Survival Buzz: Situational Awareness Can Save Your Life

Gaye LevyGaye Levy | Jul 3, 2019

This week in the Survival Buzz I was going to talk about freeze dried food.  And then the tragic event in Nice happened.  I have been to Nice and have walked the Promenade des AnglaisIt is a beautiful seaside city that is idyllic in many ways.

Beauty notwithstanding, the death of innocents anywhere in the world always motivates me to stand up and pay attention to my surroundings even more than I normally do.  It is one thing to watch for eagles that may swoop down and snatch my dog.  It is another thing to be the victim of a ruthless terrorist.

To prevent that, we need to become that watchful eagle!

Situational Awareness Can Save Your Life | Backdoor Survival

The importance of being aware of your surroundings is so very critical right now that I have chosen to post this new article from Joe Alton so that you are sure to read it.  I have more news coming from Dr. Alton but will hold off on that until next week.

In the meantime, be safe, everyone.

Situational Awareness Could Save Your Life by Joe Alton, MD

On France’s equivalent of Independence Day, a large truck with multiple occupants plowed through a large crowd in the southern city of Nice and engaged in a gunfight with police. Bystanders noted that the truck appeared to accelerate into the festive throng, killing dozens and injuring many more.

It seems that you can’t read the news without a report of a terror event somewhere, and it’s clear that there will be more to come. Although we don’t know the exact circumstances at this early stage, I believe that this is just part and parcel of what I’ve called the New Normal in recent articles.

I’ve mentioned the concept of “situational awareness” as a way to decrease your chances of becoming a victim in future terror attacks. In these days of Pokemon Go and other smartphone distractions, you’re seeing more and more people not paying attention to their surroundings. In the past, this might get you a bump on the head for walking into a lamp post. In today’s world, however, it could cost you your life.

Situation awareness involves understanding what’s going on in your immediate vicinity that might be hazardous to your health. I don’t mean second-hand smoke here; I’m talking about knowing what dangers may exist that you can avoid or abolish with your actions. Especially important for soldiers in a combat zone, it’s now become just as important for the average citizen in any large crowd.

In an area at risk (anyplace where multitudes of people gather), simple things might save your life. Things like not having your hoodie up, which can be like blinders on a horse. Things like making a mental note of the nearest exit at the mall. Things like looking around for people who are nervous or, perhaps, dressed too warm for the weather. The situationally aware person will have the best chance to plan an escape when an attack occurs.

In Nice, France, the terrorists waited for the crowd to be distracted by fireworks. Spectators who had their eyes glued to the sky wouldn’t have time to react, and this greatly increased the casualty count. The situationally aware person would always be looking around for possible threats, and these days in France, the threats are everywhere.

In such a crowd, it would pay to be at the fringes and not in the middle. Having a wall to your back would eliminate a danger that might come at you from behind. Indoors, for example, in a movie theatre, you want a view of the exits as well as the screen. If someone is behaving strangely, move away from them. If someone is screaming at the employee at the local burger joint (I said NO CHEESE!), maybe you should leave and order a pizza instead.

It’s difficult to instill a culture of situational awareness in a population, but it can be done if you start early. When you’re out with the kids, tell them to pay attention to what’s going on where you are. Once the family has left the area, ask them how many people were there, what they were wearing, or other details. Ask them what they would have done if there was an attack. Do this often enough, and they may begin to pay less attention to their smartphones and more to their surroundings.

All this attention to detail may seem paranoid to you, but it’s time to realize that these are dangerous times. Incorporate situational awareness into a calm, observant mindset and you’ll gain those extra seconds that could have meant the difference between life and death for so many in Nice.

By Joe Alton, MD, of
Co-Author, The Survival Medicine Handbook

Additional Reading:  What to Do If You Are In the Middle of An Active Shooting

Backdoor Survival Mail Bag & Reader Tips

“Dave” offers this tip for re-purposing the flints on BIC lighters.  Who knew?

Don’t throw away empty BIC lighters. The flints BIC uses are superior to the ones sold for Zippo lighters. Pry off the tin windshield, then pry the roller out of the two ears holding it in. The flint is under spring pressure so watch as you take the wheel off. I carry a couple of spare flints stuffed under the cotton in the Zippo.

Recently I received an email from “Scott” asking about cooking smells outdoors during a SHTF situation.

Do you have any thoughts on what you would do to conceal cooking smells from reaching other households?

Do any of you have some thoughts on this topic?  Please leave your comments below.

Current Backdoor Survival Giveaways

With all giveaways, winners are notified by email and have 48 hours to claim their prize or an alternate will be selected.  Once selected, the names of winners are also displayed in the Rafflecopter on the original giveaway article.  This usually happens on the Friday following the end of the giveaway.

Prepper Book Festival 12: Complete Guide to US Junk Silver Coins + Giveaway

Other Announcements

Backdoor Survival is at the mid-point of a site re-design.  Nothing drastic but some changes are being made that should improve both speed and navigation.  The first half of this process was behind the scenes and consisted of an exhaustive site and security audit.  The next half may involve some minor downtime but rest assured, they will be for very brief periods.


Coming up in August is an all-new webinar on home canning,  I have already started my practice run with the webinar leader and I think you will impressed.  The session will be free and will take place on August 9th.  I hope to have details for you next week or the week after.  One thing for sure – you will not want to miss this one.

Update: The Challenges of Moving When Your Are a Prepper

In a market where it may take up to a year for a home to sell, our house in now under contract.  There is a contingency that should be released on Tuesday or Wednesday.  When that happens, we will be one step closer to finding the perfect mountain retreat.

Many of you have asked so I will answer this for you:  we are looking for a retreat in an area commonly called the Rim Country of Arizona. In terms of natural disasters, wildfires would be our greatest risk.  With elevation, we will have pine trees and water.  Things may change, as they do in life, but for now, that is our focus.

The Final Word

I started out by saying I was going to to write about freeze dried food.  Since I did not get that covered, let me simply say this: when making a large investment is freeze dried food, please sample it as soon as it arrives or better yet, order a sample pack first.  If you are basing your purchase on a review, ensure you can trust the reviewer.  Remember, a website pitching this product or that, may only post glowing reviews.

Check the nutritional information as well.  Just because it is non-GMO does not mean it is healthy.  Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.  Why this and why now? This week I sampled some of the most vile tasting and vile smelling FD food that you will ever eat.  It is not a brand I have mentioned or reviewed in the past and I have no intention of doing so.

Be smart about your food storage purchases.  Most companies have a 100% satisfaction guarantee but you can’t take advantage of it if you are in the middle of the SHTF and need to eat your food in order to survive.

It feels good to get that off my chest.  Have a good week.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing to email updates.  When you do, you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-Book, The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

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Below you will find some of my own, favorite preparedness items.

Third Edition:  The SURVIVAL MEDICINE Handbook:  A frequent question I get on Backdoor Survival has to do with healthcare matters when there is no doctor around. Written by survival medicine experts, Joe and Amy Alton, this is the definite source of survival medical information for all Prepper’s and is my go-to bible for survival medicine.

Cast Iron Skillet with Hot Handle Holder: Likewise, I feel that everyone should own a basic, 12” cast iron skillet.  In spite of the myth, they are easy to care for and over time, will become a family heirloom.  On grid or off grid, cooking with cast iron is the way to go.

The Ringer Cast Iron Cleaner – Stainless Steel Chainmail:  I purchased one of these in October 2015 and it is friggin’ fantastic.  You will never ever have to scrub cast iron again.  I can’t say enough good things about this gizmo.  You want one.  Read my review here: How to Clean Cast Iron the Easy Way.

A Prepper’s Cookbook: Twenty Years of Cooking in the Woods:  This book was extremely popular when it appeared in a Prepper Book Festival. As the back cover says ““Deborah D. Moore will take you on a fun, step by step journey to recreate the same meals she makes every day using only what she has stored in her pantry.”  Your will love this book!  Be sure to also read the interview with the author here:  Prepper Book Festival #12: A Prepper’s Cookbook.

RAVPower 15W Solar Charger with Dual USB Ports: This compact, three panel, solar charger will charge two devices at once, including tablets, smartphones, Kindles, and even AA/AAA battery chargers. For more information, read: Gear Review: RAVPower 15W Solar Charger with Dual USB Ports.

Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets (Pack of 10): I do believe in helping my neighbors in the community so a supply of these will be handy to hand out to those in need. You will be surprised at how warm these will keep you. Be sure to test one out in advance so that you have the confidence to trust the blanket in an emergency.

No Rinse Cleansing & Deodorizing Bathing Wipes:  One wipe is more than enough for a complete “bath”.  These are a good backup when traditional showers are not available such as the week or weeks following a disaster.  Also good for the sick room as well as camping, boating, hiking and such.  Here is my review.

Sabre Compact Pepper Spray with Quick Release Key Ring: The portability of this pepper spray adds to its appeal since it can be easily carried on a key ring or in a handbag or backpack.

LifeStraw Personal Water FilterThe Amazon Top Ten Most Wanted Survival and Outdoor Items Backdoor Survival:  The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultra light personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2 oz.  making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.  Also available here.


What are the best oils for your survival kit? Here are my top picks.

9 Best Essential Oils for Your Survival Kit | Backdoor Survival



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Updated Jul 3, 2019

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5 Responses to “Survival Buzz: Situational Awareness Can Save Your Life”

  1. I’ve never tried the several brands of FD food I’ve purchased. Now I feel motivated to do so. The “can’t think of everything” happens to all of us…..and that’s where community is so helpful. Thanks for that more-than-helpful tip! As for cooking outside, I have no intentions of doing it….so I have no bright tips. I’ll look forward to reading other’s tips!

  2. Situational awareness – back in the 70s husband stationed in Sicily, at orientation told to avoid crowds, deserted streets, cars stopped on sides of road for no apparent reason. Reason – we were American military (Navy) and not everybody liked us, many thought we were very rich and probably easy targets for robbery, etc. Now, we are always aware of crowds so don’t go many places especially outdoors with beer tents, aggressive drivers as they many lead to road rage, are careful of groups of teens occupying too much space on sidewalks or in malls (I know ‘profiling’ but many times they grab purses, phones, etc and scatter), and loud, argumentative voices in businesses especially in medical offices/buildings like the VA.

    Cast iron – have been using 3 skillets for over 40 years and can’t imagine not having them. The largest is getting heavier (no, I’m not getting older) so it stays on the stove top. Quick and easy to clean, just make sure they are dry before putting away or you may get some rust.

    Cooking outdoors and odors – we have several families that grill outdoors frequently and the entire neighborhood can smell it. We use a Sun Oven and the delicious odors are contained withing a 6 ft area around it. Coupled with the fact that it is rather hidden between the back door and a 5′ hedge, I don’t anticipate anyone bothering with it.

    • Amazing – Today’s political correctness would tell us you’re all wrong. Let’s be clear, survival depends on situational awareness, or as I like to call it PROFILING! There is NOTHING wrong with profiling! It is ingrained in us for survival.

  3. To keep the smell of cooking down use a sun oven with a covered pot.

  4. History is full of situations where people cannot accept the reality that is plainly before there eyes. It is mind set. If it does not fit the mind set they cant accept reality. Battle of Savo off Guadalcanal Allied ships were anchored for the night crews asleep night watch on duty, picket ships on patrol Japanese evaded the patrols and attacked the first group of anchored allied warships. the night watch on the next group of ships saw the gun flashes and burning ships heard the b5oom of the guns yet they did nothing at all about it. They could not accept the idea they were under attack. The Japanese attacked the second group of ships with crews still asleep the allies lost 4 cruisers sunk at anchor and a destroyer the Japan6ese lost 57 men ehen6 they hit one of their own ships. Mind set is the vital thing here. They still thought in peace time terms


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