Nothing is more important to me than helping clients, associates, friends and family ensure their safety in their own homes. I have advised others on security my entire life – and overseen it as well – and view every home as the space where one has a “right” to feel safe. There are numerous strategies to help people defend themselves in their own homes, and today, I’ll discuss some of them.

Two Home Security Questions That Are Often Overlooked

Home security systems vary in features and performance, with home monitoring systems providing an added level of protection. However, these popular methods share common characteristics that may limit your family’s safety during a home intrusion or when an unknown person is on the property, particularly with respect to two critical issues:

  1. Who is watching the corresponding monitors?
  2. How should you respond if an alarm is activated or something unusual is detected by the monitoring system?

There are rarely good answers to these questions. Local police departments may not even respond, and if they do, the response may be low-priority with no sense of urgency. Most home security systems have panic features that will alert local police to a more urgent matter, but depending on your location, police response rates can still take a while. These types of situations encourage many to consider self-defense.

A Third Question: What If Self Defense Becomes Necessary?

Many Americans maintain weapons in their homes for just this reason – to protect themselves or their family. Most understand the serious responsibilities that go with maintaining a weapon. The majority of organizations that require their employees to keep a weapon at home (e.g. law enforcement, military and so on) require dual security. For example, the weapon must be maintained in a secure safe and must be fitted with a trigger locking device.

If you do maintain weapons in your home for self-defense, even if you are in a professional position that requires it, training is essential. I recall a police officer who worked overnight kept his weapon next to his bed while sleeping. His curious 5-year-old son quietly got ahold of the weapon, and the results were tragic. Another story involved a homeowner shooting a family member who was running to their parents’ bedroom, seeking safety.

It is particularly crucial to plan how to handle stolen weapons during a burglary or if one the residents gains access to them for nefarious purposes. This often requires careful consideration about where to secure the weapons, while still making them accessible during an emergency.

The Weaponless Solution

In contrast, many choose not having a weapon in the home. Regardless, you can develop a few plans to maximize safety. Work with a security professional to develop emergency plans and to acquire easily accessible and effective panic alarms that alert help. Many alarm companies will install alarm keypads at the entry and exit door to make it easy to activate the system when you come or go. Remember: you should have access to a panic alarm in any place in which you spend considerable time or are most vulnerable.

Develop a plan with everyone who resides in the household on what to do in the event of a crisis. Identify the safest room in the house on each level of the home to go to wait for police, if necessary. Those rooms should have a robust locking system on the door, a panic alarm inside, communication readily available and accessible to everyone in the home. You can have panic or safe rooms professionally installed to provide maximum protection.

Whatever preventive path you take, at least follow one. I have yet to hear anyone complain that they took too many steps to keep their family safe at home.