By Stephen Owsinski

As a law enforcement officer, I was quite often asked about “mace” and its application to self-defense. Small canisters are manufactured specifically for civilians to attach to a key-chain. In the event an assailant confronts you and you are forced to defend yourself, compact instruments carried on your key ring could potentially thwart the attacker. Along with a mace key-ring self-defense device (covered in our previous article), there is an array of other safety tools you can also consider carrying for your self-preservation.

Since we are discussing self-defense tools designed to attach to key-chains, let’s start with the most obvious consideration.

The key to self-defense IS a key

Some of you may have physically seen the method or may have heard about actually using a single common house or car key. By merely tightly gripping a key between your thumb and index finger, you utilize the key to slash at the attacker, thereby repelling the bad guy so you can flee/seek help. If suspect is flailing to grab you, slash at his arms/hands. If he already has you in his grip, slash at his face/neck.

Logically, use the longest key. An apartment key is fairly small in length, so the longer the key the better. Long-nose keys, like automobile keys, can be quite successful. Maintain a tight grip, and you are armed with an approximately $1.79 weapon. You have an automobile keyless-entry mechanism? Use that to jab at the cheekbone (pressure point). Read on!

The Cat or Batman Key

Beyond the traditional key-carrying method is a self-defense device called the Key Cat made of resilient plastic. The Cat’s eyes are two cut-outs to lace fingers through, with two sharp ears engineered for poking. The only design consideration? The sharp ears do not retract so, while stored in your pocket, you may feel the jab too. Although this can be an effective self-defense tool, its use requires close proximity (arm’s reach). However, when used properly, it allows the opportunity to escape a foe’s reign.

Japanese Kubotan method

At the end of this roughly 5” high-impact plastic or lightweight metal, known as a Kubotan, is usually an eyehook or ring to attach keys. The purpose of this small baton is to strike boney parts of an assailant or poke at pressure points in meaty tissue. Knuckles, nose, jaw, elbows, neck, spinal column, etc. are all strike zones to apply a Kubotan. Also, with the keys dangling at the other end, the Kubotan can be used to flail at the suspect. The latter method is to keep the attacker at a distance while also counter-attacking.

Classic alerts via a whistle

Another handy-dandy tool is the traditional whistle. If the police find it effective for raising awareness and gaining attention when it absolutely matters, so can you! Unlike the key method used to defend against physical attack, the whistle serves to draw attention to a would-be assailant, derailing his efforts. Technology has advanced on the theme, offering an electronic whistle. Simply press a button on the whistle and the result is a 120-decibel shriek. No criminal wants extra attention. In fact, just the opposite is true. So, self-defense by creating noise is a simple effort to preclude the nefarious plans of an attacker. Empty your lungs with a traditional whistle, or use an electronic one. Generate some din! Compact and loud = viable safety.

Speaking of noise

Similar to the whistle method is an air horn. Linked to your key chain, this piece of safety equipment is functional with the mere press of a button. Emitting an extremely loud decibel of din, this tool is as tiny as a mace canister. Albeit a tad more cumbersome, a combo-set has an air horn and a canister of OC spray. It is as loud as a locomotive train horn, accompanied by the burn of liquid cayenne pepper. Blast away…and watch the antagonist cringe with shock and dismay. The obnoxiousness of an air horn usually garners unpleasant stares. In the case of a personal attack, that’s exactly what you wish for, so the foe realizes he/she is outsmarted. And outnumbered also, once a crowd is attracted!

Whip it, whip it good

Some folks like to carry their key rings via a lengthy wallet chain. When I was a kid, I noticed bikers sported this style. An affordable string of small-sized chain links with a set of keys at the end can also become a whip-like weapon to stave off an attack. The length serves to keep the intruder at-bay, while also enabling your lasso-type motions to keep a protective barrier around you. Flail away and create distance!

Light ‘em up

One other technological instrument which fits on a key chain and can also be used for self-defense is a laser pointer. By now, you know law prohibits pointing such devices at airplanes. However, a foreseeable threat and attack can be averted by aiming the red laser pointer in the eyes of a bad guy. The precision of a laser device is what makes it practical as a self-defense choice. “Bouncing” the beam around Darth Vader-style disorients the intruder, as if you are camouflaged behind a force field.

Like some devices we mentioned above, a laser pointer can also attract the attention of others. The more spectators, the merrier for you. Merry for the attacker? Not so much.

If I were to choose my top three, I’d go with those which you can use without getting too close to the attacker: OC Spray (the jet stream can go quite far); the air horn (blasts of noise to attract help and unwanted attention by the bad guy enables you to flee); laser pointer (hurts the bad guy’s eyes and allows you a quasi smoke screen to evade attack). However, circumstances may preclude distance so any combination or all of the tools listed here can serve you quite well. Always best to have several layers of defense.

Pertaining to any logical idea you may have, if you can think it, you can viably use it if/when accosted by foes. The above-listed inventions were born of an idea. If a self-designed method of yours is practical, use it! Otherwise, any of the aforementioned self-defenses are on the market, practical, affordable, and easy to use.