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Self Defense at Home:  Creating a Plan, Purchasing Gear & Practicing for the Unknown

Self Defense at Home: Creating a Plan, Purchasing Gear & Practicing for the Unknown

Posted by Morgan Hallenbeck on 6th Dec 2021

Home. It’s the place we often feel the most comfortable, safe and secure. But when we take a step back and look at statistics, it’s also a space in which we’re more likely to encounter moments of vulnerability. So why do so many choose to throw caution to the wind and how can we become better prepared? Think about it this way: 6:00 pm rolls around and you’ve likely already let your guard down. The doors are unlocked as family members go in and out from the yard, and you pay no mind to the many vehicles entering and leaving your community. They’re probably just monthly subscriptions, grocery drop-offs and online orders being delivered to neighbor’s homes anyway … but is that really the case?

Preparing for self-defense at home isn’t necessarily hard, but it does take time, quality resources, a willingness to learn and a little bit of elbow grease in some cases. By reading this blog, you’ve already taken the first step towards making the right choices. In this article, we’ll walk you through the 3 P’s of home defense: Planning, purchasing and practicing. Believe us, when it comes to getting yourself or your loved ones ready for a home invasion scenario, like a robbery or a break-in, there’s a lot to consider — like body armor for instance! And while it’s certainly far more than we can cover in a single blog, we’ll seek to point you in the appropriate direction. Now, let’s get you well on your way to learning the fundamentals you must know to create a safer life for your entire family! Keep reading and uncover how you can unlock the confidence that comes with being ready for anything.

Back to the Basics

In the middle of a potentially lethal scenario is the last place you ever want to find yourself, but it can happen. Law-abiding citizens don’t go looking for a fight. However, when one can’t be avoided, it’s our right to protect ourselves and those we care for. According to the FBI, the average gunfight includes 3 rounds fired over 3 seconds from a distance of 3 yards. Then there’s the continued impact on mental wellness and the criminal justice system to deal with after the smoke clears. Each legal jurisdiction is different and while some sectors in the United States may support Castle Doctrine or Make My Day Laws, others will not. It is all dependent on local laws. That’s why choosing to be better prepared is just smart. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to go full doomsday prepper! Rather, it’s doing the best you can with what you have and seeking out continued education, training and resources regarding home self defense.

Remember, any act of self-defense should be your last-resort option. In order for you to use deadly force, there must be a clear, present and imminent danger that threatens to cause death or great bodily harm to your person or other persons. You can remember these elements using the acronym WID: Weapon, Intent, Delivery System. It’s about surviving, not fighting because you can or proving your heroism. If you can run or hide first, subject matter experts suggest you do so! This is not the wild west and when it comes down to it, there are also some hefty (and potentially life-changing) legal repercussions you’ll want to keep in mind as well. A few preventative measures can go a long way. The best fight? It’s the one you’re never in.

Planning for the Unknown

Home defense preparations are really a two-part process of both working on yourself and your surroundings. When we combine these elements with conviction we not only build skillsets but also empower ourselves with subliminal assuredness. You’ll want to consider ways to fortify your home, ready your mind, safely store your self defense tools and loop in your family, too. The actions you choose to take today are the foundation for your safety moving forward. A great way to get started is by setting up an emergency plan (or two) for different circumstances. It’s in the preparation for the unknown that we often uncover new questions, concerns, ideas and solutions. When we consider these things early on, we’re able to resolve them and make ready for reality. Think about it this way: You can have a fire extinguisher available at home and run annual drills but if you fail to address risky behaviors like leaving candles burning, or deploy preventative measures like buying a fire extinguisher, not all areas are being addressed.

Every good home defense plan takes awareness, avoidance and exercises into account, but the end result will almost always be different. What we focus on depends upon many variables like the kind of home you live in, the location, general security in your area, how many family members you have and their ages, your preferred defensive tools … the list goes on and on. Most importantly, it should be based on your needs and what’s practical within your lifestyle. Security comes from conviction and that allows us to become more self-reliant and less co-dependent.

On the home front, start by talking to your family about developing a personal protection or home defense plan. Establish a safe room where everyone should meet if someone is lurking outdoors, attempting to open an exterior door or breaking through a threshold. This should be a central location everyone can get to in a hurry with additional self-defense and safety items. If you have children that are a variety of ages, you may want to appoint your oldest to collect their younger siblings and assist with things like hiding in a closet, setting up backpack plates or putting on body armor vests. Many parents choose to keep essential items in their own room and securely stage phase 2 of their response plan from their youngest child’s room, as that’s where they’ll be heading first to fend off criminals. No matter where you operate from, go for fast, foolproof and always ensure items are secure and out of reach of the children. Your gear (that includes a comprehensive emergency kit) needs to be ready to go and easy to use so you can get in the fight if there’s no way to avoid it. Typical home invasions happen in the blink of an eye and having extra time to react is highly unlikely.

You may also want to consider creating a fully-loaded go-bag that you can leave your home with and an external rendezvous point with another set of emergency supplies stashed away. Escaping out of a window or alternate exit is just as viable of an option for staying safe. A word of caution ... you’ll want to make sure you’re not hopping from one scenario with potential protection to another of open vulnerability with more potential attacks waiting. Know your surroundings, listen carefully to all sounds and always be aware of the 360-degree radius around you.

Calling Public Servants for Help

A key planning component that’s often overlooked is the willingness to contact law enforcement sooner rather than later. See a peeping tom? Call 9-1-1. Think someone is following you? Call 9-1-1. Non-uniform personnel without credentials at your house insisting to enter? Call 9-1-1. In any situation where there's potential for greater danger or escalation, be ready. Inside your home is no exception. Know how to use the emergency call feature on your devices, keep means of contact close at all times and be prepared to give police dispatch clear, calm and accurate information. Your location may not come up for them, they may ask you to keep the line open until help arrives and they’re also going to do their best to collect as much information as they can from you in order to help keep you safe, too. In any case, retreat to a safe area and ready your self-defense tools. Be the first one to call, state your name, what’s happening, the location, what you’re wearing and listen carefully to any other questions they have of you. Even if an attacker has fled, it’s vital you report that crime and give a brief description. If shots were at any point fired, be sure to mention that you feared for your life, know whether or not you’re willing and able to render medical aid, and state where your firearm is now located (holstered, in a safe, next to the incident).

When the police arrive on the scene, it might not be right away and you can’t expect them to know who you are immediately. Place your hands high in the air as they approach, remain calm and listen closely. At this point, the self defense weapon you used should no longer be in play, but where you placed it will depend on the status of the initial threat. Remember, they’re likely jumping from one incident to the next, assuming anyone on the scene could be the suspect that was called in. They have to assess the evidence, gather the facts and ensure everyone stays safe from there on out. The descriptions you give dispatch (like whether or not you’re wearing a body armor vest) and your initial cooperation will go a long way. You may be detained or arrested with criminal charges, your firearm or weapon could be seized, further questioning is highly-likely and that would be the time to lean on legal representation (even if you were 100% in the right). None of this is personal; it’s standard procedure with suspects and if your action was legally justified you probably don’t have much to worry about in the long term. Comply with all instructions, refrain from arguing and give your simple, initial statement when asked for it. Here’s what that may sound like:

“I was attacked by [person] who looked like [description] and they’re now [location].”
“There is evidence located [location(s)].”
“[Person] was a witness/There were no witnesses.”
“I’ve spoken with/would like to speak to [attorney].”

After Miranda Rights have been read, you can invoke your 5th Amendment right to remain silent if you so choose. Be mindful of digging yourself a hole by trying to grasp for answers to things you can’t remember or areas that don’t seem clear. Memory distortion after a traumatic incident is completely normal and we can sometimes create false memories as well. Presenting false information can do more harm than good, but if you have reliable details that can help capture a criminal you should speak up. A good outcome starts with making the correct decisions, using decisive action and supporting it all with a flawless follow-through.

Purchasing Lifesaving Gear

The next phase in your home defense plan should be reviewing your current gear and creating a shopping list for what’s missing or could be improved upon. Let’s break down a few ideas, options and recommendations below:

Home Security

One may want to start off by checking door jambs, hinges and striker plates for reinforcement opportunities. You can easily swap out the short hardware that came with your door for longer 3+ inch screws. This makes locked entrances much harder to defeat, and adding reinforced deadbolts can also aid with the strength of your threshold. If you don’t already have a monitored alarm system, you may want to consider exploring that option, investing in a video doorbell or at least placing alarm company decals around your home as a deterrent. Other options could be the installation of fencing or gates, motion lights, floodlights, placing strategic barricades in front of compromised access points, and ensuring you have a window ladder or rope on hand if you need to escape from a second story home. The final security option you probably haven’t thought of yet is a canine. Adopting a dog is a great way to scare off anyone who’s up to no good! Your new furry friend might have your back from the get-go, but they can be trained for home defense purposes too.

Use of Force Tools

While firearms, tactical knives and weapons of opportunity (like a frying pan or a baseball bat) may be the most commonly thought of options for reasonable force, there are plenty of other tools that can be deployed as well. You may choose to utilize a tactical pen, a baton, a stun gun with impact spikes, a Taser or something more disorienting like a high-lumen strobe light or pepper spray. In addition to this, one can also pursue the body as a weapon by enrolling in a martial arts self-defense class like Krav Maga, Ju-Jitsu or boxing for a hand-to-hand combat advantage. Whatever you choose, you should know how to use it with complete confidence. Items like knives and tactical pens may seem like a good idea, but they can actually cause you greater danger if you’re not well trained on how to use them, stop them and disarm an opponent with one. Anything that you use has the possibility of being taken from you and used against you. Either way, most knife fights end up with the wielder getting cut in some way, shape or form, too.

When we consider the use of tools like guns and Tasers, both provide the advantage of distance between you and the aggressor, a key component in staying safe and maintaining a tactical advantage. Tools that require close contact should be reserved for those who are trained and have no other option. How far you want to take your home defense arsenal is really up to you! But don’t forget to load up on the smaller essentials like extra ammunition magazines or a laser.

Personal Safety Gear

You’ve got a game plan in place. Your home is fortified. You’ve got tools to protect yourself and your loved ones. Now what? It’s not unreasonable to think about the reality of the situation that you’re prepping for and take an additional step. If weapons will be wielded by you and against you, wouldn’t you want to do everything in your power to make sure you’re ready? Body armor is more than reasonable when you consider the intent of lethal force. By making a proactive decision to purchase a vest or plates you only increase your odds of staying safe.

Safety gear of this kind could be that extra layer of protection that allows you to get to where you need to be, prevent further injury while escaping and even shield your children. If you truly want to be uber prepared, protection from the most common handgun rounds at a minimum is a no-brainer. And having a built-in line of defense against stabs, slashes, strikes, Tasers and blunt force trauma on top of that … it just makes sense! Body armor vests can also offer an additional surface area to add extra supplies. If you’re the type who would want to have quick access to an already attached med kit, other tools and backup options like extra magazines, you’re staring your solution right in the face as you read this. It’s far better to have body armor and not need it than to need it and not have it.

What Armor Level We Recommend

For home defense, we typically suggest level IIIA (which even stops Liberty Civil Defense ammo and FN57) or level IIIA+ Body Armor Vests (you can read more about what these levels protect against in our Buyer’s Guide.). The carrier style you choose is entirely up to you, but if you don’t have plans to conceal your armor and you want to use it at the gun range as well, a Tactical Vest may be a good fit. For those who want to wear their armor on the go, we offer a Concealable Vest, as well as Hyperline™ Armor. And of course, there’s always our Uniform and First Response Vests that are generally the #1 choice for professionals.

For children, we suggest the training on and the inclusion of Backpack Armor. There are a variety of options out there and many that can be used discreetly in the school systems as well (Read more here.). Again, you’ll want to pay close attention to the protection level, testing results and weight. What your child has to use is only helpful if it’s practical and they’re able to carry it with them. Safe Life Defense offers 3 options for backpack armor (IIIA, IIIA+ and FRAS®). For optimal protection and comfort, FRAS® our Flexible Rifle Armor System is an excellent choice!

Practicing Your Self Defense Skills

Your home personal defense plan isn’t complete yet! And, if we’re being honest it never will be. Why? It’s because no matter how good you are, no matter how experienced you are, no matter how much you’ve prepared … you still need to:

  1. Run realistic drills
  2. Practice your skills consistently
  3. Seek out additional training
  4. Share knowledge with your loved ones
  5. Stay up to date on the laws

In this space alone, we could continue to write a novel for you, but let’s shoot for the highlights reel! A self-defense mindset is one of physical, mental and emotional preparation. It’s key you’re well-versed with your tools. Go beyond just knowing how to use them and train for reality. In a real-life scenario, your adrenaline is going to be pumping, the pressure will be on, you will likely experience tunnel vision and dexterity could be lost. Muscle memory is key here. Train with repetition, in low-light, try out drills like the Tueller, the Ten-to-the-One, or the Shoot Small Drill, dry fire often, and give virtual scenarios a go. The rewards of mental exercises offered at these facilities can be immensely helpful!

You must know the universal firearms rules and how the use of force continuum works. Practice skill sets like “run, hide, fight” and “identify, isolate, address.” You’ll want to practice de-escalation techniques, verbal commands and think through various situations, how you would respond, and dive deeper into how you could improve your approach. What you say and do matters! Know the self defense laws in your area, what’s appropriate, and how you can be prepared for before, during and after an incident. When it comes to a lethal weapon, gun owners should ditch the Hollywood faux pas (warning shots, headshots, and spray and pray) for practicality, gun safety, and proven methods. And when all is said and done, no matter how far or how fast you get into this journey, give yourself a pat on the back. Having read this article and wanting to apply that knowledge means you are on your way to nailing those life-saving fundamentals needed to create a safer life for yourself and your loved ones. Confidence is found in preparation and bettering yourself is always a home run in our book!