Home Defense for the Family Unit

We have already discussed home defense planning in a previous article but, when you start adding family members to the mix of violent encounters, things become exponentially more complicated. Which is why having a plan not just for yourself, but for everyone in your household, is vital to ensuring the best possible outcome for all involved. While your plan may be built on a simple premise – something as easy as “get away from the threat” – there are other factors that will increase the complexity of how you are able to execute this idea. But with a little forethought, open discussion, and mental rehearsal you and your loved ones will be more thoroughly prepared to confront dangers in your home.


The size, shape, and configuration of your dwelling will play a significant part in how to determine an ideal course of action. If you and your spouse live in a ground-floor apartment or townhome with large window or sliding door in the master bedroom, the best plan may be to simply leave out the back. But if you live in a two-story home where your bedroom is upstairs, but your children’s rooms are downstairs fleeing isn’t so simple. Those who live in 2nd or 3rd story apartments without a fire escape have only one way in or out. The good news here is that a break-in will only come from one direction. The bad news is that it will be the one direction you need to travel to get away. In this case, response plans will need to be built entirely around barricading in place or confronting the threat – with state or local laws determining legal requirements to use one over the other. 

If your home is setup in a way that does allow you to simply leaving the premises, the immediate next question is: “where do we go?” Again, this will be largely dependent on your yard and neighborhood setup. Is your back yard ringed by an eight-foot block wall? If so, you may want to leave a ladder pre-staged somewhere in the yard to allow your family to get away from the house. Does your property, or apartment complex back-up to undeveloped land? Then keeping a pair of sturdy shoes by the bed might be a part of your plan. Even if you wind up running out of the house in the middle of the night in your underwear, those shoes will be necessary to get across wild terrain with rocks, sticks, animals, and broken glass or garbage.  


Who are the other members of your family, and what are their capabilities? Let’s go back to an example mentioned previously: you live in a two-story house, with children whose bedrooms are on the first floor, while your master suite is upstairs. In the event of a middle-of-the-night break-in, what are your possible courses of action? If your children are old enough to move and act alone, they may be able to climb out through their window and get away. Or they can barricade their doors and seek cover. Or you can attempt to move to where they are – understanding that you may come face-to-face with a dangerous and/or armed threat in that process. Older children can most likely be trusted to follow directions in an emergency, but younger ones will be more prone to panic. While every child is different, a five- or six-year-old might be more prone to disregarding their instructions to “stay in your room” and end up wandering a house with intruders inside to look for mom or dad. Whereas teenagers are more likely to understand the severity of circumstances and adhere to rehearsed procedures. But when asking family members to isolate in different parts of a large home, you also run the risk of misidentification, or mis-assessment. For example, if your teenager or adult parent is up late at night, and they hear a bump or break, they might think to go investigate before assuming it’s any kind emergency – imagining it’s you or your spouse up to get a glass of water or use the restroom. This could also inadvertently place them in the middle of the action – complicating things further if you assume they are barricaded or have already fled. 

If you have a spouse or adult parent in the home who is not self-sufficient due to health problems, or who possess limited mobility, this could also limit your response options. Particularly if you plan is to evacuate, a family member in a wheelchair or tethered to an oxygen tank will create additional planning concerns. 


While every parent laments the American condition of their children being glued to their cell phones and tablets, home defense planning is one situation where it may work in your favor. If your children are in separate rooms in a different part of the house (especially if they are on a different floor) incorporating cell phones into the family defense plan is a very easy way to deconflict potential pitfalls. Especially when it comes to things like older children who may be staying up late or adults who may tend to be night owls. If you hear a bump in the night, grabbing your phone off the nightstand and texting your teen “I just heard the front door open. Was that you?” could help shorten decision-making time and remove variables from the branch-tree of possible responses. 

Regardless of what your home looks like, who lives in it with you, or what your local laws require in response to a home invasion, the key to any kind of household defense or family safety plan is forming a plan openly and collaboratively with every member of the household, doing “talk-through” rehearsals and communicating with one another about any situation that may require a coordinated response from multiple family members.



Select A Location

Select A Location

Select A Location

Select A Calendar

Select A Calendar