During times of emergency, you can either choose to be proactive or reactive. The difference is that by being proactive, you are more in control of the situation. If you’re reactive like most people, your awareness level is low.

Sudden acts of violence that seem to spring out of nowhere can take you by surprise because you’re unaware of what is going on around you. There are thousands of people who have been victims of thefts, rape, robberies and murders – all because they weren’t aware of their surroundings.

All preppers should remember this mantra – if you’re not looking for it, you won’t see it coming!

* Look out for things that seem off

The first step to raising your level of awareness is to look out for things that may seem amiss or out of the ordinary. During a time of crisis, crimes will skyrocket. Even during peace time, criminals are constantly looking for an opportunity to strike and they want an easy victim. It’s going to be someone… but you don’t want it to be you.

If you notice the same guy walking by the street outside your house several times and you’ve never seen him before, do alert law enforcement. Do not assume he’s a landscaper. Something is amiss, and you need to be proactive.

He could be casing your house with intentions to break in at night. It’s better to err on the side of caution.

* Risk management

People by nature are not violent. Most of them abhor confrontation and physical fights because they do not want to hurt someone or get hurt in the process. However, there are some people who do enjoy causing pain. They may have anger issues or be mentally unsound.

Burying your head in the sand and thinking that Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent style is the way to go, will probably mean that you could end up as a victim. If you’re on the road and someone cuts you off, getting into a physical altercation with them may be tempting, but it’s not the way to go. Stay calm.

If you’re outside and a group of youths make fun of you, do not approach them to ‘sort them out’… let it go and move on. First rule of survival is to get away from a dangerous situation.

If you’re in a bus late at night and someone who looks creepy gets on the bus, stay alert and be aware of what they’re up to without making direct eye contact. Do not bury your head in a magazine or glue your eyes to your mobile phone.

They could attack you in an instant and catch you unaware. It has happened before, and it will happen again.

* Walk confidently

Just making yourself look confident and like someone that is not to be ‘messed with’ is enough to put off most criminals. The man who walks upright and scans his surroundings confidently gives off the air that he can handle himself. Criminals will steer clear of him because he doesn’t seem like an easy target.

The man who shuffles meekly to his car while clutching a newspaper under his arm as he balances his cup of coffee while trying to use his phone pinched against his ear with his shoulder as he opens the car door, has the words ‘mugging victim’ written all over him.

Act brave. Look tough and be alert… even if you’re quaking in your boots. Presentation really matters.

* Teach your children well

Teach your children not to trust strangers. If someone calls the house pretending to do a survey and the kid answers the phone, they shouldn’t disclose if there’s no one at home. Or mention that their mother is busy doing the dishes at the moment and there is no other adult around. It could be someone planning to rob the house.

The people that your kids meet on the internet can pose serious threats too. Be very aware of whom they’re chatting with online.

* Don’t be too trusting

Last but not least, NEVER be too trusting. No good deed goes unpunished. The guy having car problems by the road may have accomplices who car-jack you the moment you step out to offer assistance.

If you told a few of your neighbors that you’re storing food supplies in case of an emergency, they’ll probably laugh at your paranoia. However, when crisis strikes and there’s a food shortage in your area, guess who is the first person they’re going to think of approaching or robbing.

Yup… it’s you. Be careful of what you tell others. There can be severe consequences.

To wrap it all up, just know that during a crisis, you need to be extra vigilant and aware of what’s going on around you. Stay alert and you’ll be much more likely to pick up on little things that just don’t seem right. Your gut instincts will guide you. Listen to them and you’ll probably be safe.