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Home Defense: Responding to Home Invasion

Over the past few months, we’ve covered various topics related to layered home security. We began by peeling back the layers of the onion, exposing the importance and function of each layer. Then, we spoke with several field experts to learn the most effective ways to harden the physical structure of the home against potential attacks. We last looked at electronic security systems and their implementation into home security. In this fourth and final installment, we’re discussing home defense strategies and actions for responding to home invasion.

Most of us have probably felt the fear of having someone break into our home. A healthy version of that fear is likely the reason you’re reading this article right now. Anyone who has ever come home to find their door busted in and their home ransacked will tell you it’s one of the greatest invasions of privacy one can possibly experience. A burglary will leave you feeling angry, frustrated, and violated, but fortunately you and your family will be safe, and you’ll be able to recover mentally and financially over time.

Our greatest concern should be a home invasion that occurs when family members are home. Burglars usually try to avoid confrontation and typically choose easy targets where they’re least likely to encounter resistance. Criminals who knowingly target an occupied residence are likely to be violent with no regard for human life. In many cases, these are serial resource predators consumed with the thrill of violence and human predation. 

Regardless of their motivation, a home intruder is an immediate threat to your safety and the safety of your family; therefore, a well-thought-out plan of action is crucial for responding efficiently and effectively.

MINDSET

A winning mindset is the foundation of survival. Before establishing any sort of action plan, you must ensure you’re mentally prepared to deal with a violent threat. 

Under stress, the ability of humans to work through an analytical decision-making process is severely diminished. Such process requires sufficient information and time to problem solve, plan, deliberate options, and justify actions. When faced with a stressful and constantly evolving situation like a home invasion, we’re faced with a dichotomy of having too much information to process and prioritize, and not enough information to analyze the problem properly. Therefore, training, prior planning, and mental preparation are vitally important. 

Home Defense home invasion

You must make some decisions right now to make sure you can act decisively when the situation requires. Who are the most important people in your lives? Who are you willing to die for? Are you willing to kill, if necessary, to protect those people? Determine right now if you’re willing to use whatever level of force is necessary and justifiable to defend yourself and the ones you love against the threat of great bodily injury or death. 

FAMILY ACTION PLAN

Every member of your family needs to know what to do when an unwelcomed guest forces their way into your home. The older and more mature your children are, the more responsibility they should have in your action plan. Having specified tasks forces each member to focus on their piece, giving less opportunity for fear and panic to take hold.

RALLY POINTS

Your overall plan should establish a rally point to gather everyone together in a single location. Having everyone accounted for allows you to focus on the threat and widens your fields of fire as stray rounds and over-penetration become less of a concern. 

Ideally, you should have everyone head to the place that offers the most protection in terms of cover, concealment, barriers, and firepower. The master bedroom usually offers a good location, since children will instinctively run toward their parent’s room when startled. 

An even better option is to a have an established safe room. Read our first installment, “Making Your Own Onion: Implementing Layered Security in Your Daily Life,” in Issue 17 for more information on designating and equipping a safe room.

COVER, CONCEALMENT, and BARRIERS

Once your family is all together, the ideal thing to do is take up a defensive posture, call 911, and wait. Get behind something that offers some level of ballistic protection (cover) whenever possible. Doorjambs, metal or hardwood furniture, or a thick memory foam mattress are good examples of cover. 

If cover isn’t readily available, find something that will hide or mask your location (concealment). Examples of concealment include blankets, drywall, shower curtains, and interior doors. The harder it is for the bad guy to find you, the more time you’ll have to get help.

Place as many barriers between you and the intruder as possible. If they’re actively searching for you, it’s a good indication they wish to do you harm, so it’s best to funnel them into your location. Forcing them to enter through a doorway and around obstructions places them in a fatal funnel and allows you to focus your attention on a single choke point.

WEAPON STAGING

Self-defense tools are useless if they’re not readily accessible when needed. A heavy-duty, fire-resistant gun safe is perfect for securing your valuable firearms against theft and natural disasters but can pose a serious accessibility handicap during a home invasion. Even if your gun safe is in your master bedroom, it still poses a problem if you’re at the opposite end of the house when someone breaks down your door. Having firearms and other weapons strategically staged around your home will ensure you’re always within just a few steps from a lethal force option.

Home Defense home invasion
Self-defense tools are useless if they’re not accessible when you need them. Sometimes the best compromise between security and accessibility is hiding them in plain sight. Shown here is the Tactical Walls Sliding Wall Mirror.

Weapon Condition

You should consider keeping your staged weapons fully loaded with one or two spare magazines stowed alongside. These are less for ammo depletion than they’re for malfunctions. Murphy likes to get involved at the most inopportune times, so it’s good to have a backup on hot standby in case the one in your gun decides to mess the sheets. It’s also smart to include a handheld or weapon-mounted light for target identification at night.

Home Defense home invasion beside glock
The Tactical Walls “issue Box” is a functional tissue box with a hidden compartment for hiding tools in plain site.

Location

Choosing staging locations should be based on the layout of your house and your family action plan. You’ll want to have a firearm somewhere in the master bedroom. Many home invasions occur at night when the homeowners are in bed. Having a firearm in the master bedroom allows you to arm yourself before going to check on the suspicious noise that just woke you up. Of course, you’ll also want to make sure your rally point has access to at least one firearm as well. This is another reason designating the master bedroom as the emergency rally point is a wise decision. 

Home Defense home invasion clock glock
The Tactical Walls Wall Clock with its functional clock face and concealable magnetic storage compartment lets you keep your firearm close by while hiding them from the casual onlooker.

Other staging locations really depend on how involved into the process you want to get. Process predators will often use a ruse, like posing as a package delivery worker, to get you to open the door for them. Having a weapon accessible near the front door, even if it’s not a firearm, would be a logical decision. 

Security

Unless you’re a hermit, leaving a gun on the nightstand is not a wise move. Even when children or visitors aren’t an issue, protecting your firearms from uninvited visitors should be a priority. It’s important to find solutions that provide rapid access to firearms while providing some level of security, either through mechanics, concealment, or both. 

Tactical Walls offers a “hidden-in-plain-sight” solution that uses functional furniture, wall décor, and home accessories to hide firearms from the casual onlooker. A few examples include a built-in, full-length sliding mirror with a hidden magnetic lock, a surface-mounted wall clock with a hidden compartment, and a non-locking tissue box. They also carry lamps, nightstands, shelves, and picture frames with concealable storage compartments.

StopBox USA offers a discrete and portable lockbox that uses a non-
electronic finger combination lock. This storage box can be quickly opened in a single grabbing motion by anyone who knows the correct programable finger combination. This is a great option if you live in a jurisdiction that requires your firearms to be kept locked up when not in use, or when simply hiding your firearm poses a risk to small children.

COMMUNICATION

In the old days, we had to worry about the bad guy cutting the phone line or setting one of the handsets off hook, making it impossible to call the police from another room. With the proliferation of wireless communications, most homes don’t even have landlines anymore. That has given the homeowner a slight advantage. Most of us are so attached to our cell phones that they sit on our nightstands, which is exactly where they should be to have immediate access during the night. 

The Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) requires all wireless service providers to transmit 9-1-1 calls regardless of whether or not the phone has an active wireless service plan. This means any cell phone that has power can be used to call 9-1-1, so those old cell phones sitting in the kitchen junk drawer can still serve a purpose as emergency communications. You might want to stage some of these phones around the house where other family members who aren’t permanently attached to a phone can have access, or even just to have a backup in case your primary cell phone has a low battery.

CASUALTY CARE

As painful as it may be to think about the possibility of a loved one being injured by a violent attacker in your own home, it’s a real threat that’s better planned for than reacted to. 

Familiarize yourself and your family members with trauma management techniques like hemorrhage control and treating for shock. Having basic skills like knowing how to apply a tourniquet to an arm or leg, how to pack a wound where tourniquets cannot be used, and how to treat penetrating chest trauma with occlusive dressings could mean the difference between life or death.

Home Defense home invasion medical supplies
Having a well-stocked first aid kit is essential for treating casualties and is an important part of your family reaction plan.

Have a basic trauma stocked with a couple CAT or SOF-T tourniquets, occlusive chest seals, Kerlix rolled gauze and/or Quikclot Combat Gauze, and mylar space blankets. As a rule, keep enough supplies on hand to treat at least two patients with multiple wounds. Make sure every family member old enough to perform casualty care is trained and knows where to access these lifesaving tools. 

REHEARSAL

Rehearsals are probably the most overlooked aspect of a family action plan. Every highly trained military and police unit knows the key to executing an operations plan is rehearsing the primary plan and incorporating as many contingencies as possible into the rehearsal. This same process is equally important to your family action plan.

home defense, home invasion emergency medical care
Basic trauma skills like knowing how to apply a tourniquet are a must for every family member. Be sure to conduct rehearsals on a regular basis.

You should perform occasional dry runs to make sure everyone knows what to do. These don’t have to be crazy dress rehearsals with role players and force-on-force scenarios. A quick run-through to make sure everyone remembers what to do and where to go will suffice. Remember to work through some what-if scenarios to keep everyone thinking and prepared for when things go sideways.

Home Defense home invasion self aid medical aid first aid emergency first aid tourniquet

Occasionally, pull out the tourniquets and have the kids practice putting them on themselves and each other. You can turn it into a game by having competitions to see who can correctly apply their tourniquet the fastest. The kids will have fun training, and you’ll rest easy knowing you’ve taught them valuable life-saving skills.

CONCLUSION

We all hope we never have to face the day when the wolf comes knocking on our door, but hope isn’t a strategy. We must be prepared to fight the wolf, both physically and mentally. This means preparing ourselves through training, preparing our homes with a defensive strategy, and preparing our family members through prior planning and rehearsal. Remember, when seconds count, the police are just minutes away. 


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