Common Sense Self-Defense

These days rarely a day goes by without us hearing about home invasions, random killings, stores robbed at gunpoint, abduction, rape, theft; you name it; it’s in the news. I think we all hope that nothing like this ever affects us or our loved ones, but you never know.

Years ago I taught self-defense and gave seminars throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I taught men, women, teenagers and children. The point of it all was to raise awareness about how to keep ourselves safe and be aware of what is going on around us.

This post is part of a series of self-defense tips I plan on putting up on this blog now and then. My hope is that it will help and not scare anyone. Today’s post is about having your own self-defense plan and being aware of your surroundings.

Part 1: Have a plan

A large part of self-defense is having a plan. If you think ahead, you can plan ahead. When you prepare, it takes a lot of the guesswork and fear away. In your spare time, think up possible scenarios that might happen. Don’t let this scare you! Let it help you prepare by focusing on what you can do to protect yourself. This will change the fear of “what if this happens” to “what I’ll do if this happens.”

The following are some possible situations and actions: 

You are stopped at a red light in traffic, and someone approaches your drivers’ side and tries to open the door. Make sure that your car doors are ALWAYS locked, no matter how short the commute! In this case, blow your horn, shout, and make all the noise you can. You want people around you to see what’s happening. This may be all you need to scare off a would-be attacker.


Someone approaches you as you walk out to the parking lot toward your car. For no reason you can name, you become afraid. Listen to that inner voice that’s telling you to be afraid! Try to get a vehicle between you and the other person if you can, and shout “FIRE!” as loud as you can. (Sadly, few people will respond to “HELP!”) Create a scene. Anyone wanting to hurt you will not want a lot of people to notice.


You are home alone, and you think you hear someone breaking in. Call 911 immediately, and tell the operator your name and address and that you have a prowler. If you can, leave the phone on so that the operator can hear what’s going on while help is on the way. Don’t ever assume that this is “probably harmless;” don’t take chances with your life.

If you own a gun, have it loaded and ready to go. Be sure that you have practiced using it and know what you’re doing.

NOTE 1: Obviously, if you have children in the house, lock it and the ammunition up.

NOTE 2: Check with your local police to find out if/when they give a course in self-defense and/or how to protect yourself in your home.

If you don’t have a gun, have something in every room in your home that you could use as a weapon. Remember, you want to stop or at least slow down an attacker so that you can get away, and/or call for help.

REMEMBER: Be prepared; not scared.

Get the idea? Now start thinking and planning; you’ll be amazed at how being prepared will make you feel less afraid and more in control.

Part 2: Don’t be a victim

No one, no matter how much karate they know, or how many guns and knives they carry, is completely safe from attack. But we all stand a much better chance of avoiding attack if we learn how NOT to act like a victim. Statistics prove that many victims of violent crimes act like victims. These are people who:

  • Don’t seem to know where they are going
  • Fumble with car or house keys
  • Appear to be “tuned out” to the world around them
  • Wear headphones while jogging, walking, or biking – they are not paying attention to who or what is around them
  • Walk around talking on a cell phone and not paying attention to who is nearby

If you are guilty of any of the above, or indeed ANYTHING that takes your attention from where you are and what is around you, you need to make some changes. You may think that you are still paying attention while otherwise engaged with something like talking with your friend on a cell phone, but studies prove otherwise.

You can change yourself from being a potential victim to a non-victim by:

  • Knowing where you’re going – keep your posture straight and eyes open. This gives off an “I’m in control” vibe.
  • Having your keys ready in your hand before you actually need them; you won’t be fumbling at the door, but will be able to get right in.
  • Being aware of where you are at all times; pay attention to your surroundings at all times.

The next self-defense post will be about fighting back if you get into a situation, and some “common sense self-defense.”





Be Prepared, Not Scared

In my family, we are big believers in having a “Just in Case” plan. You know, such as keeping jumper cables, emergency kit, flashlight, blanket, etc,. in the trunk if you break down. The Crankee Yankee (my husband) and I also keep a pantry downstairs stocked with non-perishables like canned tuna, tomato sauce, beans, bottled water, sardines, pasta, vegetables, fruits, etc., as well as canned and dry cat food.

Additionally, I’ve always kept an “Emergency Information” folder (well, it’s really a sheet of 8″ x 11″ printer paper, folded up and placed near my drivers license) in my wallet. This way, if something happens and I’m unconscious or unable to communicate, all a rescuer needs to know will be right there in my emergency information.

This is a template you are welcome to use for your own Emergency Information. Having this on you will save valuable time and get you the help you need ASAP. FYI: Do NOT put in your social security number!




Home Phone:

Cell Phone:


Date of Birth:


Blood Type:

Organ Donor:



Family History:

Primary Doctor:

Health Insurance:

Emergency Contact 1:

Emergency Contact 2:

Emergency Contact 3:

Medications/Supplements Information

Medications Supplements

Pet Care Information [names, sex (neutered, spayed), age, coloring, microchip (Y/N) and whether or not they are indoor only or indoor/outdoor. Also include your vet’s address and phone number.

It’s also a good idea to be sure that at least one of your emergency contacts has a key to your house as well. Keep a copy of this information in your files at home, too.

Just a word here about having this same information on your cell phone: while convenient, it may work against you:

  • If you are in an accident, your phone may break and be unable to access information
  • Your phone may get lost or stolen
  • Your battery may die

Paper may be old-fashioned, but it’s dependable.

Speaking of stuff in your wallet, did you know how easy it is for someone near you to swipe your credit card information without even touching you or your card? Most *credit cards today have embedded RFID chips, which can be easily read with portable card readers. If someone near you has one of these, they can pick up all your information. All they have to do after that is to download it on a blank card, and boom–they are now you, using your credit card!

Here’s how to stop this from happening, and it’s a cheap fix: cut a square of aluminum foil roughly the size of your credit card. Fold the foil in half, then slip your credit card(s) into it and put it in your wallet. Not to sound like those tinfoil hat wearers who believe that space aliens can’t read their minds through tin foil, but the foil acts as a barrier to keep the card reader from accessing your information. There are many web sites you can check to verify this information, and also where you can buy metal wallets that don’t weigh a ton, and will keep your information safe from walk-by thieves.

If you’re simply looking for a bit of casual protection, simply stacking your cards next to each other will assist in reducing their strength.

But by all means, keep your emergency information current so that you can be prepared, not scared.

*RFID chips now exist in:

  • Chase’s Blink Credit Card
  • Mastercard PayPass Credit Card
  • Many Corporate IDs
  • Many University IDs
  • United States Passports
  • Euro Passports