How to Escape from a Straitjacket

Even though straitjackets are designed to restrain someone who's in danger of harming themselves or others, they also make a good challenge for any escapologist. In fact, one of Harry Houdini's most famous tricks was to escape from a straitjacket while hanging upside down from a crane![1] Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to dislocate your shoulder in order to perform this feat, but you do have to practice the following steps.

Steps

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    While you're being buckled up, use one of your hands to inconspicuously pinch the front, giving you about three inches of slack. Take a deep breath and tighten your muscles in order to make your upper body as big as you possibly can. As your sleeves are pulled behind you, try to make sure your stronger arm is over your weaker arm.
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    Loosen up. Once the straitjacket is secured, relax your upper body and breathe out. Make your upper body as small as possible, and let go of the slack you created in the previous step. The straitjacket should feel looser now.
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    Push your strong arm forcefully towards the opposite shoulder. This will move the slack to where you need it for the next step.
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    Bring your strong arm up and over your head. Keep your weak arm down. Once you've done this, you'll be able to move your arms around.
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    Unbuckle the sleeve buckle with your teeth.
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    Unbuckle the top and bottom buckles behind you, using your free hands.
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    Step on the material of one of your sleeves while tugging your body out of the straitjacket.

Warnings

  • Keep the person who helped put on the jacket close to you just in case you cannot escape and need help getting out.
  • There are some straitjackets with which this method won't work, such as if your arms are restrained so that you can't bring one over your head.

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