Five Things Women Need, by J.W.

My wife has a love-hate relationship with all this personal defense stuff.  She hates the idea of needing to be prepared and can’t stand that her day-to-day life is affected by potential or perceived and often unseen threats of violence, bUT she loves me.  So that means she agrees to all my training, prepping, security protocols, and most of my gear purchases.  Most? Okay, many of them. Many? Okay, fine. I just buy what I want. She gets mad for awhile and then eventually forgives me!

The point of this article is to give you five things that we think a woman needs for personal and family security when kids are involved and she finds herself in a dangerous or disastrous situation. These are a 24-hour get home bag, an exfiltration plan, communication resources, personal defense tools, and a proper mindset.

Twenty-four Hour Get Home Pack

My wife’s 24-hour pack is very similar to mine in terms of the gear she carries, but there are a few additions that I will highlight below. This retro-looking pack is similar to what my wife carries everyday in her Suburban. It’s large enough to carry the gear she needs but not too big to attract attention. On that note, do not pick a pack that makes a statement, especially if that statement is “I have a gun.” For this reason, you should stay away from military or tactical-looking packs, in my opinion.

REI Klettersack

We have four children. So, as you can imagine, my wife needs to carry enough equipment for five people, whereas my pack is designed just for me. The major additions to her kit include a bothy bag, a water purification filter, and enough food to sustain five people for 24 hours.

A bothy bag is like a giant-sized, waterproof/breathable garbage bag that can be used as a shelter in emergency situations. It’s designed for short-term use. You can’t really lay down inside of it as there’s no structure to it. Our bothy bag is designed so that five or six people can sit upright and lean against the walls of the shelter. It would not be comfortable to remain inside one for an extended period of time, but it will keep a person alive in a worst case scenario. I really like bothy bags as winter emergency shelters because with a group of people inside it the temperature rises dramatically. There is more information about bothy shelters online.

Food and water for five people would be extremely bulky and heavy for my wife to carry, so the way we’ve decided to manage this is through a water purifier and high calorie energy bars. Again, this is a short-term survival situation lasting a max of 24 hours. They can find water along the way. Will my children be happy about only eating a few energy bars all day?  Not in the least. Will they survive to complain about it later? Absolutely. She also carries first aid supplies, maps of exfil routes, a compass fire starter, personal defense weapons, light sources, a radio, and a cell battery backup.

Exfiltration Plan

What’s an exfiltration plan?  In the simplest terms, it’s about having a strategy to get from dangerous point A to safer point B in the most efficient way possible. By efficient I mean the route that requires the least amount of time, energy, and resources to arrive safely.

For example, my wife frequents Walmart, restaurants, and the library. Walmart and the restaurants are in close proximity to each other and therefore can share a similar exfil plan. The library, on the other hand, is much farther away and is located in a less than desirable part of town. The exfil plan from the library is more involved, due to the ground she would have to cover to get home safely from that area of town. Get the idea? This process requires some research and planning.

What I would suggest is to first get a map of your city. If you can find one that has topographic contour lines, that’s even better. (I’ll share more on the “why” of that later.) Now determine the locations of frequented places, such as your home, and the “bad” parts of town, hospitals, police departments, fire departments, and any other “safe” place that could provide you with food, shelter, or help if needed. Once you have all those places marked on your map, start looking at ways to move between them. View the map through the lens of your personal vehicle first.  Ask yourself things like, “If I’m at the grocery store and ‘Schumer’ hits the fan, what route will I take to get home?” Or “Oh, no. That road is blocked and I have to abandon my vehicle; what am I going to do now?” You absolutely must be realistic and critical in your assessment of the dangers you face and the details of your exfiltration plan. Next take a look at moving between your locations on foot.  Here is where that topographic map will come in handy. With this as a tool, you can locate hills, ridges, valleys, drainages, rivers, forested areas, and so much more. Then you can begin to get a better picture of the actual lay of the land between the library, store, or school and your house. Basically, you want to know how you can best use the land to your advantage.  Maps help the process.

You will, of course, want to drive and walk your exfil routes to make sure they work the way you had envisioned while doing your map planning. This can be made into a fun family outing for the creative parent. These days, I would bet you can find a geocache location literally on your exfil route, especially if you live in a city.  Take the kids out, and try to locate it.  This gives you the excuse to check things out without making it too obvious to the general public what your real intentions are.

Communication Resources

Nearly every adult human in the United States has a cell phone these days. Trust me when I say that there will be plenty of these available should the need arise for you to commandeer one. That being said, you have your own and should feel comfortable using it to communicate with your loved ones in an emergency.

Another tool you can utilize is a radio. I recommend the Motorola RDU4160, which costs about $300. The small consumer Motorola Talk-about radios are probably not sufficient, due to their pathetic usable range.  (That 15-mile range claim is misleading.) Also there is the issue of security. Someone is more likely to listen in on your conversations with those simply due to the large number of people that own them. You should look into something a lot stronger. Brands like Motorola, BlackBox, Kenwood, and Icom all make quality professional grade radios that will get you at least a mile of useable range even in the city. They use a different set of frequencies than the recreational talk-about radios and, therefore, should be more secure. They also operate on a much higher wattage output, so the signal should punch through buildings and terrain fairly well. CB radio is an option as well but again, there is the issue of security.

There are so many factors that go into radio quality and signal that I can’t possibly cover all that information here. The Motorola RDU4160 is what I’m using for the time being. It is sufficient as a backup to our cell phones and has performed well in our tests. Are there better options? Yes, there are, but I’m personally not willing to commit the time and effort to getting my Ham license right now.  There is a great article on radio communications from ITS Tactical for further study.

Personal Defense Tools 

Guns probably come to mind first, and I highly recommend them as your primary defensive tool. However, relevant training in context absolutely must go hand-in-hand with guns for personal defense. I can’t overstate how important this is. I’ll say it again like this: If you spent $500 on your pistol, you should spend another $1000-$2000 minimum on one or two reputable training courses. I.C.E. Training Company, which is owned by Rob Pincus, offers the kind of training I am referring to. If you want another choice, then Gunsite is a fine option. One final company I would recommend is Asymmetric Solutions.

Ladies, if you are like my wife, then you may choose not to carry a pistol for self defense. I can speak for your husbands when I say it’s time to reevaluate your opinions on this topic. Guns and fighting are no longer just the stuff of a man’s world. Thugs these days could care less if you’re a woman. They will not take it easy on you, and they are most likely armed with some kind of weapon. You always want to “one up” their weapon choice.  If they choose a baseball bat, then you want a gun. If they choose a knife, then you want a gun. If they choose a hammer, then you want a what? That’s right, a gun! To be completely fair, I don’t think a gun is the answer to every personal defense question, but it stands to reason that if you find yourself in a “worst case” scenario, then you might want to use a “last resort” kind of tool.

Other choices in defensive tools fall under the “pain compliance” category. These tools are typically deployed from inside the reach of the attacker. Obviously getting in close with an individual that is trying to harm you is never a good idea, but if you find yourself in that situation you want to have more than just your fists to stop their advance. Things like pepper spray, tasers, and batons are solid choices but sometimes fail and will not stop a determined attacker. Knives are sometimes inappropriately placed in this category as well, even though you can clearly and easily kill a person with one. Knives are an excellent back up tool to your defensive firearm, and some are specifically built for in-contact fighting.

Lastly, personal defense tools can be found laying around outside, stocked at the grocery store, and purchased at the magazine stand. Improvised weapons can be anything you pick up and hit with or throw at an attacker that would discourage them from advancing towards you. Here’s a short list to get you on my thought level:

  • tree branches,
  • chairs,
  • soup cans,
  • broom handles,
  • rocks,
  • a belt,
  • that stray cat, and
  • even your car.

Yes, exactly, just run them over (the bad guy, not the cat). Constantly assess your environment and be aware of things you could use as weapons if the situation arises.

Proper Mindset

“The devil whispers, you can not withstand the storm.  The warrior whispers back, I AM the storm” –Author unknown This is likely not a popular conversation to have with most moms. However, ladies, you need to develop your ability to flip that switch in your brain from helpless victim to dangerous warrior. It’s absolutely critical for your survival in a disaster or emergency situation. Your life and the lives of your children depend on you alone. Do not underestimate yourself. You are able to think quickly and clearly. You are able to make it home. You are able to strategically utilize the tools at hand to get the job done just as decisively as any man. You need to be willing to sacrifice the life of another human being in order to preserve the safety of your family, if that’s what it comes down to!  

When it comes to mental toughness, sometimes you just need to start talking yourself into things instead of out of them. Positive self talk about eating better, working out more, and being good to your spouse don’t just miraculously happen. Things worth doing often take hard work. Don’t just tell yourself you can; tell yourself you will! Tell yourself often how they shouldn’t mess with a momma bear and her cubs! Convince yourself that you would do anything to protect your children.

I recommend training your mind to think the way you want to perform. It’s no secret that olympic athletes use visualization techniques as a training tool to help them mentally prepare for competition. I contend that mentally preparing for the fight of your life is no different. Practically, this looks like finding a quiet place where you can relax, close your eyes, and mentally live out your worst nightmare in extreme detail. Choose a realistic scenario in the context of your personal day-to-day routine. Imagine every conceivable detail of your encounter from start to finish. Spend some extra time on the ending. Make absolutely certain that you win in the end! Check out the related article from Mike Gillette. He’s kind of an expert on mental toughness and a nice guy. Be willing to stand up for yourself. Be vicious, if necessary.  Remember, you want to make it home tonight. You want to prevail!