COVID-19 has greatly increased the number of people working from home, and it doesn’t look like such working arrangements will change anytime soon. For a lot of us, this means it is probably time for a refresher on home safety and security. For some others though, this might be a first-time primer on how to stay safe in your residence.

You see, before the shutdowns of 2020, most home break-ins happened during the day. Burglars don’t want to see anyone when they make entry into a residence. They want to lift your sliding patio door out of its track; walk briskly to your bedroom and rifle through the nightstands, drawers and closets for guns; see if there’s a jewelry box anywhere; hit the bathrooms to see if you’ve got any interesting meds; and then maybe grab a bottle of booze and a laptop on the way out. You being there is not part of the plan. In fact, it is downright detrimental to the plan.

But after a year or so of millions of us working from home, it’s become clear that a decent number of break-in artists have decided they don’t much care about whether honest folks are at home when a break-in occurs. This can make for extremely dangerous situations, and responsibly prepared Americans need to brush up on the basics.

Home Safety Tip No. 1: Lock the Dang Door

Unfortunately, this is an act to which some Americans are borderline allergic. For reasons ranging everywhere from morality to memory, some persons simply will not lock the doors on their residences when they pass through them. This is a big problem since locking all doors is the most fundamental step in any home-security plan. When you leave the residence, lock the door behind you. When you return to the residence, lock the door behind you. I know you didn’t do it like that when you were a kid, and I know you hate that the world’s become the kind of place where locked doors are necessary. So do I. But that’s the world with which we have to deal. So, I’ll say it again: Lock the dang door.

Speaking of which, don’t open the door for just any old body either. Plenty of horrendous home invasions are initiated by assailants ringing a doorbell and an intended victim just opening up. Your utility company will understand you not opening the door for someone who demands entry to your home without a phone call or at least an email. UPS and FedEx understand that you will not open the door for people who claim to work for their companies but are not wearing uniforms. Use your head — and understand that just because someone knocks doesn’t mean you have to open the door.

One on the Hip Beats a Score in the Safe

Though there are some excellent products that will hold a firearm for you while you’re sitting at a desk, there is no substitute for wearing your daily carry gun just like you would were you working outside of your residence. If you’ve affixed your firearm to your workspace, then what will you be carrying while visiting the restroom, going to get a drink of water or doing anything else that is not at that workspace? Moreover, how will you bring that firearm with you if you go to answer the door? Let’s all remember that most negligent discharges happen during administrative handling (meaning holstering and unholstering), so it is best to holster that sidearm and then leave it alone.

Look, I could talk “home-defense firearms” with you until the dog throws up, but in my professional opinion, there is no replacement for a pistol on your hip. If you are working from your residence, wear your everyday carry (EDC). Like locking the door, it is one of the simplest yet most effective moves you can make toward home safety.

Keep Your Phone Nearby

Just as you should never find yourself in a position of having to lie to an invader about having a firearm, you should never be bluffing when you yell, “I’M CALLING THE POLICE” through a locked door. Never letting their cellphones out of sight is second nature for most folks under 40. But those of us who were well into adulthood before cellphones got affordable can sometimes forget where we left them. That phone is your comm gear — your link to the cavalry — and it is important that you keep it handy.

Safety at Home Means Paying Attention

Philip Toppino of West Orlando Firearms Training doesn’t waste the time, oxygen or energy on terms like “situational awareness.” Like my father when I was growing up, he prefers to simply say, “Pay attention.” And this is admittedly going to be your biggest challenge while working from home — especially since a good deal of work in 2021 involves wearing headphones.

If your job requires you to wear a headset, you’re going to want to start by situating your workspace so that you’re facing the door. Sitting with your back to a door is poor form. And if you can’t hear what’s going on, you need to double down on your other senses.

Next, install some kind of security or alert system. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Your system could be as simple as a mirror hanging in your hallway or a $40 door-open alarm like they have at the local Dairy Queen that dings and sets off a light (in the back room of the Dairy Queen or in your home office). It could be any of the excellent doorbell camera options available today, any of the wireless home-security systems that are run completely from your smartphone or even a good old 1970s-style hard-wired security system with a bank of monitors. Like your EDC firearm, it will be more important that you have some kind of security or alert system in place when you need one than what specific type of system it is.

Finally, don’t forget to look around. Just because your ears are covered doesn’t mean you have to sit there staring a hole in your computer screen. Just like in defensive and counter-offensive shooting, break that tunnel vision. Do not allow yourself to get completely hypnotized. Force yourself to look away from your screen now and again in order to stay connected to your surroundings.

We’re Here for You

Whether you’re working from home or not, it’s always a good time to brush up on your self-defense legal basics as well. If you live in a Castle Doctrine state, it’s never a bad time to get a refresher on what that term actually means. If you live in a “stand-your-ground” state, likewise. You always need to be certain that you are actually the law-abiding citizen in whatever situation you find yourself mitigating. The time to ensure you are well-versed in all of this is now, before you need to know it.

And if you’re one of the millions of Americans who decided to adopt the responsibly armed lifestyle within the last 16 months, we have resources covering everything from the legal use of force for defense of self and others to how to best pick out a holster to pretty much anything else you can name that you’ll want to be up to speed on as far as concealed carry and home defense go. But just as locking that door is a very simple but essential step, so is educating yourself. The time to make a quality, effective plan is now, not while there’s glass breaking and people screaming.

Staying Safe at Home

Home-Defense Guns: Best Firearms Options at Home
Going Back to Work? Update Your Home Security
Making Your Home a Less Attractive Target: Reducing Criminal Curb Appeal