How many times have you been laying in bed late at night and you hear a strange noise? You perk up, listen closely and determine it’s nothing. But what if it wasn’t? What if it was the sound of an intruder breaking into your home? Would you know the best course of action to keep your family and yourself safe? No break-in is entirely predictable, but the 5 tips below will help put you in the best position to avoid big trouble.
1) Have a Plan
Like with any disaster, it’s always smart to have a plan of action in place. In the case of a break-in, simply having a baseball bat in the closet isn’t a plan. Make sure everyone in the house knows exactly what to do and where to go. It also helps to practice your break-in plan occasionally, so that it will be second nature when you’re faced with danger. Have an idea of what to do in various scenarios. Put together an escape plan for when you think it’s best to flee your home. Alternatively, know how to proceed if you feel unsafe leaving the property. Each of the following steps should be a part of your plan for how to survive a home invasion.
2) Act quickly
Once you have determined that an intruder has broken in, the next 30 seconds are critical to how the situation plays out. In fact, most deaths during home invasions occur in the first 30 seconds.1 While taking swift action can make all the difference, rushing and panicking will only lead to problems. The first thing to do is to stay quiet and listen. Being careful to remain out of sight, try to determine key details, such as how many intruders there are, where in the house they are and if they appear to be looking for a quick score or if they are a threat to your safety. After making a judgment of what the intruders are up to, snap into action by alerting everyone else in your home and initiating the appropriate plan.
3) Gather in a safe room
In most cases, it may be risky to leave your home, so moving to a designated safe room is recommended. Be sure to stock the room with a phone, water, a flashlight and a means of self-defense, if worse comes to worse. You’ll want to remain in this room until you are completely confident the intruders have vacated the premises. In the event that you don’t feel safe moving to another room, all bedrooms should have functional door locks that can dissuade anyone from entering. In your safe room, you may also want to have a heavy piece of furniture that you can slide in front of the door. Preventing intruders from getting to your loved ones guarantees their safety.
4) Call 9-1-1
As soon as you can, dial 9-1-1 and tell the operator that a break-in is progress. Your address should automatically pop up in the system. Always charge your cell phone at night so it will be ready to use in case of emergency. If you can’t speak, just calling 9-1-1 and hanging up will alert the police of a possible disturbance at your property and they will investigate. If possible, once connected to emergency services, leave your phone on and put it in speaker mode so that the operator can hear what is going on.
When thrust into a life-threatening situation, people will have different instinctual reactions. Some may go for a weapon and try to be a hero. Others may try to get away at all costs. The safest response is to avoid confrontation altogether. Burglars want to get in and out of your house in three to five minutes and they target houses they think are empty.2 When residents are home, it complicates their plan and you may even take them by surprise. As a result, they may act in a hostile nature. Do your best to not to look at or speak to them. If you come face to face with your home invader and must engage in conversation, follow their demands closely. They will be less likely to harm anyone if you are compliant. Should they act violently anyway, you may be driven to self-defense. Weapons like bats, knives, guns and pepper spray should only be used as a last resort. Remember, the safety of your family is of the utmost importance and shouldn’t be risked at any cost.