5 Cool Spy Secrets

How do you learn to detect lies? Or escape zip ties, duct tape, rope, or even handcuffs? Or disappear without a trace? Or pick nearly any lock? Or handle home invasions, carjackings, or being followed? Well, you have three choices.

One, wing it. Two, join the police, CIA, army, or other organization that teaches this kind of stuff. Three, read Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life ($30) by Jason Hanson, former CIA officer. Hanson has a lot of cool stuff to say about learning situational awareness, becoming an escape artist, travel safety, social engineering, counter surveillance, and more. More usefully, he puts it in a context where you’d find it useful, and it’s all fairly practical advice. Here’s a quick taste.

How to Escape From Duct Tape

So your wrists are taped together. What you do is lean forward, press your forearms together as tight as possible, raise your arms as high as you can, and then in one swift motion pull your arms down and out to the sides.

How to Detect Lies

One tactic is to ask a person questions that you already know the answer to and that the person has no reason to lie about. If they’re a Jays fan, ask them their opinion of the new GM. This’ll give you a clue about how they act when they’re telling the truth.

How to Know You’re Being Followed

Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a red flag. But is your follower dressed differently than the last time you saw them? Check their shoes. It’s easy to put on a different coat or a hat, but most people keep the same shoes.

How to Handle a Downed Driver

In a vehicle and your driver gets incapacitated by, say, a heart attack? You need to grab the back of the seat or the handle above the driver’s window (for leverage), bring your leg over to the driver’s side to operate the gas and break, and pull over to safety.

How Much Cash Should You Keep in Your House in Case of Emergencies?

$1,000. In twenties. In the case of natural disasters, blackouts, and other emergencies that can shut down banks or online banking, it’s handy to keep cash. After all, just ask the citizens of Toronto in 2003.

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