Use a flashlight or not in dangerous situations

HighLumens

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Hi all,

I'd like to talk about the use of a flashlight for safety purposes in a potentially dangerous situation. I know there are many experts in this matter on the forum (LEOs for example) and their contribute would be really appreciated.

First of all let me clarify that this thread is not about the use of a flashlight as a weapon but it is about the use of light as a way to stay safer by better knowing the environment around us, especially when it's dark. For this reason striking bezels, blinding outputs and 6D Maglites used as batons are not the subject of this thread and should not be discussed here.

Let's say I'm in a dark parking lot and I think someone is hiding with bad intentions. Of course I have my flashlight with me but what should I do: should I light it up to spot the man who is hiding? If I do so maybe he could panic because he knows I now can clearly see his face and thus he may be even more determined to attack me than he was before. And if I turn on my flashlight and there actually is someone standing in the dark, what would be the best thing to do? Leave the light on? Turn it off and run away?

Please, consider that not everyone has combat skills or carry around any kind of weapon (like me, I have neither of them) so the safest and easiest suggestions are very welcome.
 

TMedina

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Dec 17, 2006
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Knowledge of a trap is the first step in avoiding a trap. </Dune>

Seriously though, If I have doubts or suspicions about dark corners, I always light them up - I'd prefer to spring a possible trap in advance, rather than let my would-be attacker surprise me in an ambush.

1. An attacker may, or may not be lurking in a dark spot.
2. If undisturbed, attacker will ambush his victim.
3. If detected in an obvious manner, attacker may (or may not) leave without attacking.

Following this chain of logic, using a flashlight gives you a chance of avoiding a confrontation. Because if the would-be attacker remains undetected, there is no reason why he wouldn't continue with his initial plan of doing "Bad Things".

If the bad guy proceeds to try bad things even after being detected, you've lost nothing because he would have done so regardless of detection. The difference being, you know now in advance, rather than being surprised, and can take appropriate measures - calling for help, running, whatever.
 

cland72

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I've read a few articles on the topic of how criminals scout potential victims, and the common thread seems to be that if the potential victim looks the threat square in the eyes, and makes themselves look like a hard target (specifically that they are aware of their surroundings, and the criminal), the criminal will opt for a softer, easier target.

Based on that, I'd say light them up and acknowledge their presence verbally. Something like "not tonight, bud" or "yeah, I see you pal". They may just choose to walk away and find someone who isn't as well equipped (no flashlight, lack of situational awareness, etc), but you also need to be ready in case they decide to advance on you. But, that's a topic for a different forum.
 
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TEEJ

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The key is to surveil the areas from orientations that leave you options.

I would NOT add comments once you spot a suspicious character, unless you want to initiate interactions...as that is typically interpreted as a challenge. (If you WANT to challenge them, say to arrest them, etc...that's different)

You DO want them to know, or at LEAST worry that you know, that they are there. As mentioned, an ambush predator is looking for unwary prey...not a fair fight.

The KEY is what you DO after spotting them. You DO WANT to spot them, but, you DO need a plan for what happens if you look under the bed, and there IS a monster, etc.

:D

So, when you are strolling through the ally along the row of crack houses on your usual nightly walking of your iguana, or in the train station parking lot at 3 am, or whatever, you are sweeping the light so as to AVOID walking into a trap. That can mean scanning behind you as well as in front or to your sides. If the perp is blocking your path to your destination, you can re-route, keeping barriers between you where feasible. If they are blocking your escape route, it is typically already escalated. Given the context of the OP, I will assume the "guy with the flashlight" is not LEO and not armed or trained in combat, etc...and mostly wants to simply not get hurt/get home OK, etc.

If you approach so that all THEY likely see is a bright light sweeping about, THEY might wonder if you are looking for THEM (On patrol, etc). If you spot them from that perspective, do NOT turn yourself or the light so as to illuminate yourself to them....move away with the light on them to glare their view, and shield your identity/form factor, etc. LET THEM worry that you are patrolling...it makes you appear a harder target. Call 911 if you think you DID spot a predator, why leave him to grab the poor schmuck after you?

Given the wide variety of nut jobs out there that COULD be present, there will be no ONE perfect response no matter what....but, Plan A would be to reverse/re-route to avoid them, keeping the light ON THEM to obscure who you are to them, and get stuff between you and them ASAP.

If you simply turn and run, it says you are afraid of them...which CAN trigger a chase, or not. If you are simply moving away but with the light on them...they are typically not quite sure if they were spotted/need to run themselves, or if maybe you were looking for them, and didn't see them, and went off to look elsewhere...which is less likely to trigger an attack.
 
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cland72

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One thing to add: if I were unable to legally carry a firearm, I would almost certainly own a Surefire Fury Defender.
 

dss_777

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Oct 31, 2004
Messages
900
Safety/security starts with awareness, but it doesn't end there.

Lights are an awareness enhancing tool. They can help prevent security problems (ideal), or assist other, more effective solutions to non-preventable problems (next best).



See the danger? Fight or flee.

A process as old as we are.
 

HighLumens

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Even though I wasn't born and don't live in the US (so I lack the informations and feelings about the topic) I understand there is a huge debate about weapons and the rights to have them and that this can bring to some very passionate discussing. However, this thread is about using light for safety and it is already collecting many interesting points of view about it, so please, I ask everyone to stay on topic. Maybe the underground is a better place to discussabout political topics.

Back on topic, I found interesting the suggestions about talking or not with the "bad guy" after spotting him, had never even thought about it before.
 
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Grizzman

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Personally, if I'm walking along and "think" someone is hiding somewhere with bad intentions, ya, I'm gonna light up the location. I'm not gonna leave my light off and turn around or avoid the area. This served no purpose except to inconvenience me, and potentially harm someone else. The safest way to deal with the situation is to determine if it really is a situation at all.....from a distance.

If the potential victim lights up the area and there's nothing there, then the situation is resolved.

If the potential victim lights up the area and there is someone there, then the actions of the potential aggressor dictate what comes next. If this aggressor were only kneeling down to tie his/her shoes (or some other innocent action) and gets lit up, they're probably going to start the conversation.....like, "Hey, can you stop shining that in my eyes.", or "Damn, that's a bright light!". This is a good indication as to whether or not there are negative intentions. If this person immediately takes aggressive action against the "victim", then at least the victim has more warning than would would exist if they continued to walk in darkness.
 
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dc38

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It's the Indian, not the arrow...

I tried this once when I left my light at home....I knew some shady looking guy with a hood pulled down had been following me from the train station for a few minutes...he would pull out his cell phone every time I stopped to "tie my shoes". He kept a good 50 foot distance as if waiting for some help, and peeked around corners before slinking his body around...so finally, I had to go down a dark unlit stretch of road (maybe 10 min walk). I took about 15 steps into the road, whirled around, dropped my bag, looked straight at the guy who was still keeping distance, and began cackling like a maniac. Think murderous clown prank. The guy stops in his tracks, dumbstruck, then did the quickest 180 I had ever seen and booked it back the way we came with his phone in hand.

I don't recommend doing something so foolhardy, but most people won't **** with someone who seems mentally unstable. There's just something that is profoundly more unsettling about a mentally unstable person than there is about the looming threat of mugging. That's my 2 cents, but I'm an unconventional thinker.
 

Poppy

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Hi all,

I'd like to talk about the use of a flashlight for safety purposes in a potentially dangerous situation. I know there are many experts in this matter on the forum (LEOs for example) and their contribute would be really appreciated.

<BIG SNIP>

Please, consider that not everyone has combat skills or carry around any kind of weapon (like me, I have neither of them) so the safest and easiest suggestions are very welcome.

There was a time that my dad was 175 and SOLID. Yeah... you wouldn't want to mess with him. I saw him pick a guy up, and literally throw him over a car. But now as a senior, his shoulders are shot, and even with a gun, he couldn't defend himself, up close.

Years ago. I shot high power rifle competitions, and did a LOT of firearms reading. There was a (I think New Hampshire) firearms training officer Massad Ayoob, who wrote for a number of Gun magazines. One of his recommendations I'll share with you. It is the same that I gave my father.

Carry a Ten dollar bill wrapped around a book of matches in your pocket. If you are assailed, pull out the ten, hold it out so the assailant can see it, say something like "Here, you want this!?" Then throw it to the left as you run to the right. Yelling FIRE FIRE!!!

His point is this: which direction will the assailant run?
To the left to pick up the ten spot?
OR to the right after some screaming madman yelling FIRE!?
 

Lithium Juice

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Apr 2, 2009
Messages
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A different question you might ask is why wouldn't you use your light?


Why would you limit the amount of information you have to work with?


Is there a reason to limit your situational awareness?


There are times, I'm sure, when the answer is yes. When it's more valuable to remain unseen than it is to see. I mean, if someone is actively looking for you, it would be wise to stay hidden, unless you're sure you have the advantage.


But otherwise, what you don't know can hurt you, so why purposely not take advantage of the resources at hand?


As far as what to do if there is a person in the shadows, and he is a threat, well, that's too much of a dynamic situation to comment on in a generic setting. I.E what's his mindset, what's yours, physical condition of both you and him, environmental conditions, anyone else in the vicinity, etc.


I suppose that was just a roundabout way of saying that you can only predict so much, and at the end of the day it's still a judgment call, but if you can force a would be attacker to go from acting to reacting, you have just gained an edge.


Also, this is CPF! Of course we are going to make dark places light, and light places lighter!


As always, standard legal disclaimers apply, don't go into bad places if you can help it, YMMV, etc,etc.


Danny
 
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P_A_S_1

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Just be aware that some people go absolutely out of their minds when illuminated by a flashlight, they don't like it, perceive it as a challenge, and get violent. What you might perceive as a threat might actually not be one, until you blast them with a flashlight, and trigger their rage. Not saying illuminating someone is a good or bad idea, depends on the factors.
 

Illum

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Apr 29, 2006
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Central Florida, USA
If you have no weapons, or any skill in hand to hand defense, trust your instinct. If you feel somethings not right, try an alternative route through the parking lot. A flashlight is useful both as a blunt object and as a eyeball scorcher, however until you actually draw it out and turn it on, its one tool that an assailant don't know of. I would refrain from lighting up people unless you're checking out alleys or the crevice between buildings. Despite the innovations in technology, you can bet about 80% of people don't carry one, and the ones who do work in certain professions.

Some individuals are naturally rough looking, it could be because they've been through a hard life, or they've identified themselves with an unorthodox subculture, but in the root of it they may be some of the nicest people you'll ever meet in your life. This is not to say that you should let your guard down, but only to indicate that suspecting every person that doesn't "look right" is on the other extreme. If you're on the "rough side" of town, sometimes pays to blend in. Dressed as a white collared son walking around in the blue collared town people used to get respects, society's changed alot since then.

Depending on your location and circumstance, what is considered "acceptable" armament is undefined. When in doubt, consult the local law enforcement to see what is acceptable to carry on you and what isn't. Its easy to be fooled into believing you have an advantage just because you happened to be carrying a gun, knife, or other weapons unless you have had the necessary training to use them properly. Unless you commit yourself to learning fundamentals of self defense I would refrain from carrying any weapons as they may be used against you if seized. Getting beaten senseless by your own flashlight its better than being gutted or have your own hollowpoint lodged in your cranium.
 
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Full Power

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Jul 26, 2014
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Nova Scotia
Hi all,

I'd like to talk about the use of a flashlight for safety purposes in a potentially dangerous situation. I know there are many experts in this matter on the forum (LEOs for example) and their contribute would be really appreciated.

First of all let me clarify that this thread is not about the use of a flashlight as a weapon but it is about the use of light as a way to stay safer by better knowing the environment around us, especially when it's dark. For this reason striking bezels, blinding outputs and 6D Maglites used as batons are not the subject of this thread and should not be discussed here.

Let's say I'm in a dark parking lot and I think someone is hiding with bad intentions. Of course I have my flashlight with me but what should I do: should I light it up to spot the man who is hiding? If I do so maybe he could panic because he knows I now can clearly see his face and thus he may be even more determined to attack me than he was before. And if I turn on my flashlight and there actually is someone standing in the dark, what would be the best thing to do? Leave the light on? Turn it off and run away?

Please, consider that not everyone has combat skills or carry around any kind of weapon (like me, I have neither of them) so the safest and easiest suggestions are very welcome.

If the person in the shadows doesn't know your exact position, there is always walking backwards keeping an eye on their possible position until you're in the clear and use your cell to call for help.!?
Cheers,
Full Power


Sent from my iPhone using Candlepowerforums
 

Bullzeyebill

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I have removed several posts that are trolling posts and responses by members to those posts. Let's keep it nice here and follow the directions by the OP in the first post.

Bill
 

Torpedo

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You have no weapon, no fighting skills and you think someone has bad intentions lurking in the shadows. You don't know what weapons this person would have. I will agree with Full Power and back out and get help if at all possible. A flashlight is no match for a gun ,knife or other weapons.
 
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