Welcome to this week’s Urban Survival Newsletter, brought to you by The Journal of Tactics and Preparedness.
This week, we’re going to talk about some preparedness and survival myths that many people have bought into that could get them seriously injured or killed including “lasers and pump shotguns”, “Wasp & Hornet Spray”, “Rappelling With Paracord”, and “Dog Food as Survival Food.”
Lasers & Pump Shotguns
“I’ve got a laser on my gun because all I’ll have to do is point it at a bad guy’s chest and he’ll give up.”
“I’ve got a pump shotgun because it makes the most frightening sound in the world. Just hearing that sound in the middle of the night will cause a bad guy to run away with his tail between his legs.”
These are popular self defense myths, but in talking with and interviewing law enforcement, criminal psychiatrists, and criminal psychologists over the years, it has been made abundantly clear that this just isn’t something you want to stake your life on.
Let me be clear…If you were to light me up with a laser sight or rack a shotgun in the same room with me in your house in a pitch black room, MY heart rate would jump up and I’D think twice about what I was doing. Chances are good that if the roles were reversed, you’d react the same way. But we’re normal, well adjusted people who value life in general and our own lives in particular.
If, on the other hand, your intruder had accepted death as an option, had already decided to kill you to get what they wanted, and simply saw you as an obstacle standing in their way, then things are different. The laser simply tells them which direction and how far they need to move to be safe and continue their attack. The shotgun pumping sound simply tells them they need to finish you off faster than they may have originally planned.
Are laser sights and pump shotguns bad? Absolutely not. I have both and am a fan of both. The problem occurs when “sights and sounds” replace fundamentals in violent force encounters.
If you are depending on your laser or the sound of your shotgun stopping a violent force attack and aren’t willing to actually use your firearm, then there’s a decent chance that you’re increasing your risk rather than increasing your safety.
The laser should simply be an aiming tool to help you put rounds on target faster than with your sights.
Pumping your shotgun should simply be a way to put a round in the chamber.
If either of these actions stop an attack, it should be seen as a pleasant surprise rather than an expected outcome.
Many people throughout the years have suggested wasp and hornet spray as a self-defense tool. While it IS effective at hurting people, I view it’s effectiveness about the same as using a white phosphorous grenade to defend yourself from an attacker in an elevator. Will it stop your attacker? Most likely. Will it also hurt you? VERY likely if your attacker is within realistic attack distance.
If your attacker uses a bullhorn when they’re 50 feet downwind in an open parking lot to announce that they’re going to walk over and attack you, then it might be a good solution. But if you’re within smelling distance, in a vehicle, around other people, at your front door, or in your home, you might want to seriously consider using something non-toxic like pepper spray.
Rappelling with Paracord
Paracord is short for “parachute” cord. It’s the cord used to connect a parachute canopy to a parachute harness. It’s about the size of a round shoelace, is hollow, and contains 5-9 strings inside. It’s also called 550 cord because one type of paracord is rated to 550 pounds.
Many people carry paracord and have a plan in their head to use it to rappel out of a building if necessary after a fire.
This is a tricky one. It’s tricky because I’ve actually done it successfully (with a backup belay) to see if I could. Can it be done? It depends. I wouldn’t bet your life on it unless you positively know what you’re doing and I wouldn’t suggest that anyone try/practice it without a full-size and strength belay rope to catch you when your paracord DOES break.
There are a LOT of problems with doing an emergency rappel with paracord. Here are a few:
- Friction is your friend when you’re rappelling. It’s what keeps you from accelerating towards the ground at 32.2 feet per second squared. The more surface area you have when rappelling (bigger rope) the more friction you have and the easier it is to control your fall. Friction also creates heat. Focused friction/heat cuts. You’re MUCH more likely to cut through skin/clothing/gloves with cord than with a rope.
- Paracord is not created equal. The strength of “standard” paracord can range from 95 pounds to 750 pounds. 550 pound cord is simply one of many grades of cord.
- Age & condition diminishes load capacity. If you bought 550 cord, you should expect it to get weaker over time. Especially if you’ve turned it into a bracelet, laces, gotten it wet/dirty, exposed it to extreme temperatures, exposed it to sunlight, or kept it in a pouch of a pack for any length of time.
- Knots diminish load capacity.
- Edges diminish load capacity…like going over a ledge, window sill, etc.
- Speed kills. If you’ve got a perfectly new length of 550 paracord with no irregularities, don’t use a knot to tie it off (wrap it around a pipe several times) and don’t go over an edge, a 200 pound man will break it with as little as a ½ second fall.
A better alternative? Paracord is approximately 4.7 millimeters in diameter. You can get 5 millimeter “technical cord” rated for 5000 pounds. Then you just have to develop your technique so you don’t burn or slice your body using it.
Dog Food as Survival Food
I had dog food as part of my disaster preparations until a few years ago. I remember hearing the story growing up about how one of the top selling stores for dog food in the country was in the projects in Chicago. It wasn’t just for dogs…it was for the homeless.
So, I figured that if things ever got too bad, I could just eat dog food with our dogs. As a result, I always kept a few extra bags on hand. I’ve even sampled it just to see if I could stomach it.
Fast forward a few years to when I started putting food aside for disasters and I realized that this just didn’t make sense.
When I started figuring out the calorie requirements for us and our dogs and the cost per day for long term preparations, I found out just how expensive dog food is.
Personally, we found that if we bought in bulk—just from big box stores…not even BIG bulk—it cost 25%-100% more per calorie to eat dog food than regular food that we were used to.
I go into this in more detail in Module 2 of the Survival Course, but suffice it to day that if you can afford to feed a pet, you can afford to prepare.
I cover several other myths and misconceptions…things that could get you killed in a hurry, as well as proven ways to both improve your everyday life and improve your chances of survival in a broad range of situations and disasters.
To find out more, please go to:
Any thoughts or experiences with lasers, shotguns, wasp spray, rappelling with paracord, or dog food? How about other survival lies and myths that you’ve identified? Please share them by commenting below:
Until next week, God bless and stay safe,