It is 3:00 am and you wake to the sound of breaking glass. You are disoriented but quickly realize someone has smashed through the patio door. You sit up as your heart is racing and you are desperately listening for more sound. Your breath stops as you now hear footsteps in the hall and drawers being opened. This was a day you had hoped would never happen. Yet, the dangerous reality of life was now rummaging through your house. It is at this point in our literary drama that the story can go one of two ways. First is that the homeowner is completely unprepared for this and possibly panics potentially getting injured or even killed. The second path is one where our homeowner has prepared for such an event and has an action plan in place. It goes without saying that you need to be homeowner number two, yet many people do not really understand what goes into home defense. They may buy a gun, but that is the end of it. With that in mind, I believe it is time to take a look at the 5 must do’s of home defense!
1. Have a Plan
Many people have at least given thought to the “what if” regarding a fire. Fewer have thought about a plan to deal with a home invasion, however. There are a multitude of things you need to consider such as how would you escape, if necessary, where would I hide if needed, and should I leave my room or go out and possibly confront the intruder? These are worthy of a great deal of thought. While I can not design your plan without knowing your unique circumstances, I can offer some advice.
Unless you have a reason to leave your room, stay where you are. Shut and lock your door, find a good defensive position, and call the police.
If you have an exit available, take it. The only reason to leave the safe space is if you need to reach a child or loved one in another part of the house. If you do need to move to another person, do so swiftly and directly. Avoid the idea that we need to “clear rooms.” From there have a plan for what happens next. Do you stay in that room now or move back? As I mentioned, there are many moving parts to consider.
2. Choose Your Weapon
A firearm in trained hands is the ultimate equalizer. It allows a petite woman to defend herself from a drastically larger male attacker. It allows average Joe the ability to defend himself against multiple adversaries and it allows everyone the chance to effectively defend their life. Your choice of weapon is contingent upon your skill level. Handguns are the most common weapon found in homes and can do a decent job. A shotgun or rifle however makes a much more effective weapon as they both provide real world stopping power. Regardless of the platform you choose, you must seek professional training to master the weapon in this setting. You may be an exceptional shot on a static range, but in a dark house with an unknown threat, things are much different.
3. Light it Up
While the market for home defense accessories is booming, there is one item that is a must: a well-made, high lumen flashlight. Gone are the days of the log like flashlight with six D batteries in it. Today’s lights are lightweight, small bright LED units that are found everywhere. The primary reason I suggest a light is target identification. If the worst-case scenario occurs and you end up walking through your home with a firearm, you will need to identify anyone that you might shoot. There have been painful tragedies where a homeowner shot a loved one inside their home thinking they were a home invader. A small flashlight in the 500 to 700 lumen range will work well in a home. As with anything you would rely on to protect your life, choose a high-quality light, and change the batteries quarterly whether they are expired or not.
4. Plug the Hole
It is essential that you have a first aid kit as part of your defense set up. If you end up in a physical confrontation you could be injured and possibly shot. It could be several minutes or longer before police arrive. It will be even longer before medical assistance arrives, so we need to be able to apply self-care. This first aid kit is not the one with SpongeBob band aids and insect spray. This kit needs to contain trauma tools like a tourniquet and a hemostatic agent such as QuikClot. Like our firearm, we need professional training to be able to treat our wounds effectively. The rise of trauma medicine and gun shot wound classes has been a great thing for the average person. Once only the realm of medics and trauma teams, these skills are now making their way into average America.
5. Practice Makes Permanent
Now that you have a plan, tools, and training, it is time to practice. It is essential that you walk through your plan and find anything that may interfere with its execution. If there are other people in the home with you, they should also participate. Everyone should have a detailed understanding of the plan and be able to follow it without trying to remember what’s next. I even encourage you to incorporate your unloaded firearm into the practice. Be keenly aware of all the firearms safety rules and rehearse everything from getting out of bed to getting your gun. The more you do it, the more comfortable it will be.
A home invasion is something we all dread. The potential for physical violence, the violation of your home and the emotional trauma that comes with it all are overwhelming. These are the facts of life however and we need to prepare ourselves for an event we pray never happens. By taking time to build a plan and properly equip yourself, you can make the best out of a terrible situation. This planning will ultimately bring you peace of mind.
Download our Firearms and Gear Protection Guide
In this guide, we provide important tips and information about how to think about home defense, firearm protection and safety.
- Home defense must do’s
- Safety and storage best choices
- How to talk to your kids about firearms
- EDC training tips
By Fred Mastison
Mr. Mastison is a national magazine contributor, author, professional firearms & combatives Instructor and executive protection provider & trainer. He currently writes for 16 separate national magazines. He has been teaching in the industry for over 30 years and has divisions in the US, Ireland, Germany, and Mexico.