Posts Tagged ‘self-defense’


Self-Defense for The Rest of Us

Friday, February 24th, 2017
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Violence in the news

Purse with weapon. . . against religions, immigrant or racial groups. Violence in the streets, violence threatened by our government – it’s enough to make you want to lock the doors, crawl into bed and cover your head.

Some people are stocking up on guns and ammunition. But for most of us at Emergency Plan Guide, daily life goes on without dramatic changes that include firearms.

Still, if you’re feeling less secure these days, it’s worth taking another, no-nonsense look at personal safety and self-defense.

1 – Martial arts skills are a potent defense for some.

Trained martial arts masters no doubt have a much better chance of surviving a violent attack by someone without a weapon or even with one. In fact, everyone can become more skilled, without having to become a master. (I’ve seen classes advertised for children, for young women – “Don’t get raped” — and for senior citizens.)

I think even I could handle several of the self-defense moves illustrated in this article: http://www.cracked.com/photoplasty_1376_16-self-defense-moves-to-impress-your-friends-muggers/

But – and here’s the big caution. I am NOT in the best shape of my life. I have NOT trained or practiced these moves. I’m NOT confident that I would remember exactly which move to apply when. And I don’t have a martial arts class in my future.

So what about you?

In other words, unless you are willing to sign up for a professional class and become proficient if not professional, a casual approach to martial arts is useless and probably even dangerous.

2 — Mental attitude will KEEP you out of trouble.

Being aware is the very first defense, and is likely to be the key to your safety. We have written several times about the concept of situational awareness.

But awareness also requires action.

For example,

  • If you find yourself driving deeper into the “wrong” neighborhood, an unknown part of town, or into a dark parking lot or alley – make a smart decision, a quick U-turn and simply get out of there before you put yourself at risk.
  • If your normally familiar neighborhood or work environment suddenly “feels funny” – you see people you haven’t seen before doing things that don’t make sense, hear sounds that could be gunshots – make a smart decision and remove yourself (and your family, no matter how much they resist) before something happens.
  • if you enter what we’ve learned to term a “soft target” area – like a mall, movie theatre, sporting event, or shopping area – make constant note of alternate ways to get out of the area. In an emergency you’ll know just what to do and you won’t be trampled by all the others who will naturally try to get out the way they got in.

All of these mean you have to 1) recognize a potentially dangerous situation and 2) overcome doubt and other people’s criticisms or reluctance and 3) GET THE HELL OUT.

Explain or defend your actions later.

3 – When you have to fight, your ultimate goal is still to get away.

There may be a time when your “antennae” just didn’t work and you can’t avoid a person who is threatening you.

Or, and I hate to say this, YOU may have provoked a situation by threatening, annoying or insulting someone (Road rage? Street protest?) to the point they attack you. At that moment, you need to be able to let go of your own emotions and recognize the danger you’ve put yourself in!

Either way, if you decide that you must fight for your life, then commit to that fight. Any half-hearted attempt will be inadequate and could put you in even more danger.

Some self-protection suggestions that make sense to me:

Yell sharply and loudly right in the face of the attacker!

“BACK OFF!” makes it clear you are not going to be a willing victim. Your aggressive resistance may even be enough to make the attacker look for an easier victim. Note you are yelling at the attacker, not yelling for “Help!” from some unknown source.

Use what you have or can find as an improvised weapon.

If you have keys in your hand, use a key to scratch or cut. (If you are holding a whole bunch of keys in your hand, however, you are likely to stab your own palm if you actually hit something hard with that hand.) Hurl a handful of pocket change. Toss dirt or sand. Launch a pot of hot coffee. Spray an attacker with perfume or hairspray.

Use what you can to distract the attacker so you can get away.

Use “weaponized” personal items.

Any device is useless unless you understand how to use it, and you have it in your hand ready to use. This takes us right back to “situational awareness” and “mental attitude.” Here are some ordinary items that become weapons if you use them that way. Click the blue links under the images to go to Amazon to get current prices and full details.

I try to carry a flashlight all the time, for light and as a weapon.  Lately, we have the choice of “tactical” flashlights that serve both purposes.

My favorite “tactical” flashlight has a ridged grip that won’t slip and a sharp front edge that would cut seriously when used as a slashing weapon. Here’s a tactical light that has a wrist strap for easy carrying, offers a super-bright m adjustable flashlight and comes in a gift box. The blue arrow points to the sharp edge.

tactical flashlight

LED Tactical Flashlight,Akaho 900 Lumen XML T6 Portable Outdoor Water Resistant Torch with Adjustable Focus and 5 Light Modes,Rechargeable 18650 Lithium Ion Battery and Charger

I also carry a “tactical pen.” (The image at the start of this article shows it clipped to my purse.) It looks pretty ordinary but is anything but. It’s solid, heavy, has a pointed end and a thumb rest on the other end for secure grip. It could break a car window in an emergency. And plunging it into any part of anyone’s body would hurt BAD.

Here’s a better look and a link to the description at Amazon. There are other pens that are more pen than weapon, and pens with small flashlights built in. Take a good look to find what would suit you best.

Tactical pen

Hoffman Richter Stinger Tactical Pen

Be prepared with legal, dedicated self-defense items.

In my estimation, carrying guns or knives requires a level of training outside the scope of an Emergency Plan Guide Advisory. But there are other options to consider.

Stun gun. You hold a stun gun in your hand.  When you press it against the body of an attacker, its “electrical punch” can completely disable and disorient him for seconds or minutes, giving you the chance to get away. Before you purchase, be sure a stun gun is legal in your state or county. (For a lot more on stun guns – and tasers, which we do NOT recommend — see our earlier Advisory.)

I like the model shown below because it has a safety disable pin. If you lose control of the gun, the pin pulls out and it won’t shoot. It comes with a wrist strap, too – and in pink and black.

Stun guns

VIPERTEK VTS-979 – 230,000,000 Stun Gun – Rechargeable with Safety Disable Pin LED Flashlight, Pink

VIPERTEK VTS-979 – 230,000,000 Stun Gun – Rechargeable with Safety Disable Pin LED Flashlight, Black

Pepper spray

As I just said, for your stun gun to work, you have to press it against your attacker’s body.

That means the attacker is VERY CLOSE to you!

That’s why I prefer to carry a canister of pepper spray. It can shoot a spray at least 8-10 feet! (For more details, see this Advisory.) Anyone over 18 can buy and carry pepper spray.

Here’s one I recommend; I chose the pink color because if you bury this in a purse or briefcase, you’ll find it a lot easier if it’s colored. (This brand comes in black and aqua as well as pink.)

Pepper spray pink

SABRE Red Pepper Spray – Police Strength – Compact, Case & Quick Release Key Ring (Max Protection – 25 Shots, up to 5x More)

Does any of this make sense to you? Should you make a change in what you normally carry in your car or on your person?

Remember that in all these cases – driving, shopping, defending against an attack – you will only be successful if you

Make a quick assessment

Decide what to do, and

Do it!

Here’s to your safety,

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

 

Update on Self-Defense Products

Thursday, May 5th, 2016
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Scary Parking LotAbout a year ago I researched and wrote my first Advisory about stun guns and tasers for self-defense. It generated a number of comments then, and continues to be one of our most popular posts.

You may want to take the time to read it here, then come back for this update.

Obviously, self-defense products are NOT for everyone.

At the same time, our readers’ personal safety continues to be a concern.

So we keep up with the news and reviews about all aspects of self-protection, including the Second Amendment controversy. I’m not ready to jump into recommending firearms yet, but I certainly can suggest some non-lethal alternatives that may serve ALL our readers.

Stun Guns vs. Tasers – They are NOT the same.

The confusion about these two items continues in the public, at least. Even on Amazon, there is no distinction!

Here are three differences you need to know:

1 – Different technology

While both these devices operate using a charge of electricity, the stun gun generates a shock when the probes on the gun itself are pressed against someone. The taser shoots a projectile that creates the shock when the projectile hits someone. Stun guns are available starting at around $20. Tasers start at around $300 and quickly go up in price from there.

2 – Different uses

Obviously, given the technology, the stun gun is an up-close weapon useful when you are being physically attacked. The taser can be put to use from a distance – typically from 10 – 25 ft, away.

3 – Different regulations

Stun guns seem to be legal in most states. Tasers may not be legal without a weapon carry permit and the training that goes with it. It all depends on the state – or even the county – you live in.

Here are two places you begin research about your own state:

http://outdoorsmagazine.net/stun-gun-laws/ (NEW as of 12/21/2016) and http://bestpepperspray.net/stun-gun-laws-legal/

No guarantees! Check with official agencies in your OWN town to be sure you know the rules.

Warning about these NON-LETHAL devices.

The taser really isn’t non-lethal. It has been reported as causing the deaths of hundreds – yes, as many as 800 – of people in law-enforcement related incidents. Only some of these deaths seem to have been accidental.

My recommendation – Unless you are willing to come up with the cost for a taser, get the appropriate training and licenses and run the risk of a tragic accident that could get you mired in the legal system – I’d stay away from a taser.

Stun gun vs. Pepper Spray

The disadvantage I see to a stun gun is that your attacker has to actually be within arm’s reach for you to use the device. Yes, its colorful “Zap” may have some deterrent effect, but that’s it.

When it comes to stopping an attacker before he gets too close, I’d prefer pepper spray.

A hand-held canister of pepper spray can shoot a spray or cloud at least 8-10 feet, and probably more.

The important questions to ask about pepper spray:

Size of canister – Does the spray canister fit easily and comfortably in your hand so you can grab and use it? Sizes range from lipstick-tube-size to much larger cans. The 2-oz. size offers enough liquid that you can test a couple of times without emptying the canister.

Safety features – If you hang your canister on your key chain or onto the outside of your purse, or carry it IN your purse, what keeps it from accidentally going off? Flip top? Twist top? Can the safety features be operated WITH ONE HAND?

Life of product – Pepper spray won’t last forever, although it should last at least a couple of years. Check the expiration date on the packaging, and test to see that the spray is working every 6 months or so. You don’t want to need it and discover that nothing happens when you press the button!

Product quality – There are a number of manufacturers of pepper spray, and while I am usually happy to get “the best deal” on anything I buy, in this case the cheapest is not likely to give me what I am looking for.

My research has led me to one particular manufacturer of pepper spray – Fox Labs.

Reviews from law enforcement users as well as “regular” people are compelling. This product seems to work when other products, similarly priced and highly promoted, do not.

Here’s what the 2 oz. canister looks like. It should provide 18 or so ½ second bursts, so you can practice a couple of times. Its range is advertised as 17-20 feet.

Click on the image to get the latest pricing at Amazon. (It was just under $17 when I last looked.)

There is also a 4 oz. canister that may shoot even farther and has double the number of bursts, but that size is not legal to be shipped in California, so may not be legal where you live, either. Again, check local regulations!

Note that this product must be shipped via ground, so it may not arrive immediately.

If you purchase pepper spray, check your canister carefully. Note its expiration date. Then . . .

Practice!

Practice getting it out of your purse, unlocking the cover and shooting. You must be able to do it in the dark and when you are nervous!  Get your moves down, and then refresh your skills from time to time.

If you ever need this, you’ll need it.

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. Joggers and bike riders say this spray works great on threatening dogs, too.

 

 

Best Survival Flashlight

Sunday, December 27th, 2015
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Essential for Each Emergency Kit

When your house suddenly goes black because of a power outage, or you find yourself marooned in a rain storm, or you’re simply late getting out of a meeting and have a large dimly-lighted parking lot to cross in order to get to your car . . . you want a good flashlight!

Flashlights

Which is best for you?

Any flashlight is probably better than none, but what is the BEST one to have?

As always, the best flashlight depends on what you need.

  • Do you need a very bright narrow beam to be able to repair broken machinery?
  • Do you need a wide, broad beam to show all the places where someone could be hiding?
  • Do you want your flashlight to be so lightweight that you carry it all the time?
  • Do you consider your flashlight to be a weapon?
  • Do you need a flashlight whose batteries are easy to change – even wearing gloves?

Let’s look at the features you’ll need to consider.

Assume you will be looking at an LED (light-emitting diode) flashlight. LED flashlights last longer, weigh less, don’t get hot, and are smaller and sturdier than the incandescent lights we grew up with. Above all, they are brighter. So look for the LED description!

Brightness

Light output is measured in lumens. It can vary from as low as 19 lumens, for a simple all-purpose light to wear around your neck on a lanyard, to as high as 1,000 or even 3,000 lumens for  so-called “tactical” flashlights. (So bright they blind the opponent.) In our experience, the minimum you want for your survival kit is 200 lumens, and you may prefer 500 or more.

As you can imagine, the more power the more the flashlight costs – BUT IT’S NOT THE CASE OF A SIMPLE PROGRESSION. Be sure to comparison shop!

Beam

The reflector around the bulb determines whether all the light is focused in one narrow beam, or whether it spreads out more like a flood light. What you need the light for determines what shape beam you like.

News alert! Many new LED flashlights allow you to adjust the beam by zooming in or out. Keep reading. . .!

Battery

Batteries help determine the weight of the flashlight, its cost, and its overall convenience. Having to replace batteries frequently can be a nuisance as well as expensive, but you can easily keep extras at hand. Most flashlights still use AA, AAA, C or even D cell disposable batteries. (A big flashlight with D batteries can be a formidable personal defense weapon.)

Rechargeable batteries last longer and are more convenient as long as you have recharge capability (from your computer, an electrical outlet or a solar panel, or a hand crank). These batteries do cost more.

For your survival kit, the best power source is likely to be a rechargeable battery. For your shelter-in-place stash, consider batteries and/or crank or solar power.

Mode

The best flashlights are no longer simply on or off. As mentioned above, they may be zoomed in or out for less or more light. They may have a low beam and a high beam, both of which may be zoomed. They may have two or more modes: a solid white beam, a blinking white beam (strobe) for signaling, a blinking red beam, or even a blink pattern that sends out an SOS in Morse code.

More modes typically mean more switches and circuitry and thus more expense.

Extras

Other features you may look for include . . .

  • A design with one flat side so the flashlight doesn’t roll when it’s set down on a flat surface
  • Extra heavy duty or water resistant case depending on how you’ll use the flashlight
  • Wrist-strap or specially designed grip

Our recommendation

We own many flashlights, and seem to keep trying new ones.

  • We like to give small, inexpensive flashlights as gifts or as rewards (“Use this to start your emergency kit!”).
  • I have a couple of compact, light-weight flashlights that fit in my briefcase and purse.
  • In our cars we carry large, heavy-weight flashlights that could be used to break a window as well as find a disconnected fuse or wire in the engine compartment.
  • Every room in our house has a simple 200 lumen or more light tucked in a handy, secure place. (Remember, we’re in earthquake country!)
  • And finally, our recommendations for the BEST flashlights for your survival kit —

The variety pack

If you want to compare and test, the best collection of flashlights we’ve found in one kit, taking into consideration brightness, power, beam options and price, is this one:
Feit LED Flashlight Kit | 3-pack with Case | 1000, 500, 250 Lumens | Slide Zoom | Batteries Included

  • The largest FEIT flashlight light switches from 250 lumens low-beam up to 1000 lumens high-beam, and has an impressive, sliding zoom as well as strobe and SOS options. (All white, no red.) This flashlight takes D batteries and is quite heavy; you’ll want to use the wrist strap.
  • The middle-sized light is the one Joe is holding in the photo. (He has very big hands so as you compare sizes, keep that in mind!) This flashlight also has a low (160 lumens) and high (500 lumens) setting, the zoom, strobe and SOS. It takes C batteries.
  • The small flashlight (AAA batteries) switches from 78 lumens to 250 lumens and has the zoom feature, too. (No strobe.) This one is small enough and light enough to carry in a pocket or purse.

The 3-in-one kit is heavy because it comes with all the necessary batteries. The expected life of the batteries varies depending on how high you set the power.

The one drawback common to these three flashlights – common to many – is that they are perfectly round. No non-roll feature.

We got our kit at Costco, and were glad to see it at Amazon so it’s more widely available.

The all-time single favorite

We always have flashlights, and because styles change (and companies go in and out of business!) our favorite changes, too. Here are actually two to consider.

Our first favorite is the Techlite 200 Lumen Master model.  It’s the flashlight on the far left in the photo, the one with the wrist strap.

  • I like its size and how it fits easily into my hand or pocket.
  • I also feel very comfortable carrying the light in the dark, knowing that the design of the rim, with cutouts and sharp surfaces, turns it into somewhat of a weapon.
  • This model also has flat surfaces to keep the light from rolling when it’s placed on a flat surface.

If you can find one at a reasonable price, get it!

If you don’t find the Techlite model, consider this one, very similar in size, look and feel, made by iZoom. (We own a couple of these, too.) The highlights of this new model, “military” light:

  • Takes only 1 battery (come with).
  • Even brighter than our earlier favorite, at 300 lumens.
  • High-intensity beam can be switched between flood focus and spot focus. (Pull out the tip, or push it in.)
  • Waterproof and shockproof.
  • Three different modes: high-beam, low-beam and strobe.

What I particularly like is the clip that allows you to fasten it in your pocket or even in a purse for quick access.

As always, by shopping you may get a better deal.

Here’s a 2-for-1 offer for this flashlight from PulseTV worth checking out. (Just click on the ad. There’s a video there you’ll want to see, too.)

Flashlight 2 pack

Check out all these recommendations and compare carefully before you buy. But get the flashlights you need – several for the house (We have one in every room.), one for each car and one for each emergency kit.

This is essential emergency gear!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team