Situational awareness is a key factor in daily survival. Many people do not realize just how vulnerable they are doing a normal activity such as grocery shopping. I see so many people, women in particular, making careless errors that could cost them their life.
By Valerie K, SurvivalCache.com Contributor
This post is part of a series of posts on Female Self Defense
Talking or texting on your cell phone when walking into or leaving the store is not a good idea. When you are entering the store, you should be taking that time to look at the vehicles and people around you. Being able to differentiate between a threat and the friendly. If anything looks suspicious you should take note of it and be prepared to react. Being distracted on a phone makes you look like an easy target, which is exactly what thieves and wrongdoer’s are looking for.
Upon entering the store, you will probably use a cart. Never leave your purse in a cart! That is just begging for someone to rob you. I thought everyone was aware of this now, but on many recent trips that I have made I have seen this over and over again. If your purse is stolen, not only will you lose whatever cash and cards you have in there, your personal information will be compromised as well. Many women do not realize just how much information can be stolen until it is too late. Personal checks or bills with your home address will have you panicking if your purse is stolen.
If at all possible, I encourage women if they are shopping alone (especially at night), to only buy what they need. It would be best to be able to carry all of your bags out in one hand, while making sure you have your keys out in the other hand. I’m hoping at this point that there is a ninja spike on that key chain. If not, your largest key in between your fingers will also work in a pinch. If you have to buy multiple bags of stuff, use the store’s cart to wheel your bags out to your car. The cart can serve two purposes,
1. Your hands are free, you can hold a can of pepper spray or you ninja spike key chain or the monkey fist while you push the cart. You are also able to quickly produce a concealed weapon if you are licensed to carry one. This is not to say that you could not just drop your bags to produce your weapon, but we can all agree that sometimes we try to carry too many bags and they get twisted around our fingers and can be difficult to drop.
2. If anyone strangely approaches you from an observed angle, you can position the cart in between you and the perpetrator until you have evaluated the risk. Pushing the cart into someone’s attack path could provide you with valuable seconds to defend yourself.
You will also deter any possible thieves in the parking lot if you are clearly ready for an attack and thus announcing to them that you are not an easy target. As you walk to your vehicle, look and make sure there is nothing lurking near your car (thief, serial killer, weirdo). Begin your observation as soon as you step out of the store. Any perpetrator will want to get “eyes on” you as you approach you car. Knowing this, begin to scan around your car for observation points such as the back of the car, windows, or the car’s hood, many times perpetrators will peek out to confirm your arrival and your situational awareness might foil their best laid plan.
As you walk up to your car try to stay in the middle of road of the parking lot (safely avoiding traffic) until you are even with you car. Although it might look weird making a 90 degree right angle turn to walk to your car, you are putting about 10 to 15 feet between you and a would be assailant if they were hiding near your car. You are also more likely to be seen by other patrons if you are attacked in the middle of the road. As you unlock your vehicle, glance inside to make sure everything is as you left it. If all is well, slide into the driver seat, locking your car as soon as you get in. Your bags can be situated when you are safely in the vehicle. If you have a cart, place your bags into the car and then drop the cart off keeping your situational awareness level on high during this process. Never carry your bags back to your car from the cart drop off, compromising your hands is always a bad thing.
I understand that many women are shopping with children and have to use a cart. If at all possible, I encourage you to utilize the online shopping system many grocery stores now offer for a nominal fee. You pay for everything online, then you park close to the entrance and employees will load your vehicle for you. If you must shop with a cart and a child I would advise you to park as close to the cart return as possible. You should load the child safely in the vehicle first, then the bags. As soon as you finish, lock the vehicle while you return the cart, and keep the Ninja Spike in the ready to fight position at all times.
Choosing a store that obviously is concerned with safety is a great choice. Lots of stores now have security officers. Look for brightly lit well kept parking lots with surveillance cameras.
If the store keeps up with their cart return, then there will constantly be an employee in the parking lot, another plus. Your personal security ultimately depends on you and the choices you make. Survival is an every day occurrence, and the repetitive things we do that are a part of normal life need to have particular attention paid to them.
Routines set patterns, patterns can be exploited, look to see where you are vulnerable and how you can off set these critical vulnerabilities by either changing your routine or pre-positioning defensive advantages in places that will be unexpected by a perpetrator. (example: Heavy duty lock on bedroom door, pepper spray in your car, pepper spray in your purse, pepper spray near your bed, ninja spike on your key ring, high powered surefire flashlight in your purse, monkey fist near your bed, etc. these are a few examples of things that could turn the table in your favor if you were unexpectedly attacked)