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
One of the thoughts I’ve been having recently is how in a life or death situation you really need to trade space for time. More so than a gun; alarms, sprays and stun guns can give you the time you need for help to arrive. My apartment, for instance, doesn’t have much space in it, so I have to be quick when it comes to defending against a burglar or attacker. The same thing also applies if I’m assaulted or mugged outdoors or in a public place.
Alarms are the first line of defense. Whether alarms on the doors and windows of a home, motion detector alarms in rooms and/or doorstop alarms in the home or personal alarms on your person when outside, a good alarm is critical. This will either scare your assailant away or tell them that you are serious about protecting yourself. This should take care of most of the criminals who just want a smash and grab anyway.
One of the things that I like about a doorstop alarm is that you can use it not only to sound an alarm, but also can use it to create a barricade. Remember you’re trading space for time. Plus the fact that a criminal won’t let something like this deter them from coming into your home or assaulting you tells you something about their intentions. At this point in time you can pretty much rule out burglary and robbery as motives. What’s left are physical injury and/or rape. Which lends itself to a whole different level of threat.
That’s where the next deterrent comes into play. Since we’re trading space for time, anything which delays an attacker from reaching you or enables you to get away from them is a good thing. That’s where we come to the second piece of defensive synergy.
Pepper spray is great for denying a person access to rooms in your home or breaking away from an attacker. Space for time. As I’ve said <a href=https://ledefensetech.wordpress.com/2009/03/26/lets-talk-aboutpepper-spray>here</a> and <a href=https://ledefensetech.wordpress.com/2009/03/29/more-on-pepper-spray>here</a>, pepper spray is a great deterrent against an attacker and gives you plenty of time to get away. In addition, many pepper sprays come with UV dye incorporated in them so you can avoid the hassle of a lineup. A simple black-light is all that’s needed to determine who the perpetrator really is.
This should be sufficient to deter all but the most fanatical of attackers. I can’t believe that anyone would be able to continue an assault after getting a face full of pepper spray. Still defense it not about I can’t believe or I don’t think. You have to be sure. An attacker only has to succeed once in an attack, you have to succeed every time if you want to keep yourself safe. So now we come to the final tool in the synergy of defense.
A stun gun will pretty much end any confrontation right there. I’ve discussed stun guns <a href=https://ledefensetech.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/lets-talk-aboutstun-guns>before</a>. Depending on the type you get, you’ll either have to get within arms length of your attacker or you’ll have up to 15 feet of distance to play with. In the end, that’s why an advanced Taser (similar to the ones cops use) and C2 Tasers are usually the way to go. Not only do they give you stand-off capability and the ability to control the situation from a distance, in a pinch they can be used as a regular stun gun.
Now as part of the Defense Synergy concept, if you disable someone using pepper spray and want to take them down for the count, now is the time to use the stun gun. While it would be more prudent to call the police, by this point in time many people would be filled with indignation, anger and, well, how-dare-you-attack-me! So it’s understandable that someone will feel a desire to strike back against thier would-be attacker.
With a regular stun gun, the effects last for several minutes, giving you time to get away. With a Taser style stun gun the effects can take much longer to wear off. That’s due to the nature of the effects a Taser stun gun has over regular stun guns. Plus with the Advanced Tasers and C2 Tasers, you can pull the trigger three times and set up a cycle in which the perpetrator is actively stunned for 30 seconds. Then they have to recover from the effects of that, which can take quite a bit of time. Possibly long enough for you to return with the cops. Even if the perpetrator is not there when you return, all you have to do is get the police report and send it to Taser and they’ll replace your stun gun <a href=http://www.taser.com/research/Pages/ConsumerFAQs.aspx>free of charge</a>. Your life is worth more than any tool. As an added bonus the stun gun will now be ineffective because the Taser is keyed to you by information you provide to Taser when they do a background check on you. They won’t even be able to buy new cartriges and it will be useless to them. So by all means, pull the trigger three times and leave it.
Now many might argue that a gun doesn’t require all of these plans and convolutions, but those advocates don’t take several things into account. First is that anyone can file a lawsuit against anyone in civil court. Even if the plaintiff doesn’t win, the time, money and effort by the defendant is still lost and the opportunities that otherwise might have been realized are now gone forever. Second, there is a political movement in this country to reserve all force to the government. And finally, most people when faced with a live or die situation will, even at the cost of their own life, hesitate. Due to their natures, less than lethal technology can overcome that natural inclination to do no harm. Also, in many cases of assault, you may not have time to draw a firearm. Also when you draw a firearm, that automatically raises the stakes between you and an attacker. Due to the innocuous nature of many of these tools, they can be brought into play before an attacker realizes what the tool is. Surprise can be a useful tool in and of itself. Besides you just can’t beat the 30 second incapacitation that a stun gun brings. With a gun, it’s always a gamble if you can do enough damage to stop someone before they get to you.
On a final note, you can’t predict crazy so it’s best to have many avenues of defense to give youself the greatest chance of turning the tables on your attacker.
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 25, 2009
There are two schools of thought when it comes to protecting your person and your property. One school devotes itself to disguise and hiding the fact that your person and possessions are warded against violence and theft. The other school believes that a “show of force” is a good idea, or not hiding the fact that you have tools at your disposal to defend yourself.
In most cases, the second school carries the most weight in my opinion. Why? Because criminals are naturally lazy. Rather than do honest work, they’d rather take what you’ve worked for. Ironically, criminal behavior rarely leads to riches, plus you have to watch out for treachery. Treachery from criminal “allies” or informants of law enforcement. You can turn this to your advantage.
There are several tools that are useful when securing your person or property from crime. At the top of the list are alarms. Whether on your person or around the house, alarms lessen the amount of time a criminal has to perpetrate against you. They can alert others to you predicament and/or summon authorities. In many cases an alarm is all that’s needed to foil a mugging or burglary.
Assaults and rape are a different matter. While alarms can be useful in summoning help, the fact that a person wishes to harm you changes the time needed to do so. A stabbing or shooting takes much less time than snatching a purse or ransacking a house. In cases like these, pepper spray and stun guns come into their own. Many people may feel hesitant at causing pain to another person. Don’t. By their very actions, these people have forfeited their right to be safe in their person.
At this time peeper sprays and stun guns come into their own. A sensible person should own both and know when to use them. You don’t want to use a pepper spray when firing into the wind for example. Also outdoor conditions like rain can have an effect. Pepper spray is less effective in rain for example, whereas stun guns will work regardless of wind or rain conditions.
This shows an attacker that you’re willing to defend yourself and won’t be easy meat. Using a pepper spray for stand off value can protect you and your stun gun can protect you in close quarter situations.
So these tools provide a circle of protection. The alarm cuts down on the time a criminal has to perpetrate against you, while the pepper spray can be used as a stand off weapon or and area denial weapon. The stun gun can be used as a last resort to incapacitate an attacker, while you run towards help. Do not under any circumstances wait around to see the person taken into custody. Most sprays come with a dye that shows up under UV light, so the police can make identify someone you’ve hit with pepper spray.
In reality you’ll probably only need one or two of these tools. However you can’t predict crazy, so it’s best to be prepared to defend yourself and your home. These tools have a benefit above and beyond the physical protection they provide. In our litigious society you can be taken to court if you shoot and kill someone. By using less than lethal force, you strip your attacker or their next of kin from any pretext they have to try to destroy you through lawyers. In later posts, I’ll go into how and why you might want to use these various tools solo and in conjunction with other tools.