The South African Police Service notes that about 20,000 burglaries with aggravating circumstances were reported in 2015 in the Western Cape alone. These are frightening home invasion statistics that are expected to rise this year.
Knowing what to do in a home invasion and being able to spot home invasion signs are vital in keeping your family safe. The neighbourhood watch experts who created the innovative PatrolMan app have provided five recommended strategies to help keep your family safe during a home invasion.
#1 Have a designated safe room
If someone breaks into your house when you’re home, having a strategy in place can help get you out of immediate danger until you can get help. One of the best strategies in this emergency is to have a designated safe room in the house. Choose a closet or small room with little or no windows as well as a strong lockable door, and have a plan in place to get all your family members into the room.
Installing a deadbolt and reinforcing window security, if needed, will help secure the room even further. Having a safe room for your family that you can run to, will give you time push your panic button and keep safe until the security company arrives to stop the home invasion.
Here are a few things (at the very least) your designated safe room should have: a torch, a phone, some pepper spray or any other defensive weapon, and a list of emergency numbers.
#2 Alert the neighbours and scare away home invaders with a siren
Trick home invaders and alert the neighbours with a bullhorn. Because of the nature of home invasions, more often than not alarms are not armed or are disarmed by criminals.
Without an armed alarm to deter them, having a bullhorn could help you scare them off. This is because bullhorns often include a siren feature that sounds a lot like a police or security company siren. This could help stop a home invasion as it’s about to happen by tricking invaders into thinking they have triggered a second home security system.
#3 To run or not to run
What to do if someone breaks into your house and you don’t have a safe room? If it’s a safe option, have a get-away strategy planned. Pre-plan a few exit routes that include unlikely exits like a back window. If there is no safe exit, hide and keep as quiet as possible. Behind a bookshelf, under a desk, anywhere that can add precious seconds while you wait for help to come.
#4 Have a panic button with you at all times
Your panic button is one of the biggest security protectors you have against home invasions. If someone breaks into your house and you’re home, you will have very little reaction time. Keeping portable panic buttons next to your bed, under your pillow and in rooms that don’t have them installed – such as the bathroom – can save you valuable time and ensure you call for help as quickly as you can to stop the home invasion.
#5 Protect yourself but don’t look for a fight
Home invaders are dangerous and if there is a choice between confronting them or hiding, the experts suggest hiding. When you are hiding in a safe room or have locked your family in a closet during a home invasion, having a defensive weapon of some sort can help you stall for time should they find you. A knife, pepper spray, or a licenced firearm, whichever you are comfortable using, can add precious time fending off the attackers while you wait for help to arrive.
Knowing what to do if someone breaks into your house or being able to identify home invasion signs are vitally important in keeping your family safe during a home invasion. These strategies can help, but coming up with a personalised plan suited for your family and property is key. In an earlier article we discussed what to do after a home break-in.