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Home defense for small woman with kids

This is a discussion on Home defense for small woman with kids within the Home (And Away From Home) Defense Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; WOW. Thanks for all this very practical advice. As far as the house goes, I'll definitely get the police to come through and point out ...

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  1. #31
    New Member Array iowagal's Avatar
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    WOW. Thanks for all this very practical advice.

    As far as the house goes, I'll definitely get the police to come through and point out weak spots. I've got glassbreaks, and luckily it's newer construction, so I haven't got dozens of sash windows to sensor. I'm hardening doors as I can afford it. Outside lights are on. The alarm's wireless, battery backup though I should find out how long it takes the battery to run out. There's only one ground-floor window (which is where the guy got in last time -- unlocked) and it's behind a (now locked) privacy fence and will have thorny bushes in front of it. Sensor, glassbreak. There's one of those useless sliding patio doors, though, which freaked me out when we first moved in here, looked like an invitation to a break-in. Getting rid of it would've been a major expense, though, and until recently this has been the kind of area where you could leave every door and window open, your car running, and your wallet on the front steps and everything would be just where you left it in the morning. I figure film/dowel/sensor/glassbreak/motion is probably insane overkill and the best I can do for the patio door, but between all the sensors & detectors between it and the main floor, the panel itself would have to fail in order for a guy to get up to us without our knowing about it. Which actually gives me a reason to put my cheapo non-monitored battery-operated sensors back up -- they just make a lot of noise. At some point I'll also find cameras to set up for the front and rear of the house.

    I love the instant-safe-room idea with the reinforced BR door and Katy bar. Excellent idea, plus we could get out a window if need be. We can deal with tornadoes another time. I'd never have thought of the wasp spray, either. And a cast-iron skillet under the bed...I could see it coming in handy, actually.

    As for kitchen knives...yes, they're hidden now. When I was in college I saw something I'll never forget -- was on a subway and two guys in the car started fighting, and this crazy girl I was with, not much bigger than me, pulled a knife to try to break it up. Incredibly stupid. She stopped the fight, all right: one of the guys took the knife right off her, easy as pie, closed it up, handed it back to her, and said, "Don't do that again."

    Size 15 boots...yeah, it occurred to me the day after the burglary.

    I did take self-defense classes a couple decades ago, and was less than impressed -- I think they sold a false sense of security. It's one thing to do that in a room with nice polite people who don't ordinarily fight, but the only reason I'm alive today is that when I was attacked hard before, it just happened that the guy wasn't armed with anything but a rock, and was high as a kite. To be honest I don't really know how I got away from him, but I was screaming bloody murder the whole time, and luckily time slowed down so certain moves just showed up as obviously bad ideas, others as the thing to do.

    Taser...I'm very reluctant with kids in the house, not just mine but their friends. And again, I can see more clearly now that the strategy is "gather kids/hide/escape/wait for cops" rather than "fight my way out while kids do unpredictable kid things v. who knows how many bad guys". My instinct is to confront, but it's stupid. For a while I was sleeping in the living room, ready to spring into action and defend kids and laptops, but it makes no sense: I'm hardly a threat, don't have a gun.

    I also keep an eye on the police blotter and send around an email to neighbors when there are problems locally, and people have been pretty good about calling the cops and asking for more coverage, extra patrols. And the police have obliged. I have to give the local cops credit for rising to the challenge -- they were a sleepy force without much to do a couple of decades ago, but they're much tougher now, and fast.

    Thanks again for all the advice. Feel free to keep it coming -- I'll keep checking back.


  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by mulle46 View Post
    Batons are a viable defense tool for small framed female LE, why not a small civilian female, as long as she gets training on it and they are legal for civilian possession? The OP will also be fighting for her children.
    The key here is TRAINING. Absent that, impact weapons are of questionable value, especially in the hands of the small and (relatively) weak.
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  3. #33
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    One other, very strong suggestion - go visit our own Limatune's blog. She's a surviving victim of some unspeakable violence, and although she's big on guns, she's bigger on the whole spectrum of not being a victim. Here: Limatunes' Range Diary
    Hopyard likes this.
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  4. #34
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    Regarding your security system (continued):
    Get a wireless panic button that you can have on your person at all times. Have hardwired panic buttons install strategically around the house (you want ones that will give you the option of transmitting a silent alarm as well as an audible alarm). Also, have the security company install an exterior siren and and exterior strobe light so that neighbors and the authorities will be able to quickly identify which home the alarm is coming from.

    Cameras and lighting:
    At the very least, install a video camera & intercom for your front door. Consider installing surveillance cameras with a digital video recorder to cover the perimeter of your home. Install flood lights and motion activated lights around your home and property.

    Weapons and self-defense:
    Some really good suggestions have already been mentioned. Get trained in Krav Maga. Never say "I can't do that" or "I'm to small for that" or anything like that. You can do anything you want to do if you put your mind to it. Learn how to defend yourself with a knife. Learn anatomy so you know where all the major arteries of the human body are located. Hammers and hatchets/tomahawks and the like can be devastating weapons.

    Safe room:
    I think you might have a slight misunderstanding as to what a safe room is since you mentioned "tornados" and being "built under the garage". A safe room is any room in your house that has some means of fortification. Many people use a bedroom closet or small bedroom or bathrooms. They will take these existing rooms/closets and add stronger doors (usually steel) with locks, deadbolts and barricades. Some people will also add materials to the walls and ceiling to make it harder to penetrate. Many people also put additional phone lines in these rooms, as well as, weapons and some food and water so that they can contact authorities/neighbors and remain in the safe rooms for long periods of time.
    Regards,
    1MoreGoodGuy
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  5. #35
    New Member Array iowagal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gasmitty View Post
    All kidding aside, impact weapons (baseball bats, batons, skillets) are about the last thing anyone should be recommending to a woman who is admittedly on the small side. Anything requiring closing the distance to deliver a 'payload' to a bad guy intent on harm is the wrong way to go.

    Given the OP's boundary conditions (no guns, no dogs), I think Hopyard's approach is the most sensible - which is prevention. Learning to have an elevated sense of situational awareness, in spite of being in one's own home will help as well.
    This strikes me as intelligent advice, and thanks for it. In the moment, if I've got no choice about being in range, I could see having the strength to do something with a fry pan, but the fact is any guy's going to have a much longer reach than I've got, and no, I don't want to be that close if I can help it. Most guys who'd break into a house are also probably younger & quicker than I am.

    I do regret having to re-develop that situational awareness -- I lived in cities many years, and the fact is you sleep less well. But is what is.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocky View Post
    Take a self defense course , buy a few cans of pepper spray (with the plan to use one for practice). Harden your home (trim bushes,motion sensor lights, ect).
    +1 learn how to defend yourself with your hands and feet.
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  7. #37
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    There are only so many options.

    • Harden the home, to make it more difficult for trespassers/invaders.
    • Add early-warning elements to your home (ie, alarm, or a four-legged 'alarm' [dog]).
    • Acquire some sort of defensive skills (of the hand-to-hand type).
    • Acquire some sort of weaponry and related training (ie, effective sprays, knifes, firearms).
    • Rely on others in the home, to perform the security role.
    • Rely on others outside the home, to perform the security role (ie, brother across town).
    • Rely on divine intervention (aka 'dial-a-prayer', aka 911).


    Pick one or more, and effectively train with the element to achieve competency in its use and limitations. Note that several of the above elements can overlap. And they should, in any decent preparation plan.

    You've opted to eliminate some options from the outset. I'd suggest thinking deeply about the utility and limitations, pros/cons, of all available options, before discarding any of them out of hand.

    =====

    That said ...

    What would I do in a similar situation, if small-framed and -hands, depression, preference for a no-firearms environment, preference for no dogs (given cost, interruptions), and having an alarmed home already?

    Presuming the home's upper level is where all the bedrooms are, I might consider installing a fairly decent security door at the top of the stairs, and ensuring the alarmed zone of the house representing the whole downstairs/perimeter area were activated every night before going to sleep. This would require all residents to remain in the upper floor for the duration of the evening, unless the alarm to downstairs were at least temporarily disabled.

    The benefit of those two steps would be to noticeably harden the access to the sleeping areas.

    This would, of course, mostly only affect invasion/burglary during sleeping times. It wouldn't affect other times of the day, during which invasion/burglary could be done.

    I would consider adding motion-sensitive devices outside the home, which could be wired (or wireless) to communicate with sensors inside the home to notify you of nearby people, potential intruders.

    That would cover the in-home type enhancements I'd focus on.

    As for outside the home, it comes down to three things: improved tactics; improved skills; weaponry. I would go after all three, within the limitations of my ability, funds. I'd seriously consider putting mere preferences and biases on the back-burner, at least initially, before properly evaluating available options.

    I'd find a trainer who could assist in some or all of these elements. It could include physical martial arts type disciplines (which could help health-wise and in terms of the depression). It should include the weaponry elements. And all instruction should certainly entail the tactics and lifestyle changes, to improve the odds.

    As for weaponry, I'd need to consider the realistic pros/cons of each potential weapon, based on my limitations and practicality. State statutes are going to dictate certain defensive tools off-limits, given fear over their misuse (ie "dirks, daggers" and whatnot, or even sprays). I'd need to consider the reality of the tool set being employed by violent attackers out in the world, and what tools could be effectively brought to bear against that range of tools. A bat's fine, but not exactly useful for taking along on a stroll down Main Street. A pocket knife or two is great, assuming it can be effectively wielded. Spray is useful for many, given lack of skill or preference for knives/firearms. And a firearm can be considered highly useful, perhaps even most useful of all, given that it can at least be the equal of any other tool likely to be employed against me in a violent attack, whereas many of the others simply won't measure up.

    As for things like effective martial (H2H) skills, prior injuries limit those elements' utility for me. I'm explosive and violently effective enough for short durations (and have been on a couple such occasions of violent attack against me), but it's not going to be for any duration. Against multiple-on-one situations, my options are somewhat limited. My preference given all of that (above): to be armed with knives, firearm; layered with tactics and improved awareness; with hardened elements at home; covered at home with motion alarm type elements.
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  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1MoreGoodGuy View Post
    There is a lot of good advice so far.

    Regarding your security system:
    Make sure your security system has full perimeter coverage and make sure you have an audio glassbreak sensor in range of every window. Audio glassbreak sensors are designed to pickup the sound that glass makes as it flexes. They actually pickup the sound milliseconds before the glass actually breaks.
    One never knows what cues will deter a BG. As I understand it, these audio sensors are excellent, but not noticeable from
    outside. The one time I looked at having them installed they went in the ceiling above a window. Vibrations/impact sensors are on the glass and someone approaching will know the window is protected.

    In the OP's situation, use both. The inexpensive noise maker glass break detectors will serve as a visual
    warning to someone approaching the house. If they "blow that off" the detectors as nothing to be concerned with and
    go for it, the audio detector will get the alarm off to your monitoring company. Meanwhile, visible glass break
    detectors will hopefully send the message that the house is protected; and a burglar has no way to know
    what else you have in there.

    Finally, remember that you must be able to live in the house. It is possible to harden it to a degree and in a manner
    which makes your life miserable. Then, you quit turning stuff on and it all becomes a waste of money and effort.

    As much as you might want to harden your kid's rooms, you don't want them to be able to lock YOU out.
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  9. #39
    Senior Member Array txron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard58 View Post
    Get a German shepherd, and get some size 15 boots and put them on the front porch.
    Lots of good advice here, but I go with this one the most. Get a big dog. I have a 90 lbs German Shepard that is as lovable as any dog I have ever owned. He is friendly, loves to play and is VERY intelligent. Great for stess relief by just being around and petty or playing tug of war with his rope. He is part of our family. With that being said he is very protective of me, my wife and daughters. When we first got him from the adoption agency, my wife was apprehensive about having a "police dog". She thought he was going to go around and attack us. After a couple of months, she realized he was a big teddy bear, until....

    My wife was home alone and expecting one of her friend to come over. Not paying attention, the door bell rang and assuming it was her friend, she went to the door and opened it without checking through the window. We have a storm door with a window, so when she opened the wooden door, she looked up expecting her friend only to see a young man standing there. He was a solicitor trying to sell alarm systems. My wife was startled and jumped back about 2 ft. With that queue, the dog went ballistic. He slammed into the storm door with teeth showing, hair up and growling and barking. He would not stop trying to get through the door and get to this guy. The guy, turned and ran away from the door as fast as possible. Once my wife re gained her composure of being startled, she started to calm down and so did the dog. Within 2- 3 minutes after the encounter, the dog was his lovable self again. My wife saw the guy combing the neighborhood when she finally was leaving the house and pulled over to apologize to him. This poor guy. She said he was white as a ghost, and explained how he had never been so scared in all his life. He also mentioned that we did not need an alarm system.

    A large dog, is great for the family, a great early warning system, a great protector of "their pack" and will do wonders for releasing stress. To me, he is part of the family and my best friend. We do everything together.

    Oh yeah, we have a cat too.. She is the only one the dog is afraid of.
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  10. #40
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    Where in IA do you live? If you want to answer in PM that is fine.

    Yes, there are a lot of self defense classes that do just sell a false sense of security but there are those out there that make you work for a real sense of security. The trick is finding them. My husband and I have been very fortunate to find a self defense class that we are taking in Marshal Co that is proving to be very rigorous and worth the effort.

    I am small, 5'3" 99 lbs and am apparently doing very well against opponents much larger than me.

    I also am home alone most of the day with small children, both under the age of 4.

    Avoidance and deterrence are a great first step and you've already gotten a lot of information to that end so I won't repeat.

    Forget the wasp spray.... get pepper spray.

    Batons, etc, are very useful for an individual trained in their use.. not so good for someone who doesn't know how to use them.

    What do you think of carrying a knife? Any reservations there?

    Even if you don't want a dog you could always put a "beware of dog" sign out and a dog bowl for a very large dog. That, combined with a security system sign might well deter a large number of criminals.

    The trick is to not be lulled into "feeling" safe but knowing you have the knowledge, skills and preparation to keep yourself and your children as safe as possible. No, you might not be able to defend against everything (like tornadoes) but you are doing the best you can with what you have.

  11. #41
    Senior Member Array mulle46's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gasmitty View Post
    The key here is TRAINING. Absent that, impact weapons are of questionable value, especially in the hands of the small and (relatively) weak.
    I agree. Training is key,especially dealing with impact weapons. I never said it wasn't.
    You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." . . . You must do the thing you think you cannot do. Eleanor Roosevelt

  12. #42
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    For the sliding glass door, there are specific ways to harden it. One is as simple as laying a wooden dowel in the floor tracts You can also get a huge suction cup like thing to stick on the glass to either limit or eliminate how far the door will open and they're fun shaped like starfish, etc. Another weakness is criminals actually pulling the door out of the frame. To protect against this you can put a screw through the top of the frame - not a real good description, but a quick search should give you the details.

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hopyard View Post
    One never knows what cues will deter a BG. As I understand it, these audio sensors are excellent, but not noticeable from
    outside. The one time I looked at having them installed they went in the ceiling above a window. Vibrations/impact sensors are on the glass and someone approaching will know the window is protected.

    In the OP's situation, use both. The inexpensive noise maker glass break detectors will serve as a visual
    warning to someone approaching the house. If they "blow that off" the detectors as nothing to be concerned with and
    go for it, the audio detector will get the alarm off to your monitoring company. Meanwhile, visible glass break
    detectors will hopefully send the message that the house is protected; and a burglar has no way to know
    what else you have in there.

    Finally, remember that you must be able to live in the house. It is possible to harden it to a degree and in a manner
    which makes your life miserable. Then, you quit turning stuff on and it all becomes a waste of money and effort.

    As much as you might want to harden your kid's rooms, you don't want them to be able to lock YOU out.
    Window decals that say something like "this premises is protected by a monitored alarm system" act as a visual deterrent and they cost a whole lot less (most reputable alarm companies will give you one decal for each window in the house for free...sometimes you have to ask nicely for them). Vibration sensors are also prone to false alarms during heavy thunderstorms and sometimes high winds.
    Regards,
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  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1MoreGoodGuy View Post
    Window decals that say something like "this premises is protected by a monitored alarm system" act as a visual deterrent and they cost a whole lot less (most reputable alarm companies will give you one decal for each window in the house for free...sometimes you have to ask nicely for them). Vibration sensors are also prone to false alarms during heavy thunderstorms and sometimes high winds.
    The El-Cheapo ones I have don't false alarm, and I have had them for more than 2 years through some heavy storms too
    during the time. Yet, they are fairly sensitive, though they vary quite a bit unit to unit on that.

    The BGs might (who knows if they bother to think) think that a decal is a ruse. Nothing wrong with putting them up, but she also needs the glass break alarm.

    NOTE- I'm not saying she doesn't need the good quality ones that report to her alarm system and
    to a monitoring service. I'm only saying that those are not visible to someone who approaches the home. The El Cheapos
    are; and BGs probably can't tell the difference or will assume there might be more layers--especially if she has some decals as well.

    They don't use the silver-tape glass break detectors anymore, but in days past I used to apply the tape and a couple of wires
    that went nowhere. It looked like the real deal. From the outside, a potential intruder wouldn't notice the difference.

    It is partly psych warfare. @ $2.50 a piece, it doesn't take lots of money to have one on each window.
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  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hopyard View Post
    The El-Cheapo ones I have don't false alarm, and I have had them for more than 2 years through some heavy storms too
    during the time. Yet, they are fairly sensitive, though they vary quite a bit unit to unit on that.

    The BGs might (who knows if they bother to think) think that a decal is a ruse. Nothing wrong with putting them up, but she also needs the glass break alarm.

    NOTE- I'm not saying she doesn't need the good quality ones that report to her alarm system and
    to a monitoring service. I'm only saying that those are not visible to someone who approaches the home. The El Cheapos
    are; and BGs probably can't tell the difference or will assume there might be more layers--especially if she has some decals as well.

    They don't use the silver-tape glass break detectors anymore, but in days past I used to apply the tape and a couple of wires
    that went nowhere. It looked like the real deal. From the outside, a potential intruder wouldn't notice the difference.

    It is partly psych warfare. @ $2.50 a piece, it doesn't take lots of money to have one on each window.
    I think we were talking about two different things...I thought you were talking about the shock sensors that are connected to the security system but now it seems like you are talking about some type of standalone units. I have no experience with those types of units so I can't comment on whether they perform well or not. All I can say is that, if it is not connected to the alarm control panel, it will only serve as a local alarm which means that the monitoring center will not be notified. Seems like it might be a little redundant since a properly protected window with audio glassbreak sensors, when tripped, will sound a local alarm and transmit an alarm signal to the central monitoring station. But then again, you can never have too much security.
    Regards,
    1MoreGoodGuy
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