It’s the worst case scenario. You’re at home, maybe just sleeping, and someone breaks into your house. It’s quiet, but you hear them start to rummage around. What do you do? Do they know you’re home? Will they hurt you or your family?
This worst case scenario is a very unlikely situation. Most burglars prefer to commit the crime when no one is around; their goal isn’t ever to physically hurt anyone. However, planning for the worst leaves you prepared for everything else. And if it ever does happen, you know what to do to keep yourself and your family safe.
Plan Ahead Together
If you haven’t already, you need to make emergency plans with your family so that when something happens, everyone’s on the same page. Having a plan also makes it easier to keep a level head. Talk to everyone in your household as soon as possible about the following topics:
- A location outside of the house (maybe down the street) to meet up if you must escape the house
- If there are children or others who require assistance, make clear who is responsible for helping them and exactly what they need to do
- What different routes of escape can be accessed from each room in the house? Do you need rope ladders that can be stored under the beds?
- Are there locks on all the doors? If not, what easily accessible rooms do have locks?
- Is it possible to keep phone chargers in these rooms? What about car keys?
During the Break-In
You don’t know how it happened, but someone is inside your house, and you need to focus on how to keep your family and yourself safe. Go over these steps with your family.
- Don’t make any noise. Don’t yell out “Who’s there?” or “I’ve called the police!” You don’t want to scare the burglar into doing something irrational, turning the situation violent. Yelling out gives away your location and could cause the burglar to react violently.
- Lock the door to your room very quietly.
- Listen closely to how many people you think there are and whether you can tell if they have a weapon. Are they saying anything that could identify their gender or their plans?
- Call 911 and give them a clear and concise description of what is happening. For example “My name is John, and I am at 1234 Park Bend. At least 1 person is in my house, and I am unsure whether or not they have a weapon. It sounds like they are currently on the first floor in the living room. I am on the second floor in the bedroom.” Stay on the line so that you can continue to communicate with them, and the dispatch can hear what is happening on your end.
- Don’t grab a weapon. Unless you are a trained professional, this will probably make things worse rather than better. If the intruder sees you with a weapon, they are more likely to use theirs if they have one. The police may also mistake you for the intruder if they see you with a weapon.
- If you have your car keys with you, press the panic button. It could scare the burglar away. If you have a keychain remote for your alarm system or bedside panic button, those are worth trying as well.
- If you are confronted by the burglar, do whatever it takes to stay safe and unharmed. Your possessions can be replaced and recovered; your life cannot.
- Wait until you confirm with the operator that the police are at your house and that it is safe to unlock the door and go outside.
Make a plan that is tailored to your family and your home. You never know when it could happen, but you want to be prepared. Having a plan lets you worry less in anticipation of something trying to harm your family as well.
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