How to Survive a Home Invasion

May 7, 2015 by | Be the first to comment »

Think a home invasion could never happen to you? According to a 2010 Department of Justice report, home invasions have resulted in 266,560 violent crimes each year.

It’s an easy target because most people have the false perception of safety in their own homes. It also makes the most “business” sense to criminals because everything they want is there, including your valuables, electronics, cash, ATM and credit cards, and a valuable piece of leverage—your family!

You can increase your chance of surviving a home invasion without turning it into a military compound bristling with fences, moats, and searchlights.

Practice basic security measures

Nothing can guarantee that someone won’t try to break into your home, but you can make it much more difficult, slow, and noisy for home invaders to get in.

I don’t care if all your neighbors look like they just jumped out of an Old Navy commercial—all of your doors need to be locked all of the time. It only takes a second to lock or unlock your door, but that simple step can give you a heads up someone is trying to get in buying you time to react more effectively. If home invaders targeted you randomly, they’ll likely move on to an unlocked home. Sucks for your neighbors if they didn’t lock their doors.

Invest in an alarm system because it will notify authorities in the event of a break in, and most home invaders will avoid homes equipped with an alarm. Supplement your alarm with outdoor motion lights, taking away the ability to sneak up to your home.

Remove or closely trim trees, brush, and foliage that could provide cover to anyone trying to gain access. Use your landscape to your advantage by planting thick, impenetrable shrubbery or bamboo to keep people away from your windows, or take it a step further and use plants that will inflict pain, such as thorny or spiky bushes, large cacti, or even foliage that contains painful chemical irritants like stinging nettle.

Replace exterior doors that contain windows or glass panes with solid doors—preferably steel. You can find these at any home improvement store, and they are just as decorative as the less-secure wood and glass models, and can be painted to match your home.

Arm yourself and seek training

The easiest way to stop a home invasion is to shoot the bad guy(s). That requires that you have a weapon and are familiar enough with  it to access it and engage the threat in the dark, often after being startled awake, all under high-stress. This requires more than a few trips to the range.

In the Marine Corps, we had a saying:

Train how you fight, fight how you train.

Spend time conducting training in your home, first with lights, then without as you become more proficient. Have friends or family act as the aggressor (OPFOR) to run home invasion simulations. You’ll quickly realize that how you thought everything would play out and how it actually does play out are two very different things. The number of variables when two people go head to head are astounding.

If you do not have have first-hand tactical experience in the real-world, I strongly suggest that you seek formal training from someone who has, because the shit you saw in the latest Jerry Bruckheimer movie will get you killed. During my time in the Marine Corps, I’ve had more training than most people ever will, yet I still consider myself a student. I always will. That’s why I still attend training alongside people with similar backgrounds. (Military, law enforcement, and intelligence community.)

If a bunch of guys who make/made a living shooting and getting shot at still train regularly, don’t you think you should too?


It’s almost always better to avoid a fight than to win one.

I know, nearly everyone in the tactical community huffs and puffs about how they can’t wait to blow away anyone who breaks into their home. That is stupid.

If shooting them truly is your best option, then by all means, ventilate the fool. But if you can escape with all of your family, you should do that instead.

It’s important to note: do not take unnecessary risks just to avoid taking a life. If you happen to be alone at the backdoor when some thug kicks in the front door, double time out of there. On the other hand, if you’re in the living room when he kicks in the front door, you clearly need to draw and engage, which brings me to an important point…

Home carry. Your weapon does no good locked away in a safe. It should be on your hip, even at home, because you won’t have time to go get it.

Eliminate the threat

If it gets to this point, you should be at 100%. Do not comply with their demands. They might just leave with your stuff, but they’re just as likely to kill and rape you and your family. Are you willing to take that chance?

Your goal is not to scare them away or even to stop them. Your goal is to ensure they cannot hurt you, and the only certain way to do this is to kill them.

Since I home carry, it’s a pretty simple solution: draw and send multiple rounds to center mass until they stop moving.

You need to be aware of the legal ramifications here. You must stop shooting once the threat ceases to exist. If you shoot an unarmed home invader while they are on the ground, you will probably end up in prison for a long time. You can play Billy Bad-Ass and scream “my castle” but you’ll still be in prison.

If you can’t get to a firearm in time, you need to attack the home invader as aggressively as possible. Stab them with a kitchen knife, bash their skull in with a fire poker, hell, gouge their eyes out with your thumbs—what ever you have to do to take them out of the fight. Hit them with what ever you have and don’t stop until they stop responding to your attacks.

P.S. That “gouge their eyes out” thing—it takes a lot more force than you might think. Get a thumb in the inside corner of each eye, push in as deep as you can, and sweep outward. The fight is over for them.

Melanie Swick (a.k.a. Survival Chick) grew up wanting to be a rocket scientist, but when she realized she that required way too much math, she took to her second dream—spending time in the wilderness. Today, when she's not hiking, camping, or hunting, she's blogging about it. You can connect with Melanie on Facebook.

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