Each year, too many people drown in the United States just because they don’t understand the dangers of water. People have drowned in as little as 1 inch of water when they were knocked unconscious and landed face down in a mud puddle.
Drowning chokes and kills over 372,000 people each year, being the world’s 3rdbiggest cause of unintended death. That’s 7% of all injury-related deaths due to something most take for granted, even if they don’t live near water. It takes 3,536 innocent US lives each year, with one in 5 being children.
Even if you’re lucky enough to survive, brain damage could leave you in a vegetative state.
However, most drownings occur in freshwater lakes, rivers, streams, backyard swimming pools, or at the beach. Learning all you can about how to recognize and avoid drowning is a first step to building a water survival plan that should include all of the elements that you will find below.
How Do you Know He / She is Drowning?
When a person begins to drown, a very small amount of water enters the lungs. This tiny amount triggers a spasm in the trachea muscles, which then causes the throat to close. Once the airway seals up, there is no way for air or water to get through. This is why people who are drowning usually are unable to scream for help.
Here are the signs and symptoms of drowning and near drowning:
Head low in the water with mouth at water level.
Head tilted back with mouth open.
Eyes glassy, empty, and unfocused.
Eyes open with fear evident on the face.
Hyperventilating or gasping for air.
Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway.
Trying to roll over on their back to float.
No motion – the victim may be unable to move their arms or legs.
If you are going to rescue somebody in a body of water, you must be sure that you do not become a victim yourself by being dragged under by a panicking individual in the water. If the person in distress is relatively close to you, your first option is to try to reach for him with your arm, a pole, or a long stick.
If this individual is farther out than you can reach, try throwing a rope with a safety ring attached to it. If this does not work, then you may want to go out to them with a row boat or other watercraft. As a last resort you will have to go into the water after them.
If you must swim after the individual, use a lifeline that is tied in a loop around your chest. In the event that the individual starts to panic and tries to use you as a flotation device, the rope-handling crew on the edge of the water can pull you both back to safety.
If you are swimming to the rescue and you are not using a lifeline or rescue buoy, approach the victim so that he cannot reach out and grab you. If he tries it in his panicked mental state, you will have to push away from him, block him, or go under water fast. These actions will cause the victim to let go so that you can try to come in for your rescue a second time.
How to Survive Drowning
Using the Clothes to Avoid Drowning
If you fall into the water and your shirt is tucked into your pants, you can use your shirt to make an air bubble to float on. It is also possible to make an air floating device by using your jeans or other long-legged pants. This air float will last longer and can be used to keep up to four people floating for a good length of time.
Using the Drown-Proofing Method to Stay Alive
Drown-proofing is a water survival technique that was invented by Fred Lanoue, a swimming coach at Georgia Institute of Technology from 1936 to 1964. It was his belief that everyone should be able to survive in the water, and he developed a simple technique that was easy to learn and did not depend on physical strength.
According to Lenone, everyone has a small amount of buoyancy, but it is not enough to keep all of the head above water. An individual can float in an upright position, with their face submerged and only lifting the mouth and nose above the water when it is necessary to breathe. Using this method, it is possible to float indefinitely while only using a small amount of energy.
The first thing you’ll likely wonder is how effective drown-proofing is. Anyone can learn to survive indefinitely in the water as soon as this technique is mastered. The average person can only swim a few laps of the pool, but with drown-proofing, the swimmer can take a break and rest until they are ready to continue swimming. Drown-proofing techniques are also useful to handicapped swimmers that might not be able to swim for a long period of time.
The following are the basic steps that you need to follow for drown-proofing. If you take a class on this skill, you can learn in just a few days.
Using Only Your Arms
Fill your lungs with a good breath of fresh air and float vertically with the back of your head just breaking the surface of the water. The water will support your body.
Let your arms float slowly toward the surface with your elbows bent until your hands are in front of your shoulders.
With a steady movement, push downwards and back with your hands until your mouth clears the water.
Repeat this every 10 to 15 seconds.
Using Your Arms and Legs
When using the arms and leg method, use a scissors kick with your legs and press downward with your hands at the same time. The object of this motion is to use as little energy as possible to keep a balanced position.
The trick is to get your head just far enough out of the water to get a breath. If you use too much energy to get your head above water, you will come too far out of the water. As you go back down you will sink too deep into the water.
The goal is to achieve a gentle, easy action that uses very little energy. The less effort you expend, the better.
Get the Breathing Right: It’s Very Important
When your head first emerges from the water, it should be tilted slightly forward so that the water falls away from your face.
Open your mouth wide when you inhale so you get as much air as possible.
In drown-proofing it is very important to consciously change the way you breathe. Keep your lungs full of air as much of the time as possible.
When you take a breath exhale and inhale as quickly as possible through your mouth.
Knowing what to do around water is the key to your survival. Always be attentive and don’t panic in dangerous situations.
Planning is the key to your survival. Without a water survival plan and regular practice, the end result could be the death of you or your friends or family.
The key to surviving in the woods is being able to identify and use the resources that at your disposal. There are 126 species of pine trees worldwide and 39 of them are found in the United States, making them a fairly common resource. Pines are easy to identify, being evergreen, coniferous and resinous trees. Lets be honest, unless you just arrived from another planet, everyone knows what a pine tree looks like. Spending most of my life in the north woods, I have come to appreciate and rely on the pine tree as one of my most important resources for backwoods living. Lets look at some of the many survival uses for the pine tree…
The pine tree is one the best resources available for building shelters in the woods. One of the great things about pines is that if the weather isn’t severe, it can be used as shelter just as it stands. On more than one occasion, I have hunkered down at the base of a big white pine to escape a light rain or snow and rest my weary bones. With a built in soft bed of dried needles and a canopy of boughs, a big pine makes a wonderful shelter. Pine trees have all the necessary materials for building an excellent lean-to shelter the if need calls. Pine boughs placed properly on the lean-to will shed rain, snow, block the wind and hold in the heat from a fire. Pine boughs also make an excellent bed that gives you an insulated layer between you and the ground.
Fire Starting Material
I would guess that 95% of the fires I’ve started in the woods were started with dry pine needles, twigs and pine cones as the primary tinder. If I happen to be in an area where pines are scarce, I always have several plastic bags with needles and cones that I collect when traveling through pine country. These are my favorite “go to” tinder material.
Pine burns fast, creates a lot of sparks and doesn’t leave many coals. So, obviously you need to use your head when using it for firewood. If you need to bring a fire back from near death, some dry pine twigs will get the job done quickly. If you need a fast hot fire in your camp stove to heat something quick, pine twigs might be the ticket. If pine is all you have, it can be a good primary heat source but you need to stay on top of it, because of the sparks and fact that it won’t leave much a bed of coals. When we were in Alaska, we heated our cabin with nothing but spruce. It required getting up every couple of hours to tend the fire otherwise it would burn out.
The inner bark of pines can be eaten raw, boiled, or roasted. It is a good source of Vitamin A and C. It can also be dried and ground into a powder and used like flour. American Indians in the north east used pine as a source of food, in fact the Adirondack Indians got their name from a Mohawk Indian word meaning “tree eaters”. Young, green pine needles can be steeped as tea, again being a good source of Vitamin A and C, as well as being a nice warm drink. Needles should always be added to hot water and not boiled in the water. Boiled pine needles taste terrible!
First Aid Uses
Pine resin has traditionally been used as wound cover and some claim it has antiseptic qualities. The inner bark can be pulled off in strips and used as a make shift band aid (glued on the body with resin). Pine needle tea is believed by some to be a flue and cold remedy, probably because of its Vitamin C content.
Green pine branches and needles create a lot of smoke. If you need a signal fire, there is no better material in the woods. There is the obvious negative side to this, which you should keep mind. If you are the business of not being found, stay away from green pine in your camp fires!
Many flying insects are repelled by the smell of pine resin.
Glue and Water Repellent
Pine resin is very sticky and it repels water fairly well. In a pinch you can use it as a “bush glue”, taking advantage of its sticky nature. Since it is a natural water repellent (and did I mention sticky) it can be used to patch small holes in tarps and tents, and it can also be used to water proof things.
Concealment and Camouflage
Pine boughs can be cut and laid over the top of caches to conceal them. I have used them to conceal and shelter animal traps. Branches can also be fixed to your clothing to break up your silhouette and help you blend into your surroundings.
The pine tree is a plentiful and very useful resource for the self-reliant woodsman. It is easy to identify and has multiple survival uses. Whenever possible, take advantage of this wonderful resource. From shelter to food, from fire to first aid, attracting attention or concealing your cache, the good old evergreen is the resourceful woodsman’s best friend.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 gave birth to a dangerous American ideology called neoconservativism. The Soviet Union had served as a constraint on US unilateral action. With the removal of this constraint on Washington, neoconservatives declared their agenda of US world hegemony. America was now the “sole superpower,” the “unipower,” that could act without restraint anywhere in the world.
The Washington Post neoconservative journalist Charles Krauthammer summed up the “new reality” as follows:
“We have overwheming global power. We are history’s designated custodians of the international system. When the Soviet Union fell, something new was born, something utterly new–a unipolar world dominated by a single superpower unchecked by any rival and with decisive reach in every corner of the globe. This is a staggering new development in history, not seen since the fall of Rome. Even Rome was no model for what America is today.”
The staggering unipolar power that history has given to Washington has to be protected at all costs. In 1992 top Pentagon official Undersecretary Paul Wolfowitz penned the Wolfowitz Doctrine, which became the basis for Washington’s foreign policy.
The Wolfowitz Doctrine states that the “first objective” of American foreign and military policy is “to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat [to US unilateral action] on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.” (A “hostile power” is a country sufficiently strong to have a foreign policy independent from Washington’s.)
The unilateral assertion of American power begin in ernest during the Clinton regime with the interventions in Yugoslavia, Serbia, Kosovo, and the no-fly zone imposed on Iraq. In 1997 the neoconservatives penned their “Project for a New American Century.” In 1998, three years prior to 9/11, the neoconservatives sent a letter to President Clinton calling for regime change in Iraq and “the removal of Saddam Hussein from power.” Neoconservatives set out their program for removing seven governments in five years.
The events of September 11, 2001, are regarded by informed people as “the new Pearl harbor” that the neoconservatives said was necessary in order to begin their wars of conquest in the Middle East. Paul O’Neil, President George W. Bush’s first Treasury Secretary, has stated pubicly that the agenda of President Bush’s first meeting with his cabinet was the invasion of Iraq. This invasion was planned prior to 9/11. Since 9/11 Washington has destroyed in whole or part eight countries and now confronts Russia both in Syria and Ukraine.
Russia cannot allow a jihadist Caliphate to be established in an area comprising Syria/Iraq, because it would be a base for exporting destabilization into Muslim parts of the Russian Federation. Henry Kissinger himself has stated this fact, and it is clear enough to any person with a brain. However, the power-crazed fanatical neoconservatives, who have controlled the Clinton, Bush, and Obama regimes, are so absorbed in their own hubris and arrogance that they are prepared to push Russia to the point of having their Turkish puppet shoot down a Russian airplane and to overthrow the democratically-elected government in Ukraine that was on good terms with Russia, substituting in its place an American puppet government.
With this background, we can understand that the dangerous situation facing the world is the product of the neoconservative’s arrogant policy of US world hegemony. The failures of judgment and the dangers in the Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts are themselves the consequences of the neoconservative ideology.
To perpetuate American hegemony, the neoconservatives threw away the guarantees that Washington gave Gorbachev that NATO would not move one inch to the East. The neoconservatives pulled the US out of the ABM Treaty, which specified that neither the US nor Russia would develop and deploy anti-ballistic missiles. The neoconservatives re-wrote US war doctrine and elevated nuclear weapons from their role as a retaliatory force to a pre-emptive first strike force. The neoconservatives began putting ABM bases on Russia’s borders, claiming that the bases were for the purpose of protecting Europe from non-existent Iranian nuclear ICBMs.
Russia and Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, have been demonized by neoconservatives and their puppets in the US government and media. For example, Hillary Clinton, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, declared Putin to be “the new Hitler.” A former CIA official called for Putin’s assassination. Presidential candidates in both parties are competing in terms of who can be the most aggressive toward Russia and the most insulting toward Russia’s president.
The effect has been to destroy the trust between nuclear powers. The Russian government has learned that Washington does not respect Washington’s own laws, much less international law, and that Washington cannot be trusted to keep any agreement. This lack of trust, together with the aggression toward Russia spewing from Washington and the presstitute media and echoing in the idiotic European capitals, has established the ground for nuclear war. As NATO (essentially the US) has no prospect of defeating Russia in conventional war, much less defeating an alliance of Russia and China, war will be nuclear.
To avoid war, Putin is non-provocative and low-key in his responses to Western provocations. Putin’s responsible behavior, however, is misinterpreted by neoconervatives as a sign of weakness and fear. The neoconservatives tell President Obama to keep the pressure on Russia, and Russia will give in. However, Putin has made it clear that Russia will not give in. Putin has sent this message on many occasions. For example, on September 28, 2015, at the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, Putin said that Russia can no longer tolerate the state of affairs in the world. Two days later Putin took command of the war against ISIS in Syria.
The European governments, especially Germany and the UK, are complicit in the move toward nuclear war. These two American vassal states enable Washington’s reckless aggression toward Russia by repeating Washington’s propaganda and supporting Washington’s sanctions and interventions against other countries. As long as Europe remains nothing but an extension of Washington, the prospect of Armegeddon will continue to rise.
At this point in time, nuclear war can only be avoided in two ways. One way is for Russia and China to surrender and accept Washington’s hegemony. The other way is for an independent leader in Germany, the UK, or France to rise to office and withdraw from NATO. That would begin a stampede to leave NATO, which is Washington’s prime tool for causing conflict with Russia and, thereby, is the most dangerous force on earth to every European country and to the entire world. If NATO continues to exist, NATO together with the neoconservative ideology of American hegemony will make nuclear war inevitable.
Midwest: Floodwaters Rise, Residents Flee, Last-Ditch Emergency Steps Considered
A historic December flood continued to send rivers sweeping out of their banks and into hundreds of homes and businesses across Oklahoma, Illinois and Missouri on Wednesday as some residents braced for the waters to get higher and the risk even greater.
“Unusual doesn’t begin to describe it — it’s huge,” said Mark Fuchs, a hydrologist at the National Weather Service’s St. Louis-area office, whose own backyard gauge collected 11 inches of rain from the warm-weather storms that drenched the region between Saturday and Monday. “This is a big, big, big flood for a lot of people.”
That rain has since drained into lakes, rivers and reservoirs and brought a belt of flooding stretching from eastern Oklahoma and through Missouri to downstate Illinois. So far, the storms and floods have killed at least 13 people in Missouri and five in Oklahoma.
It’s only the start of a winter flood-fighting effort that is likely to eventually stretch all the way down to Louisiana as the U.S. Army Corps forecasts major flood levels on the Mississippi River to eventually reach Memphis, Vicksburg, Miss., and New Orleans.
For now, the worst of the struggle seems to be Missouri, where Gov. Jay Nixon activated the National Guard on Tuesday as residents fled their homes in eastern Missouri and reports came in of drivers who died when their vehicles got swept off the roadways. Missouri and Oklahoma are now under a state of emergency, as are many counties in Illinois.
Hundreds of roads have been closed across the state, and temperatures hovered in the 30s as volunteers sandbagged in the cold. In Pacific, a community of 7,077 about 40 minutes west of St. Louis, the bulging Meramec River was nearing a record high and had completely submerged parts of the city’s downtown.
Some businesses near the waters are closed and circled by sandbags, and on Wednesday morning police hollered at onlookers who attempted to sneak past yellow police tape with cameras.
Pacific resident Cynthia Hurst, 45, fell asleep Sunday night after helping sandbag a neighbor’s house only to wake up Monday morning and discover that floodwaters had reached her own home. The waters had reached the floor of their family’s 2003 tan Ford Taurus parked in the street.
“Mom, the car’s underwater!” called out her 12-year-old son, Leviticus. The Hurst family quickly stacked their couches on crates, grabbed some clothes, packed a basket and evacuated.
Since Sunday, Hurst and her son were staying with a friend in Pacific in a one-bedroom, one-bathroom house now housing four adults, two children and two dogs.
Hurst’s daughter, Danielle, 20, is also sleeping in the house along with her fiance. She evacuated her home Monday afternoon when floodwaters approached the nearby town of Union. Neither family knows whether their homes are underwater.
On Wednesday, the family grabbed meals and showers at a local Red Cross shelter set up at a community senior center a few blocks from the floodwaters. A TV was tuned to live coverage of flood rescues while a few dozen people sat around and talked quietly.
Cynthia Hurst, an optician at Wal-Mart, was concerned about some of things she left behind, including pictures of her kids growing up.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do, or what anyone’s going to do,” Cynthia Hurst said.
In downtown Pacific, with floodwaters visible several blocks away, City Alderman Mike Pigg, 47, and volunteer Rita Duncan, 37, fielded questions and directed sandbagging efforts as pick-up trucks moved in and out, hauling sand to where it was needed around town.
Volunteers took Domino’s pizza, cookies and hot chocolate to a white-pop table near a cardboard sign that read “SAND LINE.”
“How much sleep have I had?” asked Pigg, whose voice has grown hoarse between taking power naps and organizing the town’s defense effort with Duncan since Sunday. “What day is it? Wednesday?”
Pigg’s home in Pacific is fine, but floodwaters claimed a clubhouse he owns along the river in the town of St. Clair, southwest of Pacific.
On Tuesday, Pigg said volunteers moved 50 tons of sand under an hour and a half, and he estimates the sandbagging station has moved about 2,000 tons of sand per day since Sunday.
Sand bagging efforts have been hampered because some of the quarries are now underwater. Duncan said sandbagging effort were halted as the Meramec River was expected to crest in Pacific on Wednesday.
The waters gushing down the Meramec River, however, will then head downstream to Valley Park, Mo.
There, the Meramec is forecast to swell higher than 44 feet early Thursday morning — about 4 1/2 feet higher than the previous record. Hundreds have been ordered to evacuate.
In one part of Valley Park, aerial news photos showed an I-44 interstate overpass and buildings protruding from floodwaters that covered the landscape, as if they were bones sticking out of the mud.
The Meramec joins the Mississippi River south of St. Louis, which has already gained monstrous strength.
Historically, the median flow of water rushing through the Mississippi River in St. Louis is 107,000 cubic feet per second for Dec. 30, according to Fuchs, the weather service hydrologist.
But on Wednesday, 780,000 cubic feet of water gushed through St. Louis every second — about 67 billion gallons of water a day — and is only expected to grow stronger, Fuchs said. In St. Louis, officials are expected to see the river reach its third-highest level ever.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has already activated emergency flood-fighting operations with the possibility of activating some of the Mississippi River’s last ditch flood-prevention infrastructure: The Birds Point-New Madrid floodway that would release waters into rural southeastern Missouri, the Bonnet Carre’ spillway that protects New Orleans, and the Morganza floodway that helps keep the Mississippi River from changing course.
The Birds Point-New Madrid floodway was last activated during the flood of 2011, when the levee was dynamited to flood some Missouri farmland in order to protect Cairo, Ill., from becoming submerged.
In a Tuesday statement, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it “began mobilizing people, barges and operational equipment from various locations” to prepare for the possibility of activating the Birds Point-New Madrid floodway once again.
“Although we do not anticipate operating the floodway, we are preparing for any contingency that will protect the integrity of the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project,” the Corps said in a statement, referring to the flood-control infrastructure that it says saved more than $230 billion in flood damages in 2011.
In Oklahoma — where Army Corps of Engineers officials are trying to strategically release water from the state’s reservoir system to control the amount of flooding — 29-year-old country musician Craig Strickland was still missing after disappearing on a hunting trip during the floods.
His friend Chase Morland, 22, was found dead not long after sending a now-ominous tweet: “In case we don’t come back, @BackroadCRAIG and I are going right through Winter Storm Goliath to kill ducks in Oklahoma. #IntoTheStorm”
Near Langley, Okla., on Wednesday morning, Elisa Bridgeman walked toward a flooded section of Oklahoma 82, one of many flooded highways across the lower Great Plains, to see if she could spot her relatives’ evacuated home, according to an account from the Tulsa World.
“There’s my brother’s house,” Bridgeman told the newspaper, as the houses came into view. “It’s up to the windows. There’s Momma’s roof. It looks like it’s underwater. … Everything’s probably ruined.”
How To Hotwire A Car In An Emergency: 2 Surprisingly Easy Techniques
When in a survival situation, it can be hard to know which way is up. Some skills that are frowned upon in conventional society actually come in handy in times likes this. For instance, have you ever heard of hotwiring a car? This is the process where someone starts a car but without a key. It’s something that is often seen in blockbuster movies and will be useful if you have misplaced your keys or if you must get out of town during an emergency or survival situation.
Interested in learning more? Keep reading for instruction on how to hotwire a car in an emergency so you can get moving once again.
What You Need
Before we begin, it’s important to note that, while hotwiring is an important skill to have in your bag of tricks, it’s also illegal and can land you in jail if used for nefarious purposes. We are not promoting any such activities here.
Also, the following methods are better suited for older model vehicles, especially the ones that don’t need microchip activation to start.
When you are learning how to hotwire a car in an emergency, it’s good to know about certain parts of the car as well as how they function i.e. what to touch and what to leave alone. In this way, when it’s necessary, you can start your car easily and safely.
But, that’s not all — you must also learn about the tools that you will need for the job. Thus, the second thing you must do is gather the materials that you will need – every car owner should have these on hand in case of emergency:
** Insulated gloves
** Driver’s License
** Proof of ownership
** Wire stripper
** Flat-bladed screwdriver
This method is much simpler and thus, should be tried first. But, you should also know that although it’s a relatively effective method used to disable the lock pins, it’s use will permanently damage the key mechanism. In other words, any screwdriver, key, or even flat piece of metal will be able to start the car from now on:
** Drill about 2/3 of an inch into the keyhole, where the inner flap starts.
** Remove the drill bit and let the lock bits fall into place
** Repeat as needed, until all the bits are in position
** Insert a flat head screwdriver into the keyhole and start the car normally.
If this method doesn’t work, don’t worry. You can use the screwdriver again for step two – as long as it didn’t get stuck in the ignition cover.
The Literal Hot Wire Method
Before we delve deeper into this particular step, it is important to note that you must use extreme caution when undertaking this task. Take your time so you will be sure to avoid painful electrical shocks and discomfort.
If you choose to use this method, you will have to rewire the car and bypass the ignition system, hence the name. The directions are as follows:
** The first thing you must do is to figure out if you can disable the steering wheel lock. Simply, remove the steering shaft from the back of the steering wheel. You will be looking for a little disk that looks like it can fit a key, remove it if possible.
** Use a screwdriver and remove the access cover that’s beneath the steering wheel.
** Next, look for two red wires, remove a ½ inch of insulation off of each end and twist the wires together, making sure that the exposed wires aren’t touching any metal. These wires must stay connected at all times.
** Find the brown wire and strip about ½ inch insulation of the end.
** Touch the end of the brown wire against the twisted ends of the red wires until the engine ignites.
Once you have the engine going, it is important to note that you must keep the red and brown wires separate, to avoid sparks which can drain the battery.
To put it simply, the actual process of hotwiring a vehicle is easy. But, there are certain precautions that you should take before undertaking this task to ensure a successful result. For instance:
** Use caution when you are messing with the wiring and check with the Owner’s Manual for specific instruction about the wires and color coding for your specific model.
** Always wear insulated gloves when you are working on wires, as their exposed ends carry a powerful live current which can hurt you.
** After you get the car started initially, pull the wires apart and tape your ends to avoid getting electrocuted when you are driving.
** Modern cars feature microchip and transponder systems for getting the ignition unlocked, and if you try to hotwire them, it may set off an alarm.
There’s nothing worse than being in a terrifying situation – where you have to move quickly – but you can’t find your car keys. Before panic sets in, take a step back and breathe. The above steps should provide you with all you need to hotwire your car in an emergency where staying put is just not an option.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings we warned that sweeping changes were in the works for Americans’ right to bear arms. It started with ammunition tax proposals, restrictions on firearm accessories imports and most recently Governors began bypassing Congress altogether by banning gun ownership for those on any of the government’s many watchlists. The Obama administration has targeted licensed firearms sellers across the United States by forcing banks to treat them like pornography businesses and impeding their access to transaction processing systems and business banking accounts.
States like California already ban “assault weapons” and outlaw “high capacity” magazines that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. But the kinds of restrictive laws that strike at the very heart of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution have thus far been limited to just a dozen or so heavily liberal states.
While Americans anxiously prepared for their Christmas festivities, anti gun proponents in Congress were hard at work drafting a new bill. If passed H.R. 4269 would literally redefine the Second Amendment as evidenced by the bill’s description, which in no uncertain terms clarifies its ultimate goal:
“To regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other purposes.”
The bill directly targets every semi-automatic firearm in the United States including handguns, shotguns and rifles. It specifically mentions certain firearms and manufacturers, including the popular AR-15 and AK-47 rifles.
Because the law is Federal it would blanket the country with new restrictions, including making it illegal to own any magazine that exceeds a capacity of ten (10) rounds.
And here’s the kicker, even if your weapon has a legally-defined low capacity detachable magazine but is modified with any of the following accessories, it is considered an “assault rifle” and would be outright banned in the United States.
Semiautomatic rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any 1 of the following:
“(i) A pistol grip.
“(ii) A forward grip.
“(iii) A folding, telescoping, or detachable stock.
“(v) A barrel shroud.
“(vi) A threaded barrel.
“(B) A semiautomatic rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds, except for an attached tubular device designed to accept, and capable of operating only with, .22 caliber rimfire ammunition.
“(C) Any part, combination of parts, component, device, attachment, or accessory that is designed or functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle but not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machinegun.
To be clear, the new bill puts all half measures aside and goes for the jugular.
This is the worst case scenario that many Americans have feared.
If you own a weapon on the ban list or have accessories as described by the bill, your firearm will be outlawed in the United States of America.
SEC. 3.RESTRICTIONS ON ASSAULT WEAPONS AND LARGE CAPACITY AMMUNITION FEEDING DEVICES
(a) In General.—Section 922 of title 18, United States Code, is amended—
(1) by inserting after subsection (u) the following:
“(v) (1) It shall be unlawful for a person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a semiautomatic assault weapon.
“(37) The term ‘large capacity ammunition feeding device’—
“(A) means a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device, including any such device joined or coupled with another in any manner, that has an overall capacity of, or that can be readily restored, changed, or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition;
“(w) (1) It shall be unlawful for a person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a large capacity ammunition feeding device.
The bill was introduced in Congress on Decemeber 16, 2015 and currently has 123- co-sponsors – all democrats.
We know that gun bans dont work but one can’t help but think the agenda goes much further than the notion that they want to make us safer. If that were the case then our lawmakers wouldn’t allow drug cartels, gang members and Islamic terrorists to cross into the U.S. through our porous southern border.
The reality is that a cloud of tyranny has descended upon America. For it to be successful the American people must first be disarmed.
As history has proven time and again, a disarmed populace can easily be led to slaughter. But unlike the tens of millions executed in ethnic, religious and political cleansings of the 20th century, Americans have a rich tradition of personal liberty and the right to bear arms. It is embedded in our culture and our founding document. And as Texas police chief Randy Kennedy recently warned, if the government pushes too far they may well incite a revolution.
There’s a scene at the beginning of The Bourne Identity where the film’s protagonist is sitting in a diner, trying to figure out who he is and why he has a bunch of passports and a gun stashed in a safety deposit box. Bourne also notices that he, well, notices things that other people don’t. Watch:
That superhuman ability to observe his surroundings and make detailed assessments about his environment? It’s not just a trait of top secret operatives; it’s a skill known as situational awareness, and you can possess it too.
As the names implies, situational awareness is simply knowing what’s going on around you. It sounds easy in principle, but in reality requires much practice. And while it is taught to soldiers, law enforcement officers, and yes, government-trained assassins, it’s an important skill for civilians to learn as well. In a dangerous situation, being aware of a threat even seconds before everyone else can keep you and your loved ones safe.
But it’s also a skill that can and should be developed for reasons outside of personal defense and safety. Situational awareness is really just another word for mindfulness, and developing mine has made me more cognizant of what’s going on around me and more present in my daily activities, which in turn has helped me make better decisions in all aspects of my life.
I’ve spent months researching and talking to experts in the tactical field about the nature of situational awareness, and below you’ll find one of the most complete primers out there on how to gain this important skill. While the focus is primarily on developing your situational awareness to prevent or survive a violent attack, the principles discussed can also help hone your powers of observation in all areas of your life.
How to Develop Situational Awareness
Many of the resources out there on situational awareness say it can be cultivated by generally keeping tabs on your surroundings — “checking your six” and “keeping your back to the wall.”
This definition isn’t wrong. That’s exactly what situational awareness is: knowing what’s going on by scanning your environment. But I always found this explanation lacking. What exactly am I looking for? How do I know if I’m paying attention to the right things? Are there behaviors or warning signs of an imminent threat that I should know about?
Today we’re going to start by discussing the general principles of increasing your observational abilities, and then dive deeper into situational awareness itself to answer these important questions.
Observe + Orient = Situational Awareness
The thing that helped me finally understand situational awareness was framing it within the OODA Loop. For those of you who haven’t read my in-depth article on this important cognitive tool, here’s the CliffsNotes version:
The OODA Loop is a learning system and decision-making process that was first laid out by Air Force fighter pilot and military strategist John Boyd. The four steps of the OODA Loop are Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. In a head-to-head competition, like air-to-air combat, a violent confrontation in a parking lot, or even political contests, the person who can cycle through the OODA Loop the fastest wins.
Obviously, the Observe step in the loop is what most people associate situational awareness with.
But it’s the second step in the OODA Loop – Orient — that answered my questions about what developing situational awareness actually involves. Orientation tells us what we should look for when we’re observing, and then puts those observations into context so we know what to do with the information.
So Observe + Orient = Situational Awareness.
But how can we become better observers so that we can improve our situational awareness? And how should we orient ourselves so that we observe the right things and understand the context for what we’re seeing?
Observe: Stay in Condition Yellow
In his seminal book, Principles of Personal Defense, gun-fighting expert Jeff Cooper laid outa color code system to help warriors gauge their mindset for combat scenarios. Each color represents a person’s potential state of awareness and focus:
For optimal situational awareness, Cooper recommends that we always stay in Condition Yellow.
Condition Yellow is best described as “relaxed alert.” There’s no specific threat situation, but you have your head up and you’re taking in your surroundings with all your senses. Most people associate situational awareness with just visual stimulation, but you can also learn a lot about a particular scenario from the sounds (or lack thereof) and even smells in the environment.
Situational awareness isn’t just for times when your enemy is of the human variety…
Even though your senses are slightly heightened in Condition Yellow, it’s also important to stay relaxed. By adopting a calm demeanor, you won’t bring any unnecessary attention to yourself. If you look antsy and your head is swiveling frantically while you scan your surroundings, people are going to notice you. Additionally, staying relaxed ensures that you maintain an open focus, which allows you to take in more information about what’s going on around you. Research shows that when we get nervous or stressed, our attention narrows, causing us to concentrate on just a few things at a time. A narrow focus can therefore cause us to miss important details in our environment.
Situational awareness isn’t just for times when your enemy is of the human variety…
Look up from your smartphone, don’t zone out, open your eyes, ears, and nose, and calmly scan your environment to take in what’s going on.
Besides staying in Condition Yellow, here are a few more tips to improve your observational abilities:
Put yourself in a position for optimal observation. To achieve effective situational awareness, you need to be able to observe as much of your surroundings as possible. Positioning yourself in obstructed spots will inhibit the flow of information coming in. For example, something might be in your way that prevents you from seeing a bad guy enter a theater or restaurant. You also don’t have eyeballs in the back of your head, so you can’t see what’s going on behind you.
So whenever you enter an environment, put yourself in a position that will allow you to see as much as you can. My buddy Mike Seeklander at Shooting Performance recommends finding a place where you can view all or most of the exit points, and that allows you to put your back to the wall. This position readies you to make a quick getaway, and eliminates the possibility of failing to see a threat materialize behind you.
Granted, this isn’t possible in all situations. You don’t have much control as to which table a restaurant hostess seats you at on a busy night, and you’d likely get a lot of strange looks if you stood with your back in a corner while you’re waiting in line at Five Guys. So do your best within the given circumstances. In that busy restaurant, you might not have control of your table location, but you can choose which seat you take. Pick the chair that gives you the best view from your table. When you’re standing in line at a fast food restaurant, just nonchalantly look around and take in the scene.
Hone your observation skills by playing the A-Game. Mike plays a game with his kids called the “A-Game,” or Awareness Game, to help them (and himself) strengthen their observational skills. To play, when you go into a business, make note of a few things about your environment: the number of workers behind the counter, the clothing and gender of the person sitting next to you, how many entry/exits there are, etc. When you leave and get into the car to head home, ask your kids questions like “How many workers were behind the counter?” “Was the person sitting next to us a man or a woman?” “What color was his/her shirt?” “How many exits were there?”
It’s fun to play, but more importantly it’s training your kids (and you) to be more mindful of their surroundings.
Master memorization. Another fun activity that will help improve your situational awareness is to practice memorizing things. Bourne knew all the license plate numbers of the cars outside the diner. You can gain this skill by practicing with a deck of cards, or strings of numbers. Here’s a guide on how to gain the ability to memorize anything you want.
Orient: Baselines, Goals, and Action Plans
Being more observant isn’t enough to master situational awareness. You have to know what you’re looking for, and then put that information into context so it has meaning and becomes actionable. That’s where the Orient phase comes into play.
The Orient step provides three things to help us achieve situational awareness: 1) baselines and anomalies for our particular environment, 2) mental models of human behavior we should look for, and 3) plans of action depending on our observations.
Establish a Baseline Wherever You Go
Every environment and person has a baseline. A baseline is what’s “normal” in a given situation, and it will differ from person to person and environment to environment. For example, the baseline at a small coffee shop will usually entail people reading a book or working on their computer or speaking in hushed tones with their friends. The baseline at a rock concert would be loud music and people looking at the stage while either jumping up and down to the music or swaying their bodies to the beat.
We establish baselines so that we can spot anomalies. According to Patrick Van Horne, situational awareness expert, instructor of the Marine Combat Profiling system, and author of Left of Bang, “Anomalies are things that either do not happen and should, or that do happen and shouldn’t.” Anomalies are what direct our attention as we take in our surroundings and what we need to focus on to achieve situational awareness.
So the first step in orienting ourselves is to establish baselines so that we can direct our attention to anomalies. How do we do that on the fly? Van Horne suggests that you mentally ask yourself these questions every time you enter a new environment:
Baseline Questions: What’s going on here? What’s the general mood of the place? What’s the “normal” activity that I should expect here? How do most people behave here most of the time?
Anomaly Question: What would cause someone or something to stand out?
Behavioral Clusters to Look For
Our inability to pay attention to everything all at once makes it impossible to obtain complete situational awareness. The human mind can only handle so much information at a given time. Thus in the domain of personal safety, where things unfold quickly and seconds are often the difference between life and death, how we direct our attention is paramount.
So we need to focus on a few things at a time that provide the most bang for our attentional buck. And we do that, Van Horne argues, by relying on heuristics. Heuristics are quick and dirty problem-solving and decision-making mental shortcuts our minds use to figure things out when minimal information is available and time is limited. Decisions made from heuristics aren’t always perfect, but in the context of your personal safety, they’re usually good enough.
In Left of Bang, Van Horne lays out six domains of human behavior that Marine Combat Profilers use on the battlefield in order to quickly determine whether someone is a friend or foe. To get an idea of what civilians should look for in everyday situations, I interviewed Van Horne for this article. He told me the most important category of clues is what he calls kinesics, an area of behavior that involves people’s conscious and subconscious body language.
Within the domain of kinesics, three clusters of body language are of particular interest for situational awareness. They are: dominance/submissive behavior, comfortable/uncomfortable behavior, and interested/uninterested behavior.
Dominance/submissive behavior. Generally, most people try to get along with others, so for the most part people act in accommodating and submissive ways. Van Horne writes that dominant behavior “is an expression of the limbic system’s fight response” and often manifests itself in “gestures and postures that make a person look larger to intimidate ‘smaller’ individuals into submission.” Smaller vs. bigger here doesn’t just apply to physical size, however, but also relates to relative positions of power.
Because most people get along to get along, dominant behavior often constitutes an anomaly, and the person displaying it deserves more attention. If someone acts in a pushy, authoritative, or overbearing way, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a threat; context matters. You’d expect a boss to act dominant in relation to their employees and the employees to act submissive to their boss, but seeing extreme dominant behavior exhibited by a customer towards an employee isn’t as common. That’s something to keep an eye on.
Comfortable/uncomfortable behavior. Most people are going to look relatively comfortable in most situations. Think about a bus or a subway ride — passengers generally appear pretty relaxed while they stare out the window or read a book. If someone looks uncomfortable, that’s an anomaly that warrants extra attention, but it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily a threat. They could be distressed because they’re late for work or maybe they just heard some bad news about a relative. Again, it’s just something to keep your eye on.
Van Horne says that a common display of uncomfortable behavior you’ll see from individuals up to no good is that they’re “checking their six.” This is when a person looks over their shoulder to see what’s behind them or generally scans their surroundings. People who are comfortable generally don’t do this because they don’t feel any threat. So if you see a guy looking over his shoulder a lot when he should be standing there aloof, that’s an anomaly that should get your attention.
Now obviously, “checking your six” is something that situationally aware good guys do too. If you’re doing it right, it shouldn’t be noticeable to others, but it takes practice, and some guy with his head on a swivel might still be green. But until you verify that through further observation, be suspicious.
On the flipside, someone acting comfortable when everyone else is uncomfortable would be an anomaly. One of the ways law enforcement was able to identify the Boston Marathon bombers was that they noticed in surveillance footage that the men looked relatively calm while everyone else was running around in a panic. The reason they looked calm was because they knew the explosion was going to happen and thus weren’t surprised by it, while everyone else was caught off guard.
Interested/uninterested behavior. Most people aren’t paying attention to their environment. They’re too caught up in their own thoughts or whatever it is they’re doing. So individuals who are showing interest in a particular person or object that most people wouldn’t be interested in is an anomaly that warrants further observation.
These three body language clusters establish baselines for every situation in which we find ourselves and allow us to direct our limited attention towards things that are potentially more important and/or dangerous. If a person’s behavior across these clusters fits the baseline for that particular circumstance, you can pretty much ignore them. If their behavior doesn’t fit the baseline, they’re an anomaly and you should observe them more closely.
Other Behavioral Threat Indicators
Besides the above three kinesic clusters, Marine Combat Profilers are taught to look out for a couple other behaviors that could apply to civilian situations as well:
Shifty hands. Military and law enforcement officers typically check the hands first on any person with which they’re engaging. This is for two reasons. First, “checking the hands of a person ensures that the person is not holding a weapon and is not preparing to strike,” writes Van Horne. Second, hands often telegraph hidden nefarious intentions. People who are concealing something they don’t want discovered, like a gun, knife, or stolen object, “will often touch or pat that area on the body where that object is concealed, as if to ensure the object has not been lost or is still hidden from view.”
“Acting Natural.” It’s difficult to “act natural” when you’re not completely focused on whatever it is you’re really supposed to be doing. People “acting natural” will appear distracted and over- or under-exaggerate their movements. Insurgents in Afghanistan will often try to act like farmers, when they’re in fact attempting to collect information on U.S. military patrols. Marine Combat Profilers are trained to look for these “farmers” who appear to be trying too hard.
Have a Plan of Action Based on What You Observe
You visit your favorite coffee shop and a bad guy with a gun decides to drop in as well. But because you’ve followed the principles above, you’re the first to see him as a threat. Great. But what are you going to do about it? Seconds matter here. You don’t have time to formulate a well-thought-out plan. What’s more, the stress of the event will muddle your thinking and decision-making.
In addition to asking yourself the baseline and anomaly questions every time you enter an environment, Van Horne suggests you ask yourself a third question: “What would I do if I saw an anomaly?” In other words, come up with an action plan.
So let’s go back to the coffee shop example. Let’s say the anomaly for which you want to create an action plan is “guy comes in with a gun.” The best course of action in this scenario depends on a few things. And knowing what those few things are requires you to be situationally aware. If the robber came in from the front door and you’re near the rear exit, your best action would be to book it out the back door right away. On the other hand, if he entered through the back exit near you, according to the Department of Homeland Security, your best action would be to immediately close the gap between him and you and incapacitate him.
Establish baselines. Look for anomalies. Have a plan.
That’s what situational awareness comes down to.
Situational Awareness as a Preventive Tactic
Animals are creatures of opportunity. They’ll typically only attack another creature if they look vulnerable. Lions will go after younger, sicker, or older gazelles because they’re easier to catch. The same goes with humans. Criminals are typically going to go after a person who looks vulnerable, whether the victim is physically weaker or will simply be easy to catch off guard.
Practicing situational awareness goes a long way in keeping you from appearing like an easy target. When you’re out and about, look alert. Get your nose out of your smartphone. When you’re walking back to your car at night, have your keys at the ready and constantly scan your surroundings. The less vulnerable you look, the less likely someone is going to mess with you.
Here’s another tip on not looking like a victim, from the guys at Sage Dynamics: Alwayskeep a tactical flashlight on you and bust it out at nighttime. Having a light allows you to better observe in the darkness, but it can also act as a deterrent to would-be bad guys. Because law enforcement officers are usually the only ones shining flashlights down alleys and under cars, if you’re shining your light as you walk to your destination or back to your car, the bad guys are probably going to think you’re a cop and will likely just leave you alone. If worst comes to worst and you do end up getting jumped, you can use the tactical flashlight as a defensive tool by blinding your would-be attacker with the bright beam or even hitting him with the beveled edge that’s often built into the handle.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Situational awareness is a mindset that you have to purposefully cultivate. You want to get to the point that it’s just something you do without having to think about it. To get to that point, you have to practice it regularly. Starting today, consciously remind yourself to look for entry/exit points whenever you enter a new building. Start observing people and establishing baselines and generating possible anomalies while you’re at work, at the gym, or on a date. And then start coming up with action plans on what you would do in that specific situation if you see a possible threat. Don’t be paranoid, just mindful. Do that day in and day out, and situational awareness won’t be something you have to intentionally think about, just something you do naturally. And not fake farmer natural, but Jason Bourne natural.
Until next time, keep your head on a swivel, check your six, and keep your back to the wall.
Oh, and stay manly!
Further Reading and Resources on Situational Awareness
Left of Bang by Patrick Van Horne and Jason A. Riley. Patrick has spent his career researching and teaching situational awareness to Marines through the Marine Combat Profiling system that he helped create. This book, coupled with the articles at his site cp-journal.com and a personal interview with him went a long way in helping answer my questions.
www.cp-journal.com. This is Patrick’s company website. He has tons of free content that provides insanely useful information on developing your situational awareness. If you’re looking for something more structured, he also offers online courses.
“Toward a Theory of Situation Awareness” by Dr. Mica Endsley. Dr. Mica Endsley is the Chief Scientist at the U.S. Air Force. While Dr. Endsley’s paper is pretty technical, she does a fantastic job explaining the minutia and nuances of situational awareness that helped clarify a few things for me. I highly recommend you check it out.
Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making by Gary Klein