Simple ways to protect yourself during holiday shopping

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Bill Hogan with First Line Defenders, shows a stun gun that fit in a pocket or a purse.

Not everybody feels comfortable carrying a gun, but keeping pepper spray or a taser with you and knowing how to use it can help save you from a predator.

It's something I didn't know how to do. I carried pepper spray and a taser daily, but I didn't know how to actually use either device properly.

My taser required physical contact with a predator. Bill Hogan with First Line Defenders recommended one that allows us to keep distance, if we plan to carry one at all. His first goal, though, was to teach me how to use pepper spray.

"We want to aim for the eyes in a criss-cross pattern. Across down and back up," says Hogan about how to actually spray at a predator.

There are three types of spray. The stream gets the most distance but requires a good aim. The cone sprays like hairspray, so be prepared to flee fast. And the gel - that one gets distance and sticks to the predator. That's what Hogan likes best.

When you're in a transition place, for example, a parking lot, keep your pepper spray or taser in your handbag with your hand on it at all times. Then, Hogan says to remember to Look Leap Keep and Bleep."

"Looking is all about situational awareness. And it's more than just looking around you. It's looking as observation. Do you see anything that's out of the ordinary?" says Hogan.

"Leap - decide what's worth fighting for," adds Hogan.

For example, is fighting for you cell phone worth it? If not, let it go.

"Keep is to keep distance. You don't' have to until you have an encounter right on you. You can keep distance in a variety of ways. Simply looking at people," Hogan explains.

"The last thing we say - bleep - get noticed. Get noticed in a good way. If someone is in the parking lot, and they hear a commotion, that's when they're going to pay attention. The sooner you can make noise and the sooner you get more eyes on you, the sooner they'll flee," says Hogan.

Use gestures like stop and shout, "Get away from me! I don't know you. Call 911." And don't be afraid to use your self-defense weapon.

"If he's got any sense at all, he's not going to stick around to see how it turns out," says Hogan.

If you choose a taser, make sure it's fully charged. If you carry pepper spray, check your expiration date. Also, we should be checking to make sure your device works every six months. And by the way, practice using your weapon of choice, so you can actually defend yourself.
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