The Four Pillars of Home Defense, Part 1

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*This is the first in a two-part series about home defense. Click below to get the FREE full-color, printable PDF! The Four Pillars of Home Defense  Claim Your Guide

As you know, a LOT of people care about protecting their families, but they simply don’t want to carry concealed every day. As president and founder of the USCCA, I questioned how I could still provide those folks with value and insight on how to better protect their homes and loved ones. The answer to that question is this very guide. You see, the Four Pillars of Home Defense are straightforward ways to protect your home and family. Let’s examine them to see how YOU can start preparing right now. 

No. 1: Fortify Your Home

The best crime is the one that doesn’t happen, and that’s why Pillar No. 1 is all about making your home look unappealing to potential invaders. Fortify your home to discourage even the most determined of criminals.

Fortifying your home is actually pretty simple. The first principle is taking active measures to make your home LESS of a target. Believe it or not, this is the most effective method of avoiding the terrible consequences of a home invasion.

The first step is to understand the goals of a home invasion. Just as you’d expect, the home invader is looking for valuables — things he can take from you to use for his own gain, which usually involves quickly selling or exchanging them for drug money. It has been found that nearly 89 percent of home invasions are directly related to drug use. Therefore, as common sense dictates, the more attractive and valuable a house seems, the more lucrative of a target it is for a home invader. This means your first goal must be to make your home completely uninviting to the criminal mind. And one of the most uninviting and unappealing visuals that a home invader can have is that of a perfectly maintained house.

Making Your Home Unattractive to Criminals

Focus on things on the exterior of your home that might attract the attention of a criminal, and work to improve those areas. For example, keep your grass cut short. Keep your bushes and hedges trimmed and away from windows.

Keep screens in good shape, with no fading, tears or holes. Clear cobwebs away from windows — especially basement windows. Make sure the painting around the windows seems fresh and is without fading or chips. Check the status of all lights on the exterior of your home. If there is a light bulb, it should work.

Hide Those Valuables…

The next step within the First Pillar of Home Defense is to ensure that valuables are kept out of sight; the reason why is obvious. However, time and time again I’ll see friends who have left jewelry, laptops and other valuables that are easy to carry off in plain sight.

Black and white photo of a man in a hooded jacket using a crowbar to pry open a door. The setting appears to be a narrow walkway between two houses.

A determined criminal will look for any weak points in your home as signs of an easy target.

When I say plain sight, I mean this: If you can look in your windows and see your valuables, they’re in plain sight. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that desperate criminals won’t walk right up to your windows and take a look!

By simply keeping your valuables out of sight, maintaining a less vulnerable home exterior and doing simple things like replacing broken window locks, you’re making your house look like more trouble than most criminals want to deal with.

How Do Home Invaders Choose Their Targets?

Take a look at the following statistics that break down how criminals choose a target:

  • 47% by observing a potential target
  • 31% by getting a tip from a friend
  • 18% through knowing the occupants
  • 4% are random acts

By far the most frequent reason a home invader chooses one house over another is from his own personal observation. Very rarely does a criminal choose a house based on a whim. That’s good news for you.

You can help prevent your home from being targeted by simply being aware of what the home invader looks for. Remember, the best crime is the one that doesn’t happen.

No. 2: Ready Your Family

The next Pillar of Home Defense focuses on creating a solid plan of action for the event of a home invasion. This concept goes by many names, and we’re going to refer to it simply as a “home-invasion emergency plan.” Ready your family to snap into action with a home-invasion emergency plan.

There’s an old saying in the self-defense world: “You fight like you train.” Rarely has anything truer than this been said. We aren’t born ready for battle. When we’re in our moment of truth, the only thing we’ll have to fall back on is our training.

When a human being is attacked, his natural instinct is to throw his arms up in front of his face (or in front of the stomach or groin, depending on where the attack was directed). Nobody’s instinct is to draw his weapon or punch somebody in that perfectly vulnerable place. All these things must be learned — and then they must be practiced.

An upper-middle class white family consisting of a mother, a father and two small daughters. They smile as they stand in front of a beige McMansion with a yawning attached garage.

In addition to this absolute truth, we have another gaping vulnerability to patch up when it comes to defending our home and family. That vulnerability is the fact that if somebody attempts to invade our home, we can never focus completely on fighting them away. That is because the people in our home — our family — are our complete responsibility. And if we focus solely on fighting the violent criminals inside our home, we will be putting our family in danger, thus shredding the purpose of fighting with the home invaders in the first place.

A Home-Invasion Emergency Plan Is a Must

A home-invasion emergency plan solves this problem. It enables our family to avoid becoming bystanders and lets them get to safety while we use our weapons and abilities to both cover their exit and eliminate the threats we face.

The bottom line is this: You absolutely cannot rely on “doing the right thing at the right moment” under pressure. If you do not practice — if you do not rehearse — you WILL freeze up and fail to do your duty for those who depend on you for safety. This is why the Second Pillar of Home Defense centers on creating and rehearsing your home-invasion emergency plan.

What is a home-invasion emergency plan? To put it simply, the home-invasion emergency plan is a protocol that your loved ones will follow in the event that your home becomes the target of a home invasion.

This could be as simple as reinforcing the direction again and again to your children that “if you are ever in your bedrooms when you hear shouting and fighting, lock your doors and hide under your beds. And if you are ever out in the living room when this happens, run into mommy and daddy’s bedroom, lock the door and hide under our bed.”

Or it could be more detailed. It all depends on your needs. When forming your emergency plan, you should consider all the different places your family could be when the home invasion occurs.

The Brutal Truth About When Home Invasions Occur

Numbers show us that most home invasions happen during the day. Think of different potential scenarios and imagine what the best courses of action would be for your family should a home invasion occur at any point.

Understanding the numbers also makes it very apparent that just keeping a shotgun near where you sleep will only help in 35 percent of the home invasions that happen every day around this country. Most people picture a home invasion in the dead of night, so they don’t spend the necessary time visualizing all of the possible home invasions that could occur when they aren’t in bed.

A criminal wearing a dark hoodie peers in through a living room window while holding a flashlight and a crowbar.

A home invasion can happen anytime — day OR night.

Talking to Your Loved Ones About Home Defense

You face a slight challenge when communicating with your family about a home-invasion emergency plan for a couple of reasons. First, it is possible to alarm your family and cause an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty within your home. This goes completely against your desire to keep your family safe and secure, so you must work to avoid that. The best way to avoid scaring your family is to take a very serious but confident attitude when bringing up the subject. You can give the emergency plan the attention it deserves while avoiding scaring your family by scheduling a specific family meeting dedicated solely to home security and safety.

For example, you can begin the family meeting by showing your family what the smoke detectors sound like, explaining the fire escape routes and pointing out fire extinguishers. Then, you can talk about what your family would need to do during the event of a tornado or some other natural disaster. And finally, you can ease into explaining what they all should do in the event of a home invasion.

Creating a sense of comfort and participation with your loved ones will make this more beneficial in the end.

Why a Home-Defense Emergency Plan Is Critical

Creating a home-invasion emergency plan is important. It is also critical that you regularly rehearse and talk to your family about your plan.

Here’s why:

You’re counting on your loved ones to react properly in the moment of truth — yet they will freeze or do the wrong thing if you don’t help them learn what they need to do.

When you regularly go over your home-invasion plan with them, your family will be safer and feel more prepared. They’ll feel like they’re part of the team instead of in your way.

That way, if an intruder or group of invaders does make it into your home, you can be confident your family knows how to react to keep themselves safe so that you can focus on your job. And your job is stopping the threat before it has a chance to get to the ones you love.

Check back later to learn Pillars 3 and 4. Or download the full-color, printable guide now!