In life, it’s important to know that things can go south rather unexpectedly. No one assumes they’re going to be attacked or robbed while walking to their car at night, but the truth is, it can happen to anyone. And that’s why it’s so important to be prepared.

During such traumatizing events, it’s easy to become confused and disoriented. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can be ready in case y0u find yourself in a life-or-death scenario (or better yet, avoid one altogether). By learning these 20 helpful tips, you’ll always be several steps ahead of any attacker…

1. Always tell people where you’ll be: Sounds simple, right? But it’s important to tell people where you’re going—even if it’s just to the grocery store. That way, someone will always know whether you made it back safely and where to start looking if you didn’t.

2. Don’t let an attacker drag you into a vehicle: There’s a good chance you’ve heard of the saying, “never go to a second location.” Well, there’s good reason. That’s because your chances of being rescued drop dramatically if you’re brought somewhere else.

3. Scatter your belongings: In the case of an abduction, your best bet is to scatter some of your belongings, like an ID, on the ground. The possibility of tracking you down becomes that much greater that way. Still, always keep your phone so you can try to call for help!

4. Move around as much as possible: Someone once said that the hardest target to hit is a moving target. Well, that person knew what they were talking about. If you’re being attacked, move around and you instantly become much harder to hit or grab.

5. Go to the kitchen during a home invasion: Unless you’re able to safely escape your home entirely, the smartest place to be is in the kitchen. Why? Because it’s where you store your knives and other potential weapons.

6. Don’t remove objects from a stab wound: You might think you’re doing yourself a favor, but removing the object will only increase blood loss. The one exception is if the the object is blocking air passage.

7. Wear sharp jewelry: Who said jewelry was only for looks? If you plan on punching an attacker, it would probably help if you had some sharp, jagged objects on your fists. You’ll be able to do more damage with minimal effort.

8. Use your head: If you ever find yourself being attacked, you should never underestimate the power of a good head-butt—they’re much more effective than a kick or punch. Experts suggest aiming for the bridge of an attacker’s nose.

9. Keep your hair down: It’s really easy for an attacker to grab hold of a ponytail and gain control, so why not make it harder for them and leave your hair down? This way, it will continue to move while you walk, and your chances of getting away increase.

10. Learn a number of pressure points: It’s okay if you don’t know how to fight. By simply learning about the various pressure points all around the body, you’ll find it much easier to escape from an attacker.

11. Press elevator buttons: In the case that you’re uneasy about a person on an elevator, try pressing as many floors as you can. This greatly increases the chance that another person will join you on the lift. It will also give you more chances to escape.

12. Never turn your back on someone with a gun: It might seem strange, but experts suggest that people with guns have more trouble firing their weapon at someone when they’re facing them.

13. Check your window locks after strangers visit your home: If you recently let a stranger into your home, do yourself a favor and check the window locks. You never know—they could be planning to make it easier for themselves to break in later!

14. Yell for help: There are a number of devices made to draw attention to attackers, like whistles, but it’s also always effective to simply yell “help,” “call 911,” or “attack!” Not only will you get someone else’s attention, but it might scare away the attacker.

15. Learn to escape from zip ties: Many kidnappers attempt to bind their victims’ wrists. Should you find yourself in such a scenario, remember that the small locking bar within the zip tie is the key. All it takes is the right movement, and the zip tie will snap.

16. Go to a public place: If you’re ever in a private place and you feel like someone is following you—on foot or in a vehicle—do your best to get to the most public spot possible. There’s a good chance the person won’t cause trouble with so many witnesses around.

17. Grab an attacker by their ears: It might sound silly, but if someone is close enough, a good strategy is to grab hold of their ears. It turns out that ears are pretty sensitive, so pull with all your might!

18. Kick an attacker in the knees: Another easy way to thwart an attacker is to kick them directly in the knee cap. Not only is it hard to block, but it also gives you the best opportunity to run away. It’ll be tough to chase you with an injured knee!

19. Toss your wallet or pocketbook: If you ever get mugged, you’ll be forced to hand over your valuables. Your best bet is to toss them at least a few feet away. Since muggers are more likely concerned with what’s inside your wallet or purse, there’s a good chance they’ll run to grab it—and you can get away without harm.

20. Use your belt as a weapon: If you’re caught in a bind with no weapon, just remember that you have one around your waist at all times. Not only can you do some damage with your own belt, but it’ll give you the reach to keep an attacker at bay.

Hopefully you never find yourself needing to use any of these survival techniques, but it never hurts to know them, just in case!

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