Castle Defense Strategies

Whether it’s a random act of crime today or one which might come in a more degraded societal scene, being able to feel safe and protected IN your home is vital. The fact of the matter is, even today you have a 1 in 10 chance of being the victim of a home invasion of some sort whether it be a kidnapping attempt, a drunken “wrong house” event, or an act of larceny. But we don’t have to crumble emotionally just because someone has broken our first line of defense—our outside doors, windows, and/or garage. We can still have the upper hand if we do a little preplanning for such scenarios. So here are a few tips that may be of help to you AND your family members, young and old.   First and foremost, every time you close a door to the outside of your home, you should be in the habit of locking it—period. No further discussion. I don’t care where you live, what kind of a neighborhood you think you’re a part of, or what. Locking the door as soon as you close it should be your habit and that of your children and frequent visitors.   Next, remember that in spite of the fact that someone has broken into your sanctuary, you still have the home court advantage, so make the most of it. Know where every squeaky board is in your home. As seen on Doomsday Preppers, (watch segment here)  my husband and I do practice navigating in our home in the dark. The criminal doesn’t have that knowledge and familiarity—even if it’s a person who’s been in your home before. You have the advantage, use it. By all means, practice it. Practice going through your home in the dark.  It’s actually a great activity to play with the kids too if you turn it into a hide and seek in the dark kind of scenario. (Look at the picture to the right. You see? I'm so good at hiding in the dark, you can't even see me. *grin*)   Be sure that you’ve trained the kids to have a specific “go to safety” spot when given the proper key word or phrase. Practice it again and again. If someone confronts you in your sanctuary or appears to be headed that way at your doorstep, then you should be hollering that phrase clear as a bell. I remember my mom taught us kids that if ever the house caught on fire, we were all to go outside of the house out the front door if it was clear. At 6 years old we had a little grease fire in the kitchen. While Mom screamed a bit and worked to find the proper fire extinguisher, I ushered out my little brother and sister. One of the best compliments my mom ever gave me was that she was proud of me for doing exactly what she taught us to do. Praise goes a LONG ways in getting kids to remember these drills, so use it liberally.   Splurge on a proper peephole for your door. They have peepholes that give you a 180 degree view and a taller view up and down AND you can stand 5 to 7 feet away from the door to see who that person is. Furthermore, NEVER allow your kids to answer the door to a random knock. In fact YOU should never answer the door from a knock of someone you don’t know. It’s not uncommon for me to yell through the door “Who is it?  Sorry, I don’t know you. I’m not opening my door to you.” And you can bet when I DO talk through the door like that, I stand to the weak side of the person who’s at my door. That way I’m less likely to get hit in the event some crazed psycho chooses to shoot through the door—like we had in Utah last year. Safety ALWAYS trumps politeness. It may seem rude to communicate through a closed door, but guess what? It’s your right to do so. I believe in this approach regardless of who’s on the other side of the door. NO ONE gets into my door if I don’t invite them OR if they have a properly served search warrant. Check with the local Castle Doctrine laws in your area, but here, once a person breaches the home it’s “game on” and if a person feels that their life is at peril in any way, they can dispatch the invader however they deem fit.   Now, if you comply with the last suggestion I gave you, you may think that the next one isn’t necessary—but unfortunately I make this suggestion because the last one isn’t always followed properly. So, my next suggestion is that you invest in a locked “screen” door. (It doesn’t have to be screen, necessarily. You can use the thin glass kinds). All too often I see kids jump up and race to answer the door not hearing their parents holler after them “don’t answer the door! I’ve got it!”  There was recently an incident in which a magazine salesman pushed his way through a partially opened door that was answered by a young woman. He raped her and assaulted her violently right here in “Happy Valley.”  Clearly she gave away way too much information at the door to enable him to think that he could do so without being interrupted by someone else in the house. Casual brings casualty. And disaster can happen at a moments notice. Unfortunately the face of humanity nowadays has become ugly and we need to be diligent to protect us and our loved ones against it.   Since we’re talking kids and safety, we also should address how our kids answer the phone and what information they give out on the phone. I know I couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 years old before I was “allowed” to answer the phone but only after I displayed a comprehension of the skills my parents taught me. If a person called the house and asked “Who’s this?” I was taught to respond “Who were you calling?” If a person called and said “Is your Mom home?” I was taught to politely ASK, not answer, who is calling? (This is NOT appropriate when answering business lines—just to be clear.)  As far as any caller was concerned, my parents were ALWAYS home but may simply be unable to come to the phone right now. That was the response whether or not we had a babysitter, etc. In fact, the babysitters were told NOT to answer the phone if we kids were up and able to. And our parents said they would let the phone ring once then call back again if the call was to the babysitter. We also learned that kids displaying politeness gave a sense of maturity and thus were more likely to discourage someone who might be testing the waters prior to a home invasion. Bad guys know they are thwarted by smart kids just as easily as smart adults. This was in the 70’s and 80’s folks, that my parents displayed such cautions. Imagine how much more important such cautions are today. My folks taught us that “If you can conceive it, Satan can achieve it.” Some may think we wet the bed every night with this kind of culture in our home, but the truth is, it had the opposite effect. We knew that we had the upper hand and that we would be safe so long as we followed proper protocol. I was never scared as a child—ever.   We all know that you can see reflections in the mirrors placed around your home, but did you know that you can also see reflections in strategically placed glass covered picture frames?  Enable your family photos to do more than just brag about your cute family. Many TV screens today can still do the same thing too. Place them strategically in your home so that you have more of the home court advantage by being able to leverage their position in order to better evaluate your next move.   Have barriers set within the normal flow of the house at night. We have to dog gates that we attach at night. If someone were headed to various parts of our home at night and by some miracle managed to get in without riling the 4 highly alert dogs, such a perpetrator would be stalled once he encountered any of the dog gates. Even in the daylight people have a hard time figuring out how to navigate those gates. Mind you, you don’t have to go to the extreme of a gate—though it does have some great management traits for children and dogs at night, frankly—you could do a number of things to make admittance to bedrooms more difficult. Squeaky toys deliberately placed on the floor, bells strung across the hallway, anything that’s going to make a noise that you’ll hear but that won’t inconvenience you and you make your way around a dark home. Since I’ve mentioned dogs, I think that if there’s anyway you can see your way to it, adopt a dog. They make GREAT security systems if you’ll take a little time to train them properly. And they make a dreary day bright with their unconditional love. What more could you ask for? Be sure to check on which breed of dog is best for your family make up, but seriously, a well trained dog is worth way more than anything you could pay a security company in my opinion. But understand, if you don’t have the inclination to train your dog to be an asset to your safety and security, then the dog is a liability—one you cannot afford. It’s way too easy for owners to be distracted by the dog that runs out the front door and into the street when instead they should be more concerned about the stranger who’s just knocked on your door. (I hope that made sense—it looks right in my head at least. *grin*)   Have 9-1-1 programmed into your cell phone for an easy, one touch dial. The last thing you want to have to rely on is your fine motor skills when you’re stressed that someone may be in your home or you’re hiding under the bed, or whatever high stress scenario you may find yourself in even outside of the home. Most phones have a one-touch program feature. Worst case scenario, dial the phone and lay it down somewhere. The proper protocol for the majority of the cities in the U.S. is for 9-1-1 to still send someone out to your home or location if a 9-1-1 call is placed even if you aren’t able to further speak to the 9-1-1 operator because you’re hiding under your bed. You can’t RELY on 9-1-1 to be there when you need them, but this strategy is simply one more way to provide you with the best chance of coming out unharmed.   Have several protocols for various scenarios in place. You’re responses will need to be catered to the various scenarios. Is the intruder coming in from a window, the door, or are they just lurking back and forth on the back deck? When you see something on the news related to a home invasion, ask yourself, “What would I do under the same circumstances” That’s one of the best things you can do to mentally prepare for such circumstances. The next great thing is to back up the thinking with physical action even when still in “pretend mode.”   On Doomsday Preppers (Watch the segment here)  they showed my husband and I communicating in Morse Code WHILE we were clearing our house. Frankly, I can’t think of a scenario in which we would actually communicate like that if we were clearing our house with the understanding that someone(s) else were inside. We wouldn’t give away our position that way. (Don’t you feel better knowing that we’re not idiots? But hey, we’re not performing entertainment when it’s the real thing so we obliged Nat. Geo with some Morse code examples. *sigh*) Anyway, American Sign Language and the standard law enforcement/military hand signals would certainly be a good idea. There really isn’t a standard set of hand signals in law enforcement; it’s all based on what the team decides such signals will be. So have fun with some family activities. Get the kids to play and to communicate with each other in their alternative hide and seek game this way.  I can tell you, it only takes one instance in which you need it to make it so that you’ll never regret preparing in this manner.   Lastly, if you have an enclosed garage, ALWAYS keep it closed and when you’re checking your house at night before you go to bed, ALWAYS be sure to check the garage.  There are far too many instances of criminals just hanging out in the garage that was open most of the day and wait for the right moment in the middle of the night to gain access to the house.  Our garage goes open for going in and out and otherwise it’s never left open. And our door that leads to the garage is always locked.   Most important of all, regardless of how you are going to secure your home, you need to make informed and firm decisions NOW on how you will handle a threat to your safety in your home. Waiting until the reality that you weren't even willing to consider previously finally hits you is certainly NOT a wise move. So discuss this and plan NOW with your family.  Decisions such as "at what point do we use physical harm? At what point are we willing to take another human beings life?"  It's also critical that you ensure that your perceived greatest vulnerability/liability of your family is armed with as much knowledge and skill to fight back as possible. (See example here) If I were the bad guy, the first thing I'd do is take down/subdue  the strongest threat in the house (presumably the man of the house) and then use the children or mother as emotional leverage to get whatever I wanted. Sorry, that may sound sexist, but criminals aren't very politically correct nowadays. They function based on experience, not women's' rights movements.) But if you take the vulnerability of the children and the mother out of the equation by training them, you gain a MAJOR advantage over the perpetrator. Anyway, these are just a few strategies which I keep as a part of my Castle Defense Strategies. I hope you find it helpful to you and your family.  

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Comments

Amen to this!!!! All of this. Okay...except maybe adopt a dog. Already have too many two legged people living here, to feed.. lol.

But seriously. These are some of the SAME things I have always taught my children. Our doors are locked 24/7. I don't care if it's high noon. It's locked. Whether we are at home or not. And whenever one of us rings the door bell for another to open....the rule is to ask "WHO IS IT!?" Nice and loud and if they do NOT hear a LOUD answer in return {so that the voice is recognizable} then they are asked to go away!

I've turned many people away that I did not know was coming over. Every family and friend of the family KNOWS to CALL first to say they are coming over. Many think we go overboard.....but I do NOT care. I want to be safe and I want my kids to be safe.

They have been raised from babies to do this. So much so that on occasion when dad or mom just go out to the yard to pick something from the garden or throw the garbage out....they return to find themselves locked out. ; S The kids walk by the door and see it unlocked and automatically lock it. LOVE it!

Windows are not open at night while sleeping. And they are barred....in such a way that it's easy to get out in a fire.....but NOT so easy for someone to enter from the outside. And if they do....we are sure to hear the glass break first.

Anyway.....I could go on.....but I won't. It's your blog. Thanks Kellene!!

Love my big dogs! They are the first alert to our safety, along with the cows, if someone is in our area they all go off. Hard to sneak in when all the critters are barking or mooing. Our doors have dead bolts and we put them to good use every day.

Kellene, Great article Four must have items in your kitchen. I just recently bought food saver and jar attachments. Just ordered some 1/2 gallon jars. also have canning supplies, have the electric grinder and hand crank. Pressure cooker is next and the camp stove which I cannot find here in new york. Went to all the popular stores. Cannot find Joy Cook anywhere. Even e-mailed company in Korea, never heard back. Any help you can give would be appreciated, if you know where I can get one. I want to give you my heartfelt thanks for all you do and all I have learned in such a short time. I was all alone in this, even in my church. Life in New York is too fast and the people in the church, LDS are not too concerned. Thank you so much...Sandy in New York

I never open a door to talk to any delivery person or stranger. I go to a near by window and open it and talk to them through through the window. If there is a package I ask them to leave it on the steps. If they need a signature I go out by another door and come around to where they are.
I think dogs are a great deterrent! Even cats can put up a pretty good hiss and growl and warn you when someone strange is nearby.
Do you have any plans to offer self defense classes after you make your move to your new home?

Excellent blog! We have 4 dogs (all rescues). They are our security camera, doorbells and alarm systems....along with being our best friends. Last year a fake security company was sending "workers" around our neighborhood (and we are on the lower end of the income scale neighborhoods) to check out homes (they used a real security company name and had advertising papers but THEY were fake). Last week when the police came because the house across the street got burglarized, one policeman casually mentioned these 4 streets have seen quite a bit of home invasions in the past couple months. We made the connection although the police haven't yet...they are investigating. Basically people are on their own and need to be prepared. Totally timely blog!!

LOL Kellene about your Morse Code demonstration for Nat. Geo. Hubby and I watched you two tapping away as you cleared the house and we said to each other, "What a great way to let a bad guy know where you are!" I sometimes wonder if Nat. Geo. is playing into the "preppers/survivalists are crazy" school of thought when they do things like this!

Thank you for the nudge about locking doors. I am bad about this, but justified, sort of. If we have the lock on the knob set on "lock", when you go out and the door closes, you are locked out! You do not want to know how many times I've been caught outside in my jammies because I just stepped out to get the paper or get something from the car and the door locked behind me. Hubby takes great delight in making me beg him to come and unlock the door! LOL I'm trying to train myself to take my key with me EVERY time I go out, but it's hard to do when your jammies don't have pockets!

Even small dogs make great deterrents, if only from the ruckus they raise when strangers approach. It's a good idea to train your guard dogs (or family pets) not to take anything that doesn't come from your hand or their designated food dish. Bad guys have been known to poison or drug animals to give themselves a clear path into a home.

The best thing we did was to get a door knob with a code to unlock it. we have grown children and they don't always have a key with them. This has saved us from being locked out many times.

From Lefty and Spike, former burglars -- keep your windowsills cluttered. Unless you have a house with things that can't be obtained elsewhere, burglars would rather break into a home without dogs and windowsill clutter. Their objective is to get in and out without being heard.

Julie, what a great idea. I don't really collect anything because I don't like clutter(not that I don't have any, with three kids we have way to much) but I do have a fondness for cobalt blue glass bottles. I several of these in windowsills because I love how they look with the sun streaming through them. I also have lots of plants clustered around all of my windows. I have often had the thought if someone were trying to get into one of our windows we would know because they would be knocking over plants or breaking my beautiful bottles. If we were not renting we would have a gaurd pet/fur baby for sure.

You reciently wrote an article about a woman who went to the gas station for gas and a man approached her, forced her into her car and made her drive to her ATM, then home and raped her. Or something similar to that. I cannot find the article and would like to reread it. Can you send me a link to the article?

Love the Women of Caliper too! Just started shooting.

would suggest changing all exterior doors to open out and steel, if the frame is installed properlly if is almost impossible to kick or push your way in. You can also get deadbolt locks that reset and lock 10 seconds after they are opened. Solid wood bedroom doors opening out also provides a good safe area to buy seconds to get out a window or take a good stance for a lethal shot while someone is trying to gain entry.

I live way out in the country, I lock my doors 24/7. It usally takes cops about an hour or more to get out here. I have 4 pitbulls in the house and a gun. And a big dog outside. Our house is surround by hotwire and barbwire, to keep horses out of the yard. Our dirveway gate is locked 24/7 also. We also have lights that have sensors on them. Safety and secured is #1. We have to protect what ours.

Since we don't have animals I use one of those Halloween door mats that SCREAMS when stepped on! Definitely gives you a warning that someone is too close. These can be put under a window, beside a side door, or just put out at night.

I live in Utah now but I grew up in California and we were raised not trusting anyone. We lived with locked doors. We didn't open the door if we didn't know you. We were taught to not care about hurting feelings we were taught to be safe. We moved to Utah 20 years ago and we raised out 2 daughters the same way. I have had many many people tell me over the years we are nuts. My kids never played in the front yard unless I sat outside and watch them. I walked my daughter to her friends house 4 houses away if she was going there to play. She had to call when she was walking home so I could go get her. I think people are too trusting. You don't get my trust unless you earn it. Thanks for your site!

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