Darkness provides a cloak for criminal activity, which is why safety experts are increasingly recommending LED flashlights as an essential part of any self-defense kit. A small LED keychain or a flashlight tucked into your purse or glove compartment can go a long way toward preventing or warding off an attack.
Always keep a flashlight with you when walking alone at night, and be prepared to use it. A good LED flashlight offers a bright beam for thousands of hours of continuous use, making it a valuable tool in situations when dim lighting leaves you vulnerable to surprise. It is also one of the few self-defense tools that won’t cause any raised eyebrows when you travel. Plus, unlike mace or other weapons, a small LED light cannot be used against you if it is seized during a struggle. Here are a few more ways you can use a simple flashlight for protection:
Light the way. Whether you’re traversing a dark parking lot or walking up a poorly lit street, you’ll be safer with a flashlight in hand. Grip the light firmly in a closed fist, with the bulb end opposite from your thumb. Walk confidently, and shine the light in any dark areas where a person may be hiding.
Secure your vehicle. When returning to your car at night, use a flashlight to illuminate the back seat and underbelly before you get in. These are places an attacker can lie in wait to take you by surprise.
Be aggressive. If a threatening person approaches you, flash your light at him or her, make eye contact, and yell, “Get back!” or “911!” Use a loud, assertive yell, not a scream of fear. Letting your assailant know you are not going to be an easy victim can help dissuade an attack.
Blind your attacker. Shining a bright light into an attacker’s eyes causes temporary disorientation, buying you a precious moment in which to spray mace, flee, or use one of your other self-defense techniques. This effect is short-lived, however, so you should already be on the move when you flash your beam.
Get attention. If an assailant is relying on darkness for cover, illuminating the area with a flashlight–possibly attracting the attention of someone nearby–might be enough of a deterrent to discourage further pursuit. Again, use yelling or a personal alarm to create as much of a ruckus as possible.
Here are some other techniques to help you stay safe at night:
— Be aware of your surroundings. As you walk, scan the area for anything or anyone suspicious.
— Have your keys in hand before you step outside. Digging through your purse will distract you from what’s going on around you.
— Park in well-lit lots or garages. Avoid secluded areas that might provide hiding places.
— Park near security cameras whenever possible.
— Lock your doors and windows as soon as you get in the car.
— Don’t linger. Put your keys in the ignition and drive away immediately.
When wielded in conjunction with other self-defense techniques, an LED flashlight can be a valuable part of your safety arsenal. The key is to be proactive rather than reactive and try not to get taken by surprise.