How To Escape A Zip-Tie In A Few Easy Steps

While the hope is that you’ll never need this information, it’s something that’s important to be aware of “just in case.” Everyone should know how to escape from zip-ties if you are ever bound in one for some reason. Thankfully, there are a few techniques that make escaping zip-ties a bit easier.

Whether a kid accidentally tightens a zip-tie around their wrist or something more sinister happens and you become restrained, here is a good way to get free, as advised by Imminent Threat Solutions. Even Navy SEALs are trained to use a similar technique.

Imminent Threat Solutions

Imminent Threat Solutions' Brian Black
Flurhrt/Amazon.com
Flurhrt/Amazon.com

If you’ve ever had to use zip-ties to bind something, such as multiple wires behind your television set, then you know removing those ties requires either a knife or scissors.

So, it begs the question, what happens if the zip-tie happens to be around your wrists and there is nothing sharp close by? Thankfully, there’s a trick to get yourself or someone else free, and an organization called Imminent Threat Solutions (ITS) has made a simple step-by-step “escape solution.”

Brian Black Is The Owner And An Ex-Navy SEAL

Brian Black Is The Owner And Ex-Navy SEAL
Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The founder of ITS, Brian Black, is well versed in escaping tough situations. Not that he’s been in one, but he has intense training on how to deal with restraints. See, Black was a United States Navy SEAL, his time in the military cut short due to injury.

But he was there long enough to learn a thing or two about taking care of himself in a sticky situation. And he has decided to pass that knowledge on!

He Developed The Website To Teach People Life Skills

He Developed The Website To Teach People Life Skills
MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images
MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images

After leaving the Navy SEALS, Black became a huge lover of the outdoors. And when it comes to camping and the wilderness, there are safety measures that everyone should think about.

Between his military and wilderness experience, Black was inspired to make the ITS website. The site helps people develop life skills, allowing them to go out and explore the world safely. Of course, some of these skills, like escaping a zip-tie, he hopes his readers will never have to use.

Black Has Professional Military Training

Black Has Professional Military Training
Dimitrios Sotiriou/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
Dimitrios Sotiriou/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Black had professional training while in the military to escape from a zip-tie restraint. And because of his training, he can demonstrate how to escape using nothing other than his own strength.

On his Youtube channel, ITS Tactical/Imminent Threat Solutions, he said, “It’s a common misconception that because you’re bound you have to somehow cut your way out, but if you think about it all you’re doing is defeating a tiny piece of plastic that’s holding it all together.”

Zip-Ties Can Be “Easily Defeated”

Zip-Ties Can Be
Outdoor Mom/Youtube
Outdoor Mom/Youtube

In a SEAL’s line of work, a potential threat comes with the territory. And while civilians most likely aren’t going to face the same threats, it’s always good to be prepared for the worst. And, as an ITS staff member says on their website, “All of these methods can be easily defeated.”

Meaning, having your wrist restrained in zip-ties isn’t the end of the world, and there is a way to free yourself if you know the correct method.

Wait For The Right Time To Break Free

Wait For The Right Time To Break Free
Outdoor Mom/Youtube
Outdoor Mom/Youtube

Aside from the strategy to get free, Black and his associates also recommend waiting for the opportune time to use this technique. If you find yourself in a hard situation, the ITS site recommends waiting, even though it might be difficult.

The ITS site says, “Your captors are most likely not going to have the resources or the patience to keep an eye on you constantly.” So, the first step of getting free: wait for the right time!

Start Small And Move Toward Heavy-Duty Ties

Start Small And Move Towards Heavy-Duty Ties
EVEO/Amazon.com
EVEO/Amazon.com

One thing the ITS team says to keep in mind, though, is that whoever is going to be putting zip-ties on your wrists won’t be using some Dollar Store brand. More likely, they’ll be going to a hardware store and grabbing the most durable cable ties on the market.

Please, keep in mind that this is all hypothetical, and is just a “what if” situation to make sure you’re as prepared as possible. So, it’s recommended to start small and work up to the industrial brands.

Start With Duct Tape First

Maybe Start With Duct Tape First
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Black and his co-workers advise people wanting to practice escaping zip-ties to first think about retraining their wrists with some duct tape. This is because plastic zip-ties, as we’re sure you can imagine, hurt.

And while you’re practicing escape methods, there is no reason to hurt yourself! This is practice, after all. In one of their instructional videos, the ITS says, “Duct tape works the same as what we’ll show.”

Time To Talk Mechanics

Time To Talk Mechanics
On The Way/Amazon.com
On The Way/Amazon.com

Before we start discussing the actual technique to escape either a zip-tie or, if you’re planning on taking it slow, duct tape, let’s first talk about the mechanics. There are some material-specific instructions you’re going to want to consider before trying to break free like Superman.

Primarily, you’re going to want to keep in mind the locking mechanism that comes on each zip-tie. Yes, that tiny piece of plastic is what you’re going to be battling with.

Step One: Acquire Materials

Time To Talk Mechanics
HAODE FASHION/Amazon.com
HAODE FASHION/Amazon.com

That tiny piece of plastic holds the zip-tie securely around your wrists, and what you’re going to be trying to snap off. We know, it sounds fairly difficult. That tiny piece of plastic is a bit stubborn!

Thankfully, Black and his associates are here to help us through it, safely and in the “easiest” way possible. So, first things first. Gather together either a zip-tie or duct tape, depending on which you’d prefer to practice with.

Step Two: Make A Large Loop

Step Two: Make A Large Loop
Cambridge Resources/Amazon.com
Cambridge Resources/Amazon.com

Don’t worry, if you chose to go the duct tape route, it is the same moves and concept as escaping from a zip-tie. And in both instances, make sure you have a friend nearby. You know, just in case you need help escaping!

The second step after you acquire the necessary supplies is to make a large loop with the tie, not making it too small. Then, place your hands through the loop.

Step Three: Correct Placement Of The Locking Bar

zip-ties
armondhammer/Twitter
armondhammer/Twitter

Now that your zip-tie is around your wrists, we’re going to move onto step three: correct placement of the “locking bar.” According to Black and his ITS team, you’ll need to put the little piece of plastic, aka the locking bar, on top of your bound wrists, right in the middle.

Think about it this way: placing the locking bar front and center allows you to stare down the object you’re looking to defeat. Now, it’s time to pump yourself up!

Step Four: Tightening The Tie

Step Four: Tightening The Tie
Taras Kul/Youtube
Taras Kul/Youtube

For the fourth step, you’re going to want to make the restraint nice and tight, so you’re able to move your hands as little as possible. The technique that we’re going to explain, as taught by the ITS team, works best the tighter the tie.

Or, if you’re using tape, have a friend securely restrain your wrists. Again, make sure you take any necessary safety precautions! Tip: if your palms are facing the floor, make a fist, clenching, and un-clenching until you can wiggle them to face one another.

The Technique Will Split The Tie In Half

The Technique Will Split The Tie In Half
Taras Kul/Youtube
Taras Kul/Youtube

Before we move on to step five, we’re going to explain the correct motions, as demonstrated and taught by Black and his team at Imminent Threat Solutions. The motion they instruct to use will, if done right, snap the zip-tie in half, freeing you.

Don’t worry about using strength to break free quite yet. Just think about and practice the motions first. Like anything, practicing before performing is a good way to go about this technique.

Step Five: The Motion

Step Five: The Motion
Taras Kul/Youtube
Taras Kul/Youtube

Now we’re going to discuss the correct motion to use, so you don’t hurt your wrists. The movements are quick, strong, and are simple enough to remember if you pay close attention.

Put your arms over your head, then think about putting them in a “chicken wing” position, elbows in, and shoulder blades together and bring them down fast. At the same time you’re bringing your arms down to your belly button, you’re going to push your wrists outward.

It’s One Fluid Motion

It's One Fluid Motion
Taras Kul/Youtube
Taras Kul/Youtube

We recommend doing the motion a few times, remembering the triangular formation your arms should be in to escape. To reiterate the technique, the instructor in the ITS demonstration video on Youtube says, “In one fluid motion, you’re going to come from the top and push down. And [you] almost want to simulate touching your shoulder blades together as you come down.”

Once you have the movement down, it’s time to practice your escape. Remember, it’s the same technique with duct tape!

Some People Are Skeptical About The Technique

Some People Are Skeptical About The Technique
Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

If you watch the demonstration video, you’ll notice that using this technique properly should take a total of two seconds, if that. But some don’t necessarily agree with the ITS team’s method, saying that it wouldn’t work in enclosed spaces, like if you’re lying down in the trunk of a car.

Then, some commenters said that while it is a good technique, it’s a bit unrealistic. It’s not like the bad guys are going to place the locking bar just so!

What If Your Hands Are Tied Behind Your Back?

What If Your Hands Are Tied Behind Your Back?
libertylover522/Youtube
libertylover522/Youtube

And while those Youtube commenters have valid notes, there is one note that a lot of people are curious about: how do you escape if your hands are secured behind your back? Thankfully, there are actually two solutions!

If you’d like to practice this hypothetical situation (which might be a bit more realistic), feel free to follow the steps in the upcoming slides. We’ll break each situation up, so you’re able to follow along with both techniques.

Technique One: Flexibility

World Record_ Handcuffed Hands From Back Of Body To Front 0-11 screenshot
RecordSetter/Youtube
RecordSetter/Youtube

If you’re in a situation where your hands are bound behind your back, you’re going to want to mentally prepare yourself for some stretching and weird yoga.

You’re going to want to loosen up, and then carefully maneuver your most flexible arm over your head. This will make it so your arms are now in front of your body. Then, use the “chicken-wing” technique to break free. Note: this move is for those who are very flexible and/or double-jointed!

Technique Two: Brute Force

Technique Two: Brute Force
BNM PH/Youtube
BNM PH/Youtube

The second way to get free is to use force. What we mean by that is that if you find yourself with your wrists bound behind your back, you’re going to have to use some momentum from your arms.

First, bend over, so your chest is around a 45-degree angle from the ground. Then, lift your arms above your head, slamming down on your lower spine while, at the same time, outwardly pressing your wrists to break free. This will probably work better than the first technique!

Starting A Fire For Warmth And Cooking

starting a fire
XAVIER GALIANA/AFP via Getty Images
XAVIER GALIANA/AFP via Getty Images

This is a basic survival skill that everyone should know. Our ancestors did not have access to lighters or matches, so they needed to learn how to start a fire the old-fashioned way. Fire is and was an essential element for cooking purposes and to keep homes warm.

Unless you were a boy scout, girl scout, or have learned the skills of a survivalist, you probably don’t know the primitive methods for getting a fire going and keeping it hot throughout the night.

Tanning Hides For Clothing And Shelter

Tanning Hides For Clothing And Shelter
Sergei BobylevTASS via Getty Images
Sergei BobylevTASS via Getty Images

It’s not too difficult to tan a hide, but it’s a skill that the majority of people living in the 21st century do not know how to do (unless they’re hunters). Those who have practiced this skill are able to scrape off the fat from a hide without tearing it. Our ancestors used these hides for clothing as well as shelter and as blankets and floor coverings.

Today, many people avoid animal byproducts for ethical reasons, but during the frontier days and prior, hiding tans was essential for survival purposes.

Sewing Clothing

Sewing Clothing
John Milner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
John Milner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

It wasn’t too long ago that most girls (and a lot of boys) learned how to sew as part of their formal education. These days we have a disposable society, so if something tears, people wind up buying a new article of clothing (or set of drapes) instead of repairing the ones that were torn.

Sewing is a lost art that not a lot of people can do today. But something as simple as sewing a button or patching a hole is very useful.

Gunsmithing For Hunting And Protection

Gunsmithing For Hunting And Protection
Gerhard Joren/LightRocket via Getty Images
Gerhard Joren/LightRocket via Getty Images

Today, many people support the abolition of firearms, but there was a time not too long ago when most households owned one or more and needed them for protection as well as survival.

Gunsmiths repair, design, modify, and build weapons. They used to be essential members of society who made sure a person’s firearms were in proper working order. This was crucial during times of war and for those who fed their families meat from game.

Knitting Socks And Hats For Warmth

Knitting Socks And Hats For Warmth
General Photographic Agency/Getty Images
General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

While knitting these days is often relegated to elderly people in senior centers, it used to be a very important skill that was practiced by women of all ages. Before there were clothing stores, women young and old knitted a variety of things, including socks, hats, and sweaters.

This skill was particularly important for those who lived in colder climates. If people didn’t know how to knit warm clothing, then the consequences would have been perilous.

Making Soap For Good Health

Making Soap For Good Health
© Ted Streshinsky/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
© Ted Streshinsky/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

It’s true that people didn’t bathe as frequently a couple centuries ago as they do today, but soap making was a very important skill to master. In addition to keeping your body and clothing nice and clean, a good bar of soap keeps dirt and grime off of your hands, which is necessary if you want to be sanitary.

The dirtier you are, the more susceptible you are to spreading and contracting illnesses and diseases. Our ancestors knew how to make soap to keep themselves and their families cleaner and healthier.

Butchering Animals To Put Food On The Table

Butchering Animals To Put Food On The Table
Keystone Features/Getty Images
Keystone Features/Getty Images

If you make chicken marsala for your family tonight, there’s a fairly good chance that you bought the chicken at the supermarket. But back in the day people first had to butcher the chicken before preparing a meal.

Before butcher shops came into vogue, settlers and our ancestors had to slaughter animals themselves before they ate them. They possessed the skills to properly cut and prepare an animal in a way that prevented contamination. While not the most pleasant job, it was a necessary one.

Candle Making To Illuminate The Home

candle making
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

These days, all people need to do to light up a room is flip a switch or pull a cord. Electric light bulbs weren’t invented until the 1800s, so people had to illuminate their spaces with candles. That’s all well and good, but somebody had to make the candles first.

Candle making requires beeswax and animal fats. Candles also don’t last very long, particularly in comparison to today’s incandescent light bulb. While firelight provided some illumination, our ancestors needed candles in order to do many things in the dark.

Horseback Riding And Maintenance For Transportation

Horseback Riding And Maintenance For Transportation
Culture Club/Getty Images
Culture Club/Getty Images

Before cars become an accessible and affordable mode of transportation, people relied on horses for both travel and for work around the home. Not many people ride horses today, and if they do it’s for relaxation or competition.

But over 100 years ago, most people knew how to ride a horse efficiently, and they also knew how to properly care for the animals so that they lived long and productive lives. Our ancestors relied on the animals, which made their lives much more convenient.

Shoe Making

Shoe Making
Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Practically no one makes their own shoes today. It’s much easier, cheaper, and less time-consuming to buy a pair of shoes at the mall or online. But there was a time when people made their own shoes. When they wore out, they had to make a new pair.

People had special skills that enabled them to cut and sew the soles and leather in a way that efficiently covered their feet. Proper foot protection was essential, especially in colder climates.

Preparing Food From Scratch For Nourishment

Preparing Food from Scratch for Nourishment
Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images
Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images

Some people stockpile non-perishable foods in their homes in case disaster strikes, but not many people would be able to prepare dry foods or make bread from scratch. Our ancestors, on the other hand, had no problem turning flour into bread.

They had much simpler and healthier diets that didn’t involve processed foods. Plus, they didn’t have supermarkets where they could pick and choose microwave dinners. They cooked wholesome meals that didn’t have too many ingredients but were relatively nutritious instead.

Home Building For Well-Being

Home Building For Well-Being
Wisconsin Historical Society/Getty Images
Wisconsin Historical Society/Getty Images

You probably couldn’t build a house by hand if you tried. But our ancestors had great knowledge of construction practices because they typically didn’t have the wherewithal to hire someone else to build a log cabin or frame a house. These days, only select individuals know how to construct a solid and durable home.

Back in the day, many men had the skills to make trusses as well as foundations made of stone and rock. They also knew which type of wood to use in their building endeavors.

Gardening In Bulk For Sustenance

Gardening In Bulk For Sustenance
Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

There are many people today who enjoy gardening, but they typically do so because it’s a hobby or to supplement some of their meals. Only the truly knowledgeable know how to till fields, how to ward off unwanted pests and diseases, and know the perfect time for harvesting.

Not many people these days sustain themselves entirely on the food they grow themselves. Our ancestors knew how to grow crops in bulk, including food such as pinto beans, wheat, and oats.

Food Preservation For Stockpiling

Food Preservation For Stockpiling
Haywood Magee/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Haywood Magee/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It’s not hard to preserve food today because we have electricity, refrigerators, and freezers. We can store some meals for months in the freezer and simply defrost them before cooking. But our ancestors didn’t have that luxury. It was much harder to preserve food, and some items simply spoiled if they weren’t consumed.

In the past, people used smoking, drying, salting and other methods for food preservation. Most people these days have no idea how to carry out these processes to make food last longer.

Raising Animals For Cooking

Raising Animals For Cooking
FPG/Getty Images
FPG/Getty Images

Professional farmers know how to raise and take care of animals, but most people don’t. Certain skills are involved when it comes to milking cows and feeding livestock. Part of raising animals involves diagnosing any diseases they may have and treating them properly.

Also, our ancestors needed to keep animals contained, so they had to have the ability to build proper fences in order to keep the animals from wandering away. These skills were necessary to keep food on the table.

Making Furniture

Making Furniture
© Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
© Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

If you’re a hobbyist, you may enjoy creating some woodworking projects, but most people do not possess the skills needed to create practical wood projects, such as beds, shelves, cabinets, and other types of furniture.

Our ancestors needed to have some woodworking skills if they wanted to make their homes comfortable for themselves and their families. While they could employ someone else to do the work, many didn’t have the financial means to hire someone else to make a table for family meals or a chair to sit in.

Herbal Medicine For Illnesses

Herbal Medicine For Illnesses
VCG/VCG via Getty Images
VCG/VCG via Getty Images

When someone gets sick today, he or she seeks help from a doctor or goes to the ER. They are then treated with medicine supplied by a pharmacy. Our ancestors didn’t have the drug stores we know today. Instead, many relied on herbal remedies that helped treat their various ailments.

There are certain plants with medicinal qualities that are helpful in treating a variety of sicknesses and injuries. While they may not be as strong as the pills people take today, they were better than nothing.

Blacksmithing To Forge Iron And Steel

Blacksmithing To Forge Iron And Steel
Anton NovoderezhkinTASS via Getty Images
Anton NovoderezhkinTASS via Getty Images

You won’t find many blacksmiths around these days. That’s because they were long ago replaced by giant manufacturing companies that do all the hard work, much of which is automated by machines.

In the past, people needed blacksmiths to forge iron and steel. Certain men specialized in the craft, which forced them to work with and around extremely hot temperatures. Welding would later replace a lot of blacksmith-type work, but it was a skill that was crucial for centuries.

Hunting For Sustenance

Hunting For Sustenance
Denver Post / Contributor
Denver Post / Contributor

While a few people still hunt today to provide for their families, most do so for sport or to supplement their diets. Plus, there are laws that strictly govern when and where people can hunt. Back in the day, it was the only way in which people were able to feed their families.

If you didn’t know how to hunt, you could die. People also needed to know how to track down animals and the best time of year to find them.

Knife Making

Knife Making
Boyer/Roger Viollet via Getty Images
Boyer/Roger Viollet via Getty Images

Another useful skill that past generations possessed was knife making. We use knives every day for a variety of tasks, including cutting our food. People used to create knives out of bronze, copper, brass, iron, etc. and used them to cut meat, tan hides, etc.

Today, anyone can get a decent pair of steak knives at Walmart. In the past, people either made knives themselves or traded something of value to get one for hunting purposes and other activities. Knives were very important to day-to-day living.