You walk around your home to ensure the doors are locked and then you set the alarm is activated. You now check on your sleeping children and then climb into your cozy bed without a second thought. But imagine one night you are awakened by a loud crashing sound. Rising from your bed, you hear low voices and footsteps coming from downstairs. Fear and panic overcome you as you realize someone is in your home. What do you do? Can you get to your children on time? Will you and your family survive?
The amount of terror and fear experienced during a home invasion is immense. Because of this, victims often fail to think clearly and make tragic mistakes. Some are overcome with fear and literally freeze in their tracks. Others run for their very lives. There are also some that immediately go into attack mode and attempt to fight off the intruders. These responses are directly related to our "fight or flight" instincts.
A majority of home invasions take place forcibly through a "locked" door. Approximately 1 out of every 5 homes encounters a burglary or violent home intrusion. When it comes to a terrifying event such as a home invasion, your actions within the first few seconds are crucial to the survival of you and your family. Planning ahead is critical and the very lives of you and your family depend on you being level headed and prepared.
What Should You Do?
Of all the possible responses, one thing is for certain: there is no single "right way" to respond to a life-threatening home intrusion. Your response depends on your own personal assessment of the situation, which includes the level of danger, realistic options, your mental and physical skills, as well as your family members.
In some situations, screaming and putting up a fight works. In other cases, complete compliance with the intruder’s demands gets you through the ordeal alive. Yet, in some instances, compliance just increases the amount of time the intruder spends in your home, elevating the risk of the intruder entertaining and carrying out more sinister acts upon you or your family members. Murder, rape and extreme physical injuries are not uncommon during home invasions.
Because every situation is different, it’s imperative that you give some serious thought ahead of time on how you and the members of your family might respond under such circumstances and take appropriate safety measures. Taking into account the following safety tips can greatly improve your chances of survival.
BEFORE AN INVASION OCCUR
A family safety plan in place for your family and neighbors to follow should a home invasion occur can greatly improve your chances of making it through the ordeal alive. To improve the chance of appropriate action being taken by your family members and/or neighbors, make sure to do the following:
- Remember that criminals don’t want to be seen, and they don’t want to attract any attention. Light up your house, yard, and driveway. Always keep your doors and windows locked, so they can’t slip in without effort.
- Security cameras by themselves are good, but in the case of a home invasion, they’re only good for the police department. Once a break-in is underway, the footage might help the police catch the perpetrator, but the cameras weren’t enough to stop the crime in the first place.
- Many people say that gun ownership is the best protection “but a gun isn’t any good if you don’t know how to use it.” Even if you can proficiently handle a firearm, you still need to mentally prepare for how you will handle a break-in. You’ll need to prevent the intruder from taking the firearm, for example.
Remember that the property in your house can be replaced, but life can’t. Do not put yourself in harm’s way to protect objects, however valuable they are.
WHEN THE INTRUDER IS IN YOUR HOUSE
Planning ahead should always include taking extra measures to increase the security of your apartment or condo. By taking the necessary steps to increase the security of your residence, you can significantly decrease your risk of becoming a victim of a home invasion.
To ensure your family’s safety, make sure to put as many of the following prevention measures in place as possible:
- Your first course of action should be to get out of the house immediately. If there’s a front door, back door or window, get as far away as possible. Once you’re in a safe place, call 000. In serious situations, you might need to consider escaping even if it means you’re likely to hurt yourself. One injury is nothing compared to your life.
- If escape is out of the question, barricading yourself might be an option. Keep in mind that many interior doors aren’t especially sturdy, so the best places to hide are areas of the home with heavy, locking doors where you won’t be detected.
- Whether you’re barricaded or not, try to arm yourself with a de facto personal weapon. A baseball bat, a frying pan, a knife, it doesn’t have to be a firearm. In case you encounter the intruder, do the best you can to fight back. Plan to strike weak points like the face, neck, and eyes.
- Once you’ve exhausted all possibilities of flight or hiding, call 000. No matter what, a response from 000 is going to take some time. You need to protect yourself as much as possible before calling 000.
- Since a response from 000 might take some time, make sure you have Leelou downloaded on your phone. With this app, you can contact immediately all 5 guardians/neighbors in case of an invasion. In that way, they will be able to help you out escape a house invasion.
Remember: The best defense against becoming a victim of a home invasion is having multiple layers of security.
WHEN FACING THE INTRUDER
Even during grim circumstances, staying as calm as possible is just as important as any other safety measure. By keeping your wits about you, you will be better able to recognize an opportunity to take action. Whether it be an opportunity to dial 000, using the Leelou app, escape, or physically incapacitate an intruder, staying calm and using your head to think can absolutely save your life.
The same can be said when it comes to avoiding grave mistakes. For example, should you and your family be held at gunpoint by an intruder, never try pulling your own weapon unless the moment is truly a matter of life and death? In addition, if you do, in fact, own a weapon, make sure you take a gun safety course. Owning a gun and knowing how to use it in a life-threatening situation are two very different things. Additionally, never willingly allow an intruder to take you to another location. Chances are that destination will be your last!
Don’t be a hero! Never follow an intruder once he has left your residence. Immediately contact the police and let them go after the perpetrator.
Last, but not least, never fight over your personal belongings. No matter how valuable your personal belongings may be, they are nowhere near as valuable as the lives of you and your family!