Your home is far more than a set of walls, doors and furniture. It's where you lay your head at night. It's where you keep your most precious belongings. It's where you make memories with friends and relatives. It doesn't matter if you live in a house or an apartment, your home is your castle and when that space is violated, it's very personal.
But what should you do if you sense something amiss at your home? Here are a few ideas.
"I Didn't Leave That Open!"
It's a scary thing to imagine. You come home and your door or a window that you know should be closed is now wide-open. Take a quick look around for footprints or evidence of an intruder.
Whatever you do, Do not go in! According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 15% of people who confront a burglar are assaulted.
Even if your instincts tell you to go in and confront the intruder, you should take yourself and anyone with you to a safe place and call 911. You don't know who is in there, how many, or what kind of weaponry they may have. Let the cops show up and scout it out for you. It's what they're trained to do.
What's That "Bump" In The Middle Of The Night?
If you're already in your home when you realized that someone has entered, it's a different story. How you should react will vary according to your situation. Ideally, you should gather your family and get out of the home immediately. However, that may be difficult or impossible to do.
Noise is a deterrent to many burglars, so having a set of keys by the bed can be handy. Hit your car's panic button to create a loud distraction. However, do not yell or scream yourself as that will give away your location to the intruder.
Have a plan ahead of time. Using a code word, warn your family and then hide in predetermined places. This may be under the bed for children or in closets or other dark, safe places. A children's room is one of the safest places to be.
Confrontation with the intruder is a worst-case scenario. If needed, let them have whatever money or items they demand. It can be replaced, you and your family cannot. If it looks like it will get violent, be aggressive in defending your home. It's not what you want, but if it comes to that, you need to win. Having pepper spray or a baseball bat nearby can help out.
It's not paranoid to think of home invasion, it's just good planning.
"I Smell Smoke…That Can't Be Good."
You know the saying, where there's smoke, there's fire. Okay, that's not always true, but you'll want to err on the side of caution. If you smell or see smoke, plan on getting everyone out of the home as soon as possible. Hopefully, you'll have well-placed smoke detectors that have alerted the family. However, some smoke detectors may not pick-up everything.
Move quickly, but before moving through any door, give it a quick touch test. If it's hot that means there's fire on the other side and opening it could be extremely dangerous. Exit the room you're in by another way. Once you've left, do not go back in - even if you can't see the fire.
Call 911 as soon as you are able.
Something's Not Right at the Neighbor's
Hopefully you know your neighbors, a least a little bit. Maybe you notice their daily routine and normal patterns.
If you notice something that doesn't seem quite right, like a stranger lurking about, moving trucks in the middle of the day (when you know your neighbor is not moving) or weird noises, do not try to be the hero. Call the police department and explain to them what it is you are seeing or hearing. And if you see smoke coming from their house, call 911 immediately while staying in the safety of your own home.