01 July 2013

Home Defense fantasy vs reality

It is no surprise that one of the most popular topics when it comes to personal protection and preparedness is home defense.  Unfortunately, like many other related areas, people take some things for granted.  I am not talking about physical security such as door, window, lighting, etc.  I am talking about the human element.

There is always heavy discussion about whether in a burglary situation to go searching for the bad guy or to retreat to a “safe room”.  This usually takes for granted that the burglary occurs in the hours of darkness, as many do.  Unfortunately, we are not the ones who write the scenario.

There seems to be a reoccurring image in which at the end of the night we do a perimeter check and lock all the doors and windows before setting the alarm system.  The next part of the fantasy is that all family members are secured in their rooms, doors shut and locked, and not unlike a prison the doors pop open promptly at 7 AM.  This allows the adult in charge, armed with the latest weaponry and little training, to know where everyone is the entire night.  In my experience, this is not very realistic.  Let me give you an example.

In my house it is my wife, three kids, three dogs, and Pumpkin the Wonder Cat.  I will add to that my oldest daughter’s boyfriend who frequents my house.  My two oldest are teenagers, and my youngest is special needs.  The kids are out of school for the summer, so let’s take a look at a typical 24 hour period starting at say 10 PM.
We live in an old farm house without the benefit of central air.  We have window units down stairs and in the master bedroom.  That means in other places windows are left open.  It also means that my teenagers like to stay up late and watch TV and sleep downstairs to keep cool.

My wife is addicted to reading romance novels (as if I am not enough) and has been known to stay up late to finish one or start another.  My youngest likes to drag her out of bed at around 6 AM.

Very often, I am the first to go to bed.  Even before my kids were older I never assumed that they would always be where I thought they were in the house in the middle of the night.  Anyone who has kids knows that you are apt to find them sleeping anywhere in the house.

During the day my house might as well have revolving doors with the kids and dogs going in and out.  Not to mention that we have a front and back porch that see lots of use all times of day and night.

 The thing to keep in mind is that all environments, no matter how chaotic they may
seem to the uninitiated, have a baseline.  The more time you spend in that environment, the more your intuition registers the slightest changes.  You immediately recognize the sound of a strange vehicle, or someone slowing as they drive by your house.   Our house phone seldom rings after 10 PM, so when it does it gets everyone’s attention.
Our alarm system is my 3.6 lbs Chihuahua, Chica.  The quieter it is in the house, the more alert she is.  Once she starts barking the others join in.    The best part, unlike alarm systems, is that she goes off before anyone is up to the house.  People ask, “What is she going to do to someone breaking in?"  My reply is  that she says, “Daddy get your gun."  Unlike the other two, she barks at anyone who is not part of the family.

My goal with all things related to personal protection is that they be inexpensive, effective, and transparent.   For some folks living alone, or even with a family in the “lockdown” scenario, it may be doable. For my family, and I expect many others, it is just not going to work.

So before you devise your home defense strategy, first consider what it is you are defending.  Make it a part of what you do, not what you have.

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