The Importance of Practice Drills
They say practice makes perfect and that is certainly true with security plans. You and your family should know, without even having to think hard about it, what to do if the smoke alarms go off in the middle of the night, if there’s an intruder, or if for any reason they need to evacuate the house in an emergency.
For example, let’s talk about fire drills. Schools do these all the time, businesses perhaps a bit less often. Few people practice them at home, yet a fire is far more likely to break out there than anywhere else.
The first step is, of course, to have a plan you can practice. Sit down with your family and draw one up. It should include evacuation routes from each room, instructions on how to crawl along the floor rather than walk through the smoke, covering the face with a piece of clothing, and where to meet outside.
Once the plan is figured out, it is time to practice. Start by doing a run through during the day, maybe on a Saturday afternoon. Tell your family about it ahead of time and have them get into place before starting the drill.
Talk through the plan as you go, reminding them where to go and how to get there. Run through it a few times, until they are comfortable with the plan.
Then, on a regular basis, spring it on them at random times of the day or night. Time the drill with a stopwatch and work on improving the time with each drill.
Go through the same process with your other plans, practicing and practicing until it becomes rote memory. This way, when panic hits, the mind and body will remember what to do.
While Hollywood and celebrities might give us a decidedly skewed view of what a safe room looks like — heavily fortified, equipped with high-end surveillance systems — safe rooms aren’t just for the rich and powerful.
Realistically, what you really need is just a room in your home where every family member can go in the event of a break in or some other emergency.
The idea here is to have a safe place to stay until help arrives. Perhaps the most common room chosen for this purpose is the master bedroom. The key elements to a good safe room are:
–Strong door with a lock.
–A means to escape, such as out a window.
The door should be solid, not hollow-core. The hinges should be reinforced with long screws that go deep into the studs behind the door frame. It should have a good quality lock, perhaps even a deadbolt.
The telephone is your way to communicate with the police or other authorities. It should be a corded model, not cordless, so you have a better chance of it working if the power is cut.
Do NOT just rely on having a cell phone in the room. How many times have you forgotten where you put it? How many times have you picked it up, only to find you forgot to charge it?
There also should be some way to exit the room besides the door. A window with a fire escape ladder is an excellent option.
Perhaps not coincidentally, many master bedroom safe rooms are also where at least one gun cabinet is located in the home. This also is not an inherently bad idea but recognize the risk of having the police show up as you are walking through the home with a handgun.
Remember, just because you can easily identify the officers by virtue of their uniforms and such, they may not have a clue who YOU are and only see an armed individual in the shadows.
Defensive Firearms and Overpenetration
Many people choose to have one or more firearms in their home for defense purposes. I’m not going to tell you that’s a bad idea. Provided a few elements are kept in mind, and the owner completes adequate training and regular practice, I highly recommend firearms for this purpose.
The number one rule with firearms is you should treat every gun as though it is loaded. Firearms have a nasty habit of loading themselves when no one is looking. The second rule is to always know what is behind your target. This brings us to today’s topic — overpenetration.
Consider your home. How big is the largest room? What is the likely maximum distance you could expect between you and an intruder? Unless you live in an open rectangle, you aren’t going to need to shoot from one end of the home to the other.
Odds are pretty good you have walls in between, right? Even if you were at one end of a hallway, I’m betting most of you probably wouldn’t have to shoot a target more than, say, 50 feet away.
At that range, an average .45 caliber bullet is going to have enough velocity to not only hit but go completely through an intruder, through the wall behind him, and into the next room, possibly hitting a family member.
This is called overpenetration.
You can avoid this by adjusting your thinking a bit when it comes to defensive firearms. There are people who will say a .22LR bullet is no good for personal defense, it doesn’t do enough damage.
For those who believe that, please line up and let me shoot you in the knee with my Ruger 10/22 from about twenty feet away. We’ll see if that helps put things into perspective for you.
Another option is a shotgun loaded with birdshot. You’ll visit plenty of hurt onto an intruder without having to worry much about injuring or killing your son or daughter in the next room.
Just some food for thought as you plan your home defense strategies.
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