Your home is your castle. It is a place you need to feel safe in and enjoy sanctuary from the buzz of daily life. One of the most traumatic things that can ever happen is a home invasion. An assailant targets your home and breaks in, possibly while you are inside. To many, this is the foundation for a horror movie. But there are things you can do, though, to limit the chances of a home invasion.

Whenever we discuss fortifying a home, we must balance this task with accessibility and looks. Everyone is in agreement that while secure, bars on the outside of your windows are a bit much. This is the challenge we face. With that in mind, let’s look at several things we can do that serve our need, without adding a moat full of alligators.

Perimeter Defenses

Make sure the exterior of your home is well lit. Using motion-sensor lights is effective because they limit excessive light but are quick to activate when they detect motion. Two of the best companies on the market are Lithonia Lighting and RAB Lighting.

A dedicated deadbolt on all exterior doors is a must. The addition of an extra locking bolt can make the difference between someone kicking in your door or not. The Medeco Maxum deadbolt will help keep home invaders from getting through a locked door. The Maxum features hardened steel inserts and rotating pins to provide drill and pick resistance against an unauthorized entry. Installed on a solid door, the Maxum is truly an effective threat stopper.

Also try kick-resistant plates to doors. Even with a quality lock and deadbolt, a door frame can eventually give way if kicked hard enough. The best way to stop this is to reinforce the frame with a support like the Rebar Door Security devices from Kick Proof. These products can be installed without professional assistance in as little as 15 to 30 minutes. They add strength to the door frame and can stop even the most serious attempts to break the door frame.

home invasion defense
An important component of any home alarm system is the panic function. This not only alerts police to trouble, but it can also drive an intruder from your home because they know police are on the way.

Plant foliage with security in mind. This is a two-fold point. First, we need to make sure that overgrown plants and bushes do not provide a place for nefarious people to hide. Second, you should consider using plants with thorns and barbs near windows. These create a natural safety barrier while still remaining visually pleasing.

Install a security camera at the front door. While door peepholes serve some specific purposes, a security camera is better suited for home use. The more cameras you have around your home the better, but sometimes cost can be a factor. One of the best entry-level camera units is the NetGear VueZone, a wireless camera than can be placed anywhere and accessed through a computer, smartphone or tablet.

To install an alarm system, choose a system that has professional monitoring with a variety of service options. An important component of any home alarm system is the panic function. This not only alerts police to trouble on your property, but it can also drive an intruder from your home because they know police are on the way. One provider that is highly recommended is FrontPoint Security, which provides protection covering every room in the house and your garage. Professional and well respected, FrontPoint offers a wide array of protective services suited to meet any need.

While structural and environmental considerations are essential, we must outfit ourselves as well. Ultimately, we may find ourselves facing an intruder in our home and be forced to deal with it. There are many avenues we can follow in order to prepare ourselves. Two of the most popular are firearms training and martial arts/self-defense courses. There is really something for everyone from either of these options, so let’s look at some suggestions with their advantages and disadvantages.

Handgun Training

Firearms training is the method of personal protection that draws the biggest emotional response from people. Rarely do we find people in the middle of the road regarding firearms training and the private ownership of guns. They are generally all for it or totally against it. Regardless of ideological stances, let’s looks at the facts. A firearm in the hands of a trained person dramatically improves their chance of surviving a home invasion. The pros are that a handgun specifically is small and lightweight. It is easy to store and to retrieve in an emergency. The effective use of a firearm has the ability to neutralize an assailant in short order.

home invasion defense
Before bringing a gun into your home for protection, make sure that you know how to defend yourself with it.

The cons of a firearm are that they require extensive training in order to be used effectively, and that training must never stop. The ability to shoot well under stress is a perishable skill that must be maintained. Additionally, some areas make gun ownership a challenge and many will not go through the process to secure the proper permits and licenses.

There is no shortage of firearms trainers around the U.S. This market has seen tremendous growth over the last few years and shows no sign of slowing down. When choosing a firearms trainer, experience matters. One of the most prestigious schools in the U.S. is Gunsite Academy. Located in central Arizona, it is considered one of the best firearm training facilities in the world. With experienced staff and professional facilities, Gunsite is able to train students in the effective use of any firearms.

Related Stories: Being Prepared: Top 10 Home Defense Tactics

Martial Arts Mastery

The martial arts have been around for thousands of years and have been the root of countless self-defense disciplines. “Traditional” martial arts are schools teaching ancient styles that include forms of kicking, punching, throws and weapon use. There are few things as empowering as moving towards the mastery of an art. While growth occurs with each day of practice, the journey to mastery is long. Self-defense classes follow the same framework. While they are essentially boiled-down martial arts classes, they require repetition in order for you to become proficient enough to use your new techniques.

First and foremost, a martial arts school should be an established school with references. Second, visit with the instructor to see if their philosophies match your needs. If they are a school that focuses on extreme physical conditioning or hours of meditation, you need to know that going in. Last but not least, have a goal in mind and share that with the instructor. This will not be an overnight or weeklong undertaking. Make sure you and the instructor are on the same page regarding just how long it will take for you to become proficient. Take your time and visit several schools before you make a decision.

Take Action Now!

Procrastination is a challenge faced by most people. This, combined with a sometimes false sense of security, can lead to a tragic ending. We encourage you to review your home today and make a list of things that will make it safer, then act on that list. While you might only accomplish this one item at a time, you must ultimately get the list completed. Your action or inaction will determine just how safe your castle is.

This article was originally published in SURVIVOR’S EDGE ™ Winter 2015 magazine. Print and Digital Subscriptions available here

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