Friday, November 6, 2009

Five Tips for Self Defense on the Road

As Thanksgiving, Christmas and other seasonal holidays approach, many of you will be on the road to visit your family. Unfortunately, carjacking has become a real crime problem and there are always some dangers in less familiar places – even places you think you know, but don’t live in any more. Here are five suggestions that can help keep you and your family safe on a journey.

Don’t Stop in Isolated Places: Few places in the continental US are so distant from a mall, grocery store or other well-lit, populated location that you can’t go to these instead of stopping at the side of the road. Whenever possible, push on instead of stopping at a place you might not trust. This includes isolated urban areas such as nearly-deserted parking lots. Carjacking attempts often take place when you’re entering or leaving a vehicle some distance from help. In many cases, back country roads are not nearly as isolated as you think. Watch for signs warning you not to stop due to a prison being in close proximity.

Don’t Pick Up Hitchhikers: This is one of those common sense rules that many people still break. Some hitchhikers really are penniless free spirits, but many have their thumbs out because they have significant problems that keep them from owning a car, such as a criminal record that prevents them from getting a loan or drug problems that siphon their money. In some cases, hitchhiking is a tactic used in a carjacking, robbery or other assault.

Drive Awake and Alert: Be realistic about your ability to drive for long distances while fully awake. Don’t rely on coffee or energy drinks to get you through it; you need to be well rested. This doesn’t just help you drive safely, but keeps your judgment from being impaired in the face of a potential assault. Criminals look for fatigue and other impairments when the choose victims. If you buy pepper spray or a C2 Taser you’ll have more success actually using it when you’re alert and energetic.

Keep a Working Emergency Kit: Don’t just rely on your cell phone. Include blankets, warm clothes, blinkers, a flashlight, a first aid kit, food and water, along with a sign that says CALL POLICE to mount on your rear window if your car dies. The sign removes excuses for troublemakers to stop. In a violent confrontation, many of these items will be useful for you after the assault to administer first aid and other assistance. We have a useful 4 in 1 emergency tool that makes a great addition to your kit.

Plan Your Route Ahead of Time: In this age of cheap GPS devices it’s easy to just set out in a general direction and rely on your system to provide directions, but the reality is that not all GPS maps are accurate or complete, and they don’t always find you the safest route. If you’re trapped in a maze of one way streets the system may not let you get lost, but you’ll look lost ambling around and trying to reconcile landmarks with your map. This apparent disorientation makes you more vulnerable both because your attention is occupied and because attackers look for this kind of disorientation.