Home Defense Tips: How to Use a Tactical Flashlight

You awake in the darkness with the sinking feeling that something is wrong.

You begin to hear noises that you cannot attribute to your pets, or your home's rightful inhabitants. And then, from right outside your bedroom door, you hear the rough whispers of two men arguing over which room to go into next. Your initial response to a home invasion is to call 911, retrieve your weapon and grab your flashlight -- if you have enough time.

It's humbling to consider that your life (and the lives of those in your care) could rely, in part, on a bulb, a bit of wiring and some batteries. But sometimes, it comes down to something just that simple.

So What Light Do You Need?
First and foremost you want the brightest light possible, to blind and disorient any home invaders and to better see what you are doing during an emergency. Lights with a strobe feature are even more disorienting. With today's super-bright LED technology, and long-life lithium batteries, a light that can fit in the palm of your hand can pack enough wattage to destroy someone's night vision and send them reeling, but it can also sit on a shelf for years of worry-free readiness.

The second point to consider is that you'll be more likely and willing to carry a small LED light, than a cumbersome club-like torch. A flashlight about 5 or 6 inches in length is the go-to light for many professionals in tactical lines of work. It's small enough to put in a pocket, mount on a firearm or take with you wherever you go.

You shouldn't be using your light as striking weapon, so a smaller light will quell the temptation to use it to club someone. If you're trying to beat down an intruder with your light, you are no longer using the device to illuminate or disorient. Furthermore, if the bulb breaks, then you are the idiot who brought a club to a knife--or gun--fight.

I recently had the opportunity to get a different perspective in tactical flashlight use from someone who uses them professionally. Officer Mike Ocetnik is a SWAT Operator in Washington, D.C. He recommends that everyone keeps several different flashlights in their homes, in various locations, so they can get to them in any type of emergency in the dark.

Consider Officer Ocetnik's advice when selecting and using a tactical flashlight:
• Your light should have ultra-bright LED bulbs, and use Lithium 123 batteries, which can last up to 7 years.
• You get what you pay for. A good light will probably run you about $100.
• A light with a strobe setting is most useful to disorient and nauseate a foe. The strobe can even be effective against animals.
• Bring a flashlight with you everywhere you go. It can get mighty dark in a plane, subway, hotel room or office building when the lights go out.
• Always call 911 at the first hint of a break-in, or home invasion.
• And finally, "It's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it."