There’s no doubt that our personal residences are where we like to relax, get comfortable and try to set aside some of life’s challenges for a little while. Those familiar walls around us hold more than furniture, toys, food and clothing; they hold a lot of moments and memories. We put a lot of ourselves and our families in there … literally and figuratively. And it’s important that we think about home defense, especially when little ones are involved.

My husband and I often think about possible scenarios or situations that could occur at home, and we train through those to see where problems could arise or where things need to be changed. This is one reason certain pieces of furniture might be located in specific areas of a room (possible barricades or concealment), or why mirrors or highly reflective pictures are hanging on the walls (extra viewing points and angles). But if our three children were ever to be home during a dynamic critical incident, clearly they would be our primary concern. So we’ve had to think through our options and implement some strategies. Here are a few that anyone can put into place in his or her own dwelling.

Kids’ Training in Case of Emergency

A code word can be very useful for your children in case of an emergency. My three kids know the code word very well that we use if someone ever needs to pick them up or help them when we’re not around. They also know our word for serious danger, and they know we are not playing around if we ever instruct them to do something in an emergency. If your family adopts a word, it’s good to choose something unique and memorable — something not used in daily conversations but that even the youngest can recognize and act on. Then keep it secret and keep it sacred. Only prompt or quiz the children about it as necessary.

Plans to Escape

You and your children should know that escaping to a safe place is the best option. Sticking around during a dangerous event could get someone injured … or worse. If you need to defend yourself, a loved one and/or your children, your family should have a plan for where they can go and how they can get there. Maybe there are a few neighbors, a school, a firehouse or other locations within walking distance that would work well for your family. Designate that place as well as a backup. If you have children old enough to drive, you can also settle on a destination for them to head to, get help and/or wait.

Children in Safe Rooms

If you and/or your kids can’t escape the situation, where can you go? My family has plans based on the layout of our home. And it typically ends with the children being able to get behind several locked and barricaded doors to a designated “safe room,” even if we can’t assist them or be with them. Depending on your situation, you can prepare your safe room(s) with flashlight(s), phone(s), batteries, food and even possible weapon(s). Instruct those who use the safe room to call for help, stay put and be prepared to defend themselves as necessary.

Conversations and Drills for the Whole Family

It may sound daunting, but having plans in place for your family’s protection is better than not knowing where anyone is or just panicking. Just be sure to talk honestly about potential dangers and discuss family plans with your children. Don’t scare them … just prepare them! Ask them questions and let them question you. Remember that different ages and abilities can handle different things. And after you talk about your plans and agree on what to do in an emergency, be sure to practice! Talk and walk through what they need to do. Have a drill. See if there are other potential problems or better solutions. Work together and stay safe.

Kids and Guns Post 5/6

Kids and guns is a hotly debated topic. Regardless of your stance, educating your kids about guns WILL lead to greater safety. Unsure of where to begin? This comprehensive six-part series will help you tackle it. Jim Doyle kicked off the series by debunking the malicious claim that law-abiding gun owners care more about guns than protecting their children. Beth Alcazar explains why we need to teach our children about firearms (Article 2) and Scott Wagner emphasizes why talking to your kids about firearms, firearms safety and concealed carry is one of the most important conversations that you will ever have (Article 3). The previous article stresses that there is no magic age for teaching kids about guns (Article 4). This article explains the importance of practicing home defense with children (Article 5). Alcazar concludes the series with the five simple steps to keep your kids and guns safe (Article 6).

Find more articles in our Kids and Guns series below:

Protecting Our Children — Gun Safety, Violence & Gun Control | Firearms Education | Talking to Kids About Firearms Safety & Concealed Carry | What Is the Right Age to Discuss Gun Safety | Home Defense With Children | Simple Steps to a Safer Home