10 Tips how to React to a Home Invasion
Switzerland is the target place for burglars... as we got to know from the newspapers and the flyer we found some days ago in our letter box. The good point is that most of the time the criminals are looking only for our valuables and they flee when they realize someone is home.
But just in case let’s think through how we can prepare for a violent confrontation. Most people have never pondered this question for themselves or with their family. How will I react under similar circumstances? How will my family react independent of me? How will we react together? Most people don’t know for sure how they will respond to a personal crisis until it occurs.
Many are surprised afterwards by their behavior as having been heroic, calm, cowardly, or stupid. Would you try to overpower the invaders? Would you go for your gun? Would you try to activate an alarm? Would you try to escape and call for help? Would you comply with their demands and hope they don’t hurt you? Would you allow them to tie you up? Would you allow them to take a family member away from the home? Would you risk death to save your family from harm?
One thing is clear, there is no one single correct response to a life-threatening home invasion scenario. Sometimes fighting and screaming works, especially if there are neighbors who will intervene or call the police. It makes no sense to risk fighting if you are physically incapable of doing so effectively. Total compliance sometimes works. The invaders might leave you unharmed and just leave. Keeping a cool head is important, even in dire circumstances.
- Having a family and neighborhood plan is essential. If you develop a home security plan and talk about it with your family and neighbors, the chances of acting appropriately and getting help are greatly improved.
- Prevention works best. Harden your home or apartment with strong doors and locks.
- Use a wide-angle peephole and instruct everyone in your family not to open the door to strangers.
- Be suspicious of someone claiming to be making a delivery that you did not order or use other tricks to get you to open the door.
- Audible alarm sirens can prevent home invasion…if they are set. Most alarm panels have an emergency panic button that will instruct your alarm monitoring company to call the police.
- Automatic dial telephones: if you dial in speakerphone mode the police dispatcher can listen in on what is going on in the room.
- Have an escape plan because if someone in the household can escape and call for help, the home invaders will have lost their advantage of having privacy and time. If you have a plan for escaping, make sure you include were to run and what to say. Home invaders will sometimes threaten harm to children to get adults to comply with their demands. But at the same time, children are often overlooked as potential rescuers and sometimes are not as well guarded. If the opportunity presents itself, a trained child can call the police, activate an alarm panic button, or escape to the neighbor’s house. If they are capable, they should do it.
- Get out. If someone has broken into your house, your very best bet is to leave the house. Of course, that may not be possible if, for instance, you’re on the second floor or there are kids in the house. So experts recommend designating a “safe room” with a solid door, a deadbolt, a phone, a flashlight and tools to protect yourself. Once you’re in the room, call the police and stay on the line until help arrives. Let the intruder know you’re home by yelling that police are on the way.
- Ordinary household products can work in self defense. Chemical fire extinguishers work great to disorient the robber.
- Fighting with the intruders sometimes doesn’t work because the victim was pre-selected for their lack of fight capability. All you need is one incapacitating blow to the nose, eyes, or throat to allow time to get out of there and call for help. Take a self-defense class together with your family so all can learn the proper techniques and can practice the procedures.
And what not to do
Don’t ever try to pull a weapon on an armed perpetrator who has you covered with a handgun. Don’t ever agree to be transported somewhere else like to an ATM machine or other location unless you feel it’s a life or death decision. The second crime scene is almost always more violent than in your home. If you have a choice, never agree to be tied-up, handcuffed or be placed in the trunk of a car because it takes away most of your self defense options. Don’t ever follow an intruder once they leave your home. Leave that for the police.
And the most important: Don’t fight over property loss, it can be replaced…your life cannot.
Source: Fred Mastison, president of Force Options, tactical and self-defense training company