An ex-spy duct-taped to a chair in the desert and planning his escape sounds like something out of an action movie — but for former CIA officer Jason Hanson, it's a typical day at the office.
Hanson is the founder and CEO of Spy Escape & Evasion, where he uses his experience to teach safety practices across the country, according to his company’s website. He brought his expertise to the virtual true crime convention CrimeCon House Arrest last weekend with a video demonstration. (Oxygen was a presenting sponsor of the event.)
“Duct tape is the number one way that criminals all over the world kidnap people,” Hanson told viewers.
It’s also quite rare to be duct-taped from behind, he said.
“The reason criminals duct tape you around the wrist is they want to grab your hands and quickly lead you into a vehicle,” Hanson said, adding that our bodies normally aren't strong enough to break the tape by pulling our hands apart horizontally.
“The secret to escaping duct tape is creating that magic angle,” Hanson said. “So we’ve all torn tape, you know, a million times. We’re gonna create that same angle.”
The technique works for different age groups and doesn’t call for the individual to have a high fitness level, according to Hanson. It requires you to place your hands in front of your torso and bring them up high above the head to create a triangle shape. Then you must pull down and apart very quickly.
“It’s almost as if you’re slapping your hips or elbowing somebody from behind,” Hanson said.
The key to doing the motion successfully is ensuring you are pulling your hands away from each other while simultaneously pulling down, according to Hanson. A mistake people often make is first pulling down and then pulling apart.
If a person is duct-taped to a chair around the chest and arm area, the motion Hanson recommends is to jolt forward and down. The momentum should break the duct tape, Hanson said.
To escape duct tape restraints placed around the ankles, you should place your feet in a V-shape and squat to the floor “lightning-quick,” Hanson said.
The escape may not always work if a person isn't very flexible, Hanson noted. If that’s the case, a bound person should first free their wrists using the earlier technique and then remove the tape from the ankles with their hands manually, he recommended.
Another emergency scenario Hanson focused on is being bound with rope. To escape, one technique requires keeping your elbows close to the rib cage and hands tightly formed in fists that are touching while you are being tied up.
“The reason when you’re being bound that you want to keep your elbows to your side like I have now is your wrists curve out and that little curvature in your wrists creates the space you need to escape when the time comes,” Hanson said.
The next step is to straighten out the arms directly in front of the torso and place your palms flat together. Then proceed to shimmy the arms in a continuous motion from back to front until one hand is able to be freed from the rope, Hanson demonstrated.
Other escape tips include more intricate steps and even useful safety items to carry around. One product Hanson says he travels with is called a paracord, which were originally used as parachute suspension lines. If used properly, it can slice through a rope that's binding someone, according to Hanson.
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