Home Intruders

The most dangerous crime situation is the armed home intruder. The rate of serious injury from armed intrusions is 35%, compared with 10% for armed robbery on the street. Be sure of whom you let in.

During a real-life home intrusion, it is rare for parents to be able to save their children because parents are the first to be attacked. The best chance for children to survive is to know how to escape on their own-and get help.


Practice a family escape-and-survive drill. This could include using rope or ladder to climb from a window. The aim is to teach your children how to escape and get help. Walk the family through every room in the home, even the bathrooms without windows and walk-in closets. You want to teach not to make the mistake of going to a room from which escape is impossible. You also want to establish an escape path from every room where escape is possible. Next, train the children in what to do when they do escape. Establish which neighbors the children should run to.


  • Don't assume your kids are too young for escape-and-survive lessons. You can teach children as young as four or five without traumatizing them. Deal with it matter-of-factly, and be prepared to answer their many questions.
  • Don't count on a 15-minute session to drive home the lesson. Getting children to leave their home and their parents - even to get help - is tough. Actively rehearsing the escape-and-survival plan gives children the psychological permission to leave and get help.
  • Make your home look like someone is there, many burglars think that your home is vacant only to find out that you are there and they panic.

How Not to Have a Fire in Your Home

  • Never remove a flaming object from an oven or stove top. The fire will be much harder to contain, especially if you get burned and drop the pan. Better: for stove-top fires, immediately turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Keep lids handy at all times. Do not use water to extinguish an electrical or oil fire or the fire will flare up. For oven fires, turn off the oven and keep the door shut. The fire will die out by itself. Or use a dry chemical extinguisher to put it out.
  • Plenty of intelligent people start fires each year. Risk-reducing strategies...Replace all extension cords after 2 or 3 years. Most cords are not made for long term use. Inspect them annually. Never put a cord under rugs. Traffic will wear away the cord's insulation. Never use an extension cord for a machine that draws more power than the cord is rated for.
  • Take special care with appliances. Many people forget to unplug small appliances such as toasters, irons, and coffee makers. When they are left plugged in, a child or pet can turn them on and cause trouble. Plug refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines and other heavy duty appliances directly into wall sockets.
  • Don't leave candles unattended. Put them in proper holders and keep then away from drafts, especially open windows.
  • Remember, smoke detectors save lives. You cannot have too many detectors installed in your home. They cost around $10.00 for a battery operated detector.
  • 80% of US fire deaths occur in the home? But more than half the people in a recent survey thought the home was the location with the greatest fire safety. Other findings: Men are more likely than women to feel very confident about their personal fire safety - but each year, nearly twice as many men than women die in fires. Most US fires happen in kitchens. Problem: Only 1/3 of the people surveyed knew the safest way to handle a pan fire on the stove - smother it with a lid and turn off the burner. Also a good idea is to have the proper kitchen fire extinguisher handy.

Secure Your Home's Exterior

  • Trim hedges and shrubs. Don't give an intruder an easy place to hide and not be seen by neighbors or passers by.
  • Install motion-sensitive lights in front and at the rear of your home. These are fairly inexpensive and offer a great deterrent to anyone coming too close to your property. Most bad guys would probably leave and look for an easier target. Remember, bad guys do not want to get caught, they will pick the easiest target.
  • Upgrade other exterior lights so that the parking areas, exterior windows and doors are well lit.
  • Clearly mark the street address on the front of the home but refrain from posting your name on the home or mailbox.
  • Burglar-proof sliding glass doors by placing a rod in the track so the door can't be forced open. This is an easy fix, you can use an old broom handle or go to a lumber yard and buy a 1" x 1" and have it cut to length. This should cost you all of $5 or so.
  • Secure exterior doors. Good locks and dead bolts are essential. Never leave doors unlocked. Some people are too lazy to lock their doors. Include locks on side doors or entry door to a garage.
  • More than 1/4 of all burglaries are committed through open or unsecured doors and windows.
  • Install a wide-angle viewer (as opposed to peepholes) for exterior doors. You will get a better view of who is knocking. Remember, many burglars just knock on the front door, say their car broke down and need to use your phone.
  • Place blinking red LED lights in one or more windows. Sold at Radio Shack for a few dollars, these create the impression that the house has a high-tech security system.
  • Use a burglar alarm signs, install one in your front garden. Place alarm company stickers in your front and back windows. These are available through Empire or other security companies. Even if it is false advertising, it could help to deter an intruder.

Secure Your Home's Interior

  • Secure interior doors as well as the exterior. The door from the garage to the house and master bedroom should have a strong hinge and long throw dead bolt. Lock these doors before you leave the house.
  • Get a dog with a big bark. Even non-dog lovers agree that these animals will scare off most unwanted guests.
  • If you want to own a gun, you may want to make it a shot gun. They are not as easy to hurt yourself with because the barrel is so long. Professional security folks will recommend pistols. If you choose a pistol, be prepared to learn how to use it - take lessons. Please find or create a good safe hiding place for it. Nothing could be worse than to have an accident with a device you purchased for protection. Use your head, don't tell kids you have one. Make sure that they can not get to it if they snoop around your bedroom or safe room. Keep the ammunition in a separate area.
  • Create a "safe room" inside the home. In many cases the safe room is fashioned from a closet or other room within the home and will be protected by a door meeting the exterior door standards. The purpose of the safe room is to protect persons and physical assets if criminals or severe weather strikes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency publishes and provides free detailed specifications for constructing a safe room.

Don't Become a Target

  • Never give your home address to strangers.
  • Lower your profile. If you look like the most affluent person in you neighborhood, your house is most likely to be targeted.
  • Avoid tip-offs that you are out of town. Newspapers collecting in your drive way. Mail box overflowing. Grass not cut. No lights on, etc.
  • Use timers for lights, another inexpensive item that works wonders, even a dummy can install them and make them work. They are about $5 each. Have them come on at dusk and off at 3 a.m. or so. These are also good as night lights, for late entry or emergency exiting. Lighting your way in and out is essential to a safe home.
  • Leave a radio on and tuned to a talk station.