Friday, July 16, 2010

Yet More Questionable Safety Advice

Anyone that knows me knows that I am pretty blunt when it comes to responding to various tips, techniques, and tactics being promoted for self-defense. I am far from knowing it all and will be the first to admit this. However, based on my 20 years of training, research, and experience I do have a solid grasp of what constitutes sound advice regarding personal safety. Over the years I have heard of almost every kind of tip, technique, and tactic imaginable. Some of these are good, some are bad, and many are just plain ignorant. Take a moment to read the following e-mail (in quotes) and tell me which category you feel it falls in. I will give you a small sure isn't good. This e-mail is being passed along to many without a basic understanding of self-defense and I felt I needed to interrupt it with some common sense. Please read the e-mail which follows and then continue with my analysis-

The email in question:

"Wasp spray...who knew ???

I know some of you own GUNS, but this is something to think about...

If you don't have a gun, here's a more humane way to wreck someone's evil plans for you.

Did you know this? I didn't. I never really thought of it before.

I guess I can get rid of the baseball bat.

Wasp Spray !!!
A friend who is a receptionist in a church in a high risk area was concerned about someone coming into the office on Monday to rob them when they were counting the collection. She asked the local police department about using pepper spray and they recommended to her that she get a can of wasp spray instead.

The wasp spray, they told her, can shoot up totwenty feet away and is a lot more accurate, while with the pepper spray, they have to get too close to you a nd could overpower you. The wasp spray temporarily blinds an attacker until they get to the hospital for an antidote. She keeps a can on her desk in the office and it doesn't attract attention from people like a can of pepper spray would. She also keeps one nearby at home for home protection. Thought this was interesting and might be of use.

On the heels of a break in and beating that left an elderly woman in Toledo dead, self defense experts have a tip that could save your life.

Val Glinka teaches self-defense to students at Sylvania Southview High School . For decades, he's suggested putting a can of wasp and hornet spray near your door or bed.

Glinka says, "This is better than anything I can teach them."

Glinka considers it inexpensive, easy to find, and more effective than mace or pepper spray. The cans typically shoot
20 to 30 feet; so if someone tries to break into your home, Glinka says "spray the culprit in the eyes". It's a tip he's given to students for decades.

It's also one he wants everyone to hear. If you're looking for protection, Glinka says look to the spray.

"That's going to give you a chance to call the police; maybe get out.."

Maybe even save a life.

Please share this with all the people in your life

Did you also know...wasp spray will kill a snake? And a mouse! It will!

Good to know, huh?"

My analysis:

I will admit that the use of wasp (insect) spray for self-defense sounds good in theory. However, practical application is another story.

First of all the e-mail starts off by mentioning guns. Let's get this straight...there is a huge difference between a gun and pepper spray. A gun is a lethal force tool designed for lethal force situations. On the other hand pepper spray is a non-lethal tool designed for non-lethal application in situations that do not warrant lethal force OR in those circumstances where the intended victim chose not to carry or use a firearm (lethal force tool). Now, with that said we are comparing pepper spray (a non-lethal tool) with wasp / insect spray (potentially dangerous to humans) as per this e-mail.

First of all, pepper spray is non-toxic and completely safe. It's made of high quality food-grade capsicum (edible peppers). It generally burns like hell when it contacts the skin and eyes or when it enters the respiratory system. However, it won't lead to death or damage vital tissues. In some rare cases a person may be allergic to the spray but statistically it's safe. Remember pepper spray has been used and tested in the real world for over 30 years. It's safe, endorsed by law enforcement and military personnel, and is court justifiable.

Now, let's talk about wasp (insect) spray. Have you ever read the label on this stuff? I am not going to bore you but to make it simple...wasp spray is toxic (read NOT safe). This stuff is designed to negatively effect the nervous system of insects. The problem is that humans also have nervous systems that are effected by this stuff. With that said, some of you may be thinking that I actually care about what happens to a criminal predator that intends to do us harm. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I care about is the safety of the intended victim. The concept of self-defense is to walk away from a dangerous situation with the least amount of physical and mental injuries possible. This cannot be accomplished if we choose to use stupid techniques or tools.

Anyone that has trained with or taught the use of pepper spray knows that in many (read MOST) cases the intended victim will also be contaminated in the process. The reality of chaotic violence is nothing like a safe training environment. Keeping that in mind, picture know without a doubt that you are going to end up spraying yourself in the face during a violent encounter. Would you prefer to use a substance that has a proven track record of safety or would you prefer to take your chances with a product known to kill insects and damage vital human tissues? The choice is yours.

If that isn't enough to help you see the ignorance in this idea...what if a family member or friend were in the room with you? What about a child or an infant? Would you be willing to risk their lives or their eyesight to use the wasp killer? Only you can answer that.

I should also add that it's illegal to use insect spray for anything outside the label recommendations and improper use, even in justifiable self-defense can result in civil liability.

The moral of this story...don't trust your safety to any tips, tactics, or tools just because a so-called self-defense "instructor" or a police officer tells you it's THE thing to do. First use common sense before you employ these things, then do some research of your own.

Please pass this along to family and friends so they can get a better understanding of this questionable safety advice.

Take care and stay safe,

Steve Zorn, ICPS
Personal Safety Unlimited

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-27 years training in personal safety -Multiple martial arts black belts -Multiple instructor certifications -Certified law enforcement trainer -Crime Prevention Specialist -Previous self-defense trainer for one of the country's largest airlines -Child safety specialist -Certified Fitness Trainer -TACTIX Fitness Trainer -High Intensity Training Specialist -FAST Defense Instructor -Kid Escape Instructor
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