Advice from the Expert: How to Handle Scary Situations

Scary situations can happen virtually anywhere and at any time. That’s why it is always smart to be prepared and to know how to protect yourself. Matt Schaefer, president of Tactical Defense Training and a former law enforcement officer, offers self defense advice and breaks down how to handle some of the most common safety threats.


What types of mistakes lead to dangerous situations?

A few of the top personal safety mistakes include:

  • Not being aware of your surroundings
  • Not trusting your instincts
  • Not recognizing potential threats
  • Worrying about being polite instead of getting away quickly
  • Not keeping enough distance between you and a threat


How can you avoid scary situations?

First and foremost, remove all distractions. One of the best tips for self defense is to resist looking at your phone and don't wear earbuds. You need to see and hear what is happening around you.

Also, scan an area and move with purpose from one point to another. When you exit a building, quickly scan the parking lot or street. If something doesn’t look or feel right, stay inside the building. Call the police if your safety is at risk.


If you’re facing a potential threat, what steps can you take to protect yourself?

If you’re facing a dangerous situation, here’s a quick mental checklist to run through:

  • Stay focused on what's happening
  • Identify an area where you can find safety
  • Have your pepper spray or personal safety device ready 

Do not be afraid to use force if your life is in danger. With pepper spray, you can protect yourself using one of the few weapons that typically doesn’t cause lasting harm.   

Bottom line: Stay alert, stay safe and stay alive.


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