Situational awareness is the ability to identify and process information to help you survive a crisis situation. Basically it is knowing what is going on around you and being mentally prepared to respond and defend yourself in any situation. 

A U.S. Marine and firearms instructor named Jeff Cooper developed a color coding system to help people to better understand the different situational awareness levels you can experience. Here is a summary of the system:

White – Complete unawareness and unpreparedness


Yellow – Relaxed alert. There is no specific, obvious threat, but you are aware that danger is always a possibility. You’re aware of the people and environment around you in general. Yellow is the goal state for everyday life. 


Orange – Heightened state of awareness in which you observe or are aware of a specific threat. You are beginning to formulate possible responses to deal with the danger, for example, realizing there is a threat following or advancing on you. 


Red – Action stage. The situation has escalated to the point where you are either engaging a threat or are in retreat. Stage red is physically and mentally exhausting and demands that you be 100 – percent dedicated to the danger at hand. 

Black – Panic. You have hit the point in the situation where panic sets in and you have a breakdown of physical & mental performance.

Though we are headed towards Situational Awareness Day (September 26th) it is important to always keep situational awareness at the forefront of your thoughts. Simply knowing these levels and actively thinking about the situations you are in could save your life one day.