In response to my post, Flashlight, my good friend and Shorin-Ryu instructor Jim Alexander, of Belleville, Illinois, wrote:
I know you are speaking of preparedness here...but actually a good flashlight is a great self-defense tool. I taught H2H and anti-terrorist technique to American Airlines flight crews after 9-11. And one of the few things flight crews could... have on their persons was a small flashlight to assist passengers looking for lost or misplaced items during the evening portion of long flights when cabin lights are permitted to be dimmed. I recommend the scorpion tactical light. Used in breech entries by SWAT team and cops all over. It is incredibly bright, so bright that in a dark environment ( think parking garage, alley, etc. ) it can stun an attacker into looking away and subsequent optic overload ( white of purple spots before your eyes) allowing the defender to strike back or better yet run , during the temporary blindness. It easily fits in a purse, even a small one, or pocket and has a rubberized metal housing.
PS it also makes a great striking implement when the butt is placed firmly into the closed fist and applied to the temple or base of the nose :-)
PPS...the other thing was a steel barreled ball point pen sold at Sharper Image Stores....absolutely lethal, and writes well too!