Home defense plan, safe room, personal protection — these phrases might conjure up thoughts of the 2002 movie Panic Room, which features Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart as a mother and daughter whose new home is invaded by burglars. In this house there is a room that is protected by concrete and steel on all sides, a reinforced steel door, a security system with surveillance cameras, and even a separate phone line. For someone who has the means to afford it, that would be a highly effective place to hide in an emergency. But what can the average person on a budget do to make her home a hard target for criminals?
When I’m at home, I refer to my color condition somewhere between “white” and “yellow.” In this condition, as described by Jeff Cooper’s “Color Codes,” you are mostly relaxed and unaware of what is going on around you. We often drop our guard when we are at home or in some other environment we assume to be safe. Unfortunately, if I haven’t made a plan ahead of time, I could easily become a victim at this point. By making a few improvements to my house, and having a plan of action similar to a fire drill in place, I’m able to feel more safe and secure. In order to best protect myself and my family, I’ve added several layers of defense around my home, commonly known as concentric rings of security.
The first ring should deter a criminal, or at least slow him down. I look at my house from the street curb to see how easy it is to view inside. If a criminal can see your belongings, he might be tempted to break in and steal them. Purchase good window blinds or curtains! If you have bushes in front of windows, trim them to make it more difficult for a bad guy to hide. We have thorny bushes in front of several of our windows to deter criminals from getting too close. Consider installing a security system, or at least some motion-sensor lights that will illuminate the nearby area when activated. One other option, if you don’t mind animals, is to get a dog. Large breeds can act as a deterrent since most criminals don’t want to be attacked, and small breeds tend to bark and alert homeowners to the presence of possible threats. I have one of each!
The next ring should focus on entry points, such as door and windows. Keep your doors locked at all times. Unfortunately, in the world we live in we can no longer take for granted our safety and leave doors unlocked. Exterior doors should be made of solid wood or steel, not weak material such as particle board. Doors and windows must also have good quality locks. These precautions might not be able to stop a determined intruder, but the idea is to give you, the homeowner, as much time as possible to take action to protect yourself and your family.
If the first two layers fail to stop the threat, and an intruder is able to make it inside your home, what will you do and where will you go? Do you have a room that you can go to that will give you the best chance to call for help, yet also meet the threat with equal force if necessary? My home defense plan probably won’t look like yours because our situations are different. However, there are a few suggestions that would benefit everyone.
First off, have some sort of “safe room.” Whether it’s a dedicated stronghold like the one in the movie, or just a bedroom in your house—have one! Replace the cheap door with a sturdier one, and also replace the short hinge screws with ones that are at least 3″ long. Install a deadbolt lock.
Next, have a phone easily accessible. Old cell phones are perfect to keep in your safe room, charged and ready to use. Even if a mobile phone doesn’t currently have active cell service, it can still call 911 in an emergency! A flashlight is another item that is important to keep handy in case of a power outage or at night. Consider keeping a spare set of keys to your house and vehicle in the safe room in case you are able to throw them out a window to police, or escape yourself. It’s possible that you might sustain injuries prior to reaching your safe room, so keep a first aid kit in there as well. Most importantly, have a personal defense weapon! A firearm is the ultimate equalizer, and gives even the smallest woman a fighting chance. Keep extra ammunition accessible, along with any other protection tools that you might desire.
Have a plan, run through it with your family, and keep it as simple as possible. By thinking ahead and practicing what to do in an emergency, you’ll be better able to respond if there’s ever a “thump in the night.”