Food Storage Do-Over Week 17: Protection/Self Defense

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We are excited to be starting week 17 (the FINAL week) of our Food Storage Do-Over 2015! We are getting close to the end of this adventure. If you didn’t catch last week’s post which talked about emergency shelter, heating, and cooling you can see it here.

Remember this is a 17 week process that we will be going through together. If you want to join in with the group on Facebook click here. If you’d like to receive email notifications of each week’s do-over assignment you can join our mailing list here. Or you can always post in the blog comments with your progress as well! It is so much more fun and motivating doing it as a group so find a way to connect!


Emergency preparedness is a very broad topic. This week we are going to be looking at our plans for protection and self defense. Since we are NOT experts on this at all, we have asked Angela Paskett from Food Storage and Survival to help us with this week’s education and tasks. Thanks ANGELA!

Thanks to Jodi and Julie for asking me to help them out on this week’s topic! Protection and firearms is a broad topic that would need a book to cover thoroughly, so be sure to check the resources at the bottom of the post for more information on any part of this topic that interests you!

Unfortunately, the world isn’t populated only with “good guys”. Violent crimes happen every day at the hands of bad people. Having a line or two of self defense at the ready can help you prevent these crimes from happening to you, and help you come out alive if they do.

Situational Awareness

One of the best ways to protect yourself from bad guys or bad situations is to be aware of your surroundings. Keep your phone in your pocket, keep your head up, and look around as you are walking or driving. For most of us, it’s really easy to get caught up in our thoughts or outside distractions and be less aware of our surroundings. Using Cooper’s Color Code for Situational Awareness, summarized below, consciously moving from level white to level yellow will help avert problems before they become bigger problems. Which color are you normally in?

White: You are totally unaware of what’s going on around you. Wrapped up in your thoughts of what’s for dinner or that cute boy that texted you or whatever other thoughts distract you from reality. Maybe you’re caught up in what’s happening on your phone or tablet in a public place. At any rate, you’re blissfully unaware that anything could happen. Attackers look for victims in this state! Don’t be one.

Yellow: You are alert and aware. Keeping your mind engaged in your current situation, you are aware of what and who you are surrounded by. There is no specific threat and you are not in any sort of paranoid freak out mode. You are calm but watchful. Yellow is the color you want to be when you are anywhere you could encounter a threat to your life or safety.

Orange: You have identified a possible threat and have plans to take action. No action yet, but you are ready to do what is needed to protect yourself and those with you.

Red: Now you’re in full blown fight mode and taking any action that may be necessary to stop the threat. Most of us will rarely, if ever, need to be in this state.

Situational awareness is your first line of protection. By being aware of your surroundings, you may be able to avoid trouble all together!

Basic self defense

Take a self defense class. Most martial arts are excellent exercise as well as training for close quarters self defense. Practice is key. Train your body to instinctively respond to being grabbed, pushed, or swung at and your brain won’t need to be fully engaged for you to be able to defend yourself. No license or special equipment needed, and it is also great for kids and teens. I trained in a karate class with my daughters (then age 8 and 11) and we had an absolute blast doing it together. You can find some videos online that show self defense moves, but be sure you don’t just watch! Get a friend to help you practice.


  • No license needed.
  • Most self defense skills only use your body and you always have your body with you.


  • The bad guy has to be within striking distance to use it.
  • Bad guy is not going to follow the rules so things may not go like they do in class.
  • Physically demanding.

Assignments for this Week:

  • Be aware of your awareness level.
  • Research self defense class options in your area and get yourself and/or your children signed up for one.

Don’t forget to come over and share your progress in our Food Storage Do-Over Facebook Group!

Ready to take the next step and add some tools to your protection plan? Let’s explore some of my favorite options!

Non-Lethal Self Defense Tools

Striking tools. If hitting with your fist is good, how much more effect can hitting with something harder have? Use a tool specifically designed for striking like a kubaton, or get creative with whatever is around. Baseball bats are particularly popular here for homes and vehicles, but you probably have keys, a pen, or a heavy purse that could be put to use without hauling a bat around with you. Here are some great suggestions for discreet weapons using items you may already be carrying.

Pepper spray. Containing the heat of about a gazillion hot peppers, pepper spray causes temporary blindness, swelling of the breathing tube tissues, and burning skin, minimizing the attacker’s ability to see and function properly. The blindness can last 15 to 30 minutes, with other effects such as burning skin lasting an hour or more. Look for pepper spray that sprays in a stream (so you don’t get affected by any overspray), and contains UV dye that helps police identify the perpetrator later. Damsel in Defense products fit the bill nicely. The idea is to spray and get away so you aren’t around when it wears off!


  • At time of posting, pepper spray is legal in all but a few states (DC, MA, MI, NY and WI). Always check your local laws before purchasing.
  • Inexpensive (most between $10 and $25).
  • Easy to use.


  • You have to be close enough and have good enough aim to hit your attacker where it counts.
  • Must have the pepper spray with you and be able to access and deploy it quickly.
  • Limited amount of spray in each canister.

Stun gun.
Stun guns use high amperage and low voltage to stun. The shock creates muscle spasms which incapacitate the attacker. The stun gun does not need to touch skin, but does need to physically contact your attacker in order to work. At a distance, the sound of a stun gun may be enough to deter an attack. As with pepper spray, this is a method to buy yourself some time to get away. Stun and run.


  • Easy to carry and use.
  • Looks and sound may be enough to deter attacker at a distance.
  • Can be used multiple times.


  • Must be carried with you and charged.
  • A little more expensive (most between $50 and $100).
  • Must be used in close proximity to attacker.
  • At time of posting, use is restricted in HI; MA; NJ; NY; RI; IL; MI; CT; DC; WI; MD; New Castle County, DE; Wilmington, DE; Newark, DE; Philadelphia, PA; and all U.S. Virgin Islands. Always check your local laws before purchasing.


Yes! We’re talking firearms! One of my favorite topics. Now, just so you all know, I’ve personally invited Jodi and Julie for some good old fashioned shooting fun at my place this summer, so look for a report on that adventure once we’ve got it done. It’s going to be good. 🙂 As with any self defense tool, practice is key with firearms. Get to know your gun like a trusted friend and it will serve you well when you need to use it. If you plan to carry your firearm with you, be sure to check local laws concerning open carry and concealed carry where you will be taking it.


  • Can hit targets at long distances.
  • Even a great grandma can win against a 250 lb. attacker.
  • Sometimes the sight or sound alone can be enough to deter an attacker.
  • Practicing is fun!


  • Can be an expensive option to acquire and practice with.
  • Firearm ownership and use is restricted in some areas. Always check your local laws!
  • Only works until the bullets run out.

There is a TON of information about firearms out there, and if you get looking you’ll see that everyone has an opinion, but we’re going to stick to the basics here to get you started. These link to a series I ran on my site a few years ago on firearm basics for beginners.

If you’ve never been shooting before, here are some great ways to get started:

  • Ask a trusted friend or relative with firearms knowledge to take you shooting. I don’t know anyone who loves guns and shooting that wouldn’t be willing to teach someone who wants to learn.
  • Head to your local gun store or shooting range and ask for classes. They may have concealed carry classes, basic firearm classes, classes just for women, and more. They’ll be glad to point you in the right direction. If you’re nervous, take a friend along with you!
  • Take a Hunter Safety class through your state’s Wildlife department.

And you adults aren’t the only ones that need to understand firearm safety! Make sure your kids know what to do if they find a gun. The National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle program is a fantastic resource for teaching kids firearm safety.

In my experience, layers of defense are better than just one method. Awareness is always important, and if you can add some self defense skills and tools to your defense set, you’re that much more likely to have what you need if you ever need to get out of a bad situation. And whichever methods you choose for your personal defense, be sure to practice, practice, practice!

Assignments for this Week:

  • Research non-lethal self defense options and purchase one that will work for you and is legal where you live.
  • Inventory the items you carry every day to determine what could be used as a striking tool. Add something if you need to.
  • Inventory firearms and ammunition in your home. Write down firearm serial numbers and add it to your emergency notebook and/or homeowner’s insurance file.
  • Set a date for a firearms class with a friend!
  • Teach your children basic gun safety.

Don’t forget to come over and share your progress in our Food Storage Do-Over Facebook Group!

Screen shot 2015-05-07 at 12.15.20 AM Damsel in Defense: Pepper Spray, Stun Guns, Kubatons, and more. Damsel in Defense is about equipping women with the tools to not only keep them safe but also to give them the confidence to know that they have a way out if they ever feel threatened.
Legally Armed: A Concealed Carry Gun Law: The one guide you need for concealed carry gun law is here. This book covers carry laws nationwide, highlighting common points of law for each state and the District of Columbia, such that a reader should clearly understand how each jurisdiction differs.

Here are some resources both from us and all over the web that can help you if you want more depth on any areas or are looking for even more ideas of items to include in your plans. It’s always a good idea to look at multiple approaches and decide what will work best for you! And don’t forget to check out the discussions on our facebook group to catch anything we are missing or see what others are doing!

10 Things I Learned Earning my Karate Yellow Belt
10 preparedness reasons to put your kids in karate (also applies to you!)
Creative zombie apocalypse bats
How to defend your family in a home invasion
National Rifle Association
US Concealed Carry Association
Holsters for women
23 Firearm Truths for Women (although they really apply to anyone)
WikiArms (find ammo for sale online–yes, even .22lr)

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