No matter where you live in the United States, weather events, natural disasters, civil unrest and a rising crime rate can be a threat directly to you and your community.
It is important to be prepared to protect yourself and your family. Without an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), you put yourself and loved ones at great risk. Trying to develop a makeshift plan during a catastrophic event usually doesn’t work and can fail miserably.
You should have an emergency plan for brush fire, earthquake, flood, tornado and/or other weather-related events dependent on your home’s location.
For some urban areas, residents should develop an EAP for riots, as well. In Los Angeles County, we have experienced most of these natural disasters and civil unrest. Many of these incidents happen annually and with seemingly increased frequency. It is wise to be ready.
Make a PLAN
Escape routes, go bags, safe areas, transportation, friendly contacts, food, water, cellphone chargers and other subsistence items need to be identified and readied.
A portable solar recharger is great for keeping a cell phone operating. Just like a “Go Bag” carried if you commute to work, you may need a “Get Home Bag” in your vehicle. Ensure your Get Home Bag contains items for the trek home, and consider alternative routes should roadways be closed or destroyed. It’s not unusual for many folks to commute 45-60 minutes one way for work.
Be prepared to walk it if necessary. If your local cell tower system fails, you should be able to call a friend or family member outside the affected area and have that person relay messages to ensure all members of your family are safe.
Your state may ask the Federal government for aid and assistance. During any disaster — manmade or natural — criminals take advantage.
Mass looting, robberies, physical attacks, home invasions and other violent crimes dramatically increase. Local law enforcement is easily overwhelmed. Response to emergency calls for police is delayed dramatically. Plan on an extended stay at home. If you have firearms in your home, integrate those weapons into your EAP.
Know your role
Once you develop an EAP, everyone in the home needs to be aware, practice the Action Plan and know their roles. All family members should individually know what to do, when to do it and how to do it.
David Miler, who lives in the San Fernando Valley outside Los Angeles, often practices scenarios.
“My wife and I actually practice regularly what to do in emergencies, especially home invasion scenarios,” he explains. “We do airsoft drills, too, where I’ll bang on the door a few times, give her only 4-6 seconds to react, then come in. If I see her, she gets blasted. But if she retreats to the safe room, arms up and calls 911, then she lives. It’s a fine line between preparedand paranoid. We understand our roles and we try to stick with the plan. Often even that plan fails so we have to come up with a better one.”
Your home Emergency Action Plan must be rehearsed and drilled to identify and resolve any issues. It should be practiced several times annually and updated annually.
The best way of dealing with the stress of being in an emergency situation is to practice for it – even it makes you uncomfortable. How else will you be able to handle the real thing if it ever happens?
I’m armed — I’M DONE!
“I have a gun in my house for emergencies.” That’s not enough. After 15 years in law enforcement, I will be the first to tell you that when you need the police at your home for a critical, life-threating incident they are six minutes (or more) away, dependent on the area, distance, traffic, deployment and other factors. During a natural disaster or civil unrest, that response time will change dramatically. You must be prepared to resolve emergency situations in your home by yourself and/or with other family members.
One critical area rarely discussed in most home Emergency Action Plans is what do if intruders enter your home. I know many folks that have guns in the home and talk about what they would do “if” someone tries to break into their home or they discover some thug in their home in the middle of the night. This sort of scenario often plays out in TV and movies, which is not the best way to learn how to protect yourself in real life.
Many states have a “castle law” and “stand-your-ground law” which essentially state there is a presumption that if you use a firearm in your home against an intruder (not a family member) you are presumed to be within your legal rights to do so.
Depending on the state where you live, that liberty can be broad or limited. Check your local law for details. But there is so much more to consider before you select deadly force as the only option.
Just having a firearm in your home requires so much responsibility and doesn’t necessarily or magically solve all your intruder problems. Many folks buy a firearm and ammunition, store them in their bedroom (usually) and falsely believe that they have checked that Emergency Action Plan box for a home invasion scenario.
Owning a firearm does not automatically make you a gun fighter. Firearms skills are very perishable and need consistent training to maintain proficiency.
Law enforcement personnel receive anywhere from 60-100 hours of firearms training in an academy. Then they are required to demonstrate proficiency two to six times a year on an agency course of fire during qualification. Even with all that training and shooting, they average four hits for every ten rounds fired on average in field shootings.
We all underestimate the factor of stress that gets incorporated into the situation. Stress and duress make us “drunk” where we become intoxicated with adrenaline and an elevated heart rate. Missing your intended deadly threat in the home can put you and other family members at risk (and your neighbors).
What type of firearm should you purchase for home protection — revolver, pistol, shotgun or rifle?
Each weapon has pros and cons for home use. While rifles and shotguns tend to be the most common firearms found in the home in the country, handguns are also a vital alternative and they are a practical choice for home defense due to their compactness, simple-to-maneuver profile, high ammo capacity and convenient one-hand operation if needed.
Handguns are also easy to secure and keep hidden from immediate view. Ease of operation under stress and duress should be considered for the firearm selection process. I have seen many folks with a firearm they had for years and not know how to manipulate it for emergency or combat use. It is ideal to use handguns that are “idiot proof” like the striker fire type of weapon without any external safeties and hammer, such as Glock, M&P, XD and others.
Under stress, it has been commonly shown that even the simple act of disengaging the external safety feature of a firearms become difficult for a person. Do your research and find the right weapon for you.
Some handguns are poorly maintained with corrosion and rust, and left with ammunition in an unknown condition. Most police agencies will require officers to turn in their duty ammo once a year to make sure that they have the most reliable ammo at all times.
Many people select a shotgun for home protection. With some training, it is easy to operate and delivers hard-hitting power when needed. There is a common misconception that the mere sound of the shotgun racking is enough to deter bad guys from pursuing further. When selecting shotguns for home defense, it is recommended to select pump action versus the semi-auto for reliability.
Make sure that you have the strength to hold the shotgun up for a prolonged period and that you have the right technique to manage its recoil when firing.
Also selecting the right kind of shotgun ammo becomes critical as well. In most cases use buck shots. Know what slugs do to a drywall when missed. It penetrates it like butter, hitting possibly innocent people in your neighborhood. It has been my experience that the shotgun is the weapon least practiced with for owners.
Do you realistically think that under stress you will perform at optimum, gun-fighting standards without consistent training with such a beast of fire power?
What ammunition did you select for your home protection firearm?
Law Enforcement agencies select duty ammunition based on extensive testing to stop deadly threats in a variety of circumstances. Will your ammunition selection create a hazard of over penetration … or not enough penetration in your home?
The key is determining the right type of ammunition that functions in your firearm and meets your needs. Most police agencies have painstakingly tested their ammunition for its performance so a good start is to find out what mmunition your local police agency uses.
Have you developed a tactical plan for using your firearm with that ammo in the home?
Have you considered a “Safe Room” for you and your family that is defendable?
If you seriously intend to use a firearm in your home, you should practice various scenarios from all areas inside your home with emphasis on cover and protection from incoming rounds, angles of advantage and escape.
Do you have a plan for multiple threats in your house?
Time to start practicing!
While firearms often seem to be the go-to method for keeping yourself and your loved ones protected in the home, firearms are just one of the many at-home self-defense options available.
Having electric stun guns can be extremely effective and saves lives. Consider the limitation and the effect of pepper or OC spray in-doors — it will affect everyone in the room when deployed.
Will you use the right force at the right time?
Law enforcement personnel practice use-of-force scenarios frequently with the use of deadly force only as the final option and even they make mistakes in the fog of war. Every year good people make mistakes using a firearm in their home and some mistakenly shoot loved ones.
In any home defense scenario, additional accessories can increase your peace of mind and provide you increased situational awareness and possibly deter would-be intruders.
Home security and surveillance systems deliver live video feeds and most even sound audible alerts when they setect motion to warn you of a potential threat long before a defensive situation occurs. Flashlights should be an essential part of your arsenal.
Have car keys nearby while asleep to activate the alarm and the horn when in need. Don’t forget ol’ faithful — your pet dog. Intruders usually take the path of least resistance. The less work for them, the better. Deterrence is the key.
If you have a firearm in the home, it is your responsibility to secure that firearm from others and from theft. You have to balance your firearm accessibility with safety and loss prevention.
How do you ensure that you have your firearm immediately available for use?
The only truly effective way I know of to solve this issue and ensure security is to carry the firearm on you at all times. However, be able to draw and present your firearms swiftly and effectively as it is one of the most important skills.
Have the right gear that works for you. Also know your local law with regards to carrying in private and public areas so as not to violate any law.
Know what to do and not to do after the gunfight. Don’t approach the downed suspect. Call 911 and be sure to ask for an ambulance while staying in cover. (There have been cases of civil legal action against the shooter for delaying a call for the ambulance on behalf of the suspect.)
Beware of possible additional threats. Having legal representation will become critical when and if you used your firearms for self-protection.
Know who to call and know what to say (and what not to say) when first responders arrive. There are many legal protections available for you to not self-incriminate, so know your rights!
Post by John Miler
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