It’s a routine that many Americans perform each night before turning in for the evening. 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 in 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.
Of course, no one likes to think of such a chilling scenario. But in looking at today’s disturbing statistics, it’s easy to see the importance of giving such a scenario some thought.
- 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.
- In the United States alone, home burglaries & invasions take place every 15 seconds.
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 levelheaded and prepared.
What Should You Do?
When it comes to falling victim to a home invasion, it’s hard to know what your instinctive reaction will be until you’re in the midst of the frightening event. Our reactions depend on many things: age, gender, health, strength, personality, culture, skills, etc.
With all of those factors in mind, there are three common responses that people usually fall into:
- run away
- comply with demands
- resist and/or fight the intruder.
Of all the possible response, 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 include 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.
The Security Onion: The More Layers The Better.
Layer 1 - Family Safety Plan
Having 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:
- Include emergency contact numbers.
- Include an escape plan for each of your family members.
- Review and discuss the plan with each member of your family.
- Utilizing a stopwatch, practice the plan by acting out hypothetical scenarios.
- Put a plan in writing and rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse with your entire family.
- Provide your neighbors with a copy of the plan, review it with them, and advise them of their role.
Layer 2 - Prevention
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:
- Peepholes should have a wide-angle lens and be within viewing level.
- All accessible windows should be treated with a glass protection film.
- Do not open the door to repairmen or anyone else you are not expecting.
- Ensure each member of your family knows not to open the door to strangers.
- Replace standard exit door hinges with a minimum of 2 1/2inch steel screws.
- Ask delivery people to leave deliveries that you are not expecting on the doorstep.
- Reinforce your residence with solid wood or metal doors, high-grade dead bolts and quality locks.
- Consider installing a well-constructed security door brace at the base of the interior side of your door. The brace must be able to withstand a minimum of 1800 lbs. of pressure.
- Sliding doors and windows should be equipped with anti-lift and anti-slide features. If they don’t, then make sure to insert a solid, wooden closet dowel or metal rod in the tracks of at-risk doors and windows that slide horizontally, such as patio doors.
With protective window films and a security door brace in place, you can radically slow down an intruder’s attempts to force his way into your home. Although a burglar may eventually produce enough force to smash through the door or windows, it would require numerous attention-getting blows, kicks, etc., drastically increasing his risk of being seen or caught. In such instances, the would-be intruder will likely flee the premises.
A security door brace can also be used to turn a particular room or closet into a "safe room." With a quality security door brace installed at the base of the door, you can buy yourself the needed time it takes for police to arrive on the scene before the intruder has a chance to get to you and your family.
Remember: the best defense against becoming a victim of a home invasion is having multiple layers of security.
Layer 3 – Alarms
If you have one, ALWAYS SET YOUR ALARM! Alarms won’t stop a determined home invader. However, if the alarm siren is obscenely loud and the system detects a breach of a door or windows, you just may have the precious seconds to get to safety.
Be sure to prominently post your alarm company’s signage so that it can be easily seen by would-be intruders. Letting an intruder know that your home is equipped with an alarm acts as a deterrent and causes many criminals to find an easier victim.
Layer 4 – Dialing 911
When calling 911, you don’t have to physically speak to the 911 operator to receive help. All you need is the ability to "dial" 911 and for the call to be answered by the 911 operator. In cases where there is complete silence from the caller or the call is cut off, 911 operators have strict instructions to contact police and dispatch them to the caller’s residence. The 911 system will automatically detect your home address.
This is where phones with automatic dialers and speaker-phone capabilities come in very handy. When an intruder breaks into your home, you may only have a matter of seconds to dial 911. Pushing one automatic-dial button takes less time than dialing 9-1-1, and every second counts. Using your speakerphone feature to dial 911 can also allow the operator to hear what’s taking place as it is happening.
Be sure that each phone in your residence has "at least" an auto-dialer feature. Also ensure that everyone in your family knows how to dial 911 using the auto-dial feature, as well as the speaker phone.
Layer 5 – Keep a Level Head
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 911, 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!
Jordan Frankel, commonly known as The Security Sensei develops revolutionary security products and solutions that protect both lives & property. Countless agencies and corporations such as NASDAQ, the US Military, and law enforcement entrust Mr. Frankel with their security and safety. Jordan Frankel is also frequent media guest addressing the personal and financial consequences associated with home invasions, burglaries and other serious threats. In addition, Mr. Frankel's security products & inventions have been featured on Oprah, FOX news and in countless publications. Jordan's ability to outsmart the proverbial bad guys - coupled with his commitment to making security an affordable reality for everyone is the key to Global Security Experts Inc success. Mr. Frankel (The Security Sensei) is available for media interviews by appointment only.
Mr. Frankel is a proud member of:
The American Society for Industrial Security.
The International Association for Counter Terrorism & Security.
The Society of Professional Locksmiths.