Imagine waking to a loud banging on your door in the middle of the night. Chances are it would be someone who just needs your help. But it could also be someone intent on causing trouble for you and your family. Do you know how to tell the difference? If it is trouble, have you talked to your family about this and do you all know what to do?
- Look First
Get out of bed quickly and quietly. Check that other doors are locked to prevent ambush from behind. Flip on a light in an empty room. If trouble is at the door, you may scare them off without alerting them to your location in the house. Depending on your comfort level, take your weapon with you to the door but don’t open it.
Set the chain lock on your door and quietly make sure locks are engaged. Without turning on the light, peek out a nearby window to see who is at the door. Don’t disturb blinds or curtains and alert anyone to your presence.
- Is it Trouble or Not?
Make a decision to either ignore the person or ask what they want. If you decide to call out, flip on the porch light first. Verify what you hear via the peephole in the door. It is possible to be shot through the door so stand to one side.
The best protection is to remain doors locked, with them on the outside. They can’t hurt you if they can’t get to you. Ask for identification from a repairman or police and then look up the number yourself and call to verify.
- Take Action
If you verify the person is safe, then open the door. If not, continue to talk through the door or intercom speaker. Call help for them from inside your home. If at any time you feel unsafe, stop talking, and phone for help.
Physical Home Security Preventative Measures
Prevention is the most important part of home security. Before trouble comes knocking, take some preventative steps:
- Re-install a door chain lock with LONG screws. Screws in standard door chain packages are way too short for a secure hold. Longer screws make it harder for an intruder to just push-in the door.
- Use a one-way peephole and keep entrances visually clear. Make sure all doors have a one-way peephole. Install motion-sensor lights. Prune back bushes from entrances. Change outside light bulbs regularly so if one is out you know it’s intentional.
- Consider installing security cameras and a speaker system. It’s never a good idea to open your door to a potential intruder. To determine intent, install a security camera so you visually see who is at the door and an intercom speaker so you can talk and hear clearly.
- Replace your standard screen door with a heavier, security focused door with steel bars. This lets you open your main door but prevents someone pushing inside your home.
- Store some kind of deterrent near your doors. This does not need to be your firearm but if it is, it should be in a biometric safe. Alternative deterrents could be pepper spray, a fireplace poker, or the trusty baseball bat. Make sure all family members know how to use these in the event that an intruder pushes through the door.
- Fortify sliding glass doors. Position a solid piece of wood in the track each night. An intruder can still break the glass door but the noise will quickly alert you to trouble.
Additional Preventative Security Measures
Never make it known that you are or will be home alone. This applies to talking on the phone, to someone at the door, or even in casual daytime conversations with neighbors or sales people. If you come home alone and notice an open door or window in your home, retreat and notify authorities.
Get to Know your Neighbors. Identify neighbors you can contact when in trouble. Make sure your kids know which houses are “safe” houses. Agree to call each other if anyone in the neighborhood is alerted to an intruder outside.
Avoid being alone in common area. Schedule routine tasks like laundry so you are not alone at night in an area outside of your house.
Routinely lock all windows and doors. Check all locks each night before you go to bed. Strangers will not be able to enter as quietly if doors and windows are locked. Noise will alert you to trouble.
Develop a safety code word. Don’t use something a stranger could guess or find out by stalking you, such as your dog’s name, or street name. All family members should know how to use the code safely. Don’t give any clues. Simply ask “what is the code word or password?”
Avoid going outside. Don’t go to “check out a strange noise or person.” If you see someone breaking into a car or damaging property, report it to the police. Hit the car alarm button on your key fob. The sound will alert neighbors and may scare off an intruder.
Know how to contact help. Make sure you know the phone numbers to call for help in an emergency. Have non-emergency and phone numbers of neighbors and relatives on hand, just in case.
Know How and When to Hide or Flee. When there’s trouble, you may panic and be unable to think clearly. Identify a secure hiding place, out of sight, before trouble occurs. Keep a phone and your dog nearby, lock and barricade the door. Plan two escape routes, only flee if someone gets inside your home.
Criminals are getting smarter and more resourceful and in today’s day and age, no one can be prepared for every nighttime security issue. The tips and measures we’ve provided here can help increase the chances you come out unscathed. What other measures do you take to keep your home safe at night?