ON GUARD – Got Street Smarts? part 2

    June 10, 2003

The Red Zone (up to 5 feet away), Yellow Zone (to 15 ft) and Blue Zone (15 plus) were mentioned in Part One of this series. People run into trouble in the street because they react only when someone enters their red zone, and by then it’s usually too late to avoid or escape the problem. We need to widen our view to encompass everything from zero to 20 feet and beyond and give it all equal study. Unfortunately the mind cannot assimilate too many visual clues. Only what is closest – in the Yellow and Red zones – gets the most study. Consequently, we only notice threats when they’ve gotten too close to detour around and by then it may be too late to take any action.

Personal safety on the street involves situational awareness of people and places in the Yellow Zone, so they don’t encroach upon our Red zones. Seeing and identifying a potential threat before it becomes a real threat is your best safety technique.

You have to realize fully that the potential for danger on the street is there – day or night, rural or suburban, crowded or empty, and act accordingly. Recognize and evaluate:

Individuals standing alone, observing or seemingly engrossed in a newspaper or magazine

Groups on corners, alleys, storefronts, doorways, sidewalks or parking lots.

Individuals or groups in parked cars

Persons wandering with no apparent purpose.

Person or persons observing you with more than casual interest.

Anyone following you or someone you’ve seen earlier showing up in the same place as you.

Anyone hanging around your car or work place.

Shrubbery or trees, which could conceal someone.

Dark, deserted or isolated streets, alleys, parking lots, yards, parks, playgrounds, beaches, public restrooms, Laundromats, 24 hour teller machines.

Close quarters, such as between cars or in passageways and tunnels.

The above list isn’t meant to send you into a state of paranoia. But if you make it a practice to pay attention to the types of places and situations I’ve listed you’ll give yourself an important layer of additional protection.

Laura Quarantiello is the author of “Cyber Crime How to Protect
Yourself From Computer Criminals” More information at