I remember the day my friend found out that I kept a sharpened chef knife on the driver’s side of my car. We were heading to a crowded downtown event, and I admittedly am the world’s worst parallel parker. As she hops in the driver’s seat, she drops her phone and comes up with an 8-inch chef’s knife.
The look on her face was priceless while I was just as bewildered that she was so surprised and that she doesn’t keep some sort of self-defense weapon in her car. The fact is, no one really expects to be a victim of a crime even those of us who take the extra steps to be prepared, but the scary truth is that it happens.
When thinking about car safety, our minds typically go to topics like what’s needed for the car’s internal maintenance, what alarm system does it have, or if having LoJack lowers car insurance. We don’t necessarily think about the need to keep something on hand for personal protection.
Being a rideshare driver, I have definitely been in situations where I found myself a little uncomfortable yet was able to focus on the customer rather than thinking about my own safety. Those typical car safety questions then became centered around what I would do if I was in my car when a crime occurred and how I could protect myself.
There’s no need to panic and buy expensive weapons, but having something in your car to make you feel safer is worth the emotional insurance. After doing some research, here is what I found to be the most helpful everyday household items that can easily double as a form of protection if needed.
Kitchen Utensils can Double as Protection Items
Knives or Scissors
A knife and pair of scissors are always easy go-to’s. Not only are they intimidating to any possible attacker, but you more than likely have one knife that can be found at the bottom of the drawer.
In addition, it’s also helpful to look at some proper ways to hold a knife in case of an attack, and where to place it in your car so you won’t accidentally grab the blade. Knives should always be used with caution and just like how practice makes perfect with driving, you should practice simple self-defense handles.
Did you know that with enough force a can opener can be used to shatter a window? Not only can this double as a tool to help you get out of your car if you ever find yourself needing to quickly exit your vehicle, but it could easily be used to help pack an extra punch against any attacker.
In the age of COVID-19, who doesn’t have this handy right now? Most women I know keep either pepper spray or mace on their keychain, but if your keys are in the ignition there’s no way to make it immediately accessible.
In cases where you may be caught off guard, keeping a can of sprayable Lysol could give you the valuable seconds you need to get away and get help.
How to Use a Tool as Protection
Some normal house tools can be used in self-defense. Here are a few things you might not realize that can be helpful in warding off any potential attackers.
Hammers and screwdrivers
Hammers and screwdrivers can also be great not only because they are easy to hold, but they are also easy to fit in those slim spots in your vehicle. Tools like these are always great because they can double as self-defense weapons and be used to keep from having to call AAA if your car breaks down.
Keys and Padlocks
Keys and locks seem to be a thing that most of us have an old one of but can’t quite remember why we had it. These simple items may not look like much, but I promise they can be highly effective when used in self-defense.
When I first started to drive, my mother always told me to walk to and from my car with my keys between my fingers just in case someone tried to attack me while walking. This is something most women usually aren’t surprised by, but not much thought is commonly given past this particular scenario.
Having a spare key or padlock that’s separate from your keychain could serve this same purpose if you were to ever find yourself in a vulnerable situation while actually driving. They are small and lightweight so using them is easy while still having the potential to slow an attacker down.
Where to Place Your Defense Weapons
The idea behind all of these items is to help keep you safe, but just because you know they’re there in your car won’t be any real help if you can’t get to them. The best way to find what works best for you is to sit in your car as if you were driving and see what hidden spots you can reach without doing much bending or moving.
If you’re trying to be subtle, having to move your seat or lean across to the passenger side could give away that you’re reaching for a weapon and escalate the situation faster.
For this reason, keeping one or two of these items in the driver’s side door is helpful. Even from the passenger seat, that area is hard to see and in most cars, it is close enough to get to without much bending.
Another great spot is in the cushion of your seat. I am not saying to cut open your driver’s seat — please don’t do that — but to simply wedge your item just far enough to not feel it on your back when you drive. This position works better for smaller items and is ideal for being discrete.
Some places to avoid are your glove compartment and console. These spots are not the best because your passenger could easily get to or be blocking your access to them. When placing your defense weapons, always be mindful of where a potential attacker might be sitting.
As always your strongest weapon is your body, your mind, and your voice. Though these tools could help you stop or get away from an attack, using your voice to keep the situation calm or to draw attention to yourself can be the best tool in ensuring that you stay safe.
While I hope you never actually have to put these tips to use, it is important for everyone to be prepared in case we do become targets of a crime. I urge you to share these tips with teen drivers, anyone who is considered elderly, or friends who may not be thinking about their defense.
Please only see this advice as tools to stay safe and not to be your own hero.
About the Author:
Danielle Beck-Hunter writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, AutoInsurance.org. Danielle has always had an interest in self-defense and did Muay Thai in college. She is a frequent traveler but currently resides in Atlanta, Ga.