Tools to Help You Maintain Situational Awareness in Your Local Community!

Situational awareness is a topic that often comes up in preparedness.  It’s important to consider your surroundings.  Things can change in a matter of moments.  By being aware, you might be able to foresee any issues that might come your way.

The other day I was waiting for my wife to come out of a store.  I noticed a young mom with two little girls walking to her car.  Not two-feet behind her, a man was walking right behind her.  At first, they were so close that I thought it was her husband.  However, they never acknowledged each other.  Then the thought crossed my mind, he could be getting ready to rob her.  I pulled up a little further so I could have a good eye on what was happening.  As she turned to her vehicle, the man turned towards his.

The man could have just been walking to his vehicle.  However, I know that when I’m that close to someone, I purposely move to one side or the other, not to worry them.  This guy didn’t do it. This young mom had two small children.  I’m a father.  Sometimes getting kids into the car is like corraling cats.  But, we are living in a new day and age!

Situational Awareness – Think About It On A Bigger Scale!


Being situationally aware when you leave your home is very important. However, I would like to discuss situational awareness on a bigger scale, your community.

Having knowledge of what is going on in your community is important.  We don’t live in a bubble!  What is happening on the other side of town, or just a few streets over can have an impact on your family and your safety.

Here are a few tools that can help you know what is going on, many times, in real time.

NextdoorNextdoor is “social media” for your neighborhood.  There, your neighbors can post on anything from For Sale items, Lost and Found to Crime.

Recently, a scout mom posted about the local scout troop selling mulch to raise money for their troop.  I found out through Nextdoor and ordered ten bags.  The cool thing is that they delivered the bags to my backyard! 😉  If it was only that easy every year!

One of the cool aspects of this service is that I can add neighborhoods around my area.  So if I wanted to know about all the local garage sales, I could add other neighborhoods close by, other than mine.

One thing to consider is that you will get a few whiny people posting about kids running stop signs and popping off fireworks.  You can set the APP only to alert you when someone posts an “emergency” post.  You can also set the APP to send you a daily email summary instead of letting you know about every new post.

This is a valuable website/APP and I suggest everyone to at least look into it.

Disclaimer: As with all social media, be careful what you share on it.  You can use this APP and many others without divulging any real information.


NOTE: I wrote this article before Hurricane Harvey.  This APP proved to be invaluable in the information that neighbors were sharing.  I was glad to have it and received very timely information as well as information from older neighbors who had knowledge on how the neighborhood drained.

Facebook Groups – Facebook is one of those things.  It can be a blessing or a curse.  If you use it the way I’m describing in this section, it can be a blessing.

Many neighborhoods have a group on Facebook.  My neighborhood has a group that is not very active.  Although, when things do happen, people post on it.  However, I’m a member of a group that encompasses a good portion of the suburbs I live in.  This group is specific to sharing about crime and emergency issues.

Sometimes it is shocking to see so many things going on around the area. But, I want to know what areas are safe and if I need to let my family know they need to avoid certain areas.  Often, members of the group will post on police activity and crimes.  I have seen people post on tires being stolen, people trying to enter vehicles at night and more.  There is usually pics and video to go along with it.

It was a really helpful about a year ago when NW Houston was flooded. Members of the group posted, in real time, areas that were impassable and when areas were cleared.  This group had the most up-to-date information than any other source, including the major TV affiliates.  In this scenario, it was very helpful.

It’s like people want to report on what is going on.  Their desire is to your benefit and will help you stay aware.

To find a local group, get on Facebook and start searching for your neighborhood or suburbs.

An example of a Neighborhood Crime Watch post.

NOTE: Again, this Facebook group proved to be a very valuable resource during Hurricane Harvey.  I was informed of road closures and what the area outside of my immediate neighborhood look liked!

Twitter – You might not have considered it, but Twitter is a great place for news.  Many times, the world and national news hit Twitter way before you will see it anywhere else.  So, instead of filling up my feed on the Kardashians and the latest Hollywood Yahoo, I follow accounts that provide news.

But for the sake of this article, I want to point out that you can follow your local news and emergency services.  So for example, I follow @AlertHouston.


I also follow FEMA Region 6 which includes Texas, so I can avoid the camps! 😉  I could also add the Houston Police and Fire Dept.’s, but the Alert Houston Twitter handle does a decent job.

It shouldn’t be your primary source for local news, but I believe everyone should learn to navigate Twitter and use it as a channel for quick information. You could go to my Twitter account, and follow some of the same news organizations that I do.  I tend to follow organizations on both sides of the aisle so I can stay up on what they are “thinking” and “saying.”

Crime Reports – Another website that offers information on what is going on around your local area is Crime Reports.  I’m not going to go into detail here because I did a write up a while back called, “Checking Crime Reports.

This is a website that you should visit because you can drill down to your local neighborhood, even your own street to see what types of crimes have been reported.

Broadcastify – This website allows you to listen to police, fire, EMS, aviation and rail scanner feeds.  Use the map and drill down to your local area.

Make sure that you pay careful attention to the “STEREO” feeds.  These are feeds that have multiple feeds coming out two different channels.  For example, the left side of the speaker broadcast the feed for several agencies where the right side of the speaker broadcasts the others.

Broadcastify has an APP for iPhones and Androids that you can download. There are many other scanner APPS out there as well.

Final Word

With our busy lives, it is easy to get distracted with all the things we have to do.  But our world is getting crazy out there.  It is just smart to stay aware of your surroundings.  Using these tools mentioned above makes it a little easier.

Are there any tools, websites, APPS that you use that could be helpful to the community?




This article first appeared on Ed That Matters.

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Todd Sepulveda

I'm the owner/editor of Prepper Website, a DAILY preparedness aggregator that links to the best preparedness articles on the internet. I'm also a public school administrator and a pastor. My personal blog is Ed That Matters, where I write about preparedness and from time to time, education. Connect with me on one of my social media outlets below.

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  1. Simon young September 4, 2017
  2. Jason Crawford September 16, 2017
  3. Rohan September 23, 2017
    • Todd Sepulveda September 23, 2017

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