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Home Invasions, Part 2: Planning the Tricky Part

Home Invasions, Part 2: Planning the Tricky Part

Part 1 of this discussion on how to prevent and prepare for a home invasion offered guidelines for preventing one from occurring in the first place, as well as the beginning of a predetermined action plan that involves all family members. In the event of an actual home invasion—you’re awakened by a window breaking, a door being pried open, the dog barking—after calling 911, the goal is to get all family members into one room, typically the master bedroom, fortify it, and await arrival of the police.

But how do you actually do that?

You the protector may not be the one to hear the intruder. You may be sound asleep. So your plan needs to address the various contingencies involving each family member, their abilities (mostly a factor of age), and where they’re located in the home.

For example, if one of your children hears the break-in and is old enough to have a cell phone and make a rational assessment, they should call 911. Ideally, he/she would then immediately come to your room and wake you. But if there’s a danger of encountering the intruder, he/she might stay put and call you.

In Part 1, I said that in 99 percent of home invasions intruders think nobody’s home and will quickly leave if they find out you’re home and aware of their presence. So letting them know you’re home and aware of their presence—by turning on lights and making noise—could be helpful. Your preparedness plan would address how best to do this by each family member.

The Dangerous Part

If you’re alone or with a spouse/partner, and a break-in occurs, the matter is simple: You secure your bedroom door, close the blinds, call 911, and hunker down behind your bed with your weapon. There’s nothing more to say other than wait for the police and don’t leave your room. I’m an expert in the combat use of weapons and entering unknown locations in pursuit of bad guys. But in this situation, even for me, the smart play is to hunker down and wait for the police.

But if you have children, and there’s a break-in, you can’t just hunker down. You need to go get them.

You need a plan for this. When you leave the bedroom, where you go will depend on the layout of your home, how many children you have, their ages, and where they are. You need to know the choke-point in your home. If all bedrooms are upstairs, the top of the stairs might be the place to get to and make your presence known. If bedrooms and children are both upstairs and down, you need a predetermined plan based on different contingencies, e.g., first rounding up the children on the same floor as your bedroom.

I’ve been trained that when entering a child’s bedroom in this scenario, you don’t try to wake them up; instead, you drag them out of bed to the safe room. If they’re small enough, you carry them. You will not have time to try to wake them and explain what’s going in. If you practice this beforehand, run through drills, they’ll understand what you’re doing in a real-life situation.

Weapons and Armor

If you’re going to roam, you need a weapon, in case the intruder confronts you, as well as a flashlight. These should be quickly accessible in your bedroom.

If you have a firearm, a couple points: 1) a handgun will be more maneuverable for moving throughout your home, and 2) don’t use a gun light as your flashlight; you don’t want to be pointing into rooms and spaces where your children might be.

If you don’t have a firearm, you need something else. I recommend a weapon that can be wielded with one hand, such as a fire poker, golf club, solid cane or walking stick, tomahawk, maybe a small bat.

I’m a strong advocate of keeping body armor in the home. I’ve always said, or asked rhetorically: If you keep a firearm, at home or in the car, why would you not also keep body armor? Even if your weapon is not a firearm and the intruder you confront does not have a firearm, body armor offers protection against knives and other weapons, not just guns with bullets.

Some experts say you don’t have time to put on body armor. I agree with this sentiment, but there's armor that can be put on very quickly. For example, 221B’s QRF Plate Carrier is stripped down, low profile, holds both small and large ballistic plates for different body sizes, and can be thrown on in three seconds. It's designed to be optimal for home defense.

It’s About the Stakes, Not the Odds

Now if you do roam the home with a firearm to protect and collect your kids, you must be prepared to use it, and maybe even engage in a firefight. Thus, your preparedness plan should allow for the possibility of stray bullets. The plan should specify, for each family member location, exactly what they should take cover behind.

Most people, even a lot of gun owners, would be surprised at the penetration power of typical handgun rounds, such as 9mm. These bullets easily go through most walls, even multiple walls, and most household furniture and appliances, as well. What does stop most handgun calibers is concrete, cinder blocks, brick, and compact sand. A bookcase could also be effective, if set up so that bullets would through multiple thick books.

If you want to use professional rather than improvised anti-ballistic protection, consider body armor such as the QRF Plate Carrier mentioned above. For children and adults with small body frames, 221B makes a plate carrier called Guardian Angel.

Ballistic shields are another option. We have a fairly large assortment of shields, including some relatively inexpensive models such as our Alpha Shield and Delta Reflex.

Again, it’s unlikely that you'll find yourself in a home invasion situation. And all the preparation we’ve discussed is time consuming and perhaps even expensive. The level of preparedness, preparing at all, is a decision we all have to make.

I’ve read many social media discussions where people talk about the long odds and how it’s not worth going through all the trouble. I’ve spent most of my adult life helping people to stay safe—first as a police officer, and then creating tactical gear for 221B Tactical. From my experience, being prepared matters.

When it comes to the safety of your family, your children, it’s not about the odds. It’s about the stakes.

Please let me know any questions or concerns.


Suresh 221B Tactical

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