Special Feature

Practice of Scanning For Safety banner

In the area of aquatics and safety, lifeguards use the technique of scanning as a crucial tool for the safety of the environment that they protect. Scanning, or the repetitious action of surveying an area of coverage, is one of the most prominent responsibilities for lifeguards, but it works in other areas too. We all have put scanning to good use at one time, or another.

When you first learned to cross a street your parents, or guardians, probably asked you to look both ways for safety before stepping off the corner. This is an example of why scanning, also known as situational awareness, is important. It keeps us aware of all the possible dangers. This skill can be especially useful when traveling in unfamiliar environments and at night. So how does it work and help you? Let us discuss.    

Scanning can be broken down into three tasks: Information gathering, understanding information and anticipation. For example, if I am walking down a street I should know where I am walking, how long it takes me to get to my destination, and what variables I might meet between point A and B.

As I walk the route to my car at night, I know it takes 10 minutes from class, the area is usually crowded because other classes let out at the same time, and it is darker out so visibility will be lower. The verdict: I must increase my normal amount of observation to look out for things out of place for this trip.

Scanning in general makes you and your possessions less of a target via theft, or injury. With scanning, your ability to see your environment and react to, for example, a crack in the sidewalk lessens. As you may have guessed scanning is a major component of self-defense because you are making yourself more aware of potential dangers.

So be smart, stay alert! Please stay off your cell phones when walking by yourself. Look up, listen, look around and take notice of the things around you. The most important help you provide by scanning might be for yourself.

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