There's no denying that even today, home invasions are an unwelcome horror that happens not just in high crime areas, but in the suburbs and small rural towns. When an intruder forcefully enters your home, whether it's just for the thrill of it, their desire to rob you or worse, you need to know how to stay safe, because they're much more common than you think. In the aftermath of a disaster when the police are no longer a phone call away, you can expect a dramatic rise in the amount of crooks out on the streets. People will be desperate, and once they decide that they want what you have, you can bet they're not going to hesitate before they try to take it. Unless you have a plan to both deal with them, and keep them out, a home invasion could end with you and your family beaten, robbed, or even killed. Now is the time to start your preparations to keep the bad guys out then they come knocking.
Stay aware The first step is to remain tactically aware of what's going on in your neighborhood. Of course, some home invasions happen purely by chance, but most are planned days (even weeks) in advance. If anyone looks out of place or is hanging around unnecessarily, make it clear you've seen them. Install security camera's around your home, and actually review the footage highlights each day so you can determine if anyone has been snooping around.
Basic prevention Often the key to beating a home invasion lies in the preparation you take beforehand. Install security doors and keep them locked, have impact-resistant door jambs, fit your ground floor windows with security screens or film, and get a dog. Motion detected lights can prevent people sneaking up to your home unawares at night, because the more difficult you make it for the invader, the higher chance they will move on to an easier target.
No strangers Never open your door to a stranger or someone you're not expecting who is banging on your front door. Use your security system to see who is there before you open it, or if this isn't an option a peephole can also help. Many criminals will wait until you open the door a crack, and then force their way in, and that chain you have installed won't stand up against a good, strong kick.
Always carry No matter the situation you're in, you should always have access to a weapon you can use to defend yourself against an intruder. My preference will always be for a firearm, but a taser or even pepper spray will help you should you ever need it. Always carrying doesn't just apply to the situations you face outside, you need to follow this in your home as well. Your gun will not help you if its sitting in your handbag next to the front door, it should be within arm's reach so you can grab it in a moments notice.
Staying defensive Throughout your house there should be a stash of defensive tools in every room, so you've always got something you can protect yourself with, especially in the bathroom. The key to staying vigilant is to never place yourself in a vulnerable position, and when the waters running you can hear it outside which is the opportunity many criminals take to break into a home. External doors and windows should be locked when you're home alone, but I like to keep the bathroom door latched shut too, giving me a couple of extra seconds to grab my gun if someone decides to enter my home.
Raise attention Once someone is in your home, their first goal is to get you quiet. To stay safe you need to do the complete opposite, making as much noise as possible to alert your neighbors to your situation. Use your keys to set off your car alarm, scream and shout, and smash a few of your own windows. It's a very unique sound, that when combined with your cries for help should draw a ton of attention. If you're lucky, this may cause your intruder to flee rather than getting caught, and the window can be easily fixed afterwards.
Have a plan Today, sit down and think of the many different ways you can escape your home. In addition to the front and back doors, are there windows you can use, a garage that you can access, or does your basement have external access? Once you know how to get out, practice opening each and ‘escaping’ while your family members shout at you to create pressure. You need to be able to unlock and escape without fumbling with the keys. Once you're out, head to a neighbors house that's at least 4-5 doors down from your home. There's a chance your intruder will hear your knocking if you just go next door, and reach you before you can get help.
Safe room In addition to an escape plan, setup a single room in your house as the designated safe room. Ideally, you should install a reinforced door, bullet resistant walls, as well as a phone you can use to call for help. If someone breaks into your house and you cannot escape, head to your safe room, barricade you and your family inside, call and then wait for help to arrive. Oh and resist your urges to leave and ‘fight-off’ the intruders, this is the path to injury or worse.
Fight back As a last stage of defense, when the intruders are about to break through the door into your safe room, grab your gun and position yourself in the room on the opposite side of the door, with your family flat on the ground behind you. Turn off the lights, and aim at the doorway. If they manage to break through the door, your position means that you'll be the last thing they see as they glance around the room, and hopefully their eyes will take a second or two to adjust to the darkness. This gives you an advantage because you have just a split-second to decide if you will shoot. Just please be sure you're actually looking at the intruder and not a friend who has come to help, or the police. Being prepared when invaders select your house is the key to keeping yourself and your family safe. You have just seconds to decide if it's better to escape or head to the safe room, and the more practice you have making these decisions, the better chance you have to survive the ordeal.