FYI: Home Defense is not a call of duty game.
Kidding aside, Home defense is one of the initial reasons most good folks come to Trigger Time Gun Club and receive training from the T3 guys.
For many who did not grow up in a culture of guns or with a deep sense of protection, home defense can be kindled for a multitude of reasons: A recent violent encounter, the change in culture/political climate, a new born, or maybe a new neighborhood you don't feel comfortable in. Whatever your reason, home defense doesn't need to be a call of duty.
One of the biggest misnomers I often time try to demystify is the idea that a home defense package always needs to include a firearm. Although it is generally one of the best tools to employ, it is in no way required.
I have had the privilege to work with single mothers, couples, newly weds, baby boomers and everything in between. I have worked with a wide span of folks with different political views and in turn a plethora of moral views and obligations, It is not my job or my teams job to delegate our opinion on the topic of owning a gun. It is however, my teams job to suggest the best means available to defend your family and home with whatever you feel is applicable to your family and personal choices.
In this blog, we are going to discuss several different topics ranging from equipment to methods and training. All of which can be combined or omitted in your quest to become a defensive home owner or tenant.
(Real Disclaimer): Check with your property owner, HOA, city, county and state laws before developing your defense plan.
Step 1: The Morals.
Before you can build your defense plan, you need to make the hard (or easy) decisions on what is acceptable to include in your kit. This includes the obvious: Guns, knives, flashlights, etc...But it also includes budget, moral/religious obligations, personal views and the identification of possibly inflicting equal or greater violent, life changing trauma on another person etc.
It is completely bogus to believe the "Head of the household" regardless of sex or gender or training should be considered the "End all solution". A wife who states: "My husband will protect me..." is not a viable solution. And to continue with "...I would never let my son or daughter help defend this house" is equally ignorant.
What this would indicate to me, is the family is currently not ready to take the step to the next level of defense and this is perfectly acceptable.
What I would submit to any family or house hold is to choose your plan that can be consistent among the entire family or in some cases, room mates. I'm not suggesting we start teaching our five year old's how to pie a corner or use a shotgun, but if Mom and Dad are not comfortable with a gun in the house because of the kids - a hard decision will need to be made.
Case in point: I once had a couple who purchased a pistol for their house hold because of a new born in the family. 2 or 3 months later, the couple came back in to get training and I asked - "So tell me where you keep your firearm?" The wife responded, "We put it up in the attack stair frame." This is an example of a couple who want's to have a fire arm and has made the decision to own one, but has not come to terms with having the gun in the house. I see this all of the time, and it is OK to have these fears and interpretations.
If you are having difficulty reading past this section because some of these ideals belong to you, read below and see how many OTHER options you have before a gun, or even a deadly tool.
Step 2: The Occupancy and Atmosphere.
Occupancy and Atmosphere by definition is the type of property you live on and the density and populace who surround you. This is absolutely critical to identify your occupancy and atmosphere before deciding your defensive package.
The first "Y" in the road of atmosphere starts with identifying a rural, suburban or urban atmosphere. Someone who lives in a 1 story ranch on a 1.3 acre plot will have a different package then a family who lives on the 3rd floor of a metro area apartment complex. Conversely, a typical modern 2 story in a suburban Colorado community (like Westminster) will have different problems then a small, densely populated urban house (like Aurora).
Additionally, atmosphere also includes the populace in which surrounds your home. Crime rate, age profiles, burglary , etc can be a good place to start your research on your neighborhood. That being said, ALWAYS understand the safest most docile neighborhoods and communities can still have a home invasion, rape and even murder.
Finally, know thy neighbor. Yes, meet your neighbor. Really, go knock on the door. Meet them, have dinner, make a cocktail, play with the kids. Above all - learn your neighbors. This is such a huge deal and almost ALWAYS overlooked. Your neighbors are absolutely critical in developing your home defense package, but it does fall into the "Atmosphere" category. Your neighbors potentially could be considered a safe haven, a way of communication, a security measure, or even a rescuer. Conversely, they could be potentially violent, wrong-doers, thieves and criminals.
Now let's change gears. Occupancy is more tangible. Occupancy discusses the actual place you live. Do you live in a brick and mortar house, a poured concrete building complex, a traditional light weight framed wood home or even a trailer home? Not only does this knowledge assist in deciding a firearm selection, it includes deciding on passive security features which we will discuss later. Knowing the building type of your house will help you plan your escape routes, meeting locations, safe havens, or even defensive strategist.
Step 3: Making a plan.
Making a plan is by far the most arduous task at hand. I can't even begin to explain all of the options their are but we can talk about a plans. I understand their are many more but these three can serve as the foundation of your own, unique ideas:
Plan 1 of 3: A Passive package with no defensive tools:
Reason: This plan will generally work for most families and individuals who choose not to own a firearm, are on a strict budget or for those who do not have the moral courage to inflict death and violence on another when given legal parameters.
Idea: Understand this plan should never be offensive in design and generally includes only reaction to a specific problem or threat. This is not the optimal situation to be in and is a major con to this defensive package.
Method: Start with brainstorming ideas on paper. Some basic things that need to be identified and planned include:
1. Passive security measures/Identification of threats
2. Family check/Muster area (Safe haven)
3. Communication to rescuers.
4. Egress (Exiting a threat area)
1.) Passive security measures: Understand, their are many things we can do to the outside of our house or occupancy to mitigate many invasions and unwanted break-ins.
A good place to start is by double locking doors. I think it is safe to say, most of us live in a society where leaving the house unlocked is a thing of the past. Although this is something we usually wish was different, it is real life. Locking doors is something that needs to become motor memory. Not only for parents, but for children and roommates. Many times we do a great job of locking our front doors but often overlook or under estimate garage door entrances, side doors, and rear sliders. Also remember, day light hours give us a false sense of security. In summary, when not in use, or without securing the door by eye sight or proximity, all doors should remained locked and secure.
Additionally, any door that can be locked - should be double locked when at home or during the evening hours. Major door ways should have double lock systems to include any of the following: A dead bolt, security bar or better yet a door chain. A door chain is an excellent passive security device. When made from hardened steel link they are very strong. They allow a second layer of protection and provide for a locked door you can still open to identify who is knocking at the door. (Remember, Install this door lock for access to a child who is responsible enough to answer a door and teach them how to use it.) A 4' tall child can not use this lock which is commonly placed at 5 feet or higher.
For sliding glass doors and windows, you can purchase an after market lock or use a simple wood dowel to secure the slider in place. These add incredible security.
Lighting: Lighting is a huge deterrent to would be attackers and thieves. Lighting can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. You can purchase powered lighting devices for as little as 35.00 - 200.00. Consider placing security lights on the corners of houses with access points. Lights can point towards bedrooms and living areas to alert folks to an activated security light. Generally 3 - 5 (When placed correctly) can generate adequate security for a typical home.
If your home has external lighting features, consider leaving them on at night. Although you may pay more in energy bills, consider this a part of your security budget.
Audible alarms: We have all heard of the big companies who provide security systems and devices. Obviously this is the way to go if your budget allows you. Not only do you get lighting, audible and emergency notification, most of these alarms can be accessed by smart phones and computers while away from home.
If you cannot afford these systems which generally include a $100 - 500.00 installation fee and monthly expenses of $20.00 - 100.00. Think outside the box - Many of the home improvement stores carry inexpensive construction grade motion alarms that provide great initial detection. They range from $20.00 - 50.00 and can be placed in and outside of the home.
Consider the placement of thorny bushes or thick hedge near main windows and entrance points to mitigate unwanted entrances. These passive security measures have been used by families, business and military units for centuries and are excellent low cost tools that look great too.
This is a great article by English police (It works well in the UK too)
Family check/status: One of the scariest ideas to imagine is an active intruder alarm being engaged and not knowing where your loved ones are in the house. This stress can be amplified by adrenaline, fear, the dark, and violent sounds and views.
Developing a family check system is mandatory.
1.) Identify a safe haven for kids and family to meet in during a possible encounter. Usually the master bedroom, this is the place where the kids know to go if a intruder alarm activates, a window shatters or a loud bang is heard. Safe havens are places children should easily identify and usually tends to be the parents bed room. Keep in mind - If children sleep in distant rooms which could impede the child from getting to the safe haven because the intruder is between point A and B, this may not be a viable action. If this is the case, it may be required that an adult is identified as the person who rounds up the children and takes them to the safe haven or gets them out of the house safely.
Also identify an alternate safe haven. In case the above situation occurs, or Mom and Dad are actively defending the home, the child may need to identify an alternate safe haven. This can be a neighbors home, the apartment across the hall or even the woods behind the house. Whatever the situation, develop a way to account for your loved ones when the main plan fails.
Cell phones can also be important tools when checking the status of your family. If the child is old enough to have a phone, they will probably have it with them all of the time. It is important to teach your children to ALWAYS call 911 before a parent or adult. Not only will this get emergency responders en route, it will assist call takers in knowing where all the occupants of the house are. Additionally, they can usually relay to the parents (Who should also be on the phone with 911) that the kids are calling in too.
Communication with rescuers: The biggest reaction to a threat is to get 911 coming. If an aggressor is intent on causing you or your family harm, he or she will not stop until they are stopped. If you do not have the tools to do this, you will need the Police to come quickly.
One of the biggest coaching points I would advise is to start teaching your children this from a young age. I,e: Calling your parents during a home invasion, will not get rescuers there any faster. Calling 911 is the only sure fire way to start the process. Also, Parents may be hurt, unconscious or even dead and a child needs to understand they may need to call someone else in those circumstances.
1.) Purchase cell phones - Most children already have cell phones (Leave your opinions behind). If they don't or you do not want your child to have a phone, go to your local tech store and purchase a pre paid phone and do not activate a line of service. All phones are required to call 911 without an active payment plan. This applies for out dated and unused phones. With this in mind, it is also critical to make sure the phone is constantly charged.
2.) Commit important numbers to memory. I don't know how often I talk to someone who tells me they can't recall their spouses cell phone number, kids number or even the home number. This is a terrible habit to get into and can cause serious problems in a stressful event. Many times, a cell phone may be dead and you need to use a home phone or someone else's phone.
3.) Create a security bag. A security bag is a low cost solution for most homes that can be placed in every room of the house and can be easily employed by all ages. This kit will have everything one would need to assist themselves in a scary encounter. This kit can include:
A fanny pack, old purse or old backpack. Ultimately it needs to be kept on person. In this kit should include:
1.) A working cell phone.
2.) Flash Light
3.) Whistle (used only as a last resort or when police are on scene)
4.) A set of keys for the house (used by police to get in without forcing a door)
5.) Mace or defensive tools
Egress: Egress or exiting a structure is usually the forgotten step in most family security packages. Ultimately it should be the first step to survival. A family or child without tools to defend themselves (And even those who can) should consider egress the first plan. Doors, windows and basement egress points should all be identified to all who live in a home or apartment. They should also be drilled into the family until they can be opened and exited from until it is second nature. These drills are incredibly important. They will help identify if the child has the strength to do it, as well as practice to make them comfortable.
Children and young adults also need to understand they may have to egress the home without Mom or Dad, without Brother and Sister and without toys.
Children need to be educated on the procedures after they have exited. Who they call, how they do it, where they go and what they say should be fully understood. Giving children this responsibility can be a big step, but many times fosters a more mature child ready to take on this challenge.
Summary: Keep in mind, this plan is the least preferred of what we will be discussing. This is the minimum set of plans you should have in place. That being said, the other two packages we will discuss in Part 2 and Part 3 all start with this same foundation of design. We simply add in tools and defensive firearms to our packages.
In Part 2 we will discuss the second of three types of Home Defense Solutions.
Mark is the Chief trainer at TTGC and T3. With over 8 years in the security industry as a US Marine, Professional Instructor and constant student, Mark has a passion for assisting others with Training and Equipment. We hope to hear from you here on the T3 blog and look forward to some good conversations.
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3575 Stagecoach Rd. Longmont, Colorado 80504