Color Me Yellow

Similar in nature to how predator animals go after the old, weak or young prey, human predators will go after those who are defenseless. By “defenseless”, I am not saying these people have no way to defend themselves. I am saying they choose to be defenseless by not being aware of their surroundings. Animals which are typically seen as prey are always on the lookout for danger. They turn their eyes and ears in the direction of danger. For example, my family is constantly seeing rabbits in our back yard. Watch them, and you will notice their two long ears are constantly moving…moving in the direction of sounds which could represent potential threats.

Human example. Suppose you are walking around the mall. Are you paying attention to your surroundings or is your head buried in your phone while you are texting, like today’s generation does exclusively? Do you know where the nearest exits are? Does any mall patron seem out of place to you, like wearing an overcoat in 90 degree weather? Are you fumbling in your pocket or purse for your keys? Is anyone lurking near your car?

Being aware of your surroundings is known as situational awareness. And being aware of your surroundings removes your defenseless position. Criminals know their most successful attacks are those in which the element of surprise is on their side. So, if given a choice, criminals will come after those who are not paying attention…because the element of surprise is on the attacker’s side. If YOU have the element of surprise on your side because you are aware of your surroundings, it will be more difficult for the attacker to do you harm, because you will have devised a plan to deal with the potential threat.

Situational awareness is the concept of always being aware of your surroundings. And it is a learned skill and takes a little practice to master. Situational awareness starts with avoidance. Avoid areas and places which could harbor a threat. Don’t walk in dark alleys at night. Don’t drive into the hood. Don’t engage someone in road rage.

As mentioned, situational awareness is a learned skill. To help with that learning, the late, great Marine Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper came up with a color code. Each of his four (4) colors represents an increased awareness of potential threats.

Jeff Cooper’s Color Codes

Condition White. This means that you are calm and unaware of your surroundings. You are oblivious to the world around you. This is most of today’s generation, walking out of the mall texting their friends or checking social media. People in Condition White are the perfect targets for criminals. In reality, the only time you should be in condition white is when you are asleep.

Condition Yellow. This means you are relaxed and calm, but paying attention to your environment. You hear and see things around you, but your antennae are on. You walk out of the mall, but your head is up, your eyes are open and moving around to scan your environment…who or what is around you. Everyone should be on Condition Yellow. This should be the most common condition. You look good in yellow.

Condition Orange. This means your senses are heightened. Something doesn’t seem right. You walk out of the mall and see a guy leaning against a pole in the parking garage which you have to walk past. In this condition, something currently is not a threat, but could be. This condition is where you formulate a plan…”I will do _________ if the circumstances escalate and becomes a threat”. This plan must be something conjured up quickly. In condition orange, you have the upper hand, because the attacker’s element of surprise is gone.

Condition Red. This means the threat becomes real. The man leaning against the pole suddenly pulls a knife or a gun on you. At this juncture, it is “game on”. You execute the plan you came up with in condition orange, even if that means drawing your gun. In Condition Red, you must be committed to pulling the trigger until the attack is stopped, even if that means the attacker dies…then it sucks being him.

The beauty of Cooper’s color code is that the colors are fluid. If you are in Condition Red, and the attacker suddenly runs away before attacking you, then you move back to Condition Orange. Your senses are still heightened but you no longer have to commit to stopping an attack.

In our concealed carry training classes, before the students arrive for class, the instructor places objects about the training room, examples of which could be a cartoon image of Fred Flintstone taped to the wall, a swatch of color fabric near the bottles of water, or anything else which can be used to determine awareness. Then when we get to the Situational Awareness portion of the class, the instructor asks the students if they have seen Fred Flintstone or what color the fabric swatch is, WITHOUT now scanning the room. The point of this simple exercise is to see who paid attention upon arriving for class.

Color Me Yellow