You’re being held at knifepoint, and your assailant is not messing around. You gave him your wallet, but he’s still coming towards you with his long, sharp blade. Could you defend yourself? Or should you just try to run away?

Knives can be deadly when they’re in the wrong hands. It’s much easier to get a knife than a firearm, and even kitchen knives can kill you when used as weapons. In 2019, in the U.S., there were 117,854 aggravated assaults involving knives or other cutting instruments.

How could you disarm your attacker? Should you remove the knife after being stabbed? And how could playing dead save your life?

Step 1. Get a map

Your odds of being attacked with a knife and dying depend on where in the world you are. In the U.S., guns are responsible for 36% of murders, while knife attacks account for 10% of homicides. In Europe, knives are involved in 43% of murders.

In countries with strict gun control laws, carrying a knife is a common practice. Recently, northern Europe has seen an increase in the number of stabbing deaths, especially in people between the ages of 15 and 24.

Step 2. Play dead

In England, in 2015, a 19-year-old woman was stabbed 100 times by her boyfriend. He stabbed her in the neck with so much force that the blade snapped. The victim survived because she pretended to be dead to stop the attack.

Later, she made her way to a bus, and the bus driver called the police. She was rushed to the hospital with punctures in both lungs and needed more than 500 stitches.

Step 3. Watch your left side

An associate of the Fight Smart website studied more than 200 knife attacks recorded by CCTV security cameras worldwide. He learned that the most common attack is straight stabs followed by grabbing clothing with the left hand. And since 90% of the attackers are right-handed, most victims are wounded on their left sides. So, protect your left side, and don’t stand still. Moving around makes you a harder target to hit.

Step 4. Run

If you see a person coming at you with a knife, the best way to deal with it is to de-escalate the situation. Tell them you have no interest in a fight. And try to stay calm, so you can find a way to escape if possible.

If it’s not possible and the attacker lunges at you, move away from the knife and try to knock it out of the attacker’s hand. You can also use the attacker’s momentum against them, so they lose their balance and fall. Then take advantage of that distraction and run as fast as you can.

Step 5. Don’t turn your back

If you see a knife coming directly at you, your instinct might tell you to grab the knife before it pierces your body, but you’ll be cut in your hand, and that could damage your muscles. Oh, and don’t even think of turning your back on the attacker.

Instead, protect your back, particularly above your hips. That’s where your liver, kidneys, spleen and intestines are, and you are vulnerable.

Step 6. Don’t remove the knife

Stab wounds are serious. And depending on the length of the blade and where you are punctured, they can be fatal. If a major vein or artery in your body gets cut, you could bleed to death.

If the knife cuts deeply into a blood vessel, you’ll bleed out faster. So, if the knife is still in the wound, do not try to remove it. Instead, apply pressure to the whole area to help reduce the bleeding until you get medical attention.

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