As you begin to consider how you will defend your home and ultimately your family, you must take into account and identify exactly “how” your plans and preparations will help you in a home invasion situation. In order to gauge “how” you plan for such an attack, you must first understand that a home invasion is not simply a robbery.
Home robberies are usually committed by individuals who have cased your neighborhood and know that his or her objective is to get into your home and out as quickly as possible with everything they can take and with minimum risk.
They normally choose times when the homeowners are likely not to be home, such as during the day. They normally work alone. They look for alarm decals, dogs, pet doors, locks and windows. And if they feel that the target residence is well fortified, they will likely choose another home.
These people will normally do everything they can to avoid confrontation and many times when confronted, will run. Bottom line: Most burglaries do not result in acts of violence.
Unlike the burglar, the home invasion criminal profile is quite the opposite. Indeed, they like to work at night under the cover of darkness, and on weekends when the occupants are more likely to be home.
Home fortifications such as gated communities and alarms do not deter home invaders. They can be very creative in gaining entry to your home and that includes following you from a point outside of your home, such as from the supermarket or ATM, or knocking on your door pretending to be the meter reader, delivery guy, sales person or a person in distress wherein they feign that their car broke down, phone died and they need to call a tow truck.
These criminals usually work in teams and use the element of surprise. They will use overwhelming physical force to gain initial entry to your home and employ immediate intimidation tactics to control you and anyone in the home.
A home invasion is violent, surprising, fast and occurs in a place you thought you were safe! In order to deal with this type of ambush attack, you need a plan that is well thought out in advance and rehearsed with all family members.
There will be no time to consider “what to do” or “how to do it” at the time of the invasion. No, you must start thinking proactively right now and take responsibility for your family’s safety.
To start preparing you for this type of violent invasion, I offer you 7 critical survival tactics that you can employ when you formulate your home invasion plan.
Be ready to identify potential threats. This does not mean you have to be paranoid or not sleep because every noise you hear at night may be a potential home invasion. It means that the faster you can identify something out of the ordinary, the faster you can enact your home invasion plan.
You likely already know the “normal” sounds you hear at night. These include all the creaks, pops and human sounds, such as your spouse snoring, that you hear almost every night. This establishes your baseline of what you expect on a day-to-day basis.
|You must start preparing for this type of ambush attack now, for your family’s safety.|
However, when you hear something such as a window breaking or someone trying to jimmy your front door lock, they are distinctly different from the sounds in your baseline and thus represent a “status” change. This change in your environment is what alerts you to take the next step.
Aside from the usual status changes, you may also identify a potential threat because of a motion-activated light or because your dog starts barking. Whatever the stimulus, the idea remains the same. You identified something in your environment that is the stimulus to flip that mental switch pushing you into the next level of readiness.
If you are ever faced with a violent situation, your first thoughts should be to escape safely out of the residence if at all possible. The “safely” part is an important aspect to escaping.
If you are going to place yourself or others in greater danger by attempting to escape, then perhaps the next best thing may be to evade and fortify. If you aren’t there because you escaped, then you remove the opportunity the home invaders have to hurt you.
Perhaps the biggest rule of thumb is to never attempt escape if it means leaving family members behind. Though it sounds like a given for most people, when faced with decision making under extreme stress, people do not always opt for the best choices.
The key is if you are going to escape, then do so as a “team” effort. And if you cannot, then work together on your plan to find rapid solutions to evade, arm, fortify or, if necessary, defend.
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Lastly when it comes to escaping, make sure you know where you are escaping to. Your plan may have included a primary, alternate and contingency escape area that all family members have been previously informed of and hopefully rehearsed.
The other and more important aspect of movement is that you will need to make sure that escaping outside your home does not present equal danger. For example, you believe you have identified two home invaders by sound. But what if they are working in concert with a third or even a fourth person, positioned outside the home at another point of egress or somewhere on the street? You may be running right into them. So the key point to be made here is to move only as fast as you can determine you are clear of threats. Let the circumstances dictate your speed of movement, and therefore your escape.
Evading here may be defined as simply whatever actions you must take to get away from the invaders or from an attack within the residence or structure. This could mean moving from the living room area to another area of the house such as a bedroom or the kitchen.
A big part of your planning should include thinking about the many situations that could occur during a home invasion and clearly identifying “how” you will evade and to where.
This is best accomplished by visualizing the scenario. Run through it in your head a number of times, changing variables. Write it down on paper and rehearse it in as many circumstances as possible.
One of the biggest challenges is to know when to evade and when to stay put. For example, if you recognize that one of the attackers is in very close proximity to your position and that by moving you would be forced in another direction, one that puts your back to the threat, then evading is not what you should do. This is then a situation where defensive tactics will likely play a role in your survival.
When you evade, you will want to evade to an area, room or section of the house that poses no immediate danger. You wouldn’t, for example, move from a bedroom and into a hallway where one of the attackers is lying in wait. To do this effectively, you will need to listen, look, then move. Move stealthily when the situation calls for it. And always be on the lookout for hiding places and your next piece of cover
There is the possibility you will have to respond to the attackers in a defense capacity to save your life or your family from grievous harm. It is always best if you are armed with a firearm, but being armed does not necessarily give you the skills, and more importantly, the know-how of when and how to use it. This requires training; so be sure to include that in your plan.
While having a gun in a bedside holster or staging guns all around your home sounds fantastic, there are numerous reasons not to do so, especially for those individuals who have children.
I usually recommend having your firearm with you as you move, holstered and concealed, unless there is an immediate threat.
Why carry concealed in your own home you might ask? The short answer is because having an overt holstered weapon while moving about may pose more danger to you should you find yourself ambushed within any area and whereas concealing that gun gives you the same defense power plus the element of surprise! And from personal experience I can tell you that if you are concerned about the time it takes you to draw your gun from concealed carry versus open carry, don’t worry about it.
The time differential to get your gun out on threat is literally negligible. The more crucial issue and challenge is that the vast majority of people under extreme stress such as a home invasion are going to basically double their presentation times. So if at the shooting range you draw from concealed in two seconds or more, double that time.
Something to really consider is that there are a great many defense tools available to you other than that firearm.
Given that you are thinking about planning ahead as you read this, consider that almost anything can be a defensive tool if you know how to employ it. Books and coffee mugs can be used to strike with, baseball bats, canes or other long impact type tools can make good defense weapons.
Even your cell phone or tablet’s corner can be employed, and think of all the potential defense tools that we have in our kitchens! Everything from knives to meat tenderizing hammers to cutting boards and more.
Once you open your mind to the possibility of these weapons of opportunity, you will see there are defense tools everywhere in your home.
The reality is that part of your planning should be to walk each mature family member through your house to review potential defense tools; you may be surprised at what you find.
If you are unable for whatever reason to escape or you are evading to a space or room, then you will need to fortify. Fortifying is finding a space that you can effectively put something such as a strong door between you and the invaders. It may also imply using furniture, desks, chairs or other heavy or dense materials to barricade yourself and your family members within that space. And it could also imply that you have found a nice dark area with a dense piece of furniture concealing you.
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Point is, try not to get too hung up on the concept of fortifying. Just find a spot or place that offers you the maximum protection against the threat where you can hunker down for a bit, gather your thoughts before you make your next move, or wait until the police arrive and clear the home.
When you are choosing a fortification point, there are several things to consider:
- Do not use closets, unless of course that closet was designed and engineered to be a safe room. Closets don’t leave much in the way of options should the bad guys penetrate your space. And secondly, such a confined space reduces the time you have to make a decision on what you will do, minimizes your defense options and decreases the distance and time an attacker can reach you.
- Always put as many doors, corners, rooms and hallways between you and the known position of any attackers.
- Whenever realistic, position yourself at a 90-degree angle to the entryway of how the attacker may approach. In this way, you will likely see them before they see you, giving you the potential element of surprise to launch whatever defensive tactics you employ, thus gaining a bit of a tactical advantage.
Communicating as it pertains to home defense has three facets. The first is communicating with family members. You should have a code word that is not commonly used that every family member knows.
For example, if you are separated at night from your family and you hear someone approaching your safe space, you should use the code word so as to not shoot or attack them by mistake.
Employing a simple code word such as “jellybean” or “Chevy” while in close proximity will immediately alert family members that a “friendly” is about to enter their space.
Secondly, you will want to communicate to police once you are in a position of safety, usually when you fortify. It’s best to hold your hand over your mouth and phone and speak quietly for noise discipline reasons. You will be pressed for time, so you want to get the emergency operator the most important information first and then work down the list. It should go something like this:
- Tell them your exact street address first.
- Tell them what is happening (i.e. home invasion)
- Tell them if you are armed and with what.
- Tell them the attacker’s description and if known to be armed. If you know the type of weapons the attackers have, it is helpful to police.
- Give them your description and how many people are with you. For example, after a brief description of yourself, you can say, “My wife is also here and my two small children.” If time and circumstances permit you can be a bit more descriptive.
- If time and circumstances allow, tell them your current location within the structure.
Lastly, in my experience, it is fairly commonplace for people to want to engage the attackers in dialogue. This may mean warning them that you have a gun or that you called the police or even questioning why they are doing this. This communication between you and the invaders must be very carefully weighed.
If the invaders do not know your whereabouts, I do not recommend you call out to them as it gives away your position.
If on the other hand the attacker is attempting to breach your space, then it may be a good idea to attempt communication.
Given that most home invasions are violent and can include murder, assault, rape and torture, you must plan for worst-case scenarios. This means you may have to use whatever personal-defense options are available to you at that time.
These incidents are dynamic and thus are constantly changing. This requires that you plan, train and rehearse for as many variables and situations as possible. In the majority of these cases, a firearm will be appropriate and even necessary but that does not preclude the use of any defense tool, including weapons of chance or improvised weapons. It also means you may have to employ your body weapons such as hands, elbows, knees and feet.
When you are fighting for your life or the lives of your family, there are no rules of engagement other than to survive!
Until next time, stay alert, check your six, put your back against the wall and stay safe!