't yet. (shame on me). When carrying shopping bags if you can't use a cart (that gives you another tool to use to protect yourself and since you parked next to the shopping cart return thingy it makes it easy to put up!) then make sure you carry only what you are comfortable carrying and don't loop them over the arm of your gun hand. If they are in the palm you can drop them faster than if they are looped over your arm. I know you can carry so much more that way but is it safe?
These are things that have just come to light for me and I know there is a lot more to add to it and it may not be perfect for everyone but it's my two cents and not the law. ;-)
Stay aware and I pray you never have to deal with any incident that would put you in danger!