Here I do not aim to address home defense, as that is an extensive topic in itself, but rather the lesser discussed aspects of leaving your home and coming back home. This is the moment of crossing your own threshold into the world or returning to your home from the world, and unfortunately, this is a transitional space where we can encounter danger. This danger is also further compounded when dealing with accompanying family members, particularly small children. Sadly, attacks directly outside of the home are a relatively common form of crime. We need to accept the world for the way it is, and part of that acceptance is the reality that violence can touch us even within our yard or driveway.
Leaving the Home Safely
When leaving the home in the morning, when you perhaps head out to work and drop the children to school or daycare, get in the habit of being the first to open the door, rather than allowing a child to do so. Upon opening your door, assess the outside environment. Once again, we should do a quick scan for anomalies. What we are looking for may depend significantly on our environment. If you live in an urban or suburban environment, there may be nothing unusual about other people in front of your home, perhaps on the sidewalk. If this is routine, we still want to scan for anomalies. Are these people neighbors you recognize? Are they just other folks walking their kids to the bus stop? Is there an individual or group of people that appear out of place?
If you live in a rural area, then any people in your yard or outside your house may very well be out of the ordinary and warrant your attention. Again, the overriding principle is that we want to be aware of anything that is an anomaly in the typical setting of the environment. If you live in a suburban neighborhood and there are typically neighbors walking on the sidewalk with their children in the morning, you know what looks normal. If a suspicious-looking individual is standing near your vehicle, then go with your instinct and take yourself and your children right back inside. Doing a quick scan of your surroundings upon setting foot outside of your door is a good habit, and doing so before the children follow you out the door is a sound tactic for your daily routine.
Entering the Home Safely
When returning home from the day out, it is easy to become lax as we often look forward to the retreat of our abode. Returning home, unfortunately, can prove to be an opportunity for criminal activity. Many burglars target houses specifically when they think nobody is inside. These criminals are often not the blatantly violent types that wish to invade a home and assault the family but are often simply out to steal a few items of value while nobody is home. The problem is, even these petty burglars can become violent very quickly if interrupted while in the act of the crime itself. There have been many cases where a homeowner returns home and interrupts a burglary which then turns violent.
When returning home, assess the exterior of the home itself. If you notice a breached door or broken window and there are no family members inside the house, by all means, stay outside and call the police. Your flat-screen TV is not worth your life or the life of a family member, nor is it worth taking the life of some miscreant who you put in a position of acting violent, which necessitates the use of force. If the home appears secure, be the first to open the door and enter before your family. I suggest always leaving a light on in the home so that upon opening your door at night, you can immediately see the interior of the house. Do a quick check of the home to ensure there is nobody inside. Maintaining this simple level of awareness will make your coming and going much safer for yourself and your family.
Safety in the Yard
While outside of your home, you are in the open and have no locked doors to at least offer some warning of a coming criminal incursion. There have been many accounts of homeowners getting accosted in their yards. An overriding principle here is to be alert to what is going on around you. Getting to know your neighbors makes for a better social life and makes for a more secure neighborhood. When you identify someone who does not belong, it will at least raise your attention. Be alert to anyone who approaches you while out and around your house. When distracted doing yard work or other activities around your home, you can prove to be an easy mark, so be continues of anyone in the vicinity that you don’t know.
If you have a fenced-in yard, then certainly use the gates. Even if you don’t put locks on the fence portals, be sure to keep them closed, as the opening of these doors usually makes some noise to alert you of entry. An excellent security measure for nighttime is motion-sensing lights. If you enjoy sitting out on the deck with family and friends in the warmer months, a dark yard may be completely invisible. Motion lights that will illuminate anything that moves into the space can be very beneficial as security measures.
The world is a dangerous place, and any place accessible to human beings is potentially dangerous, including your own home and yard. Enjoy your life, but be prepared, even in and around the house.