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books.gif (1673 bytes)  Security Basics


Defense Sprays

The most popular, non-lethal, personal defense product on the market today is the self defense spray (also known as pepper spray).  The primary chemical compound used in self defense spray today is OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) which is a natural chemical derived from hot pepper plants.  OC pepper is an inflammatory agent which causes two reactions when an individual is sprayed with this type of pepper spray.  First, the person's eyes clamp shut, hard.  If the person manages to open their eyes, they are unable to see well because the OC pepper dilates the capillaries of the eyes and causes temporary blindness.   Second, an immediate fit of uncontrollable coughing doubles the person over and often sends them to their knees.  The OC pepper causes an instant inflammation of breathing tissues making breathing difficult.  The condition is temporary but very debilitating.  OC pepper has the affect of putting up a "brick wall" between the assailant and victim even if they are on drugs, drunk or psychotic.

OC pepper usually comes in concentrations of 1%, 5% and 10%.  These percentages alone do not determine the effectiveness of the pepper spray.  A pepper spray's effectiveness is more accurately determined by the heat generating capacity of the OC pepper which is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHUs).  The higher the SHUs, the more effective the pepper spray.

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Stun Guns

Stun Guns are electronic devices that disable an assailant with as much as 300,000 volts of pulsed electrical current.  When used properly, stun guns are effective in putting a large person on the ground in seconds and disabling the assailant for a half hour or more.

Stun guns are not actually guns.  They do not shoot anything.   The stun gun has two electrodes that protrude from the end of the device.   When the electrodes are pressed against the assailant and the trigger is pulled, a high voltage, low amperage current travels from the electrodes through the assailant's clothes into their body.  The pulsed current causes the assailant's muscles to work extremely fast, depleting them of needed blood sugars.  The entire process takes only a few seconds and is very painful.  Once the assailant is hit with the voltage the muscles refuse to work and the person is disabled.  This gives the victim time to escape and get help.

Stun guns will not permanently injure or kill anyone regardless of the voltage.  Voltage ranges from 50,000 to 300,000 volts depending on the model.  While the higher voltage models disable a person faster and are far more intimidating, they are no more likely to injure a person.

Customers frequently ask if they can get shocked if the assailant is holding on to them when they use the stun gun.  This is not possible because the electrical charge coming from the stun gun is "used up" in the muscle tissue of the assailant and does not have enough power to come back out of the assailant's body and into the victim.  The only time a user might be shocked is if the stun gun is soaking wet or the trigger is pulled accidentally.

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Personal Alarms

Most personal alarms are electronic or aerosol devices that emit extremely loud, high pitched siren-like sounds.  Personal alarms startle and distract an assailant making the attacker fearful of attracting attention.  The alarm's loud sound makes the risk of continuing the attack too great for most assailants.

Electronic alarms are typically activated by either pushing a button or pulling a pin out of the unit.  They emit a siren-like sound in the 95-130 decibel range.  Listening to these alarms for more than a few seconds is extremely uncomfortable.  Most electronic alarms are small and can easily be held in the hand or clipped onto a purse or belt.

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Home Alarms

Residential burglar alarms and other types of home protection products are gaining popularity as the nation's crime rate increases.  Several types of security systems are described below:

Infrared Motion Detectors

Infrared motion detectors sense motion in any given area or room that the device is installed in.  Once activated, the detector's "electronic eye" looks for movement in the room.  Once movement is detected, an alarm is sounded to scare off the intruder and alert the homeowner and neighbors.

Door Protection

Most standard door chains will not stop a determined intruder because either the door or the frame breaks apart on hard impact.  One popular solution is the use of adjustable door braces.  Adjustable door braces install easily under the door knob to provide additional protection for either your home or business.

Window Protection

Magnetic contact alarms attach to the window.  When the contact is separated, an ear piercing alarm sounds scaring off the intruder and alerting the homeowner and neighbors. 

Glass breakage alarms also attach to the window.  If the window is broken, the vibrations are detected and the alarm sounds an ear piercing noise scaring off the intruder and alerting the homeowner and neighbors.

Window locks secure windows from being pried open from the outside.  Most are built for contemporary sliding aluminum windows and door frames.   Many lock the window in the fully closed position as well as a slightly open position for ventilation.

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Safety Tips

Developing a Plan of Action

Experts in the field of security and protection all agree that the best way to take charge of your safety is to avoid potentially dangerous situations.   Criminals rarely put real thought into assault and other crimes.  Almost never is their violence "person specific."  They are looking for vulnerability, an "easy mark," someone who is not aware of their surroundings.  A well rehearsed plan of action can take you and your family off the target list.

Home Safety Tips

  1. A constant awareness of your environment is the best weapon for guarding your personal safety.  Always be alert to your surroundings whether in your car, on the street or at home.
  2. Always have a plan of action.  Play a mental game of "what if...", where you would go and what you would do should a dangerous situation occur.
  3. Trust your instincts.  Research shows that a large percentage of people who have been assaulted had a feeling something was wrong just before they were attacked.
  4. Over half of all assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.  Take notice if an acquaintance is paying unwanted attention to you.
  5. Don't wear headphone radios or other devices that would make it difficult for you to sense an attacker.  Be alert at all times.
  6. If someone accosts you, yell "Fire" instead of "Help" or "Rape," because more people are likely to respond.
  7. Be sure to shout that you do not know the assailant so bystanders do not mistake the encounter for a domestic quarrel.

Auto / Travel Safety Tips

  1. Keep your vehicle in good running order.  Routine maintenance and replacement of worn parts in a timely manner will significantly decrease the possibility of breakdowns when you are least prepared.
  2. Consider carrying a cellular phone.  Often this is the quickest and safest means of alerting the police and emergency services that you are in need of assistance.
  3. If your travel plans include an overnight or long-distance driving, make sure you leave an itinerary of your trip with friends or family to let them know where you will be staying--including phone numbers of overnight lodgings.
  4. Plan road trips carefully.  Consider weather and driving conditions in relation to the condition of your automobile.  Carry maps and familiarize yourself with the route you will travel before you leave.
  5. Have an emergency kit including a working flashlight and jumper cables in the car at all times.  Consider a first-aid kit and emergency blanket as well.
  6. Often a "Send Help" or "Please Call Police" sign for your windshield can be a valuable item if you are not able to get your vehicle going.

Campus Safety Tips

  1. Learn what help campus security can offer to increase your safety.   If their services are only available in certain areas or if they do not patrol some portions of the campus at regular intervals this is valuable information to you.
  2. Most campuses have excellent provisions for lighting the most traveled paths after dark.  Stick to these.
  3. Often the security for each dormitory is lax, if it exists at all.   Make sure that you keep your room locked at all times.
  4. Consider registering your more valuable items with the campus security to make identification easy.
  5. Let a roommate or a friend know where you are going and how long you might be gone when you leave campus.
  6. Always enlist the company of at least one other person when jogging or exercising outside.
  7. Do not wear headphones as they can seriously impair your ability to predict and avoid a confrontation.

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