April 24, 2009
One of the things flying around the interweb these days is the active shooter doctrine of police. That’s the idea that an active shooter requires different tactics than those requires for, say a hostage situation. Self defense can be thought of in much the same way.
Seung-Hui Cho had several hours in which to kill on his rampage through the halls of Virginia Tech. One of the main reasons was the confusion among authorities at the time. Police doctrine was one of the reasons it took so long to help those kids at Columbine over ten years ago. Those tactics dated to the shootings at the University of Texas back in 1966. Even today with the active shooter doctrine, the police may still choose to hunker down, set up a permiter and wait it out like in Binghampton, NY.
This isn’t meant to slam cops. I’d hate to be the guy on the spot and have to make that decision. Especially if you make a decision that will get more people killed. Still it comes with the job. I can’t imagine what those firefighters were thinking when they went charging into the World Trade Center on September 11, except that there were people trapped and they were sworn to go get them. It’s a selflessness you rarely see anymore. If you take the job, you have to be prepared to make those kinds of decisions.
My main point is that in a situation like that you can’t predict what a shooter is going to do, you can’t predict the cops or officials decisions. All you can do is make decisions for yourself. What are you going to do? How are you going to react? What tools do you have that will help you protect yourself and others? You can’t afford to wait for anyone to make a decision for you, you have to choose to act.
April 22, 2009
As I’ve been looking around the forums and different news sites one of the things that I’ve noticed is the relative ignorance of driveway alarms. Granted they’re useful only for single family residences and possibly duplexes and townhomes, but it is a useful tool in your self defense arsenal nonetheless. Many people ask what the best home alarm system is or the best home security company, and quite a few miss this one simple item.
A driveway alarm is a simple motion alarm with dialing capabilities. Much like a do it yourself home security system, you can set a driveway alarm to phone if it is set off. Other all inclusive residential alarm systems have a base unit in the house that notifies you if someone has set off a particular motion sensor. This is very important. With motion alarms in place you know instantly if someone is approaching your home and have time to prepare.
Many times home invaders like to pretend that they are a service worker or need directions or something to get you to open your door. Or perhaps they’re the new breed of home invaders who kick in your door pretending to be police. In those cases people don’t have much time to get themselves ready and activate their safety plans, so anything that would increase the chance of acting in the face of a threat rather than reacting to the threat is helpful.
The Voice Alarm 6 is one such device. It consists of a wireless sensor and base unit. Additional wireless sensors can be added to expand coverage, up to six sensors per base unit. This can provide coverage for a wide variety of areas iincluding front and back doors, ground floor windows, pools, etc. Coverage can also be tailored to your unique needs.
The Voice alarm 6 can have up to six motion detectors provide early warning for visitors, both expected and unexpected. They’re also great if you own a pool and have little ones running around. It’s every parent’s nightmare that their child might have an accident involving the pool. Let’s face it, kids are adventurous, if you tell them they can’t do something, they’ll probably do it.
If you set one of the Voice Alarm 6 motion detectors around the pool, you’ll know when your kid has decided to do a little forbidden exploration into dangerous territory. So even if you’re busy in another part of the home, the Voice Alarm 6 will be ever vigilant, protecting you and your family. Then you can intervene and make sure they know why they aren’t supposed to play around the pool without adult supervision.
Overall the addition of a wireless residential alarm system can make you much more secure and safe in the home. Using a do it yourself kit can be a cheap way of reaping all the benefits of a home alarm system while avoiding the high cost of a monitoring service. Another final benefit of doing it your way is that you are forced to think about your security and as a result adopt an active defense, rather than the let someone else worry about it passive defense that tipify many home alarm companies.
April 12, 2009
Is the C2 stun gun the best stun gun for your money? It the C2 really a non lethal weapon? How does a C2 stun gun work? People have plenty of questions about Taser products and today we’re going to look at the C2 Taser stun gun. The C2 is Tasers replacement of the Advanced Air Taser brand.
One of the main benefits of the C2 vs the Advanced Air Taser is the size. It’s much more compact and looks less like a weapon than the Advanced Taser. As I’ve said before, non lethal weapons are preferable to lethal weapons for several reasons. The most important for our purposes here is the fact that people will hesitate less when the stakes are not so high. Always remember, it can mean your life when you hesitate, so don’t.
The fact that you have to register the device provides two benefits wrapped into one. On a personal level, you can be sure that people carrying a C2 Taser are not felons. That’s part of the registration process, a background check that you complete on Taser’s website. Second are the ID tags that are emitted from the Taser when fired. This is more a benefit to soiciety. If you use a Taser to commit a crime or unlawfully, the ID tags will tell the police who you are and they will come looking for you. An assault with a Taser is just like an assult with any other type of weapon. Make sure you use it responsibly.
I do like the fact that the C2 has a trigger cover on the top of the device, so you can’t discharge it by accident. Plus it lights up to let you know it’s armed as a further deterrent against accidental discharge.
The C2 is simple and easy in design. The cartridge is loaded in the front, while the rear has a housing for the lithium ion batteries that can power over 50 shots according to Taser. I’d probably not trust it more than 50 times, mostly because you shouldn’t have to use it that much. If you do it’s more likely to be over a long period of time so the battery may not have an optimum charge when you use it. Still, like with any tool you trust your life to, it’s probably a good idea to test it every six months or so.
One of the coolest things about the C2 is the ability to get an LED light attaced to it to provide you with a targeting dot. It costs about $50 extra, but is well worth the cost in my opinion. This can help you immensly espectially if you’re in a combat situation and you have to be sure you’re going to hit your target. Even if you do miss, you’re still not defenseless as the C2 can be used as a contact stun gun provided your attacker still wants to close with you. They’ll probably think twice after you discharge the C2 at them.
So how does a C2 work? Well basically it interferes with the nervous system of the human body. The charge is low enough not to mess with cardiac rhythm, so the C2 is a non lethal or less than lethal device, but powerful enough to interfere with the signals running from the brain to the muscles. In addition the muslces spasm depleting them of glycogen, which is the muscles energy source, leaving your opponent unable to move. The effects last for about 3o seconds, giving you plenty of time to get away. The following video shows the features of the C2:
Taser does offer a replacement gaurantee, so if you do use a C2, seet it down and find help. After you give your statement to the police, get a copy of the report and send it in to Taser. They will then replace your C2 for free. Their philosophy is that your life is more important than a device, so rather than try to get it back, do the safe thing and Taser will replace it.
Now I may get in trouble with the pro-gun crowd, but I prefer a Taser product to a gun when I have to take down a burglar or mugger. With a gun things are chancy, you may hit a vital spot, you might not. Plus when you flash a gun you’ve just increased the level of violence. A criminal now knows they may die and will most likely act more desperately Plus I haven’t seen anyone who can resist a C2 stun gun. The following video shows what happens to a UFC fighter against a C2:
What do you think a C2 will do to a punk on the street?
Finally there’s the less than lethal factor. I prefer less than lethat over non-lethal because you can still get hurt falling when you go down from getting hit with one of these. Those instances, however, fall into the natural consequence category. If they didn’t try to rob and steal, they wouldn’t get hurt. More importantly, by not using lethal force you make it harder for any type of prosecution, be it criminal or civil. That in and of itself is a worthy goal.
April 11, 2009
Unarmed sailors take back their ship. This is incredible for several reasons. The only downside is that their captain, as fitting a man of his station, ransomed his safety for that of his crew. It’s telling that he tried to escape, unfortunately he failed. Somali pirates might think twice before attacking a US flagged merchant ship.
What I have a problem with is the assertion that ships have little recourse against pirates. There’s plenty of options a crew has to secure their ship. It may take some retrofitting, but there are many things a crew can do. First is making it harder for pirates to board the ship. I’ve heard of electrified rails, barbed wire or water cannons washing pirates off the ship like vermin. Second would be covering the superstructure with cameras, probably hidden. In conjunction with this, a secure room to which the crew can view the cameras and the crew can take refuge in. While retreating to the panic room, the crew can lay booby traps with pepper discharge, irritants and other disabling methods.
It only makes sense to make things harder for these scumbags. The only reason the engage in piracy is because it’s easier than anything else they could do. Plus the rewards are amazing for people who live in Somalia. With millions being paid in ransom, one successful hijacking can set a Somali up for life. The international community has shown that they are unable or unwilling to do anything about the pirates, so it falls to the sailors and captains who ply the trade lanes to take measures to protect themselves, their ships and their cargo.
Again while criminals might have the advantage concerning initiative, a prepared defender can suck them in and drop them at a time and place of their choosing. All it takes is determination and action when something like this happens.
April 7, 2009
Reading about the earthquake that L’Aquila reminded me of a seminar I went to about earthquake preparedness. Several of the presenters were architects and engineers who had been in places like the Northridge earthquake and/or the Oakland earthquake and they made some very good points about keeping yourself safe in an earthquake.
It’s a little known fact that earthquakes can happen anywhere. We had a few tremors here in Southern Missouri and Illinois last year after the big spring floods we had. The thought was that the flooding had an impact on the buried tectonic fault under New Madrid, MO. So even in the heartland, we’re under threat from earthquakes. So much from moving here from Southern California.
One of the stories from that seminar concerned those poor souls who were trapped under that overpass that collapsed in Oakland. They actually did find survivors under there. In fact, most of the people who died were the ones who tried to speed up to avoid the collapsing bridge. They either got crushed by the overpass that fell on them or ran into those who ran into the fallen overpass. One of the points they made was that people who had some food, water and some kind of noisemaker were much better off than those without.
I’ve written about personal alarms before, but it was in the context of protecting yourself from an attacker. They’re much more versitile than that. It can be used as a signaler in cases of being trapped under something that has collapsed or if you’re lost, it can signal searchers to your position. I got lost at Boy Scout camp one year, luckily I found my way back, but I could have sure used one of those then.
Preparedness kits are also essential. Every home and car should have some kind of kit to survive in case of emergency. One of the other things I got from that seminar was the need to stockpile some food, medical supplies and other necessities because if there were another earthquake here like the one in 1812, help could be a week away. Personally I think that’s being kind of optimistic. The 1812 quake caused bells in Boston, Boston, to ring. Also this half of the country is not SoCal, which has been living under the threat of a major earthquake for far longer and have built accordingly. Since this will happen in the Mississippi valley, the shock waves will travel up and down the river and it’s tributaries. Plus the land in SoCal has an attenuating effect on how far the quake will travel. The Midwest has a very different effect, it will actually strengthen the effects of the quake. Long story short, it will take much more than a week for help to get here.
So food and clean water is essential, so are first aid supplies. An alarm is useful in case you’re trapped in a collapsed building or in your car. For your car you might consider a multiple use tool like the one pictured here.
It consists of a flashlight to help you see your surroundings, a flashing light to signal rescuers, a seatbelet cutter and can be used as a hammer to break away glass. If nothing else it can free you enough to move about the cabin and access your stored food, water and safety gear.
As for around the home or an alarm that you can keep with you, I’d suggest some kind of 2 ‘n 1 alarm that incorporates an alarm with a flashlight. Again the flashlight can be useful to get your bearings and to signal resuce personnel and the alarm can let them know there’s someone alive to save.
It may seem unnecessary or paranoid to put all of this stuff together, but it’s one of those things that you might never really need to use, but when you do need to use it, you’ll really need to use it.
Whether or not you believe in a God or higher power, take a moment to remember those caught in L’Aquila and pray for those who have been injured or who have lost loved ones. Please take what I’ve written into consideration and at least think about what you might do in such a situation. At the very least it won’t come as a compete shock and that alone might be enough to help keep you alive.
Stay safe out there.
April 4, 2009
Let’s define the two most common types of stun guns. Really when you talk about a stun gun you’re talking about the hand held guns that you have to physically contact someone with in order to get it to work. The other type of stun gun is what most people think about when they think about stun guns. Those are the stun guns made by Taser. So when we talk about stun guns, we mean the handheld ones and the Taser is the “shooting” stun gun.
Now there are two main number you look for when you’re talking about a stun gun. There’s the volts, anywhere from 50,000 to 1,000,000 volts. This actually doesn’t tell you much about the tool except that a 1,000,000 volt gun will work a bit quicker than a 100,000 gun, for instance. Another number to keep in mind is tha amperage of the stun gun. 1 single amp is enough to kill someone. Most stun guns run at about 3 or 4 miliamps.
Another thing to consider is how strong you are. It is pssible that a small man or woman won’t have the strength to keep someone from taking a stun gun away from you and use it on you. There are several styles of stun guns that masqerade as common items like cell phones. In addition there are multiple use items like flashlight/stunguns. This can be an advantage in that a potential attacker dismisses or doesn’t realize that an item really is a stun gun. Since most attackers try to sneak up on someone unseen and grab someone, this can be an effective counter to that kind of a surprise.
Now, one popular misconception about stun guns is that if someone is touching you and you stun them, the current will somehow leap and stun you as well. The human body isn’t that good of a conductor and the energy from a stun gun is discharged from between the two prongs of the gun. What happens when a person is hit by a stun gun is that the current travels along the nervous system of the body interfering with the signals between the brain and the muscles. That pretty much keeps someone from doing pretty much anything while they are being stunned.
The C2 and Advanced Tasers work a bit differently than a stun gun. First off, they shoot prongs that lodge just under an attackers skin and the current travels along the wire into the system of the attacker. While a Taser also interferes with the signals between the brain and the muscles, it also causes the muscles to contract and deplete themselves of glycogen. Glycogen is what muscles use for energy and when that is depleted, blood sugar is converted into glycogen thus the muscles have more energy to use. Now when blood sugar in the body is depleted, as anyone with diabetes will tell you, you get very tired. Very tired. So your attacker won’t be thinking about continuing the attack any time soon. Plus in a pinch, the Advanced and C2 Tasers can be used as regular stun guns, if you’re grabbed unawares for example.
Now I’m a big fan or less than lethal technology for several reasons. First we live in a country that has more lawyers per capita than any other country in the world. So if you go around shooting people, even in self defense, you can expect that sometime you’ll wind up in civil court. I don’t know about you, but I have better things to spend my money on than lawyers and court fees. Not to mention that if a judgement goes against you, you’re on the hook for damages that could run to the millions. Second, when you hit with a stun gun or a Taser, your adversary is going down for the count. With a gun if wing someone in the arm or leg or even in the torso, they might still be able to come after you. Third, I also believe that people do stupid things and sometimes they can learn when they hit a brick wall, especially punk kids. At the very least you won’t have someones death on your conscience.
March 31, 2009
Personal alarms seem to be the red headed step child of self defense. They’re not as sexy as pepper spray or stun guns, but as a defensive tool, they can be better. The most important ally a criminal has is anonymity. As long as they can keep their crimes from coming to light, they can usually get away with it. That’s why personal alarms change the entire calculus of a violent confrontation. Personal alarms come in many shapes and sizes. Some are small enough to be keychains while others are integrated into flashlights and batons. Some of the best have straps that can be pulled away, so that if an attacker grabs the alarm and pulls it away from you, the pin is pulled from the alarm and it goes off until the pin is replaced. Now, just because you’re kited out in all this cool self defense gear, it doesn’t mean that you can walk around heedless of your surroundings. Alarms, for instance, are much more effective in heavily trafficked areas. The more people who can hear the alarm and respond, the better off you are. Even if nobody responds, you still will have a second or two while your attacker is confused by the howling alarm in his hand for you to grab your pepper spray or stun gun. You’ll have to be quick because you might only have a second or two. That’s where multipurpose alarms come in handy. If, for example, you have a flashlight/stun gun/alarm, when you set the alarm off, you’re ready to go with the stunning part. If you’re in a darkened area you’ll already have the flashlight out looking around, so you don’t have to waste time digging around for it. Several types of alarms come with door and/or window attachments. These are perfect if you’re traveling or live in dormitories or know people who do. They work by using the principle of current. As long as the current between the door and the jamb remain closed, the circuit is complete and the alarm doesn’t go off. As soon as the door opens…130 db of of hi fidelity disorienting power slams a burglar in the face. Have you ever seen those lamps that turn on when you touch the base? Certain dual purpose alarms use that process to arm themselves. They come with a strap that you hang on the doorknob on your side of the door. When someone touches the handle on the outside of the door the alarm will go off. You do need to be careful as the alarm will not work with metal doors. Dormitories are notorious for using metal doors so be sure yours isn’t before you get one of these. The main benefit of an alarm is to buy yourself time. Time to escape, time to summon help, time to fight back. A criminal has the advantage in that they know when and where they’re going to strike. It gives them quite an advantage, but planning and practice, wedded to the right tools can overcome that advantage and give you the initiative.
March 29, 2009
I did forget one other type of pepper spray. There’s a foam type of spray that can be used in certain situations. One of the benefits is that it can be used in windy/rainy weather and still maintain it’s effectiveness. The main benefit, however is the fact that in order to get the foam off, the criminal has to wipe it off the affected area. In essence this forces someone to grind the foam deeper into the mouth, nose and eyes.
The main drawback is the limited range of the product. You pretty much have to be in hand to hand range, “decicively engaged” as our military likes to call it, but as an “at all costs” measure, it’s very effective.
To recap, pepper sprays are great for delaying an attacker and giving you time to summon help. Pepper sprays are inflammatory agents that affect the eyes, nose and mouth of the attacker. Remember, they stop focusing on hurting you and focus all of their attention on the fact that they have to think about breathing.
Pepper spray effectiveness is measured by the percentage content of OC agent and SHU which is a measure of the “hotness” of the spray. Pepper sprays come in several types of dispensers. Stream sprays like the cops use, cone sprays and fogger sprays which can be used as area denial tools and foam, which can be the most devastating type of delivery, but has the drawback of being very limited in range.
A final note concerns bear sprays. They are usually fogger type sprays which are ideal because you don’t want to engage a bear up close and personal. So you’ll use them on a bear at the range of 15-20 feet. The formulation is about 2 percent OC which makes it legal in places like Michigan and Wisconsin. So yes, you can also use bear spray against humans, dogs, other animals, etc. Also not only do the several states have differing laws about the use, formulation and who can sell pepper spray, so too do certain cities have laws regarding the sale, posession and use of pepper spray. Protect yourself from lawsuits and/or criminal charges and get to know your state and local laws concerning pepper sprays. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief in the future.
March 26, 2009
First off we need a few definitions. There are three types of agents used in defensive sprays. CS (orthoclorobenzalmalonitrile), CN (alphachloroacetaphenone); both of which are commonly known as tear as or Mace; and OC (Oleoresin Capsicum); commonly known as pepper spray. All three work about the same, they irritate the lining of they eyes, nose and throat causing a person to tear up, begin coughing and forcing they body to try to flush the irritants from the body. This is the basis of the stopping power or pepper spray. Now some things you should know about CS and CN spray. They, like OC spray, irritate the membranes and cause pain as one of their effects. Now pain can be an inducement to stop whatever it is a criminal is doing, but you don’t want to rely on that solely for protection. People, after all, can block out pain, some people are also immune to CS and CN spray. You don’t want to find that out after spraying someone who’s attacking you, only to discover that it doesn’t work. Another pitfall is the length for the spray to take place. Not only have field tests by police officers documented the failure of CS and CN spray, especially when the target is drunk or high, but the effects can take anywhere from 5 seconds to 30 second to manifest themselves. In a combat situation 5 seconds can seem 5 years and 30 seconds an eternity.
OC is different in many ways. Rather than irritate, it inflames. This is critical when you think about how a small man, woman or teen can protect themselves against a large man or woman. Rather than use pain, OC disables a person by making it hard to see and breathe. The swelling won’t completely close off they windpipe, so the attacker won’t suffocate from somebody using pepper spray on them. There are two pieces of information that you need to look for when deciding on a pepper spray to buy. The first is the percentage of OC in the product, relative to gas, dyes, etc. and SHU or Scoville Heat Units. To give you an example the SHU of a habenero pepper is about 200,000 to 300,000 SHU.
Now in my younger years I ate a habenero pepper whole. Once. The pain could be best described as if you had put a porcupine in your mouth and held it there for about 30 minutes. It was excruciating. Most pepper sprays have SHU up to 2,000,000 SHU, 9 to 10 times the heat of a habenero pepper. The effects of pepper spray will wear off in about 30 minutes, much less time than CS or CN spray, which still gives you plenty of time to leave the area. That’s the most important safety tip I can give you. After spraying your assailant, leave, run, yell and scream for help. Call the police if you have a cell phone that works. Many defense sprays come with a dye that shows up by UV light, making it easier for law enforcement to identify your attacker.
All any self defense tool does is give you time to summon help. Pepper spray is no different. There are three methods of dispersal when you’re talking about pepper spray. Stream, mist and fog. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
A stream, for example is good for distance (5-20 feet) and you have less of a chance of blowback when you use it. Some disadvantages are that you must spray directly into the mouth, nose and eyes of the attacker and, like all sprays, effectiveness can be muted by wind, rain, fans, etc.
Mist sprays shoot out cones of spray which is good for “area denial” applications, say down hallways, up staircases etc. The mist is more immediate than the stream sprays, but more vulnerable to wind and rain conditions. Fogs emit the spray kind of like a fire extinguisher, which is considered the most effective and immediate when stopping an attacker. They are also less vulnerable to wind and are excellent in “area denial” applications.
Fogger type sprays have a range of 15-20 feet, making them a valuable “stand off” tool. The only drawback to these types of sprays are the limited number of shots compared to other sprays.
So when deciding on a spray to use, you need to think about how and where you’re going to use it. Will you be best served by a personal keychain spray that shoots a stream? Perhaps you need a fogger type spray for home defense. Keep the advantages and disadvantages in mind when choosing a pepper spray and you’ll have a tool that will serve you well against any criminal.
March 17, 2009
Let’s talk a bit about fear, you and I. Don’t worry, we’ll not go too far around the corner and down a dark alley. Fear is one of the most misunderstood emotions out there. Most people will do anything to avoid it. Much like anything else, however, fear in reality is a tool. Any like any tool, it can hurt or help you.
Over millions of years our ancestors have used fear to get them out of sticky situations, situations that for us living in the modern world have little to no conception. Living in the Third World or being in the military or law enforcement might give you some vague conception of the situations that our ancestors faced, but on the whole, we’re pretty lucky in this day and age.
Their legacy to us has been this tool known as fear. Neurologists are just now unraveling the mysteries of this most human of emotions. In fact, one of the largest growing mental disorders in the United States, PTSD, is intimately tied to how and why we fear what we fear. We’ll talk about that a bit later, for now it’s enough to know that it exists.
Fear, too, can kill. Ben Sherwood talks about “The Statues in the Storm” in his book The Survivor’s Club. If you’ve ever read Dune by Frank Herbert or have seen the movies based on his books, you’ve seen the title of my blog before. While fear can be used as a tool in a crisis situation, most times it turns us to statues. That’s why law enforcement and the military spend so much time trying to train that out of recruits.
This holds especially true if you’re a woman or a teenager. Or if you’re like me, a short guy. Many bullies and criminals, for what is a criminal but a bully writ large, think that smaller means weaker. Being small and weak doesn’t mean that you’re helpless or a victim.
Also preparing yourself mentally attenuates the amount of fear you feel in a real confrontation. It won’t eliminate your fear, which is good, because fear can be used as a tool in a confrontation. Fear can actually be used to jump start you if you’ve become a statue in the storm. Overwhelming fear is what seems to turn people into statues that await their doom.
In an emergency, your mind is the most valuable weapon or tool at your disposal. The more quickly you can recover from a shock, the more quickly you can start thinking and start surviving.