Home inva­sion is a rare event for most peo­ple but giv­en the dan­ger­ous real­i­ty of some neigh­bour­hoods, more like­ly for oth­ers. For most peo­ple who have lived through it, it is a ter­ri­fy­ing expe­ri­ence of intrud­ers, and the inva­sion of pri­va­cy and threat of phys­i­cal harm is enough to make them want to invest in some added secu­ri­ty mea­sures to pre­vent it from ever hap­pen­ing again. There are some things you should know if ever faced with a sit­u­a­tion that can make all the dif­fer­ence in the world. Below are five facts about intrud­ers all par­ents need to know.

Cre­ate a plan with your fam­i­ly. As with poten­tial fires, plans for deal­ing with poten­tial home inva­sion be the dif­fer­ence between tragedy and tragedy avert­ed. Come up with a code word that only your fam­i­ly mem­bers know so that you can alert each oth­er of the intru­sion. Cre­ate a mock-up of a step-by-step plan you will fol­low if you are faced with a poten­tial­ly vio­lent per­son in your home, and make sure every­one knows what they are sup­posed to do.

Estab­lish a safe room and back­up should your first choice be out of the ques­tion. If you did­n’t know, now you do: nev­er seek out an intrud­er. The police rec­om­mend that you stay hid­den in a safe room and only face an intrud­er if you are forced to. Your modus operan­di in these sit­u­a­tions should be to alert the police and wait it out if escape isn’t an option and make sure that your safe room is stocked with both a tele­phone and a weapon should you need to defend your­self or your fam­i­ly.

Know how to sound the alarm. Law enforce­ment rec­om­mends keep­ing your car keys on your bed­side table so that you can press the pan­ic but­ton if some­one breaks into your home. You should also keep a cord­less or mobile phone handy so that you can hide and alert the author­i­ties at the same time. The mobile phone is espe­cial­ly impor­tant if your land­line is cut or dis­abled.

Take pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures. Your first line of attack should always be pre­ven­tion. Often a home secu­ri­ty sys­tem with vis­i­ble cam­eras and motion-sen­si­tive lights is enough to dis­cour­age would-be intrud­ers from try­ing to break into your house. The knowl­edge that they may be caught on cam­era or lose the ele­ment of sur­prise could save you a lot of unnec­es­sary has­sle.

Know how to talk to an intrud­er. Do not be threat­en­ing. The best thing to do if you are forced to con­front an intrud­er, either ver­bal­ly or phys­i­cal­ly, is sim­ply to let them know that you have alert­ed the police and that their time is lim­it­ed.

Chances are, you will nev­er have to live through this har­row­ing expe­ri­ence. Break­ing and enter­ing is a risky busi­ness, and the threat of vio­lence for both par­ties, and for intrud­ers, incar­cer­a­tion if they are caught, means that the per­cent­age of peo­ple you have to wor­ry about break­ing and enter­ing into your home is quite small. That being said, the old cliche holds true: it is bet­ter to be safe than sor­ry. Fol­low the above 5 steps and take the appro­pri­ate pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures, and you and your fam­i­ly can avoid a poten­tial­ly trau­ma­tiz­ing expe­ri­ence.

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