Category Archives: Safety

Topics relating to personal safety in different environments.


Answering the Door 2

A criminal is brandishing a firearm at your door and demanding to be let into your house. One possible way to handle this dangerous situation.


Answering The Door 1

Safety considerations when there is someone at your door.

CERT Safety Fair and Safety Awareness

About three weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate in Bristol’s CERT Safety Expo.  The CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Team) program is comprised of civilian volunteers who prepare for and handle emergencies in our city and state region. The team, headed by  Harley Graime, played a pivotal role in our city’s response to the October 29, 2011 snowstorm. They manned one of the emergency shelters where people could seek warmth, electricity, and food. There were a lot fewer casualties because of them and I applaud Harley and his team on their accomplishments then, and on their motivation to keep the Bristol community informed and prepared for other emergencies, natural and man-made. That was the point of the Safety Expo for them and they allowed me to share some information from my Refuse To Be A Victim personal safety seminar with people who attended.

The “quiz” I used consisted of five questions to evaluate safety awareness.  How many can you answer?

1.What is “Condition Black?”         2. What is your Best Weapon?    3.  What is the “Rule of 21?”     4. What is Forced Teaming?”   5.  Should you answer the door if the doorbell  rings when you are doing something and don’t want to be bothered?

While you are thinking of the answers, let me tell you a true story.   A friend of mine and his wife were looking for their car in a parking garage about 3 blocks from a local concert theater in Waterbury. Although the garage was well lit, it was surprisingly deserted and it was night. As they started walking down one aisle, they were hailed by a stranger approaching them from the opposite direction.

“Hey there,”  the man said.

“Hi…,” answered my friend, noting that the man was about 20 years younger, about 30 pounds heavier, and six inches taller.

“Are you looking for your car too?” the stranger asked.

“Yes…,” replied by friend, somewhat cautiously.

“You know,” said the stranger, “we come to these concerts looking forward to a good time with the wife; kids are at home with a sitter; and we forget whether we parked on the north or south end, the right or left side, and even what floor we’re on.  It’s a good thing there are only three floors in this garage! What does you car look like; maybe I can help you find it so we can all get home sooner!”

“I found it; it’s over here,”  my friend’s wife just then announced.

“Thanks, but we’re all set,” my friend said to the stranger as he started to turn away.

“Before you go,” the stranger quickly retorted, “maybe you can help me out. Will you give me five bucks for gas; the pump wouldn’t accept my charge card?”

My friend said that at that second he felt like he was “frozen.” He wasn’t quite sure about how he should respond, he said afterward. “If I refused him would it escalate into violence ? Would it escalate anyway no matter how I responded? I wasn’t sure about what my choices were!”

I asked what happened. “I gave him five bucks, he went his way and I went mine. And that was it,” he said.

I call this an acceptable ending to a potentially dangerous situation.   It was a “teaching experience” for both me  and my friend. He had a number of choices with which to respond and he chose one he was most comfortable with at that time.  He had other options though. And the discussion points of this encounter contain answers to most of the Safety Awareness questions above.

The feeling of being “frozen” is often due to being in a state of denial. As a potential crime is unfolding thoughts run through your mind,”I can’t believe this is happening! It can’t be happening to me! This is surreal! This must be a dream! Things like this don’t happen to me!” And you a literally “frozen” in place not knowing how to answer the potential threat.  The danger is that you are losing valuable time with which to prepare for your defense! This is “Condition Black.” Make no mistake ; you must get past denial to survive!

Deliberate quickly what your options are, then take decisive action to handle the threat.  Mentally, and ideally physically, preparing  for such encounters ahead of time helps to partially or completely remove the time lost because of denial. And as a result, you have a better chance at surviving the encounter. Remember: Denial – Deliberation – Decisive Action.

The younger, taller, heavier stranger used Forced Teaming  strategy in getting my friend to part with his money. In Forced Teaming the criminal uses words like “we,” “us,” “our” to subconsciously suggest that he is like you.  And if you like yourself, you’ll like him too! This works to decrease alertness, awareness, and make the victim more vulnerable to crime. See his vocabulary when he first greeted my friend. There are seven other strategies listed by Gaven DeBecker in his book The Gift of Fear and we discuss them in the Refuse To Be A Victim (RTBAV) course!

Your Best Weapon is your mind, your brain!  Everything else, whether it is as simple as a pen to poke into the soft tissues of the face and neck, or as sophisticated as an electronic stun device or firearm, is a “tool.” The “tools” can help improve the effectiveness of your “weapon” when used properly.  We discuss rules for using your “tools” properly in the RTBAV course. Also note that my friend did not let “his mind be embarrassed  by his ego!” If five bucks circumvents a violent situation, the investment is worth it. How to use this “chump change” or “mugger money” is also discussed!

The “Rule of 21” refers to  the fact that the average criminal, of the average age, with the average ability, can cover 21 feet in 1 – 1.5 seconds.  Distance is safety and keeping your distance from a potential criminal will help defuse  the situation. Remember, now he doesn’t have the element of surprise.  Be aware, however, that if it takes you 2 seconds to take your pepper spray from your pocket or purse,  you want to keep 40 feet (on average) between you and the assailant. Otherwise you may find yourself not only unable to draw and use your tool, your hand many also be trapped in your pocket and unable to defend yourself!

These and literally hundreds of other crime-prevention suggestions are provided in the Refuse To Be A Victim seminar. I hope you’ll let me share them with you!  See the seminar schedule in this blog site.

Essentials of Personal Safety

Essentials of Personal Safety  provides an information  foundation on which to build increased safety into your life and thereby prevent crime. Criminal psychology is discussed,along with Pre-Incident Indicators which are “red flags” that tip a potential crime victim that “something may be about to happen!”  A  number of cases will be discussed. Most of them are local to Connecticut. We will talk about What happened, Why it happened, and Options the victim may have to avoid / handle the crime.  Through this discussion we build up our self-confidence that we need not be “bullied” by criminals; that staying safe is not an impossible task in our world today. Essentials of Personal Safety is a “preview” of the Refuse To Be A Victim Program which discusses safety and crime prevention in the various areas of your life: Home, Auto, Shopping and Travel, Work, Technological  and Medical. Knowledge IS Power when you use it.  When you use this knowledge, you will be able to Deter, Delay, Detect and Deny crime!!  I look  forward to meeting you!!!

RTBAV – “Don’t worry; you’re safe with me!”

He was leaving the popular bookstore and crossing the parking lot. The early evening light was still  enough for my buddy to see out of the corner of his eye the car coming toward him . He jumped one way; the car pulled the other way and screeched to a sudden stop. He walked over to the rolled down, passenger window, expecting an explanation.

The driver was  younger, muscular, potentially intimidating. “Don’t worry, sir; I wasn’t going to hit you,” he said. My buddy was still awaiting an explanation.

“Don’t worry, you’re safe with me driving,” he continued.  Still no explanation. “I wasn’t going to hit you.”  And then, finally, “You know, my credit card didn’t work when I went for gas.  Can you spare me $5?”

As the hairs stood up on the back of his neck, my friend realized this was a scam!  “I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t carry cash.”

Radiating intimidation the driver came back,”Well, are you sure??

My friend is a Viet Nam veteran with a concealed carry permit. That explains why the intimidation was not received, as my buddy put his hand under the edge of his untucked shirt, on the handle of his concealed Glock. He was confident; he didn’t have to say another word. “The scammer knew I was not going to be a victim,” he related afterward. Without another word he drove away, rather quickly.

Walking to his car, perturbed with the attempted scam , my friend heard another screech of brakes not 30 seconds later. Looking back to the store, he saw the driver attempting the same scam, on an older lady, who was talking to the driver through the driver’s window!

Same lines…”Don’t worry, ma’am; I wasn’t going to hit you. You’re safe with me driving.”

He approached the car from the left rear.  He was angry. He met the drivers eyes in the left side view mirror, the serious look on his face telegraphing what he felt.

That’s all it took. Almost instantly the scammer drove away, again very quickly.  And the older woman was at first perplexed.  “What happened here,” she thought? “This nice man who saved my life was talking to me, and he suddenly drives away when this other man  came up. And he looks concerned…”  Then it hit her. The explanation. “I could have been scammed, robbed.  The driver could have taken my pocketbook even if it was around my neck. I could have been badly hurt .”

I use this story for a number of reasons. First reason is that it is true. There is no denying that crime can still happen! And not just in sleazy, inner city neighborhoods at night.

Second reason is that it shows the criminal’s strategy to lower the intended victim’s awareness. Gavin DeBecker in his book The Gift of Fear lists Pre-Incident Indicators which are warning signs, red flags that warn you something criminal may be occurring.  This maneuver, called “loan-sharking,” has the criminal making you feel like he had “done you a favor” and now it is your turn to “pay him back.” We discuss the eight Pre-Incident Indicators as well as the psychology of the criminal mind in the Refuse To Be A Victim program.

You can appreciate how my friend was in a Level Orange of awareness. Familiar surroundings, unfamiliar people.  We talk about the White, Yellow, Orange, Red and Black levels of awareness and function in the RTBAV program.

Lastly, one can appreciate his different “layers” of response. He didn’t just run up to the driver’s door, open it, grab the guy and confront him. Rather, he responded to the level that he needed, ultimately even keeping his firearm holstered. And then he prevented the woman from getting ripped off. That’s my buddy. He’s what Lt. Col. Dave Grossman labels a “sheepdog,” watching over people who are prone to being victims.

The information provided in Refuse To Be A Victim gives citizens those “layers” of protection and safety which translate into crime prevention. There is no “hands on” training nor firearm shooting, although I provide some resources if one would want to pursue this.  I invite you to join me at one of my upcoming programs.  Refer to a previous blog for details. I know you’ll find it worthwhile in every respect!!

Refuse To Be A Victim Program

The Refuse To Be A Victim (RTBAV) program was started in 1993 by the National Rifle Association.  It was an educational endeavor aimed at educating women and girls about personal safety in various environments.  It became so popular that it went co-ed in 1997.  There are approximately 8,000 people certified to facilitate the program and the majority are non law-enforcement personnel who have a profound interest in safety and educating the public.  The student quickly realizes that it is frequently quick, convenient, and relatively inexpensive to avoid being a criminal’s target. For although a criminal has a perverted sense of right and wrong, he still is human; he wants to be successful (to commit the crime)and with as little effort as possible. If he perceives that his “victim” is actually an “opponent” he is most likely going to look for an easier target.


Welcome to Dr. Mike Taz. After 35 years of medical experience, I’ve been encouraged to share with you a number of observations to improve the quality of your life. My goal is to regularly post topics of interests in the categories of Fitness, Health, and Safety. I hope you enjoy reading them and find the information as useful as I have.