Do THIS to Survive a Home Invasion

5 steps to keep your family safe

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Aliza Vigderman
Gabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated Feb 13, 2024
By Aliza Vigderman & Gabe Turner on Feb 13, 2024

You wake up at 2 a.m. to hear someone moving around downstairs, opening drawers, going through your things. For most of us, it’s hard to imagine a more distressing situation. You’re scared; adrenaline floods your system; your thoughts become chaotic. It’s hard to know what to do when you’re under this much stress.

So, don’t wait until you’re in the moment to try to figure out what to do. Make a plan now. Know exactly how you’ll handle things if it should happen to you. Will having a plan help reduce the fear? Give you more courage? Keep you from getting upset? Nope. But it will allow you to do what needs to be done, even when you aren’t thinking straight, and that could make all the difference in surviving a home invasion.

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What to Do

It’s scary to imagine what it might be like to have someone break into your house while you’re there. As a result, most people never prepare for such an event. As difficult as it can be, though, it’s valuable to take some time — maybe only a few minutes — to work through what you’ll do if you discover someone is in your home.

  • Remain calm. First and foremost, remain calm. We know, this is easier said than done, right? We’re not suggesting that you relax into the moment or that you try to be at peace with what’s happening. That’s impossible. You’re going to be scared; you’re going to be upset. You don’t want to let those feelings overwhelm you, though. Calm, in this sense, means reminding yourself that you have a plan and then following the steps of that plan.
  • Stay still. At least initially, remain where you are, quiet and still. The vast majority of home invaders are burglars, and they may very well think you’re not at home. If you let them think that, there’s every chance they may take what they’re after and simply leave. Yelling out or trying to confront them may cause the situation to escalate. The one caveat to this is to gather your children, if you have any, into one room and then lock the door.
  • Alert the police. As soon as possible, you should alert the police to what’s happening. The police are trained to deal with this type of event. They’re professionals, so the faster you can get them on the scene, the better.
  • Evaluate the situation. Remaining still and in place may be the best option, but you’ll want to evaluate the situation as it unfolds. If you feel the person in your house is there to harm you physically, you should look for a way out of the house or, at a minimum, find a room where you can lock yourself in. Again, in some situations, you’ll wake other family members and alert them to the situation. It helps to have a safe word you can whisper to let them know what’s happening.
  • Give invaders what they want. The goal during any home invasion is to keep you and your family safe. Sure, your possessions matter to you. No possession, though, is worth your life.

FYI: A safe word doesn’t have to involve complicated codes. You’re not trying to fool the home invaders. Something as simple as “trouble” or “burglar” can do the job.

Some Important Don’ts

We’ve all watched entirely too many movies. In the movies, the hero’s job is to outsmart the villain, confront them, and defeat them. Life isn’t a movie. So, as part of your plan, here are some important things not to do if you find someone in your home.

  • Don’t confront them. There’s a school of thought that you should yell out if you hear someone burgling your home. This advice is based on the theory that letting a burglar know you’re home and aware of them will frighten them into leaving. That may work in some situations. Here’s what you can be sure it will do, though: upset any home invader. Their adrenaline is likely running almost as high as yours, and upsetting them will raise their stress levels even higher. Under those conditions, you cannot be sure what they’ll do. Certainly, don’t deliberately put yourself in physical proximity to them or try to threaten them.
  • Don’t try to overpower them. Likewise, don’t try to physically overpower a home invader. You don’t know what weapons they might have on them, what training level they might have, or what they intend to do. You can be sure that any type of threat will almost certainly cause the situation to escalate.
  • Don’t try to handle the situation on your own: In general, keep in mind that you’re a homeowner, not a member of a special ops team. The police are trained to handle break-ins. Get them involved immediately, and you stand a much better chance of surviving the event.

Be Proactive

The most important tip for surviving a home invasion? Do everything you can to prevent it in the first place. How do you do that? You’ll find dozens of tips on the site, everything from reinforcing door locks to making sure you take your trash out regularly. The very best thing you can do to protect your home and family, though, is invest in a top-tier security system. Window and door sensors, motion detectors, and security cameras give you greater control over your home and who comes into it. Just as important, though, they can serve as a deterrent to would-be burglars. Most Home invaders are extremely reluctant to target a house with a security system since the system itself raises the likelihood that they’ll be caught.

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The Last Word

We know: No one wants to think about the possibility of someone breaking into their home. And it’s not our intention to scare you or make you unduly worried about worst-case scenarios.

Unfortunately, though, home invasions do happen. It doesn’t really matter who you are or where you live. We’re all vulnerable. A little preparation, though, can ensure that if the worst should happen, you’ll be ready for it. Once you have a plan you feel confident about, then you can worry less and enjoy your life more.