We protect our families every day. From locking the doors at night to knowing who is picking up the kids, small acts of protection fill our days. Most of us also plan for catastrophes. Whether it’s by having insurance policies or a fire escape plan, we plan for unlikely situations that bring a heavy burden. Do you have a home invasion plan, though?
If you do an internet search for home break-ins and your city, you can see the risk of a burglary or home invasion in your area. In the United States, the FBI reportsthat a burglary occurs every twenty seconds, and a violent crime occurs every twenty-six seconds. Planning for a home invasion increases your odds of averting violence and putting a criminal behind bars.
Here are four steps you can take today to avoid being harmed in a home invasion.
1. Secure Your Home
The first step in protecting your home is to prevent any kind of attack. Make your home an uninteresting and uninviting target. Criminals want an easy win. The more deterrents, the less likely they are to try to break in. A dog, or a recording of a big barking dog, is often the first step to keeping away unwanted visitors.
Visible security cameras, motion-activated security lights, and warning signs like “all activities monitored by video camera” are practical deterrents. Choose a camera system that can be monitored by computer or smartphone so you always know what is happening outside your home.
Install a smart lighting system for your indoor and outdoor lights. If someone breaks into your home, you can turn on lights so they can’t hide. You can also use the lighting system to distract or confuse them and buy you the time needed to escape.
2. Prepare a safe space
Homeowners can create a safe room within their homes that is easy to defend and hard for criminals to penetrate. If a home invasion occurs, gather the family in your safe space. Protect the room with a solid core door in a steel frame with a heavy-duty doorknob and secure deadbolt. For extra security, install a vault door. If the room has a window, install shatterproof glass.
Position a security camera outside the door. Protect or hide the camera and connect it to your smartphone. This allows you to see whether it’s police or criminals outside your space. If you don’t have a lighting system you can control with your smartphone, consider installing a light switch inside the safe space that controls the light in the area outside your safe space door.
Two essential items for a safe space are a panic button and a quick-access gun safe. A panic button is usually connected to a home alarm system, but some standalone options exist. A panic button notifies emergency personnel of an emergency in your home and can be silent or have a siren or other loud noise.
Quick access gun safes, bedside gun safes, or under bed gun safes keep guns away from children and secure them from theft. But your gun won’t protect you unless you can grab it quickly. That’s why a quick access gun safe is the perfect solution—secure storage that is swiftly and easily accessible by you. The best gun safes are easily opened in dim light with minimal thinking. When someone breaks in, you won’t have time to find a key or get the dials in the right places—it needs to open fast for the right person. The gun safe needs to be secure enough that a crowbar can’t open or dislodge it, and it needs a lock that can’t be picked. Models are sized for handguns, long guns, and everything in between.
Many people install an under-the-bed gun safe in their bedroom, home office, or main living space because that’s where they are likely to be when a break-in occurs. Even if you have a gun safe elsewhere in your home, a home safety plan includes a quick access gun safe in a safe room. That way, you can quickly get to the safe room and know you will be armed once you are secured in the room.
3. Create and Practice a Home Invasion Defense Plan
Approach a home invasion defense plan in the same way you approach a fire or other disaster plan. Identify the most likely scenarios and plan your response. Do you live alone, or do you have children? Should family members hide or try to escape? Is the safe room located where everyone can quickly gather? Every home configuration is different, and home defense plans must be individualized.
All adults in the house should know the plan and practice it. If children are old enough to participate, include them in the practice drills. If they don’t participate in drills, teach them to follow your instructions in an emergency and show them which room is the safe room and where to hide if you tell them to hide.
To design your plan, consider where an unlawful entry is likely to occur as well as your options for each room of the house. Some rooms will be better suited to immediate defense because, for example, you can hide behind large pieces of furniture and have a clear view of an intruder.
If you don’t live alone, consider how children or the elderly will be protected and how everyone will communicate. If the best plan is to meet in the safe room, explore how everyone will get to the room and time how long that takes. Is there furniture to hide behind on the way to safety? Are there creaky boards that would alert an intruder? Evaluate all options, such as escaping out first-floor windows.
Prepare all family members for emergencies with awell-made, working flashlight by every bed and a home phone or fully charged cell phone by the bedside. Also, practice having everyone navigate the home in the dark.
4. Know how to defend
The first goal of any home defense plan is to keep your loved ones safe. This usually means evading the intruder and exiting to safety as quickly as possible. Sometimes, though, this means hunkering down and confronting an intruder. Defending a home quickly and effectively takes focus and practice. A well-executed home defense plan includes participation in firearms training (including training specifically for home defense) and enrolling ina close quarters combat training for civilians.
Planning for a home invasion is a practical way to prepare for the unexpected. While you hope the plan is never needed, given the frequency of burglaries, you won’t be caught off guard if it happens. Keeping your family safe is a priceless investment.
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