Do you have a plan in the event of a home invasion? Do you have contingencies to that plan based on where you may be in your home in the unlikely event of a home invasion taking place? If you take home self-defense seriously, it is important to have a plan, preparations, equipment and contingencies in the event of a home invasion. Does it need to be a detailed, step-by-step plan? Not necessarily. As the military saying goes “no plan survives first contact with the enemy” but it is important to know what you intend to do in the event of a home invasion.
This article is a true accounting of a scenario that happened to a member of ours. It is written in his own words and based on a recent personal experience of his.
I was jolted awake by the alarm on my ADT mobile phone app. A split second later the alarm on the wall panel in our master bedroom went off. My wife and I instinctively jumped out of bed, and in a daze tried to figure out what was happening. We quickly realized it was the security system alarm.
Over the years, both my wife and I have set off the alarm by accident. These false alarms are usually the result of neglecting to turn off the system when we get up in the morning and open a door or window fitted with a sensor. In fact, on more than one occasion my wife tripped the alarm while I was sleeping in. Although it snapped me out of a dream, I would quickly realize she was awake and likely set off the alarm by accident.
This time was different. My wife was in bed with me. It was dark outside. Our teenage kids weren’t up. This may be the real thing I thought as I stood beside my bed still shaking off the cobwebs in my brain. My next thought was to get my gun, so I knelt to access the handgun safe under my bed. It has an electronic lock, opened by pressing buttons based on the code I set. Good, bad or indifferent, my code is easy for me to remember and more so, works by touch in the dark. I pressed in my code. The safe didn’t open. I did it again, the safe still refused to open. What is going on? My anxiety was rising, because if there was a bad guy in the house and I couldn’t access my pistol then the pistol safe itself might become my first line of defense. Finally, on the third try, the safe’s spring-loaded door popped open.
I retrieved my Baretta 92FS, which I had acquired in 1994. Despite owning several handguns, I had more rounds through this pistol than any other I own. Not to mention, I had qualified (usually Expert) on it many times while serving in the Army Reserve. Nonetheless, I have no accessories on it – such as tactical light or optical sights. Thus, I had to also retrieve a tactical flashlight from my nightstand drawer. Between the safe failures and retrieving multiple equipment, I lost valuable time. Time I could have used to check the kids, assess the situation and dial 911.
While I retrieved my firearm, my wife instinctively turned off the alarm. Why instinctively? As mentioned previously, we have negligently set off the alarm many times, which made us complacent and led to us developing a first instinct to shut it off. Initially I didn’t think too much of it, especially given it created silence, allowing me to listen for an intruder. However, turning the alarm off so quickly also canceled the monitoring service from notifying police.
Our bedroom door was still shut so I asked my wife to open it so I could maintain the flashlight in one hand, the gun in the other. She questioned opening it, twice. So, I did it myself using my support hand in which I also held my flashlight.
I feared the worst. I felt my heart beating fast. I was concerned for my family. I was concerned about my ability to engage an intruder. Can I manage this situation? It didn’t matter, I had no choice; this was forced on me.
I proceeded to walk carefully and slowly into the hallway, training the flashlight and firearm toward the entry way of the front door, then peering down into the family room over a railing from our second floor hallway. Listening intently, I wondered if they came in through a basement window. I heard nothing. I saw nothing.
Several minutes passed. I returned to the bedroom and inspected the alarm panel, as I remembered it would record which sensor set it off. However, I couldn’t remember how to pull up the activity screen. Great. However, I did know how to do it on the phone app, and using it quickly revealed the sensor that was triggered.
It was the sensor on a sliding glass door accessing an upper deck from our bedroom. If there was anyone in our bedroom, I think I would have known it by now. Why this sensor? I noticed the door was slightly open. I stepped onto the deck, looked around and determined there was no threat. There were no signs on the ground below.
Then I started to piece together the scenario and made sense of what happened. We cracked the door open by about three inches for cool air flow, as it was still warm weather and the air get uncomfortably stuffy in our second-floor bedroom. The sensor is placed on the top of the door and the counter sensor is on the wall above it. As it turns out, the door can be open 2-3 inches without setting off the alarm. Who knows what finally caused the senser to trip? Nonetheless, thankfully it was nothing but a false alarm.
There are a number of lessons to be learned from my frightening false alarm:
- Make sure you can access your firearm quickly and effectively, every time.
- Put a light on your firearm to free up a hand for opening doors, moving things (like chairs, toys or other potential obstacles), calling 911, etc.
- Check the batteries frequently on your safe, gun light, etc.
- Don’t turn the alarm off, it sends notification to law enforcement – you may need them.
- Have a plan. No single plan can address any number of potential home invasions.
Developing a Home Defense Plan
Take home defense seriously – create a plan. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Of course, an intruder is not going to follow your plan, but at least have a plan of what your first steps are at any sign of a home invasion. Have contingencies thought out. Talk with your spouse or significant other about what to do if it happens.
These questions can help you get started developing a plan:
- What will be your primary weapon and additional gear you may need such as a flashlight or backup weapon.
- What are your home vulnerabilities? What are the doors and windows offering intruders the easiest access to take advantage of? Do you live in a bad neighborhood? Bad lighting on the street or around your home?
- Who occupies the home and where are they located? How can you protect all of them?
- How will you contact law enforcement and a backup source?
- What are the most likely avenues of approach by intruders and how you can cover them without putting others at risk?
- Is there a safe space you may want to retreat to or just have the kids go there?
- Should you have multiple firearms accessible through the house? What about other weapons? What about weapons for others in the house to use?
- Invest in preventative measures such as good locks for doors, a quality security system that includes sensors on doors and windows, integrated cameras and that alerts law enforcement when it’s set off.
- Discuss plans with home occupants.
- Do you have one or more ready escape routes (avoiding a confrontation is the best way to save lives)? Can it be done? Where? How?
- Create a rally point. If you can get all occupants in the same location, that makes it easier to defend them. Communicate that with them and make sure they understand.
- We all assume a home invasion will happen at night, but what about different scenarios such as during the middle of the day while you are in a home office? Or are watching TV in the family room?
- Have a medical plan and equipment in the unlikely event one of your loved ones is hurt. Invest in a good, quality First Aid bag. One that has tourniquets and means to slow or stop bleeding.
Don’t just have a plan. Rehearse your plan, without loaded weapons of course! Communicate the plan with your family members. Make sure they know what to do. Have a communication system worked out. Regularly confirm that your gun safe operates as expected, your flashlight works and train with your firearm.
Resources and Products
Here are links to additional articles and resources on having a home defense plan.
You never know when the unthinkable home invasion may occur. Be prepared. Create a plan, rehearse the plan. Have the necessary products and equipment to not just defend your home and loved ones but treat injuries as well. Don’t wait. Plan. Rehearse it.
– Lieutenant Colonel, Jeff S., U.S. Army Reserve (Retired)
*Second Call Defense is not insurance and does not sell or promote insurance products. Second Call Defense is a membership organization that provides its members access to the “Second Amendment Support Foundation, Inc.,” which provides the means necessary to protect Second Call Defense members from the legal aftermath of exercising their right to self-defense. For an overview of the differences between Second Call Defense Member Benefits and traditional insurance, click here.