Personal Protection In Your Home - Part 1
This is the first of a series of articles which will focus on protecting yourself in your home. Many of you either own a firearm for self-protection or are seriously considering it as an option. If, perhaps armed self-protection is not for you, these articles will also provide information that is important for all women.
For those of us who have chosen to own a firearm, we have done so not because we want to use them against someone. We own firearms so that in the event our lives or those of our loved ones are in imminent danger, our competent use of a firearm could be the difference between life and death. It is the last resort option. With that said, we want to work diligently to prevent the likelihood that we will be in that position.
Home invasions happen. They happen in all kinds of neighborhoods, to all kinds of people, in every state and, many times, with gruesome outcomes. The difference in the outcome can be in how well we prepare and how well we act when it happens to us. I will begin this series with the focus on our first line of defense: the outdoors of our home and the physical barrier that is our home.
Our first task, then, is to make our homes "less likely" or "less appealing" to invasion. Criminals are lazy; they want it easy. They want easy entry and soft targets to attack. They naturally look for the path of least resistance. So, let's give it everything we've got to make it extremely challenging and difficult. You want your home to look and be less appealing than others in your area. I want the invader to look at my home and say to himself, - "Not that one - too much work and too much risk." When we are out and about, what we project physically is often the first factor a criminal assesses in making the decision on whether or not we are vulnerable targets. When we are out in public, then, we want to project strength and invulnerability. Likewise, our task is to make our homes project the same strength and invulnerability.
There are some basic things we can do to accomplish this and improve our home security. Your grounds and landscaping speak loudly. Keep your shrubs below window level so you can always see a potential threat. Obstructing shrubbery or trees can be used to hide an intruder and keep them from sight of neighbors or passersby who might call police if they see someone suspicious. Perhaps cacti or other obnoxious (yet attractive) vegetation could be used that would create a barrier and make your home very uninviting. Remember, we want our homes to say, "You are not invited here!"
AAlways keep your garage doors closed. This seems obvious, but many times we forget to close them or leave them open for convenience. This obviously makes your home vulnerable and many items in the garage could be used to assist the criminal. Don't leave garage openers in the car. Many cars now have them built in to the visor, which is a great option. Keep it locked in the glove compartment if you must leave it in your vehicle. Storing ladders and other tools outside the home will also make the criminals’ task easier.
Install solid doors with appropriate dead bolt locks on all exterior doors and keep them locked at all times. It is amazing how many women keep their doors unlocked when they are home. There are some very attractive security screen doors and bars that can be utilized. It is extremely important, however, that you can unlock or remove them from the inside if you need to evacuate your home in case of a fire or other emergency. Install wide angle peepholes and use them religiously. If you live in a multiple story building, keep all ground floor windows locked. Interior door security bars, placed on the inside of the door, under the door knob that wedge against the floor, are a great added deterrent and can really frustrate an intruder. I use one on my front door and the door to my bedroom.
We must raise our awareness to threats, even when we feel the natural security of being in our familiar and comfortable home. Things such as pet doors can make an obvious entry point for a determined invader. Like me, many of us have sliding glass doors, which are real "weak spots" in a home's security. There are rods that can be laid in the track to prevent or obstruct forced entry and devices that make sliding doors less vulnerable - install them!
We all want a beautiful home, one that is filled with our precious belongings. Be aware, however, that the criminal wants those things too. So, give attention to the placement of valuables where they can't be seen through a window or a door.
Criminals like the dark, so then, let's "Give Them Light", lots of it. Having plenty of exterior lighting around the perimeter of your home is very upsetting to an intruder. Motion activated lighting is a great option. Place lighting around all entrances, corners, the garage and any area where foliage, fences or other items create a hidden and dark area.
Criminals also like it quiet - so let's give them a noisy welcome when they arrive. Home security alarms are, of course, an option and there are many companies and systems available and worth looking into. There are some alternatives if this is not feasible for you, such as simple door and window alarms that attach to the frame and ring or sound when someone enters. Keep an ear piercing whistle or your spare car keypad near your bed and hit the alarm button if you sense an intruder. Any noise is good noise. Of course, a barking dog can be a great deterrent, but do keep in mind that most criminals are ready to befriend a dog with a nice piece of meat or other treat!
If you travel or leave town for any period of time, you must stop paper and mail delivery or have a neighbor or friend diligently retrieve them for you. Nothing says "come on in" like a driveway or door step loaded with papers and mail. Keep in mind the state of your landscaping as well as an unattended yard in your absence is a flag for criminals, many of whom watch a home for a period of time prior to invading.
One final thought on the exterior security of your home is who you allow into your home. Anyone who enters your home a breach of your security plan, so only allow in people with whom you are fully comfortable and familiar. Do not let strangers in at any time. If someone needs assistance or needs to use your phone, offer to make the call for them or call 911 for them from inside your home with the door closed. Verify any and all service men, utility representatives, and even authorities, by calling the company or agency and validating their identity and authorization to be in your area. We tend to worry about being rude. This kind of preventative action is not rude; it is wise. Any legitimate professional or intelligent person would understand your caution.
Of course, there is so much more on this subject, and throughout this series, I will attempt to provide valuable information and discussion on the many topics involved in protecting yourself at home. Next, we will talk about having, equipping and using a "Safe Room" in your home. A great resource that I encourage you to purchase is "The NRA Guide To The Basics of Personal Protection In The Home". ($19.95) This is a fabulous handbook that I feel every woman should own, read and re-read. It is chock full of great tips, resources as well as in depth and detailed information.
Please be aware, alert and prepared. That makes you a Well Armed Woman!