This morning I awoke to sub-zero temperatures. Cold weather is most often associated with being uncomfortable. Cold weather has serious implications regarding your self-defense that need to be mitigated. Your must test your self-defense plans and actions in all environments you will face. Four main areas that you need to address are as follows:
- Clothing: Cold weather dictates warm clothing that is often times bulky, restrictive and limits access to weapons.
- Access: Do you carry pepper spray or a light in your pocket purse? Does a long, heavy jacket that is zippered up and designed to keep you warm limit access to these items? Do you wear heavy gloves to protect your hands? Can you reach into your pockets whiles wearing gloves? Can you operate your weapon system wearing heavy gloves? If you cannot access the items you need to defend yourself consider a few options. Keep your jacket open with your waistband and pockets accessible. When entering transitional spaces do not wear gloves.
- Mobility: Warm clothes are inherently bulky. Have you practiced running in your cold weather attire? Practice all of your self-defense combatives in all types of clothing. Self-defense techniques that work flawlessly in the gym while wearing shorts and a tank top may fail miserably in your winter jacket. Test all ranges of movement in the heaviest clothing you will be wearing.
- Vision: We have all bundled up in a hoodie, only to find out it is like wearing blinders. Hoods, scarfs and hats can all limit our field of view. Consider wearing a tight fitting hat that will keep you warm without limiting your peripheral vision.
- Hearing: Ear muffs, scarfs and hats with ear flaps will keep you warm. They will also hamper your hearing. Tight fitting knit hats, or “skull caps”, that cover the tops of your ears without degrading your hearing and vision are best. Sight and sounds are two key components of good situational awareness.
- Footing: Cold weather adversely affects the ground we stand on. Snow, ice, rain, salt and sand are the culprits. Instability on the ground paired with heavy boots will make balance and mobility a hazard. Ground conditions will have a huge impact on your ability to run and fight. Plan accordingly.
- Vehicle: As always, keep your vehicle in good running condition. Auto parts stores will test your battery for free. Have your battery tested before the onset of cold weather. Keep jumper cables, a shovel, scraper, warm clothing and a cell phone in your car. Do not let poor vehicle maintenance and planning cause you to break down at the wrong time and place.
- Population: Often times severe weather will cause an uptick in certain types of crime. Criminals know that severe weather keeps witnesses off the streets and emergency personal dealing with slow response times. Do not operate under the false pretense that cold weather will keep the bad guys home in front of a warm fire.
With a little planning you can dress warmly and still have good situational awareness and self-defense capability.