A complete home security plan will go beyond the gun. While firearms are a key element for home defense, they are just one of the things you need to consider. By creating a layered defense, you can reduce the odds of someone breaking in, while also increasing your advantages if you are faced with a
Here are some things you can do to help keep you and your family safe at home:
MAINTAIN YOUR PRIVACY
Be careful what you tell people and who you tell. For example, avoid posting details of trips in advance on social media so that you don’t tip-off potential robbers that the house will
If you need someone to enter your home when you are gone, give him or her the key in advance. Never leave a “hidden” key for someone to access. Even if it isn’t put in an obvious spot,
you never know who might see you hide it or retrieve it later.
If you need work done on your house or your yard, keep an eye on
the contractors, and don’t leave them unescorted in sensitive parts of the house. You should also avoid leaving empty boxes for expensive items, like new TVs, out on trash day or otherwise
advertising what valuables you have.
DON’T MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM
Don’t leave ladders or tools in easily accessible places, like against the house or in poorly secured sheds. This keeps someone from using your own tools to break into your house.
(This is even truer for owners of gun safes. Don’t install them
near the very tools needed to break into them.)
And don’t leave a garage door opener in a car in the driveway,
especially if you aren’t home.
DON’T GIVE THEM PLACES TO HIDE
By keeping your yard well lit, you deny potential intruders the cover of darkness. If you don’t want lights on all the time, use motion detectors, which are inexpensive and easy to install. They also have the added benefit of possibly alerting you when someone is in the yard when they light up.
Another trick is to plant roses or other thorny plants outside windows to keep bad guys from literally “hiding in the bushes.”
HARDEN YOUR HOME
By “hardening” your home you make it physically harder for someone to break in. This may send some potential intruders off in search of easier prey, as well as keep out, or at least slow down, more determined home invaders.
The security of your home begins with all of your entrances. At the very least, lock all windows and doors, including upper floor windows.
All exterior doors should be solid.
Do not have “doggie doors,” as people have been known to crawl through to get inside.
Avoid doors with glass that can be knocked out to access the
inside locks from outside.
Door locks should be grade 1 or grade 2 deadbolts with a four-screw strike plate box and a heavy duty strike plate.
The screws should be 3 inches long so they extend into the
wall frame. This will make it harder for anyone to kick in your door. For extra protection, specialty products such as EZ Armor or security doors can be installed.
One common weak point is the door between the house and the garage. If this is a hollow-core, interior-grade door, it should be replaced with a solid exterior-grade door for added protection.
There are more options for alarm systems now than in the past. In addition to commercial services, do-it-yourself systems can be set up with webcams and motion sensors that can be programmed to automatically call specific phone numbers.
WHAT TO DO IF SOMEONE BREAKS IN
No matter what precautions you take, you still need a plan about what to do if someone breaks in while you are home.
The first thing is to avoid letting the bad guys in yourself. Be wary of strangers knocking at the door, especially at odd hours.
Also be aware of one common tactic known as the “push in,”
where they convince you to open the door to talk to them and then violently push in through the door.
To avoid this trick, never open your door for strangers. And if they say they need your help, offer to call 911 for them instead.
The Safe Room
One of the key concepts from the National Rifle Association’s
“Personal Protection in the Home” class is the idea of the “safe room.” The idea behind the same room is to avoid a confrontation with an intruder by retreating to a predetermined location where you set up a defensive position.
This reduces both your physical danger and also your legal liability by showing that you did everything you could to avoid a confrontation. Since you should only use a firearm as a
last resort, this reduces the chances you’ll need to shoot.
In most cases the safe room will be the master bedroom. Whatever
room you choose, though, the safe room should have a door
(preferably with a lock), a window to allow escape or communication with the police, and a phone.
If you don’t have a landline, get in the habit of charging your portable or cellular phone in the bedroom safe room so you always have it available. The other things you should have in the safe room include a flashlight, a firearm (secured
against unauthorized use), and extra magazines or ammunition.
If someone breaks in, the simple plan should be to gather your
family, retreat to the safe room, arm yourself and call 911. Once you have made contact with the 911 operator, stay on the line until the police arrive, and be aware that the
call is being recorded.
When you are set up behind the bed or other concealment, you can cover the door to the room with your firearm. If the intruder tries to break into the safe room, you may be able to shout
a warning through the door and, if he persists, you will be ready to defend yourself.
FIREARMS FOR HOME DEFENSE
Since there are several excellent books available on this subject, I’m only going to cover some general principles here. First off, anyone entrusted with a home defense firearm should be trained in its use, be able to operate it well, and have an understanding on when the use of lethal force is justified.
The specific firearms should be chambered in a suitable defensive caliber, be reliable, easy to shoot, and hold a
sufficient quantity of ammunition.
Long guns, whether rifles or shotguns, should be restricted to the safe room where they can serve as fixed point “artillery.”
Handguns are suitable for the safe room and are especially useful if you need to move around the house to gather family members or answer an unexpected late night knock on the door. If you don’t have a holster, you can always hold the handgun discretely behind your back while you check out the situation.
A weapon-mounted light is recommended for both long guns and handguns so you can make absolutely sure of your target before firing. Since you don’t want to point the gun at anyone you don’t want to shoot, you also want to keep a handheld flashlight in the safe room to avoid having to use the gun as a general-purpose light.
While the prospect of a home invasion is scary, with planning, you can prepare to defend yourself and your family if it ever happens.
Editor’s note: For more information on the security resources
mentioned above, visit EZ Armor by Armor Concepts
(armorconcepts.com) and Kwikset Locks (kwikset.com).
Story by Rob Reed