Nature has its own set of dangers, including poisonous snakes and poisonous plants. Other risks can include people. Because one is often isolated or far from help in remote locations, understanding self-defense skills can be the difference between life and death.
Jason Hanson, a retired CIA officer, an author and Arlington County police officer, provides self-defense and situation awareness training. Every year, Hanson hosts a week of fun, hands-on self-defense, gun handling, evading, and escaping training. Hanson is an expert at keeping you safe while enjoying the great outdoors.
What should you do if you're being followed?
One of the biggest mistakes that hikers make is a failure to maintain situational awareness. "I use a flip phone," said Hanson. "I've never sent a text message." "I'm not staring at my phone, like most people, hiking down the trail, having no clue that some creepy weirdo was getting close to them." While hiking or camping out, help can often be far away, it's critical to keep an eye on your surroundings.
Being in a rural environment is a lot easier to notice when someone is following you. To determine whether someone is following you, Hanson would run an SRR (Surveillance Response Route). For example, if Hanson wanted to meet with a source in a cafe at 1 pm, he would leave several days earlier and go to a series of different stores to see if he was followed. Don't just jump from one step to another.
However, if an attacker continues to approach you on a hiking trail despite your attempts to avoid him, it's time to defend yourself. For Hanson, it’s important that you loudly acknowledge the attacker.
“Let this man know you see him, and let everyone else know too,” said Hanson, “because you don't want to be a victim. You want to empower yourself.” You want to look at her eyes when she looks at you. You want to let him/her know that “Hey buddy, I see you.” You can wave at the person, too. Ideally, you'd park your car somewhere that can be seen from afar. This is to avoid surprise by someone else who may be involved in the crime.
What Should You Do If You're Traveling with Children
But what if you're hiking or traveling with a group? If small children are involved, that changes things. You can still run an SRS with small children, but running won't be possible. Instead, Hanson advocates a unique self-defense tool.
You can buy road flare at any gas station or at Home Depot. And when you use a road flare and light it up, they will be afraid to come after you. Now you're talking about an extreme case where someone is coming after you and has already been told to leave.
What Should You Do If You're Being Kidnapped
For the worst case scenario, you've been kidnapped while out hiking. What next? First, escape as quickly as possible. The reason for this rule is that kidnappers will often move you to a secondary place, usually further away. It will be harder for you to run away, and you will become physically weaker over time. You should ideally try to escape within the initial 24-hour window.
A third technique is to leave a "DNA trail." You can do this by cutting yourself and rubbing it on your environment or even by vomiting in the car. It's important because it helps law enforcement track down criminals. Establishing a relationship with the kidnappers can be crucial to your success.
You want to be very subservient. You want to act weak so they don't worry about you. And then, once you see that opening, use everything you've got and hope for the best.
The Best Self-Defense and Survival Tools
For Hanson, being ready while exploring the outdoors is essential. Always carry extra food and water in case you get lost. If you're stuck or lost, having extra food and water can literally save your life. Another mistake is not carrying a paper map.
If you lose your electronic GPS device, you could be left blind without direction.
Some great tools he recommends are metal flashlights and tactical pens. Metal flashlights and tactical pen are sturdy and can also be used as self-defense weapons. The mylar blanket is light weight and extremely useful for cold weather. Pepper spray grenades are useful if you want to carry a self-defense weapon. Compared to standard pepper spray, non-lethal grenades give you the advantage of distance, whereas close-range sprays don't.
He also recommends the following:
Carry a cell phone
The best way to stay safe when camping is to learn some basic survival skills. It is also important to stay calm. If you panic, your chances of surviving decrease dramatically. These include having the basics tools and basic skills like fire starting, first aid, shelter building, navigation, and beware of your surroundings. Learning these skills will help you feel more confident and prepared to survive in any situation.
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