Editor's Note: Events such as the Nov. 13 Paris attacks cannot always be predicted, but there are steps you can take to avoid imperiling yourself even more than the situation itself does. Click on the links to the following analyses, culled from the minds of Stratfor security experts, to learn how to increase your chances of survival should the worst happen.
March 5, 2015: "Even an armed individual needs to rely primarily on his or her most important weapons system — the brain. If the brain is properly engaged and a person has the proper mindset, practices good situational awareness and recognizes a problem while it is still developing, they put themselves in a much better position to effectively deploy and employ their body, knife, gun or whatever secondary weapon they have access to. If the brain is not effectively engaged, a person is left relying on luck, happenstance and the ineptitude of the criminals — and these are not things prudent people should trust their lives to."
September 18, 2014: "As we have noted in the previous parts of this series, it is always better to detect dangerous situations before they fully develop so that one can take steps to avoid the danger. This is because in general, once an attack has been launched, it can be very difficult to avoid. As any football player knows, action is always faster than reaction. That principle provides offensive players with a slight edge over their opponents on defense because the offensive players know the snap count that will signal the beginning of the play. This principle of action and reaction is applicable to personal security. When a criminal or terrorist launches an attack, they have the advantage of tactical surprise over the target — they have selected the time, place and method of the attack. This advantage can be magnified significantly if the target lacks the proper mindset and freezes up during the attack."
September 16, 2014: "It is important to note that situational awareness — being aware of one's surroundings and identifying potential threats and dangerous situations — is more of a state of mind than a hard skill. Because of this, practicing situational awareness is not something that can be done only by highly trained government agents or specialized corporate security teams. Indeed, it can be exercised by anyone with the will and discipline to do so. Situational awareness is useful for recognizing and avoiding terrorist threats, distinguishing criminal behavior and identifying other emerging dangerous situations.
People typically operate on five distinct levels of awareness. There are many ways to describe these levels. Cooper's colors, for example, is a system frequently used in law enforcement and military training. At Stratfor, however, we have found that the most effective way to illustrate the differences between the levels is to compare them to the different degrees of attention people practice while driving. For our purposes here, we will refer to the five levels as 'tuned out,' 'relaxed awareness,' 'focused awareness,' 'high alert' and 'comatose.'"
October 31, 2013: "I think one of the more interesting phenomena is when you look at the reaction of some of the victims. In essence you see a lot of people that freeze in place. They clearly were stuck on the X: did not know what to do. Whether it was a psychological reaction from the explosions, or the failure to recognize exactly what was taking place, many people in essence were stuck like deer in the headlights, and either trying to hide behind flimsy desks or walls — which the terrorists could literally shoot through. So I think that one of the more important aspects that you've written extensively about on the website is the ability to understand what is taking place with a high degree of situation awareness — and not paranoid to the aspect that freezes you, but just a heightened awareness. And then always think of a plan, always think of your exits, and have in your mind what are you going to do, god forbid, if one of these events starts to unfold in front of you."