Situational Awareness Tips & Tricks for solo travelers

8 Ways to Achieve Higher Levels of Situational Awareness

Inge Holzträger

Inge Holzträger

About the Author: Inge Holzträger is a GBV activist who is passionate about making small changes where she can. She believes that something positive can come out of a horrible situation if you look for it.

8 Ways to Achieve Higher Levels of Situational Awareness

"Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness." - James Thurber

So let’s talk about situational awareness. It can be as simple as being aware of what is happening around you in terms of where you are, where you are supposed to be, and if anyone or anything around you is a threat to you in terms of your health and safety. We have all heard the phrase “be safe” when heading out into public spaces, most likely from a friend or family member. Knowing what it means versus actually incorporating certain habits into your daily activities are two different approaches – so how do we use what we know to determine whether a situation is safe or not?

Situational awareness is individual and different to each person and is, therefore, only as accurate as our perception or reading of the situation. How we read our environment is influenced by many factors such as the type of information we have been given, our own experience as well as current distractions diverting our attention.

So, why is situational awareness important? In a potentially threatening situation, you are the first responder, so the most critical benefit of practising these habits is that you win over time. It is essential to scan your surroundings, anticipate the behaviour of others, and predict what could happen so that your brain can work out a plan to keep you safe. Therefore, it is not just crucial for your personal security but is also a fundamental building block for collective security.

Now, you might be thinking that is great information but what can I do to improve my situational awareness? Make a conscious decision to implement these 8 simple tips every day to enhance your situational awareness

  1. Be mindfulPractice being “in the moment”. When you are aware of your surroundings, your senses are all engaged. Therefore, you can hear, smell and see everything to react a lot quicker. If you feel like your mind is very busy and you are having a hard time focusing, a quick way to be more present is to take 3 deep breaths.
  2. Identify exits when entering any public space – A public space can be a shopping mall, restaurant, school, gym, etc. When entering such locations, it’s best to allocate the exits. For example, if you can’t see a door, scan for windows. Anything can be an exit. This could prove useful in an emergency.
  3. Watch people without staring – Be present by observing people around you, and how they react and express themselves. This is a great way to understand what’s going on around you.
  4. Notice nonverbal cues – Nonverbal communication can tell you a lot about how people are feeling. Does their body language line up with what they’re saying? Most people have a giveaway that tells you they’re perhaps lying, nervous or angry.
  5. Limit distractions – While distractions can’t always be eliminated, you can also reduce your distractions. Not being present makes you more vulnerable. If you enjoy listening to music while walking, why not try using one earphone and reducing the sound? When walking alone try not to be glued to your phone so you can scan your environment. Most “trips” are short and temporary, you can always engage in these activities when you are in a safe space.
  6. Trust your gut feeling – Listen to your instincts. If you feel uneasy about someone or a specific place, rather remove yourself from that situation by listening to your intuition, even if there’s no visible danger. This way you train your body to trust your instinct, which in return boosts your level of confidence to always want to put your safety first.
  7. Be strategic – Ask yourself regularly if you feel safe in the space that you are in. This will give you an indication of how alert and present you need to be to make proactive decisions for your safety.
  8. Carry a self-defence toolin the event that someone threatens your personal safety and invades your personal space, it is best to have some type of reinforcing self-defence tool with you, such as The Woke Self-Defense Alarm Keychain, which can distract and scare off a potential attacker. 
          Remember: It is important to know that in a situation where you are feeling unsafe, it is not your fault. You have the right to feel safe and to take precautionary measures. See situational awareness as a tool to help you become more conscious of what is happening around you. It’s a great way to stay alert, practice staying calm, and train your brain to develop a plan of action in case of an emergency. When you train your ability to be situationally aware, you reduce the risk of freezing up. This enables you to focus on your safety, embrace your power, and feel more comfortable in your ability to protect yourself.

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          Personal Safety Tips for Women and Children in South Africa

          Personal Safety 101: An Introduction!

          Palesa Mashinini

          Palesa Mashinini

          About the Author: I am an advocate for personal safety, and I am passionate about all things personal development.

          Personal Safety 101: An Introduction!

          “Some things aren’t normal; they have been normalized. There’s a difference!”

          Personal safety is a complex and sensitive topic, yet one of the most important life skills we ALL need, but as a society, we are honestly still at the beginning. Personal safety entails recognizing and avoiding potentially dangerous situations or people in your environment. So, what does that really mean? 


          At Secanity we believe personal safety consists of 4 pillars: –


          • General resources (knowing your rights, education on personal safety as well as knowing which organizations are out there). 
          • The right mindset (consisting of e.g., self-love, personal development, intuition, boundaries, etc.).
          • Verbal self-defence (how to articulate your boundaries and de-escalate potentially threatening situations). 
          • Physical self-defence (using what you have and being able to protect yourself).  

          Unfortunately, personal safety is mostly perceived reactively, only when something has happened do we tend to engage with tools and information for more personal protection. 

          At Secanity we are advocates for “Preparedness is everything” as a mindset and that does not mean you, therefore, live a fearful and paranoid life, it means you are cultivating daily habits that contribute to more confidence, assertiveness, empowerment, as well as sharpening your situational awareness – enabling you to be more conscious and aware of potentially threatening situations. Owning and embracing your power as an individual. The fear of someone invading your personal space is scary, and the fact is, written words and reality are two different things. We just want to encourage you to try not to let the fear of what might happen to keep you from living your life. The thing is when it comes to an emergency, we usually are the first responders present at that moment, and by the time the police or help comes, minutes pass by. So, the question then becomes what options do you have in that short period to de-escalate the situation, protect yourself and escape safely?

          Let’s take a quick detour into one of the subtopics of our pillars and get one thought pattern out the way before we proceed. 

          When we think about self-defence or personal safety, many limiting beliefs come to mind: this would never happen to me, I’m careful, I don’t need that, self-defence is not my thing, self-defence is too expensive, women who learn self-defence lose their femininity, it takes too long to learn, someone in a position of trust must be a good person, I am not at risk from them. I am too old, unfit, young, short, etc. to fight back. I used to have the limiting belief that my brothers will magically appear and protect me. If we are out and about together, sure, it could work. In reality, though, I spend most of my time alone. So, when I started engaging in all things personal safety, I realized that we are stronger than we think and that we only have this one life (Sorry for being so dramatic), but the thought of being able to confidently have options to protect myself, gave me comfort and peace of mind. I am fully aware that nothing in life has a guarantee, but through this journey of getting a deeper insight into this topic, I now have a better understanding of myself and my boundaries – I am willing and ready, at all times, to make my safety a priority every single day.

          Let’s pause for a moment and go within – scan if you can think of any limiting beliefs you may have around personal safety or self-defence? If you like, write them down, analyze them and see if you are comfortable thinking about how you would like to feel, and how you would like to change that narrative. Limiting beliefs is not an easy topic, but we will get back to that at a later stage in another blog post. For now, let’s try to write a fresh chapter on fearlessness? You have everything you need within you and that’s perfectly enough. Let’s normalize the narrative on personal safety and embody that we are powerful enough to protect ourselves. You hold great power.


          Detour complete. Let’s continue… 

          I think I speak for many when I say this topic per se is a frustrating one – on top of all the other stressors we face, we now have to also increasingly worry about our own safety. I think this quote from an unknown author visualizes this problem quite well:A man in a room full of women is ecstatic. A woman in a room full of men is terrified.” – Unknown

          Millions of womxn and children live with a constant sense of dread and fear about their personal safety, which has the effect of draining them of their autonomy. On the other hand, women’s safety is a matter of context, and there is no one-size-fits-all method for protecting a woman. Our mission is to provide different perspectives, information, and tools so that you can put together your own personal safety strategy that works for you.  

          Honing in on this and defining your safety strategy is not easy. We have a Personal Safety Strategy Template with a set of questions to help get the process started. Type in your email below to get your free pdf today. You will notice that when writing down your answers you will be able to better understand what safety means to you. 

          Personal Safety 101 Workbook

          Let us know in the comment section below what your definition of personal safety is

          Thanks for being here and of course, stay tuned for more blog posts as we take a deeper dive into our 4 pillars packed with practical tips & tricks for more peace of mind. 

          Sending you love, light, and peace.

          PS: Your safety is non-negotiable. It is indeed all that matters. Give it all it takes to be safe, so you can focus on yourself. 


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          Self-Defence Workshop South Africa

          Personal Safety Workshop with Terra Nova Ceramics

          Palesa Mashinini

          Palesa Mashinini

          About the Author: I am an advocate for personal safety, and I am passionate about all things personal development.

          Personal Safety Workshop with Terra Nova Ceramics

          On the 9th of April, we had the privilege of hosting a Women Empowerment Workshop for Terra Nova Ceramics, a leading manufacturer & supplier of consumables for fire assay laboratories in the gold and platinum industries. Based in Meyerton, South Africa, they provide cost-effective consumable solutions to mining companies and fire assay laboratories throughout Africa and internationally.

          For this year’s International Women’s Day Terra Nova Ceramics wanted to host a Personal Safety Workshop for their female staff members with the following objectives in mind:

          • Empowerment
          • Team building
          • Creating a safety culture that amplifies their company values
          • Ensuring that their female staff members have tools and information that contribute to their general personal safety, confidence and well-being.

          Our programme focuses on why we all need a personal safety strategy and educates participants on practical tools, including techniques, on how to deal with public street harassment, the importance of prevention, various de-escalation techniques, how to become an up-stander without endangering yourself, and practical self-defence techniques that can easily be implemented regardless of your fitness level and age.

          Together with iDefend Krav Maga and the Growing up without a Father Foundation, we were able to ensure that all participants left our workshop feeling empowered, confident and enabled.

          Our workshop consisted of the following three pillars:

          • Personal Safety Talk from Palesa. To find out more about Secanity, please click here.
          • Practical Self-defence training from Anthony. To find out more about iDefend Krav Maga, please click here.
          • A motivational talk on personal development from Dr Charley Pietersen. To find out more about the Growing Up Without A Father Foundation, please click here.

          At the end of the workshop, we had a survey and some of the staff members responded with the following feedback:

          • “I would like Secanity to keep on with their workshops because a lot of women need to know that loving and protecting yourself is quite important.
          • “Being made aware of myself & my worth. The fact that I can use my body as a weapon“.
          • “Being more aware of my surroundings, not be afraid to take a stand when something feels unsafe or uncomfortable.
          • “I learned how to love myself, how to protect myself, and that I need to be myself and not anybody else.

          We also took the time to interview all the organisations that made this event a success and received the following feedback:

          “Terra Nova Ceramics was able to take hands with Secanity, iDefend and Growing up without a Father Foundation, to provide a platform to our ladies in the workplace.  The feedback we received from our ladies was positive and inspiring.  We as a company feel we can make a difference in empowering our ladies to be safe and knowing their self-worth. Such a great event for any organization to host”. –Terra Nova Ceramics Management.

          “iDefend Krav Maga was honoured to be part of the workshop for the ladies of Terra Nova Ceramics. We enjoyed helping the ladies to empower themselves through self-defence techniques, situational awareness and hearing their biggest fears. Thank you to all involved for the great morning”. – Anthony from iDefend Krav Maga 

          “I applaud the company Terra Nova Ceramics for inviting us to speak to their female staff members. I believe that we have made a great impact on the one side, and on the other hand, it was great to see some of the ladies talking about how they will take action and work towards putting themselves and their aspirations first”.Dr Charley Pietersen from the Growing Up Without A Father Foundation

          We want to take this moment to thank everyone who made this day unforgettable.

          PS: Do you want to host such an event for your company? Click here for more information and join us on our mission as we empower one woman and child at a time, thereby creating a ripple effect of enablement within communities, public spaces and organisations.

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