Last week I participated in Seattle’s Chinatown – International District’s National Night Out event. There was a good turnout, and lots of food. The Fire Department brought in trucks, and excited kids swarmed around them as hoses and ladders and other gear come out. The Police Department also had officers present, and Chief Diaz mingled with the crowd. I conducted a short interactive demo on some self-defense physical skills and using your voice. There were booths with info on recycling, public spaces cleanup, assistance for those affected by the COVID pandemic, and personal safety. The most popular booth by far was the personal safety one, they were giving out safety accessories. Flashlights, whistles, and alarms. These were so popular that people were allowed to choose only ONE device to take home. Most popular device? Personal alarm.
I already have a flashlight (in fact, I have multiple flashlights), and a couple of whistles, but not a personal alarm. So I picked one up to play with. Pretty easy to work, just pull the pin and voila! loudness. At least if you are right next to it. Not so much if you’re a few yards away. Down the block, not really. Its effectiveness is mainly on the person(s) right in arms’ length. You turn it off by re-inserting the pin, which you hopefully you would not have dropped. Or you can pop the battery. It’s plastic, probably not particularly durable, and if you don’t use it for a while you’ll want to check to make sure the battery’s not dead. I spent a few minutes working with it to see if I could operate it with one hand, that was a bit awkward.
Any time you consider carrying a personal safety accessory, please learn how to use it, and practice. Even something so simple as a personal alarm or a whistle can be surprisingly difficult to wrangle when you are under stress. Will you remember which end to pull on this alarm? How strongly do you have to blow to get sound from the whistle? Where’s the flashlight’s on switch? And sometimes, under duress, people even forget what they have in their hands.
At this Night Out event there was a definite emotional undercurrent. You probably have heard, and everyone at the gathering had this on the top of their minds, in the last year and a half Asians in the United States have experienced an increased number of street assaults and hate crimes. Many in the Asian communities are alarmed about not only these assaults, but also that there seems to be little concern from the greater Seattle community. One local activist, Jolene Jang, is organizing allies to be more effective in bringing not only attention but solutions to anti-Asian hate crime. Can you participate? Check out her Facebook group.
I’ve got my fall class schedule up, lots of new offerings for both the six-week course and single-session classes. Some of these classes include de-escalation and bystander intervention. Most people don’t help because they don’t quite know how, and you can get to practice some skills and get more comfortable with the idea of actively creating a safer city. Contact me if you want to know which classes will have more of this content.
As always, stay safe and live life.