Pepper Guns and Chocolate Cookies

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In the spirit of campus safety education, I brought a Mace ® gun set to wonder twins Lucy and Grace over the weekend. You recall from our “Meet SafetyGirl” chat that these are the daughters of my boyfriend – we’ll call him Andy, suits him well. For safety’s sake I left the “live” mace cartridges at my house. Even though the water cartridges are color-coded blue and the mace, red, I didn’t want any accidents or on-purposes. While the girls baked the world’s best chocolate cookies with their friend Kay, their dad and I checked the units over. The guns have some heft that makes them pleasing in the hands, and the light illuminates with each pull of the trigger, as promised. The safety and cartridge release levers slid easily. Looked simple enough. Andy had the grand idea of setting up a scenario with one of the girls in a hoodie and one wielding the gun – brilliant! I have learned through age that what we plan and what we get are two very different things, and I have learned through this family that most of the time, that is a very good thing. However, not so much in this case. The plans went out the French doors with the girls when they ran out with the guns, anxious to learn. Their fatal flaw: they left the hot, gooey, chocolate cookies behind.

20140803_185649The devoted dad showed them how to open the guns to insert the water cartridges, which is pretty easy and intuitive. The triggers were a little stiff on the pull, and the water cartridges only lasted for about 8 brief squirts (or 2 or 3 long streams). Having the water cartridges for practice was great because the guns shot high. An aim at the heart on these units would take the mace to the attacker’s eyes. It is highly suggested that if you buy the Mace ® gun, that you also get enough water cartridges to be comfortable using the gun, should you ever need the actual mace. The shootout was over far too soon with just one cartridge per girl; because Andy and I didn’t want to waste the cartridge learning the gun ourselves, we had a pretty high learning curve on getting the nozzle seated right and how long each blast should last.

20140804_105705-EFFECTSMy personal recommendation is to definitely have two practice water cartridges for each person – one to learn the loading and feel of the aim, and another one to get comfortable with it. I would also recommend doing the same two-cartridge routine every year so if you ever do need to use the gun on an attacker (we hope not!), you aren’t going in rusty.

Both the Mace ® gun and refill kits are available on SafetyGirl.

The good news is, I start my week off with two of the best cookies I’ve ever had.

(Afterward: Evidently the cookies vanished overnight. Andy and I did not eat them all, though we wanted to! When I heard they were gone, I was very glad I stole two. )

Major in Self Defense

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With SafetyGirl U!

Your babies are headed off to college, whether for the first time, or a repeat. Whether you suffer from an empty nest or view it as a whole lot of “me” time ahead, your stress level will be way down if you send your girls to campus armed with knowledge and some SafetyGirl products.

Half the battle is getting your precious cargo to actually carry the products so they are available for use should she need them (we hope not!). We’ve come up with an array of great-looking items and an arsenal of tips.

  • Be aware of your surroundings and recognize your vulnerability. Carry the Zap Dazzle Stun Gun. For under $40 you get 950,000 volts of power encased in rhinestones.
  • Report all suspicious persons, vehicles, and activities to campus security.
  • Use the “buddy system” when going out. One of you should have the Sabre Stun Gun with Flashlight. Small enough to carry easily and the flashlight temporarily startles and illuminates your threat.
  • Keep your dorm and apartment doors locked when you are alone. Have the Mace KeyGuard Pepper Spray nearby at all times in case things get ugly. With a five-foot range, it will buy you time to run past your attacker and out of the confined space for help.
  • Report hazardous conditions to campus maintenance immediately.
  • If you see someone victimized, get involved and report it to the authorities. Use the Sabre Personal Alarm to frighten off the attacker.
  • When walking to your car, have your keys ready to go. Keep the Sabre Red Spitfire Pepper Spray in your palm. It is designed to fire with less effort and aim with greater accuracy, perfect for use while running.
  • If threatened by an approaching vehicle, run in the opposite direction – the car will need to turn around, buying you time. Keep the Mace Screecher Personal Alarm with you at all times to draw attention to an incident.
  • If your dorm has an elevator, stand near the panel box if you are alone with a stranger, so you have control of the alarm. Stop the elevator, sound the alarm, and exit the car. Keep your Lipstick Pepper Spray handy in case you need backup protection.
  • If you are a victim of rape or sexual assault, report the incident immediately, even if you choose not to pursue the matter further. Carry the Mace Hot Pink Pepper Spray and don’t be afraid to use it.

Faster, Easier, Safer

benefits-of-a-bicycleNow that the weather’s good, I’m all about biking. There is a bald eagles’ nest in Pittsburgh, the trailhead maybe twenty minutes from where I live. There are parks and street vendors. There is the Strip District where all of Pennsylvania goes for the freshest produce and ethnic goods. So it’s nothing to hop in the car and bike 10 or 20 miles on a nice weekend day. But it’s the city. Downtown. Crime, drugs, and questionable characters are in the mix and you hear about them on the news every evening. True story: the last time my boyfriend and I went cycling, in one trailhead parking lot, stolen goods were being transferred from one car to another. No lie. So yeah, he’s got the authoritative muscle, but neither of us is stupid. You don’t borrow trouble. What if that had been me, alone? And what if I had inadvertently picked the parking spot right next to them? I carry pepper spray.

I really like the Kimber PepperBlaster II. It’s easy to retrieve from a pocket, has a safety so this all-thumbs girl is less likely to shoot herself in the eye, and it is effective. If you spend any time creeping YouTube videos watching otherwise-sane men spray each other to demonstrate this product, you know just how effective it is – for an hour or more.

What Makes it Different?

The Kimber PepperBlaster II stops threats at a distance. Unlike typical pepper sprays that utilize aerosol to spray, the PBII uses a discharge system to shoot a 13-foot stream at speeds of up to 90mph. Impervious to wind, rain, and even glasses worn by your attacker, the PBII will get the job done. Most pepper sprays use a cone-shaped spray, which is less potent on the eyes. PepperBlaster II uses the more serious and debilitating stream. Hey. If your attacker means business, why shouldn’t you?

This little dynamo has two chambers that fire separately – you get two shots, then throw the gun away and buy a new one (eternally glad that the first one did its job!). The upper barrel discharges first, then the lower, each with the press of a trigger. Two points of origin means your two shots will land at slightly different locations so practice using the Blaster before you need to use it. It is highly recommended that you purchase two Blasters – one for practice, and one to carry. The Kimber PepperBlaster II Kit comes complete with a trainer unit, a live unit, and targets. The trainer unit is loaded only with blue dye so you can practice your aim without hurting anyone. You can buy a trainer unit separately, also. Note that the trainer unit does not come loaded with the OC solution.

What’s In It?

That OC solution – what is it? If you’re like me, you want to know exactly what’s in the Blaster. Technically, it’s filled with 10% OC with benzyl alcohol. That is 10% Oleoresin Capsicum, whose active ingredient is capsaisin, the “hot” component in chili peppers. It is extracted with benzyl alcohol, which then evaporates, leaving a viscous resin that adheres to the skin. Ouch.pepper

Pepper spray is an inflammatory agent, which, when sprayed on the face, causes temporary blindness, difficulty breathing, tears, upper body spasms, and burning. While one spray will do no permanent damage to the eyes, repeated sprays can render the corneas permanently sensitive, and one spray to someone with asthma can be lethal.

What Do Users Say?

Big Lou says, “All other units are too small and look like a tube of lipstick…Kimber made it right.” KAS says, “I saw this demonstrated at a gun show and was impressed with the design, weight, how it fit in my hand, and how far/fast the spray can travel…I hope I never have to actually use my PepperBlaster II, but will always carry one with me. I purchased these additional units from SafetyGirl for my daughters.”

Oh – and if you do accidentally get sprayed with pepper spray, this will help you get the sting out:

  • Don’t run, but walk facing the breeze.
  • Get out of the sun.
  • Remove contacts if you are wearing them. Throw them away.
  • Clean it the best you can: Find water and a fresh towel. Splash the water on your face, keeping your eyes open. Try to use clean water with each splash. Close your eyes and splash again using soap or dish liquid in the water. Pat, don’t rub, the affected areas, with the towel.
  • Use eyedrops.
  • Soak the affected area in whole milk, the fat of which negates the ability of the pepper to generate heat.

We love this video, made by a professional cyclist, showing how easy and effective the original Kimber PepperBlaster is for bikers. Both styles are available at SafetyGirl.

Safe or Statistic: You Choose

When it comes to personal defense, you have to ask yourself this question: will I choose to be safe or will I become a statistic? Today, many victims of assault could have prevented an attack by being prepared.  What if you were handed the car keys as soon as you turned sixteen without any education or practice driving?  That would be an accident waiting to happen.  But many times we make that same mistake with our own self defense.  The universal conundrum of most victims is that they never imagined that something like an attack would happen to them.  According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 68% of all rapes in the US were perpetrated by someone the victim knew: 47% of the perpetrators were a friend or acquaintance of the victim, 17% were an intimate partner, and 3% were a family relative.

The greatest weapon in your arsenal of self-defense is awareness.  According to recent studies, a woman gains an 86% chance of avoiding the rape and additional injury simply by fighting back. Just like any other skill, we need to prepare mentally and physically so we don’t become one of these statistics:

  • A woman is raped every 46 seconds in America… that’s 78 rapes each hour!
  • Every day, four women are killed by their abusive partners
  • 25% of girls and 17% of boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they are 18 years old
  • 14% of all American women acknowledge having been violently abused by a husband or boyfriend
  • 75% of domestic homicides occur after the victim has left the perpetrator
  • 28% of all homicides of women are domestic violence related
  • 95% of reported domestic assaults the female is the victim and the male is the perpetrator
  • 70% of every rape is committed by a man that the victim knows
  • 25% of rapes take place in a public area or a parking garage

It’s time to take action, not only for you, but for your family and loved ones.  Whether it’s pepper spray, stun guns, training DVDs, or firearms, make sure that you don’t become another statistic.

Date Rape Prevention

ChalkboardAccording to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, 1 in 6 women are victims of an attempted or completed rape each year. More shockingly, 11% of high-school-aged females are raped each year, and as many as 25% of college-aged women experience complete or attempted rape each year.  Even worse, these numbers underestimate the problem because many women are afraid to report a rape incident to the police, much less family members or friends.  Rape victims often feel ashamed, guilty, embarrassed of the incident or threatened by the sexual predator.

Date rape is one type of rape that most often goes unreported, probably because the incident occurs between two people who are dating each other.  Date rape can occur on a first or second date or in a steady relationship.  Date rape is defined as sex without consent and—regardless of whether the two parties know each other—it’s still illegal.

While there are many ways date rapes can occur, there are a few classic scenarios.  Date rapes most often occur when two people are alone, but with other people nearby, at a party, for example.  Alcohol or mind-altering drugs may be involved.  There is even a class of “date rape” drugs, including Rohypnol (“Roofies,” “Roach,” or the “Forget Pill”), GHB (“Bedtime Scoop,” “Cherry Meth,” or “Liquid Ecstasy”), and Ketamine (“Black Hole,” “Special K,” or “Psychedelic Heroin”).  Date rape often occurs when the perpetrator is unable to seduce the victim and consequentially forces sex anyways.  Rapists in date rape cases are often trusted by the victims, which is why many victims feel conflicted—often a mixture of anger, guilt, and shame—following the incident.

There are certain behaviors which are associated with sexual violence on dates.  Watch out for your date:

  • Sitting or standing too close to you
  • Enjoying your feelings of discomfort
  • Stares you down
  • Blocks your way
  • Tries to act like he knows you better than he really does
  • Touches you in any way that is unwanted
  • Acts violently.
  • Doesn’t listen to you, especially if you are saying “no”

There are several ways to prevent date rape.  Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t depend on your date for money or transportation.
  • If you don’t know or feel comfortable with your date—on a blind date or first date, for example—go on a double date or go out with a group of people.
  • Have a casual first date during the day.  Go out to lunch, brunch or coffee.  Do an activity where there are lots of people around, such as an outdoor street fair, weekend farmer’s market, or mini-golf.
  • Make your sexual limitations clear early on.  If you don’t want to have sex, it’s a lot easier to say no before you even begin to be intimate.
  • Act confidently.  If you have low self esteem, discredit your character, or act insecure, your date is more likely to take advantage of you.

Prevention is obviously much easier and less harmful than dealing with the physical and emotional consequences of rape.  If you are raped, or think you’ve been raped, call 911 right away.  Remember, even if you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the rape is illegal and it’s not your fault.  Don’t be an unreported case.