I still remember moving into my first place as if it were yesterday. Oh, how great it felt living on my own for the first time. I enjoyed the freedom of having no one to answer to, staying up late, sleeping in as long as I wished, and the other perks that came with being a young adult on my own. However, my perfect world was shattered one mid afternoon when I approached my front door and noticed it was ajar. Being the determined person that I was, I immediately pulled my knife from my gym bag and proceeded to go through the house, one room and closet at a time. I was determined to catch the person who invaded my sanctity and give him or her a piece of my mind (or knife)!
As I think back on that day, I realize how foolish I was and how easily I could have become a victim of a violent attack. In fact, according to a U.S. Department of Justice study, if you are home when a criminal gains entry, there is about a one in three chance of becoming a victim of violence. Even more alarming, the majority of those burglaries turn into rape when females are home. Since that intrusion, I have made it my mission to learn about personal protection, and now I share my knowledge with others as the owner of 365 Self-Defense.
In my Refuse To Be A Victim © seminar, I cover six major areas where everyday citizens fall prey to criminals. One such area is home invasions. In this brief article, I will provide tips that you can immediately put into practice. However, I encourage you to attend one of the seminars so can develop a safety plan for all areas of your life.
Create A Home Invasion Plan
The majority of people have a tornado plan, many even have a fire evacuation plan, but how many of you have a plan for a home invasion? According to the FBI, a home invasion takes place every fifteen seconds in the United States. No neighborhood is immune to attacks; even the most prestigious of areas are prone to criminal activity. This statement is not to scare you, but to instead serve as a wake-up call to create a safety plan, preferably before you need one.
Imagine you were in a back room of your home when you hear a window shatter in the living room, what would you do? If you answered, it depends, you are correct. During any potentially dangerous situation, you have three options; you can run, hide, or fight. In that order!
If faced with a home invasion, your first instinct should be to run. Not running is where I went wrong during my home invasion many years ago. I could have easily run from the scene, yet I bypassed this option and went straight to fight. Running sounds simple, and it could be, but you must plan for it. Otherwise, different instincts might kick in, instincts that could cause you and your family greater harm. Therefore, the time to practice running is before a home invasion occurs.
Create an Escape Plan
1. Map out possible escape routes for different entrance points in your home.
2. Run through each route (evaluating pros and cons) and modify them as needed.
3. Teach the escape plan to your family and practice it often.
If running is not an option, your next best alternative is to hide. There is an art to hiding, one that begins with a safe room. If you are fortunate enough to have the finances and perfect timing, you could incorporate an elaborate safety system, complete with automation and a reinforced safe room as you build your new home. However, most of us do not have this good fortune and therefore, must improvise by setting up a safe room in our existing home.
Create a Safe Room
1. Chose a room in your home to serve as your safe room. The ideal room has only one entry door and a window.
2. Reinforce the room by installing a solid door, sturdy lock, and a door jammer (a simple door stopper will work). Also consider items for cover, such as a full bookcase.
3. Stock the room with enough supplies and weapons for your entire household. Items to consider:
a. Cell phone with charger (even one without a service plan can dial 911).
b. Index card with your name and address on it. You might be surprised how often people forget basic information during a home invasion, and the 911’s caller ID system does not recognize non-serviced cell phones. Therefore, an index card is important, not only for children and visitors but for owners who find themselves plagued by fear induced amnesia.
c. Flashlight and extra batteries.
d. Extra house and car keys.
e. Multiple weapons (firearms, knives, mace, bats, etc.), remember to include extra ammunition and magazines for firearms.
f. Escape ladder.
g. A backpack loaded with medical treatment aids, food and water, life-saving medicines such as inhalers, and other supplies. Pack for a 48-hour hide or flight situation.
4. Like tornado drills at school, it is critical that you practice retreating to the safe room with your entire family in tow. Make the practice realistic; include no-notice drills, drills where family members are in different areas of the home, and drills where you must deploy the escape ladder.
When seconds count, the police are minutes away! Therefore, if you cannot run or hide, you must be prepared to fight. Unfortunately, this is when many people tend to freeze.
To overcome this tendency, you must plan and practice for a fight:
1. Practice visualization. Your mind does not know the difference between real and imaginary events. Use this to your advantage! Imagine yourself in your home, and someone kicks in the door closest to you. Where is your nearest weapon? If none are nearby, this is a time to position one there.
2. Study the rest of your home, looking for items you could use as a weapon if forced to stand your ground in a given room.
3. Practice retrieving your weapons from different locations in the room and home.
4. Remember, during the encounter; the intruder has three options: run away, comply, or challenge you. If he runs away, let him go.
Surviving a home invasion boils down to mindset, preplanning, and practice. When you commit to all three, you will increase your chances of survival and that of your family.
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