Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Home Invasion

Here's the post I mentioned I'd write in my "Self-defense, etc." post.

If someone with less-than-friendly intentions breaks into your house, are you prepared to handle the situation?
Many are not.
Here are some tips (not necessarily in order of importance) to prepare yourself for the possibility of a home invasion.
You may or may not choose to use them, but even if not, they might give you something to think about.
In fact, it may be a good idea to pick and choose which steps you'll take for your own situation.
This post has served its purpose if even if you don't use any of the tips written here, you think about how to become more prepared and think up your own home defense rules and measures.

1) Awareness and preparedness
As always, be aware of your surroundings and any possible threats.
Many home invasions happen when the intruder has a chance to observe the habits of a homeowner; this is often done relatively easily by a neighbor or someone in your neighborhood who can watch when you leave to go to work or church, etc.

Have a "safe room" where your family can go to in case of a home invasion so they have have a (relatively) safe place to call 911 from.  

2) If you have sliding doors or windows, put dowel rods in the tracks, so if an intruder manages to jimmy the lock, he will be unable to slide the door open and will have to break the window (causes noise) or search for another point of entry.

3) Have pepper spray both on you and hidden but easily accessible in every room.
I highly recommend carrying pepper spray with you at all times for self-defense, for a variety of reasons.
First, it's highly effective in stopping an attacker (just watch some of the demonstration videos).
It's also easy to use (point and spray), unlike a gun, which requires quite a bit of practice to become proficient in its use.  Furthermore, a small canister of pepper spray is inexpensive.
Yet another very important reason is the fact that pepper spray is non-lethal.  This is good if you want to defend yourself but don't want to kill anyone, and won't leave you with any of the unfortunate legal issues that shooting someone might, since the effects of pepper spray are temporary.
What I recommend you do if you're able to (and want to) do is this:
Carry at least a handgun and pepper spray.  
That way, you can use pepper spray in a situation where either lethal force is unnecessary, or where the attacker/s are in close range.
For instance, thugs breaking in the front door.  In fact, I think that would be a perfect opportunity to use pepper spray, since only one intruder will be able to fit in the doorway at a time, allowing you to spray them one at a time.  Preferably, they all rush in the doorway simultaneously (although this may be unlikely, since most criminals aren't stupid - most of the stupid ones are dead or in jail), which would allow you to incapacitate them all by just turning the spray from one attacker to another.  In situations where you have pepper spray and are confronted by multiple attackers who are, unhelpfully, not standing right next to each other, you should probably get your back to a corner, wall or doorway, so nobody can sneak up behind you.
Of course, that leaves the question of what to do if you've got your back to a wall or something and you run out of pepper spray while you're still under attack...
Then you'll obviously have to switch weapons, resort to unarmed combat, or cower in fear and see if help will somehow arrive.  Note: I highly discourage resorting to the latter method.
Anyway, what I plan to do eventually is to carry at least one handgun, canister of pepper spray, and fixed blade knife on my person, so I can use pepper spray if I am able to do so, the pistol otherwise, and the knife/knives as backup in case my gun fails and pepper spray is empty...or anything like that.   
Here's a link to Cold Steel's Inferno Pepper Spray page:

4) Have a dog such as a German Shepherd.
Although I've heard quite a few people say a dog is very helpful as an "early warning" security measure, as well as a good line of defense in its own right, I don't particularly want a dog because of all the things its care entails...but that's just my preference.

5) Have a fence around your house.
Fences can also be a good security measure, in some instances, but I don't think they're other than a slight obstacle to an intruder unless topped with barbed wire, glass, nails, or other sharp objects, electrified, etc., any of which may be illegal in many places.  And besides, not only does having barbed wire on top of your fence make your house rather aesthetically displeasing, having your house/yard looking so obviously like a fortress may make the neighbors rather nervous.  

6) Get a camera and alarm security system.

A security system with cameras and alarms is also a good idea, but can be fairly expensive.
One man said he has panic buttons in every room of his house, so wherever someone is, if they see or hear something suspicious, they can easily push the button and sound the alarm.  This is also useful for households with children, since you wouldn't want kids getting hold of a gun or even pepper spray, but not only is this safe for them, there's a possibility a child may be alone in a room and notice a prowler outside or an intruder breaking in through a window, and be able to give the alarm via the panic system, even if you were unaware of the threat (for instance, if you're in bed upstairs and the intruder is trying to enter the house through a child's bedroom window downstairs).  

It's a good idea to not have trees, bushes, or other cover for a certain radius around your house.
It's good to have a clear line of sight with no places of concealment in the immediate vicinity of your house.

7) Other home defenses
One good defense measure that most homeowners are unlikely to consider because of the visual appearance, weight, etc. is a bullet-resistant door (not "bulletproof", since nothing is completely bulletproof).
This is not a defense measure I'd put particularly high on this list, but since people have gotten shot and killed by bullets that went through the door, I think this deserves mentioning.

I thought about having a log (like a battering ram) or wrecking ball suspended from the ceiling, in case someone (or better yet, multiple people) tried to break in through the front door, but the main difficulty with that is the structural support you'd have to have for such a device, and it would be slightly impractical.
However, I may have thought of a better idea.
If you create a large trapdoor on your front porch with a large hole beneath - or maybe a room like a dungeon, if you want to go sophisticated - you'll be able to drop any intruders to the hole below.
I haven't quite figured out the best way to handle the situation after the drop into the hole just yet, and if the attackers are still holding on to their weapons after their fall, there could be a problem, so I'm still thinking...
Like the battering ram/wrecking ball, the trapdoor plan should also be effective against multiple invaders, including intruders wearing bulletproof armor.

As far as I know, lethal booby traps are highly illegal, not to mention highly dangerous to anyone who sets them off - friend, foe, or anybody else, so I'm not going to talk about them here.

Always remember, no matter how sophisticated your home defenses are, given enough time to plan, a highly skilled and determined person can always find a way in; I don't believe there is no such thing as    

-To be continued

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