What you need to know about non-lethal defense … and act as your own first responder

August 10, 2020

What you need to know about non-lethal defense  … and act as your own first responder

While the current COVID-19 crisis has many Americans staying closer to home, the desire to feel safe and free from being victimized by violence or threats still exists.

The unavoidable fact of life in America is that we or our loved ones might be injured or killed by an act of violence. The reality of this, especially during these tense times, can cause considerable fear and anxiety. Just knowing there are non-lethal defense options available – when and if you need them – can help ease your mind.  


Act as your own first responder.

Law enforcement is usually a phone call away, and therefore cannot always be there in your exact time of need. There is generally a “response gap” between when a threat erupts into violence and when help arrives. This is why being prepared to act as your own first responder enhances peace of mind.

Even in such situations, most people don’t want to cause lasting injury to anyone –even the person attacking them. At the same time no one wants to abdicate his or her fundamental right to be free from harm. Enter non-lethal defense.


Effective self-defense.

Effective self-defense requires exerting timely “controlling force” over an assailant from a safe distance. The golden rule is to exercise the minimal amount of force most likely to be effective, as rapidly as possible.

How do you do that? For decades the FBI training standard for responding to an active shooter has been Run/Hide/Fight. If you can escape or successfully hide from the assailant, that’s the correct response. Not all imminent violence comes in the form of an active shooter, however, and sometimes fighting back is your only option.


Stay away from physical altercations.

Fight training has historically relied on “planned improvisation,” including using improvised weapons, as well as basic hand-to-hand combat and disarming techniques. While better than nothing, in real life, this approach can prove problematic.

To begin with, touching should be avoided. Distance is your friend. Even if the assailant has a gun, accuracy decreases the farther away you are from the perpetrator. If he or she is armed with a knife or other dangerous object, then physical contact only increases your risk of injury. 

Likewise, any hand-to-hand violence will likely injure you, as the assailant will often physically outmatch you. And since the attacker started with an intention to hurt you, your ability and willingness to immediately respond in kind is questionable.

Remember, the longer the encounter lasts and the closer you are to the assailant, the more force is required to control the situation. The greater the force, the more likely you (or the assailant) might suffer lasting harm.

Why should I care about harming the aggressor? This is a question you might reasonably ask. Perhaps the threat of violence is coming from someone with a mental issue as opposed to pure malice. For example: Imagine you are a caregiver being attacked by a patient not in his right mind. The less harm resulting from a violent encounter, the better.

Finally, improvised weapons are just that – improvised. They may be ineffective, taken away and used on you, or inflict greater harm than intended. Bottom line, why plan to improvise when there are tools built for the purpose?


Popular non-lethal self-defense tools.

Presidia Gel®

A new innovative non-lethal product is Presidia Gel® by Reflex Protect®, an odorless, colorless sticky gel that can be precisely targeted at someone 20 feet away. It causes immediate eye closure and burning sensation in the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth, incapacitating an assailant almost on contact. Because it sticks only to what it hits, it doesn’t contaminate anyone standing nearby or the surrounding environment. An antidote, Reflex Remove™, also reverses the effects within minutes. It was originally designed for hospitals but is effective in any environment indoors or outdoors.

Pepper Spray

Pepper spray has been used for decades to deter people at a distance. The active ingredient is the same chemical that makes chili peppers hot, so every person responds to it differently. This means it often can ­– and does – take minutes to go into full effect and force the eyes to close. It makes breathing difficult. Another drawback is that the aerosol spray disperses into the air, irritating and contaminating people and surfaces nearby for a long time. Pepper spray is problematic indoors; this is why it is not used in hospitals, schools or offices as a non-lethal self-defense option.

Electronic Restraint Devices (ERD)

One category of non-lethal tools uses electricity – namely stun guns and TASERs. Stun guns deliver high-voltage electricity, but they don’t shoot it in the traditional sense. What you hold in your hand must have direct contact with your attacker to work, meaning you must be within arms reach of your attacker. TASERS, on the other hand, shoot out wires with barbs a distance of about 10 feet. The shot must be on target, and the two barbs must pierce the skin to complete a charged circuit. Thick clothing often prevents this from happening. If one of the barbs is removed, the weapon is also useless. These tools were created for law enforcement and are prohibited for civilian use in some states and under some conditions.

When faced with the potential of violence, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. In most cases, however, a non-lethal self-defense option will bring you the safety and security you desire whether you are at home, work, worship, or play. 

By Joe Anderson

Joe Anderson is the
CEO of safety-preparedness
company Reflex Protect

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