It is something that we don’t like to think about. The sound of breaking glass at 2:00 a.m. or someone trying to force their way through the door in the middle of the day. It is honestly disturbing to consider these scenarios’ reality, yet they are a reality in modern life.
According to the Department of Justice, an estimated 3.7 million household burglaries occur annually on average. A household member was present in roughly 1 million burglaries and became the victim of violent crimes in 266,560 burglaries. The point we need to take away from this is that it can happen to us. As with any potential danger, however, there are things we can do to help prevent incidents and deal with them should they happen.
The most important thing we can do is to develop a home defense plan. Many people have at least a general plan in the event of a fire, yet few have a well-thought-out plan to deal with a home invasion. With that in mind, I have put together some general thoughts, suggestions, and actual plan components on how to make a home defense plan.
First up, we need to harden our castle. Making a few modifications to your home can go a long way in preventing or slowing an attack. Installing exterior lights with motion sensors are a great inexpensive way to deter would-be invaders. Additionally, a review of your landscaping is in order. Make sure that there is no overgrowth near the house that someone could utilize for concealment.
I encourage everyone to look hard at the entrances and windows of their home as well. A solid core wood door or even a steel door installed correctly can stop an intruder in their tracks. They must include a well-made deadbolt and quality locking system. Windows should have working locks on them and, if possible, have shatterproof film applied. A more technical suggestion is the installation of an alarm system.
Lastly, I suggest creating a safe room in this category. These can be less elaborate than what is portrayed in the movies. Unless you have the funding and foresight to have this room built into your house, to begin with, we can do an “aftermarket” safe room. This can be any room where you can safely shelter until the police arrive. Walk-in closets, small interior rooms, or other fortifiable spaces can work well.
There are a few things we will need to make sure our safe room has. The door must be solid wood or steel like our front and back doors. It must have a well-made deadbolt and quality door hardware. I also encourage the use of a steel frame to hold the door. The room should have a light with a switch inside the room and a power outlet. A few items that should be kept in here are a phone charger, flashlight, first-aid kit, water, and a firearm with extra ammunition.
When we start developing our actual plan, we first need to remember to keep it simple. Complicated action plans will rarely work in the face of terrifying stress. With that being said, the actions we take during a home invasion are dictated by one primary factor – are you alone in the home?
If you live alone, law enforcement and security professionals encourage you to stay in a safe room. Do not leave this space to search your house. Create a defensive position and call 911. You are encouraged to position yourself with something between you and the door entering your room. This allows you the ability to see anyone entering the room and still provides you with some concealment. It is at this point that we need to talk about firearms. I am a dedicated believer in having a firearm as an essential part of my home defense plan.
A firearm allows you to defend your life should the intruder turn their aggression towards you. In the same breath, I will encourage you to seek professional training in the use of the firearm and its application in a home defense setting. I will also say that you should embrace the principle of decentralized storage of your firearms. When the unthinkable happens, you will need access to your firearms. You may have trouble getting to them if they are clear in the back of the house. Companies like SecureIt have solid and safe storage options that allow you to keep firearms in different locations in your home. These units are also excellent because they are lightweight and modular, which allows you to move or reconfigure them as needed.
It is only appropriate to leave this safe space if there are others inside the home with you, specifically children. We will need to move through our home quickly and safely to get to the children and secure them. In doing this, it’s important to remember that you are not a SWAT team. Our goals are very different. The tactics used by homeowners are quite different from law enforcement because of their goals. Your goal should be to get to your family as quickly and safely as possible. There will be no time to search every inch of the home.
This is where the development of an actual plan comes into play. How will you get to the kids? What route will you take? What will you do once you have them? These are all points to consider and issues that can be addressed in professional training. Try to move to your kids in a way that allows you to maximize any concealment without sacrificing speed. In simpler terms, get to them as quickly as possible while trying to be stealthy about it. I will once again suggest that a firearm be part of your action plan.
You may end up face-to-face with the intruder, which can turn into a fight for your life. Having a firearm and training can improve the odds in your favor in such an encounter. Once you have the kids, you should determine the best place to shelter until help arrives. Once again, position yourself so you can see the doorway while utilizing some concealment. Beyond my belief that you should have a firearm for home protection, I also encourage you to keep a flashlight. While some handguns are fitted with lights, they are not optimal for searching. In short, we do not want to search with the muzzle of our firearm. A handheld light is a valuable tool when moving through your house at night. I also encourage you to have your cell phone beside your bed. Proximity to your phone allows you to call for help immediately.
Without being melodramatic, the development and use of a home defense plan can determine the outcome of a home invasion. It is something that requires serious thought and planning. I will also beat the “get professional training” drum once again simply because it is critical. In the end, if the worst happens and glass breaks in the middle of the night, you need to act. Move quickly and execute your plan with intent and purpose. After the dust settles, you will be happy you had a plan.