There are many reasons why someone would need to know how to escape zip ties. Home invasions and abductions are a few that come to mind. Unlike handcuffs, zip ties are easily accessible, mostly inconspicuous, and can be found at any hardware store. Most importantly, zip ties seem like they’re nearly impossible to escape from.
They may seem that way but are easily defeated, and you won’t have to lose a limb to do it. Escaping zip ties is actually the easiest part of the escape. It’s important to be a compliant hostage, so you get to position your hands in the best way to escape, then wait for your opportunity.
First, to learn how to escape zip ties, we must understand what they are and how they work. It’s a simple device: a nylon strip of tape with teeth running lengthwise down one side of the tape and a small ratchet in a case along the tie. The ratchet and teeth allow for movement in one direction but not the other.
As the tape is pulled through the ratchet, the tie gets tighter and tighter. Trying to move it backward will only show that the tie is locked.
If someone is being illegally restrained with zip ties, chances are they will be forced to present their hands to the abductor or attacker. The zip tie will be put around both wrists, but how the wrists are bound can help determine the best way to escape from the zip ties. Presenting your hands in a specific way may help you get restrained in the best way for your imminent escape.
There are four likely ways a captor will bind a victim’s hands. The first is by putting their wrists together horizontally, hands out, and palms down. The easiest way to escape from being zip-tied in this way is to slip out of them. The objective here is to present your hands so they will give you as much wiggle room as possible.
Present your hands with clenched fists and flexed wrists. While restrained, this makes your hands and wrists much bigger (at least temporarily). Once restrained, wait until your captors let their guard down. When you have the opportunity, all you have to do is unclench your fists, rotate your wrists, and flatten your hands. You can then shimmy out of the restraints with a little effort.
You can also present your hands to the abductors with crossed wrists. This is an excellent way because it is the most secure for an abductor. Once your wrists are uncrossed, you can wrench your hand free. Like the previous method, you will need to shimmy and squirm to escape. It’s a bigger struggle than having your wrists together horizontally, but once your thumb is free, so are you.
An abductor might also restrain your hands and wrists flat together. The best method of escaping this position is to break the zip ties. This might seem like a herculean effort, especially if the ties are heavy-duty, but you can break anything purchased at a big box store.
The first step to breaking the zip ties is to ensure the lock casing is on top of your hands, between your wrists. Don’t worry if the ties are too tight: the tighter the hold, the easier they will be to break. Bring your bound hands above your head, then forcefully bring both arms down in a single motion, bringing your shoulder blades together. The force on the casing should make the zip ties bust off.
How to escape zip ties when the captor uses two connected ties is a similar bust-out method. When linked together, the zip ties are just as capable of being broken. The difference is that the lock casings need to be aligned on the top of the hands. The breaking point still needs to be positioned between the wrists.
Even when fully tightened, you can rotate the zip ties to where the lock casings meet using your teeth. If they aren’t fully tightened, you need to make them as tight as possible. Then, using the same overhead motion as with the single zip tie restraint, forcefully bring your hands down in one swift motion, bringing your shoulder blades together. The force should pop at least one of the casings, and this will free your hands.
If you find yourself restrained with someone else who is also bound, there’s another way to escape zip ties with the help of a fellow captive. Inside the ratchet, the casing is a locking bar that keeps the teeth in place. While one person may not be able to reach the casing with bound hands, another person in the room could. Inserting a flat piece of metal or even a fingernail into the casing to move the bar will allow the tape to move in the other direction. Once freed, a captive can help others free themselves similarly.
Finally, if you find yourself restrained with hands behind your back, wrists flat together, the best way to escape is by breaking free. As with the other breaking methods, the ties must be tightened and the locking case on top of your wrists, between both. Start by bending slightly at your waist, with knees together and bent. Bring your arms up and forcefully bring them down. It might take more than one attempt, but the force should pop the casing off after one or two blows.
If you’re being abducted or held captive, it’s important to remember to wait for your chance to break free. Your captors won’t watch you consistently forever, but your time will come if you make a show of being afraid and compliant.