Awareness Tools: Coopers Color System
Updated: Oct 19
Having good awareness is essential for personal safety. It helps to minimize the chances of encountering dangers and allows you to manage a threatening situation with more control. The faster you recognize a potential issue, the more likely you’ll be able to effectively and quickly address it.
The Coopers Colors system is a visualization process that breaks down situational awareness into four colors representing escalating levels of preparation. Recognizing the different levels of alertness and being aware of your current state, will help mentally prepare you to shift mindsets and overcome a stressful situation more effectively.
Condition White (Unaware Potential Victim)
In condition white, you’re relaxed and unaware of what’s going on around you. In this state, a person is functioning on autopilot, they are ‘looking, but not seeing’ and taking no information in.
Condition Yellow (Relaxed Alert)
Condition yellow is a relaxed but alert level of awareness. In this state of awareness, you are permanently ‘switched on,’ paying attention to the sights and sounds that surround you –more specifically who and what is around you. This is the default state you should be in 100% of the time, especially when outside of your home.
Condition Orange (Potential Threat)
Condition orange means a specific level of awareness. Something has attracted your attention that could be a potential threat. You are more focused and better prepared to take action if required. People you come into contact with (known or unknown) are examples of a condition orange focus. Remain in this state of awareness until you’re satisfied no threat exists.
Condition Red (Focused, Potential Target)
If the focus of your attention in condition orange turns threatening, condition red shifts from a potential threat to a potential target. In condition red your intense concentration on the threat will keep mentally ahead of the game, and you cannot be surprised.
Being aware isn’t about being paranoid, it’s about interpreting the environment in a conscious manner. Danger isn't hiding behind every rock, the person who followed you down the same street may be just looking for their car too, but there are a range of threats out there. Although you cannot eliminate all life stressors you can change your response and be more readily prepared by recognizing what alert status you're in.
You are responsible for your own security. Although this seems like a simple principle, you only need to read the news each day to see how many people expose themselves to unnecessary dangers due to negligence or thoughtlessness with their safety. The earlier you’re aware of a potential problem, the more likely you’re able to overcome it. By not paying attention to your immediate surroundings, simple problems or situations have the potential to evolve into larger threats, and instead of responding to a situation, you may end up reacting to one.
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