Community Safety

This Page Will Discuss:

  • Dangers in the Community
  • Methods of Self-Defense
  • Covid-19 Safety in the Community

It is especially important for persons with disabilities to be aware of potential dangers in the environment and learn the appropriate skills to stay safe. These tips on community safety for adults with disabilities can help with navigating risks in any environment:

1. Be Prepared

  • Look around you before entering a doorway or your vehicle, take note of emergency exits, keep your wallet or purse contained close to your body, have your cell phone positioned for quick access in case of an emergency.

2. Personal Space

  • If a person is getting too close, feel comfortable saying no and telling them to step away. If they don't you push away and then get away.

3. Carry Safety Devices

  • Carrying personal safety devices - from stun guns for personal safety to other on-the-go personal safety devices- allows you to feel safe regardless of what happens. These non-lethal weapons provide a tangible way to protect yourself in the case of attack or other threat. Plus, because it's not just people who can pose a threat, you may also want to consider protector dog sprays, designed for use on attacking animals.

4. Take a Self-Defense Class

Self Defense for Wheelchair Users:

1. Use Your Wheelchair as a Weapon

  • Criminals are often misled by thinking wheelchair users are helpless when it comes to defending themselves. As a wheelchair user, you are actually sitting in your weapon. Luckily attackers don't realize it or see your wheelchair as an obstacle. This already gives you an advantage because you can surprise the attacker with your actions. To bring the attacker down thrust your wheelchair forward quickly hitting them in the shins. This is very painful for the attacker and will usually cause them to lean down in a forward position so their head is located even with yours. Take this opportunity to punch the attacker in the nose, throat or eyes with one quick punch.

2. Carry Pepper Spray

  • You can purchase pepper spray online for an affordable price. It comes in a convenient size and it's also available to attach to your keychain. This is an excellent option for all wheelchair users. Even if you are prepared to use other self-defense techniques, blinding your attacker with pepper spray will give you more time to get away from the situation.

3. Sound Your Personal Alarm

  • Electronic whistles can be stored or attached to a convenient spot on your wheelchair for easy access. It takes one touch to make this alarm sound loudly reaching far distances. The noise alone will deter the criminal. This is a beneficial tool that can be used as the attacker is approaching you. They will usually change their mind since you are already bringing attention to the situation.

4. Use a Stun Gun

  • Stun guns are illegal in some areas. Inquire with your city regulations regarding stun gun use. Always adhere to guidelines when using this device. A stun gun carries electric shock to the attacker stopping them in their tracks. It is small enough to handle easily and carry with you while in your wheelchair.

5. Aim for the Knees

  • An able-bodied attacker that attacks a wheelchair user face to face is in the position of exposing their knees. This is a very sensitive part of the body. Your goal is to strike the attackers knees with your hand or object. Your focus is to cause the knee to go in the opposite direction, making the knee break. The attacker will not be able to walk or chase after you and it will allow you plenty of time to seek safety or help.

6. Attack the Groin Area

  • During a face to face confrontation you have access to everything from the waist down. If you are taller than most people you could have further access that can allow you to attack the chest area also. The groin area is often exposed and the attacker usually is located close to you. Reach out and punch the attacker in the groin multiple times. If the attacker doesn't seem to be responding to your punches, it's a possibility they are wearing a protective cup. In this case, you will need to punch and attack the knees as mentioned before.

7. Block Kicks

  • Attackers are aggressive and caught in the moment. They won't hesitate to kick you in the face or body area. Once you see a kick coming your way, block it with your hand and strike the attacker anywhere you can reach. Continue striking in a variety of places until the attacker is down on the ground.

8. Defend Yourself Against a Wrist Grab

  • Attackers have a plan already set in their mind. Some attackers understand that wheelchair users already have limited use of their legs. However, they try to attack and hold down your hands as well. This cowardly attack plan can put a wheelchair user in a confined position. If the attacker grabs your hands keep them as close to the wheelchair armrests as possible. This will cause the attacker to expose his face, neck and chest area to you. If the attacker has grabbed one of your hands, keep it steady and strike with the free hand. Focus on striking the eyes, nose and throat. Punch as hard as you can multiple times until the attacker is down or runs away.

9. Fight Back from the Ground

  • A scary situation for many wheelchair users is to be separated from their wheelchair. Some attackers attack you from behind by pushing your wheelchair and tipping you out of it. This situation usually happens quickly and will catch you off guard. As you land on the floor, roll your body over so that you are facing upwards towards the attacker. Some attackers will continue fighting with you. Wheelchair users are often extremely strong in their upper body. Use your strength to strike and punch the attacker in various areas you have access to multiple times until the attacker stops fighting back.

10. Carry a Stick

  • Attackers aren't expecting a wheelchair user to fight back. Use this to your advantage. You can use a stick or your armrest to strike an attacker from a far distance.

Remember, self-defense is a mindset. Keep your eyes open when you are alone in public. Avoid dark secluded areas that can be a potential risk for an attack. Carry self-defense devices such as a stick, personal alarm, pepper spray and stun gun. Always defend yourself to the best of your capabilities. To learn further self-defense techniques contact your local martial arts center for details.


Covid-19 Safety in the Community

Having a stroke means you are at greater risk of getting complications like pneumonia if you have coronavirus (COVID-19). Stroke survivors may also belong to some of the other higher-risk groups. These include people aged 70 or over, and people with health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory disease

It's important to follow CDC guidelines:

1. Wash your hands often. If you can't access a sink, keep hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol on a lanyard around your neck for easy access.

2. Maintain a 6 feet distance between yourself and others in the community. Advocate for yourself by reminding those around you to remain at a 6 foot distance. If you are in a wheelchair, place a sign on the back of the chair like this one: 

3. Cover your nose and mouth with a mask when around others. The mask is not a substitute for social distancing so remain at a 6 foot distance from others even when wearing your mask. A face mask lanyard like this one may make donning the mask easier: 

4. Cover cough and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

5. Monitor your health daily and be alert for symptoms of Covid-19 Call 911 if you are experiencing any signs of a stroke