There is a lot of information out there about protecting yourself at home, but little about self-defense in unfamiliar places. It can be tricky if you don’t know the lay of the land, especially in a foreign country. Whether you are out and about alone or with friends or family, it always pays to take certain precautions:
- Park in well-lit areas.
- Keep valuables out of reach of passersby.
- Don’t go into strange areas alone at night.
- Carry car keys in your hand when walking to your car.
- Remain a minimum of a foot away from your car if you are unlocking it manually. (Some thieves will wait underneath a person’s car and grab their legs to pull them to the ground.)
- Never flash money. Keep small bills on the outside if bills are folded over to dissuade thieves from thinking you have a lot of cash.
- For women, always hold your purse by the body and not just the strap – thieves will cut the strap and make off the with the goods. Chances of catching them are almost nil.
- Carry defense spray on your key chain for emergencies.
- If you are in a foreign country, program emergency numbers into your phone to save precious moments in a time of crisis.
- Carry a concealed weapon when possible.
Awareness and Avoidance
It’s crucial to be aware of your surroundings. This is especially true if you are in an unfamiliar situation – a strange city, foreign country, etc. Danger doesn’t always come from the creepy guy on the corner, or someone who happens to be walking down the same street. It can be the person sitting next to you at dinner who steals your credit card or someone casually walking through a parking lot at a shopping mall. Pay attention to your personal space. If someone is invading it when it isn’t necessary, move away. Part of self-defense is avoiding dangerous situations. Avoid talking on the phone while walking through potentially unsafe areas as it will distract you from your surroundings.
There are times when confrontation cannot be avoided. Know how to protect yourself. Taking a self-defense class is paramount. If traveling with your family, teach children what to do in case of emergency. You can practice together to take away the fear factor.
If you are unarmed and confronted by someone with a gun who demands your money or jewelry, give it to them. Those items can be replaced; your life isn’t worth the risk. Make a mental note of the mugger so you can recall those details when reporting to the police.
If you are on equal ground and neither of you is carrying a weapon, fight dirty. Remember the following acronym: SING. Hit the person in the Solar plexus, stomp on his Instep, smash in his Nose, and lastly, hit him in the Groin. Nose, eyes and throat should be the first choice – if the mugger can’t see or breathe, he’s going to stop the attack. The groin, while common, may not be as effective if the person has been using substances. He simply won’t have the same pain reaction as someone who is sober.
Where appropriate and legal, carrying a concealed weapon may be your best line of defense. You also want to know how to handle a gun properly, so taking safety classes is a must. Also, be aware that the best weapon for a woman may not be the same as for a man. Do your research and find out which is the best gun for you. As always, drawing a weapon should be the last resort and, if you pull it, be prepared to use it.