How To Use A Strobe Light For Defensive Purposes

In this quick informational guide, you will learn how to use a strobe light for defensive purposes.

The strobe option on a tactical flashlight is a new method, relatively speaking, that has emerged in the way of self-defense. It is particularly popular for use by law enforcement officers.

Utilizing your strobe light when presented with a threat is a painless and non-lethal way of subduing and stunning a suspect for a period of time, allowing the officer time to move in on the suspect to restrain them, gain a tactical distance, or to gain the upper hand in the situation.

When a suspect is not lethally armed, strobing is a great method to start with as it can buy the officer more time while temporarily incapacitating the individual for a short period of time.

If you need a light with strobe feature, please check out these blinding flashlights.

Defensive Strobe Light Applications – Scenarios


Loitering and Prowling

As a police officer, if, on the night shift, you walk up on a person of suspect in an area where it is not normal for a person to be hanging around late at night, it is acceptable and recommended to utilize any means necessary to quickly and efficiently dispel any alarm that that individual is up to no good.

This can be done by using your flashlight to illuminate the subject and the surroundings to gather insight into their intentions.

If, in doing so, that person gives any sign of not cooperating or being a threat, powering on the strobe effect on your flashlight can temporarily disorient the subject long enough for the officer to switch to a lethal, or another non-lethal weapon if the situation dictates that.

Catching a Suspect

In any crime-related matter, a strobe light can be used to subdue a suspect long enough for other officers to move in on the suspect to safely restrain them. Strobing affects the vision and orientation of an individual.

Temporarily Immobilizing a Threat

In any situation in which an officer feels at risk, strobing is a safe, non-violent, method to gain control of a situation.

In most scenarios, those who undergo strobing by a flashlight become stunned for a few moments as their body processes the extremely bright lights in their face.

Related Content: 5 Handheld Tactical Flashlight Techniques

Strobe Effects on the Human Body

Bucha Effect

The Bucha Effect, also known as flicker vertigo, is when brain activity becomes imbalanced due to the low-frequency of flickering light from strobing.

This means that one can become disoriented, or even nauseous and experience vertigo-like symptoms.

The Bucha Effect can illicit feelings of confusion and feeling distraught. Sensations of movement when sitting still is a common side effect as well.

It is said that about a quarter of those who undergo strobing can experience the Bucha Effect.


In the event where strobing from an LED flashlight causes a seizure, this is known as photosensitive epilepsy. While this is not a common response to strobing, it is a possibility and it must be disclosed to any who train in law enforcement to use strobing as a defense mechanism.

However, many who are prone to photosensitive epilepsy do not know that they have this condition until it strikes.

It should be noted that photosensitive epilepsy is more common in juveniles and adolescents and the possibility of experiencing a seizure due to strobing decreases with age.


Under a strobing effect, awareness may be altered. One may become severely, but temporarily confused or even delusional until the effects wear off.

They may experience feelings of being lost, not knowing where they are, short memory lapses, or identity confusion. It may even bring on changes in normal behavior.

These effects should normally wear off relatively quickly. This is beneficial if used as a method for defense.

Medical Attention

It is important to note that for law enforcement officers, it is mandatory that aid is rendered to anyone who is injured during any encounter when it is safe to do so.

If a police officer utilizes a strobing method and is able to safely restrain the suspect, and the person is experiencing adverse reactions to the strobing, calling the paramedics to assess the individual is mandatory.

This method is not intended to be harmful.

Common FAQs

What is the Most Disorienting Strobe Frequency?

Between 18hz and 20hz, one can achieve a disorienting strobe without causing harm, which is the ultimate goal.

There have been many studies on this for law enforcement purposes. It was found that, while it does depend on the sensitivity and condition of each individual as some may be more sensitive than others, there is an ideal frequency.

What Brands are the Best for Law Enforcement Strobe Flashlights?

See our article on this topic on our website for our top picks! Typically, both Surefire and Streamlight models are very popular amongst law enforcement.

Kristina Martel

Kristina Martel is a law enforcement officer in South Florida. Writing is a passion and escapes for Kristina and as often as she is able to, she unwinds with expression via pen and paper (although usually a laptop). Residing in Loxahatchee, Fl, Kristina and her husband have three dogs, and over 20 chickens. When out of uniform, it is important to reconnect with hobbies and qualities that keep us human. Kristina does love firearms, however, and often shoots in her backyard when not at the police department range.