Here are some tips that every mom needs to know in case of an intruder. Think about these things and help prepare your family. Post contains affiliate links.
Facial astringent in the face is what saved the mom of my childhood best friend from an intruder who walked into their home while they hid in their rooms.
$8,000 in cash on the counter.
The bank bag on the kitchen counter was enough for another intruder to sneak back out of another friend’s house in the middle of the night without going upstairs. He broke in, took the money, then left while they were sleeping.
And these are just two people I know personally. We like to think that living in an affluent relatively safe country with great technological advances – and nothing more to worry about than whether that celebrity couple is really splitting up – means something like this won’t happen to us.
Except things like this happen all the time.
So why am I talking about this? Well, first of all because I have a Bachelors degree in Criminology. So let’s just say it interests me. Second, because I’m from a rural area where the mentality that you need to know how to take care of yourself is still pervasive. Thirdly, because it’s good old fashioned common sense to prepare (even just mentally or with a family talk) for this situation because home robberies are on the rise.
“Two simple things you can do to prevent home invasions are get a security alarm and get a large dog. These two things should reduce your attractiveness as a target house/apt significantly.” (source)
I’m not trying to incite paranoia or fear, but I think we all (myself included) need to think a little more about an intruder plan and we need to share it with the kids. If you have older children then that’ll be more straightforward, but with smaller children there are simply different considerations.
1. Make a plan and practice it.
Before discussing anything with your children, you should make an intruder plan. While you’re at it make a fire plan as well. A plan simply consists of the precautions you want to make, the actions you’ll take in the evening something happens, and what you want each person in the house to do or not do. One thing I’ll mention here is to create a ‘code word’ if you have older children.
If you know there’s an intruder you can use the code word to alert other family members. Speak sparingly, however. More on that later. Once you’ve created a plan, write it down, and put it in your family binder.Then practice it with the kids. If they are toddlers then they won’t understand, but having a few run throughs will help everyone prepare mentally.
2. Choose a safe room and a backup.
If an intruder comes into your home you should not seek him out. Police and crime stopping organizations suggest you remain hidden in a safe room and only engage the intruder if they come to you and force it. So instead of going to find them, you want to find a safe room that you can lock from the inside and, hopefully, wait it out. If you have small children you’ll likely choose one of their rooms as a safe room.
You’ll want to gather the kids into that room quietly as possible. Choose a room with an escape outlet, like a window. If you want to prepare further, keep water, snacks, and something you can use for self-defense (see those options below).
3. Know how you’ll call for or get help.
The experts suggest keeping your car keys by your bed so, in the event of an intruder, you can push the panic button which should work from anywhere in the house. Also, while productivity and sleep experts tell you not to keep your phone by the bed so you won’t use it, it is a good idea to have a way to call 911 in case your home phone line gets cut. This day in age, I’m not so sure cutting the home phone line would be their plan A since many people don’t even have one, but there you go.
Also, when you call 911 leave your phone on somewhere hidden, but where it can catch the conversation. If you end up being engaged by the intruder and having to defend yourself, it’ll be recorded. Also, if you have an alarm system and the trigger will signal a phone call to you, have a code sentence with your alarm system. Something like, “No, we’re not interested at this time,” or some other innocuous phrase.
After you’ve called 911 remain hidden with your children until the police arrive and announce themselves. Even if you think you hear the intruder leave (or see them leave through a window) stay until the police knock and come in to get you in case there’s another person still in the house.
4. Take care of basic precautions.
There are a few things you can do to help prevent intruders or to take precautions. First, if you have an alarm key pad, make sure that a stranger is not able to tell if it’s activated or not by looking through the front door. Decorative glass surrounding the front door can often reveal the alarm’s status. Bad bad bad.
I don’t mean to strike paranoia in the hearts, but often the people who come to your house to fix plumbing, paint, do renovations, set up cable, etc. are sometimes those who return to rob or are connected with others to whom they give information. After you have a stranger come into your home to perform a service, double check all windows and doors to be sure they’re locked.
If you’re from the South like me, that’ll be tricky, but it’s a good idea to vet everyone who knocks on the door. Burglars will nearly always knock first to see if someone’s home and then, if not, break in. Get into the habit of vetting before the door’s open because intruders will exert extreme force in those first few moments if that’s their intention. If you feel someone has come by unbidden, simply don’t open the door. Innocent people will not be offended by this.
5. Learn how best to engage with an intruder.
Again, don’t engage with an intruder if at all possible. Don’t yell “I’ve called the police” from your location if they aren’t actively trying to get in because then you’ll just give away your location. Do not act like a dumb girl from a movie. Go get your kids and take them to the safe room, but don’t look for the intruder’s exact location.
If they are attempting to come into your room then say, “We’ve called the police” even if you’re alone. Staying in the safe room is the best idea, but if the intruder comes into the safe room try to remain calm and cooperative. Avoid eye contact – which may be viewed as submission – and do not aggressively confront.
Self-defense kits and products
6. Think about escape options.
Many sites actually suggest you teach older children to escape in the event of an intruder. If your kids are old enough to sneak out and you’re willing to help them practice, then have a code word that signals their need to leave and call the police.
Again, choose a safe room that has an escape option, even if it’s an upper window. You won’t be able to shimmy down the side of a two-story home with a baby in your arms (unless you have a sling, I suppose), but do the best you can. If you feel it’s impossible to escape, remain where you are and wait for the police.
7. Decide how you will “arm” yourself and know state laws.
I’ll not tell you how to arm yourself, that’s a personal decision, but you should have at least something in your safe room to defend yourself. I will say, if you choose to have a gun, then you need to accept from the beginning that children will 100% find the gun’s hiding place. Hiding is not a safety precaution. Keeping the gun locked up and not loaded, with bullets in a separate location is a safety precaution. Anyway, there are plenty of other options for you that I’ll link below.
Whether you want to remain completely weapon free or not, you may end up having to use force to defend yourself and your kids. Know the laws from your state so you know what you are legally allowed to do or not. Self-defense laws are generally in three categories: (1) stand your ground laws, (2) castle doctrine, and (3) duty to retreat. Google these laws in your state, “[state] self-defense laws.”
- Create an intruder plan.
- Explain then practice this plan with your family.
- Teach rules about letting in strangers or answering doors.
- If you sense there’s an intruder, go to the safe room with your kids and remain quiet.
- Call the police and leave your phone on.
- With small children, the best course of action will nearly always be to remain in a safe room in the opposite corner of the door so you can monitor the situation.
- Only use force if you feel your life and the life of your children are threatened.
Want your own In Case of Intruder Printable?
If you want to have a checklist handy to help prepare you, sign up below and it’ll go to your email.
This site is for informational purposes only. While I’ve worked hard to provide you with correct information, readers are using the information on this site at their own risk. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. A Mother Far from Home will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog. Please seek professional advice.
Take this quiz to see how well your home systems work then get free and easy hacks to help make your home more tidy, peaceful, and organized.
New to this community? Start here, friend.