Safety and Training

Home Invasions, Do You Have a Plan of Action? Part 1

Man's hand holding a black pistol, barrel pointed to the left on a mottled green background.

You hear someone jiggling the lock of your front door.

If you have ever awakened to that sound, you know how quickly you go from peaceful sleep to panic-inducing paranoia. And that panic compounds if you have children or other family members in the house.

Home invasions are on the rise, and so is the number of people who are starting to think about what may happen to them or their loved ones if they are not properly prepared. Of course, the first thing to do is attempt to prevent someone from breaking into your home. Surveillance equipment, home security systems, signs, fences and locks on tamper-resistant doors and windows are all good preliminary measures. Hopefully, they will work and discourage the bad guys.

But what do you do if someone actually breaks into your home while you are inside? Assuming you have at least one other person living in the home, it is important to put together a plan of action and then practice the plan. A high-stress situation is not the time to tell your spouse or children what you need them to do. Here are a few suggestions to prompt your thinking when creating a plan.

Make a Master Family Plan

Create a detailed plan of what to do and where to go, if you can safely gather each member of your household in a safe place.

Make an Individual Plan for Each Member of the Family

Lock with key in it and additional keys on a key ring.
Make sure children, know when and how to lock doors.

Remember, there is a fine line between helping younger children understand safety needs and traumatizing them during the plan-building process.

  • Show kids where to hide.
  • Tell them when to lock their doors.
  • Teach them how to call 911.
  • Discuss what to say to 911 personnel.
  • Help them understand awareness and their particular roles in the plan if an invasion occurs.
  • Emphasize to every family member—especially the younger ones—the importance of remaining quiet.
  • Take a self-defense course with your family to learn a few basic maneuvers.

Consider Making a Family Safe Room

Partially opened wood door to a closet.
A large, centrally-located closet makes for a good safe room.

This could be a large closet or other areas centrally located for all family members.

  • Stock your safe room/closet with a flashlight and cell phone.
  • Consider having a lock on the inside of the safe room to lock your family inside while you wait for help to arrive.
  • On the back of the door in your safe room, write your street address and any other pertinent information (during a stressful situation children may find it challenging to remember details).
  • Once you have called 911, do not hang up; stay on the line, but stay quiet until help arrives.

If more than one person in your household has access to a firearm (and knows how to use it), discuss, before an invasion happens, what plan you want to follow and who will be carrying a weapon.

Keep all weapons, especially firearms you may use during a home invasion, in a safe place, out of reach and out of sight of children. One possible safe place for a handgun is inside a bedroom closet high enough only an adult can reach. Consider using a gun magnet or gun rack to safely store a firearm.

There is no one-size-fits-all plan, and every situation is different. And, of course, even the best-laid plans can fail.

Now is the time to start thinking about what to do and whether you are ready if someone breaks into your home.

Has your home been invaded? Share in the comment section how you handled it.


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Comments (10)

  1. It is sad that we have lost so much trust in law enforcement. Sad, yet realistic. I spent much of my life in one of the most violent towns anywhere–Detroit. “Detroit. Where the weak are killed and eaten.” As a kid, several members of our church were patrolmen, detectives or inspectors. Not anymore. Like many others my life took me here and there around the country and parts abroad. Upon return I simply chose to distance my family and I away from trouble spots. This is not possible for many but it must be done if at all possible. It should come as no surprise that one of the most violent areas today is Chicago–home town of our distinguished(?) President.

    It would seem that CCTV, night vision technology, etc., may be less useful than we would hope. First, we must be awake, on our feet and alert for any of that stuff to do us much good when an attack is eminent. Also, most residential structures today are made to be inexpensive, not to withstand any kind of physical assault. That’s why the NRA “Armed Citizen” column so often relates stories of people being awakened by a thug(s) standing next to their bed. Just watch any “cops” show when a drug bust is going down–the point man has a portable battering ram which goes through doors like shit through a goose. Regardless of double keyed dead bolts, etc.

    Anyway, a good discussion which raises relevant points of view about a scary subject important to us all.

  2. I think it is appropriate that Lisa wrote this article. Criminals more an more target women. Never forget the YouTube video of a home invader repeatedly beating a women caught on nannycam. Training is key. My 16 year old son took the NRA pistol course. My wife an I was so impressed, we are signing up for the class. My son did so well an learned so much, I can’t think of anyone Id rather have my back. The cost of the class is surprisingly affordable, even more so if that training is ever needed.

  3. I liked the article and I found all the comments quite informative. I have a few suggestions to add. I realize that not all will apply to everyone but if even one is helpful I am glad.

    1. Get a copy of “After You Shoot” by Alan Korwin, Bloomfield Press, 1-800-707-4020(Order Hotline). Read it several times.
    2. Consider installing 12v red, LED light strings in critical areas of your house, particularly the gun/safe room. These are inexpensively had on Ebay and can be powered for a long time on a small 12v battery like a motorcycle or lawn tractor. Even batteries not good enough to start your car (but not DOA) will run these for a very along time and are readily available at salvage yards.
    3.Purchase night vision equipment. No need to buy very expensive, military grade weapon optics (unless you want to). You can get very capable Gen II monoculars and inexpensive, but very powerful IR illuminator flashlights. This combination will light up the night very effectively. Only those who are IR-equipped can see what is lit up by the IR illuminators. Not likely the criminals will invest in this stuff
    4. Adding on to Big Bill’s suggestions, IR (night vision) cameras and systems are available for situational awareness. In my view, such a system should have a split screen monitor, one section for each sector covered, and motion alert capability. My question in this regard is, having researched user installed systems I find a virtual flood of them at all kinds of prices. Big Bill-care, to weigh in on your view as to what name brand(s)are reliable and cost-effective? I personally plan to install a 360 degree coverage system, using 8 cameras of varying fields of view and IR distance effective ranges to custom fit my home. I also plan to use a system that is entirely powered by 12 volts and backed up batteries (deep cycle, recharged by solar panels) if house current becomes interrupted.
    5. Equip your weapons with lasers and strobes.
    6. TRAIN, TRAIN, and TRAIN. None of this stuff is much of use if not everyone knows how to use it UNDER DURESS. My wife who is a bit on the pacifist side told me that she did not need to know this stuff since that is what I am supposed to do. I asked her what she would do if I went down. Now she trains with me.
    7. Consider “eyes” and “ears” for you and family if you are likely to be in a close quarters shooting situation. Electronic sound-cancelling headsets are perfect for this.
    8. I cannot overemphasize the importance of situational awareness and, in particular, owning the night. Strategic advantage is then yours and is an excellent “force multiplier”. If the criminals’ first clue that you are on to them is a muzzle flash in the darkness, I believe this to be a quite effective deterrent….
    9. Make sure to have plenty of high powered flashlights and rechargeable batteries. these are all available for reasonable cost on Ebay. Make sure the flashlights have T6 Cree bulbs which use little current, are very bright, and are very tough. I keep them all over the house and in my vehicles. I have several small solar battery chargers (as well as 110v chargers) for my battery supply, which I maintain at operational charge levels .Redundancy is important. A bunch of work-yes. A reasonable feeling of security-that too.

    I truly hope that all of this equipment will be passed on down to my heirs, never having been used for a real-world scenario. However, if ever there are a few minutes when life and/or safety are determined by whether I have this equipment and training, it will be well worth the time and investment. As well-trained as they may be, police prevent very little crime, but are pretty good at solving it LATER(too late for us).

    You are your own best and last line of defense.


  4. I lost faith in a lot of things, namely our police department’s ability to protect us. Having lived in an area of Santa Ana, California where the cops were seldom seen and notoriously absent after dark, the only way you could get them to come in an emergency was to call 911 in a panicked voice and yell, “Help! Officer down!” Then you got more than you needed.

    Next we moved to the suburbs and these clowns are always cruising around in their new cars but when mine got stolen it took them a half hour to get here. When they burglarized my neighbor’s home they didn’t even send a CSI team. Living in tract homes, we have hollow doors and plastic framed windows and a burglar alarm with a panic button, but that still takes time. As a result, when we’re home the guns safe in the safe room is open and the revolver is loaded with hollow points. The real surprise is my 12 ga with three rounds of 00 buck.

    I was born in South East L A in an area I wouldn’t even drive through today without a helmet, a flack jacket and my T/O weapon. When I was a kid the locks didn’t even work. The way our society has deteriorated is disgusting, and they wonder why we’re arming ourselves like we’re going to war. Hank

  5. Being a licensed alarm/cctv installer, you might want to take a few tips from me when it comes to keeping bad guys away.
    Depending upon your location, that is your isolation, whether you live in a dense metropolitan area or you’re high in the hills with your closest neighbor being miles away, will pretty much determine the tactics you need to employ to put the odds of survival on your side. Let’s assume that having a gun and knowing how to use it is a “given”.
    But no matter what the outcome, even if you and your family die defending yourselves, have evidence for the cops, (and/or others), of what happened. And there is no better evidence than a video record. Period. There is also no item that scares off most intruders better than overt cctv cameras.
    The video systems today are better and cheaper than they have ever been, but few people when installing these systems ever consider a thought to a covert secondary back-up system. This back-up system should be completely hidden, preferably located in a trusted neighbor’s home, and sent by wireless. To pull off this ruse, your primary system should be “overt” and the recorder should be easy to find. Today’s bad guys often know to look for the recorder when they see out-in-the-open video cameras. Because they are also so often in a hurry to do their dastardly deeds, they are pressed for time, and will mostly overlook secondary systems.
    Now you’re probably thinking to yourself, oh this is an alarm guy trying to sell me something for the pure capitalist motivation of increasing his bottom line, and besides, if me and my whole family are dead, like hillarious would say, “what difference does it make”?
    My response is I don’t know you from a hole in the ground, so the chances of me actually getting to make any money off of you is pretty slim…. besides, I’m not so invested in the manufacturing, distribution and advertising of this industry to even be a factor. So far as “what difference does it make” if you are dead? Call it revenge, justice or satisfaction, I for one will not go down without a fight, nor will I go quietly….even in death.
    If you still can’t afford or want a video system(s), having a well trained and able dog is a pretty good idea.

  6. “…But what do you do if someone actually breaks into your home while you are inside?…”
    If they get through the door, and that’s a big ‘if’, they won’t make it more than one step past the threshold.
    While my dogs are chewing their legs off, I’ll be punturing their cranium with 9mm pills.
    I’m not going to worry about “call 9-1-1”- if the police can even find my place, it’d take them 45 to 60 minutes to get here and either I’d be dead or the perp will. At the moment, I don’t have the time to die, so it’s going to be the perp.

  7. I agree with Hank that a defensive handgun or shotgun should be IN the safe room.That said, we as responsible adults, must accept that our kids are all smart enough to find wherever we have stored them. As a result, the handgun should be contained in one of those storage gizmos with spots to place your fingers for opening. Code word is good! This will help especially in low light conditions.

    No one can say Mike hasn’t thought of everything. Key operated deadbolts on all sides of entry doors? Good. I must submit a note of caution. Remember, fire is also a threat. In fact, fire is far more likely than home invasion. All those key locks on both sides may make it harder for family members (especially kids) to exit the home quickly. Even “keyed alike” locks need at least one working key. In my home I had keyed deadbolts on both sides of the entry doors, but I placed the required key on a nearby elastic cord such that it could be found, used quickly to exit and not accidentally dropped in the dark. Double keyed interior doors may be a little over the top and not really increase your safety that much.

    Lastly, calling 911 should never be forgotten as a first reaction. Having a cell phone placed in the safe room is a good start. As well, we should not think only of blasting a bad guy. I have been around a LOT of years and I have never had to kill someone; not even in Vietnam. I hope to run out my days with that record intact. Don’t think it will be like TV where everything is OK right after. If you kill someone YOU WILL RELIVE THAT IN YOUR DREAMS FOREVER. Ask any vet or cop. Its not just a legal issue.

  8. Nice article with good advice. Since there’s always a however, however, the best way one can prep for a home invasion is to do all they can first to harden entry to their home. For example, all of our entry doors are metal framed and metal doors with deadbolts on the side, top, bottom, and hinge sides of the door/frame and 4″ screws in the hinges. Even a door breaching 12 ga. will have to take extra time. All of our inside doors are solid wood with 3″ screws in the hinges and keyed locks for the doors. Our safe room includes the gun safes backed up to the wall (so we can shelter behind them, if needed) and the door itself is back with metal.

    These are just some of the things we’ve done over the past 20 years and there are a multitude of other things we’ve also done. While our home is not impermeable to a home invasion, it will be very difficult for anyone to get in quickly, during which time they are at deadly risk.

  9. Now a days you need a plan for everything; flood, fire, earthquake and yes, home invasions, which are becoming more and more common. A safe room is helpful and that’s where your firearm should be, loaded and ready. In our house the word is “drop” from the person who gets there first and you kill anyone left standing. Hank

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