How to Stay Safe During a Home Invasion
While this nightmare scenario is a tough one to consider, there are a few key principles to keep in mind if your home is being invaded.
Keep Quiet and Stay Where You Are
Nine times out of 10, a burglar broke in thinking you weren’t home. Stay as quiet as you can and, if possible, lock the door to the room you’re in. At first, you don’t want to do anything to attract attention to yourself.2 Listen to try and determine why the intruder is there. Does it sound like they are rifling through drawers for jewelry, or are they calling out your name? Regardless, you need help — and you need it fast.
Alert the Police
If your alarm system has the capacity to automatically and quietly alert the authorities, activate that functionality. If you don’t have this capability, know if your police force’s dispatch offers text-to-911.3 This will get help on the way without alerting the intruder to your presence. If neither of these options are available, call 911, and speak clearly but quietly. Be sure to provide the operator with all of the information they’re looking for, including your address, details about your home, and information on its occupants. If they ask if the perpetrator has a weapon, just say “yes.”
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Now that the authorities are on their way, it’s time to think through your next move.
Determine if Escape is Necessary
Once you’ve alerted the authorities, take inventory of your situation. Is the intruder robbing you or looking for something else? Do you think they’ll be able to easily find you, or can you hide? Are you behind a solid locked door, or would it be easy to kick down? Can you tell how many intruders there are? Are they saying anything to each other? While it might be hard to process in the moment, remaining clear-headed and not panicking will help you make the best decision of what to do next.
If you can tell you are in danger — the intruder is yelling for you specifically, they seem violent, or your location isn’t secure — consider your escape options. Can you make a break for the back door? Can you go out the bedroom window? As best you can, take a risk assessment. If where you are isn’t safe, or soon won’t be, you need to assess the best way out of your home without interacting with the intruder.
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Every home is different, and every situation is unique, but these principles can be used as guidelines in the event the unthinkable happens. Just as important, though, are these tips on what not to do during a home invasion.