Do You Know How To Get Out?

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When visiting the doctor’s office recently, I discovered a weakness in my own preparedness and situational awareness. After walking to the exam room, I realized that I had lost track of how I got there.

This reminded me of several of the biographies I’ve read about Miyamoto Musashi. For those that don’t know, Musashi was one of the greatest swordsmen to have ever lived. He was a brilliant strategist and was extremely paranoid (and rightfully so). In these biographies I remember reading about how he would size up any building prior to entering. He noted where doors and windows were located and considered how he might escape from the building.

Know your exits

We should all try to employ this concept in life. Knowing where fire escapes and exits are located is always a good idea in any building. In the event of a fire or natural disaster, you will know where to go to get out quickly. In an active shooter scenario, you want to know how to get out and where to direct friends, family, or bystanders to get them out of harm’s way.

For a small building you can size it up prior to entering. For a large building, you need to constantly and consistently be building a mental map of the building. Always know how to return the way you came as well as noting emergency exits, windows, etc.

Training the skill

Practicing this is relatively low cost, but the opportunities might be rather limited. Remind yourself any time you are going somewhere unfamiliar that you should be constantly be taking these mental notes.

You can test and improve on this skill by randomly spot checking these notes. At any given point wherever you are, try to identify all your possible exit paths. You should aim to have at least three different ways to get out of a given building or area. If you are having trouble doing so, you need to pay closer attention.

Even better, try using these mental notes if the opportunity arises. If you feel confident about your navigational skills, try finding an alternative route out using the intelligence you gathered earlier. Test your ability to find a way out (so long as you can do so safely and without ruffling too many feathers).

Avoid being trapped in a strange place by knowing your exits ahead of time. Identify possible exit routes so you can get out at a moment’s notice. If you ever need to get out of a building quickly it will be far easier, and you will remain calmer knowing your exits ahead of time.

Do you identify your exits when entering an unknown building? How do you track your exits? Please share your knowledge in the comment section below.

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