This week, we take a question from SOS Subscriber Robert Bossen from Jacksonville, FL, who asked the following question on home defense for the elderly:
*Q: “I’m 87 years old and my wife is 89. We both have bad backs which limits our mobility. How can we protect ourselves if a couple of big guys break into our townhouse?”
We contacted experts in the field and included their responses to Robert’s question below, for further instruction take a peek at this FREE PDF on home defense and sleep soundly knowing you have done everything reasonably possible:
Name: Daniel Faggella
Bio: Coach Daniel is the founder and head publisher at Science of Skill, LLC. A martial arts black belt and self defense instructor, Dan has spent years training with and interviewing some of the world’s best self protection experts. His passion lies in encouraging others to train smart and to improve the skills that make them safer and stronger.
Response: Ideally, self-defense shouldn’t be a day-to-day concern at your age. My biggest recommendation is to find a comfortable home or apartment in a safe area close to loved ones and trusted people if possible. You should reference your neighborhood crime rates at spotcrime.com and crimemapping.com as well. Another good thing to do is make contact with your local law enforcement agency, they will provide the most current data on request.
However, if you are forced to live in an area where crime is a concern, I can recommend a few strategies. First and foremost, at an advanced age, a physical confrontation is not recommended. Your hand-to-hand skills may not be ideal for the situation. Thus, I will recommend minimizing your risk.
1. Floodlights on your property that are illuminated all night long. A brightly lit property will not be an ideal target for a burglar or home invader. They want to conduct their crimes without being seen.
2. Have a professionally-installed alarm system. Self-installed kits may prove challenging for those who aren’t technically inclined. You don’t want your alarm to fail at the worst possible moment.
3. Your doors, door frames, and windows should be stout and secure. Make sure your doors are solid and not hollow and able to support a proper deadbolt. Make sure your windows have multiple panes and are lockable. Think “fortification”.
4. Don’t give invaders secluded points of entry. Don’t have any hedges blocking doors and windows, for example. Again, potential invaders don’t want to be seen while conducting their crimes.
Name: Chris McGoey
Bio: Chris McGoey is internationally known as an author, trainer, speaker, private investigator, and security consultant. He has over 46 years of education and experience and has absorbed thousands of hours of special training. He contributes to industry trade associations and has been honored for his work. Mr. McGoey is the host of the Crime School Podcast and frequently quoted by the media as a security expert.
Response: As we age and our health declines we have to adjust our lifestyle to fit our current condition and limited abilities. I often consult with aging couples that have similar concerns about security and safety. Here’s what I think you should do.
1. Have a family meeting this week about your security and safety concerns. Here is a good resource to get you started. http://crimeschool.com/10-reasons-why-burglars-choose-your-home/
2. Realistically assess whether you’re capable of defending yourselves against two big guys breaking in to your home. I’ve prepared some tips for my clients about surviving a home invasion. You can access it at http://www.crimedoctor.com/home2.htm
3. Evaluate the crime risk in your neighborhood and the likelihood of a break-in (e.g. has it happened to you before in your lifetime?)
4. If the likelihood of a home invasion is probable then you should move to a lower-risk neighborhood as soon as possible.
5. If the crime risk to your home is low, then seek assistance from the police and consultants to fortify the existing structure.
a. Your home is like a box with openings through doors and windows;
b. Most intruders will force their way through the front door; so fortify that door, with a deadbolt lock, and heavy duty strike plate;
c. Replace glass sidelights with a solid material or use laminated glass to delay entry;
d. Fortify all ground accessible sliding glass windows with secondary locking or blocking devices and use glass laminate films to delay burglars;
e. Install an alarm system with wearable wireless key-fob panic button technology;
f. Make a safe room within your home so you can retreat and call for help. Head on over to http://crimeschool.com/5 for more information.
g. Prepare the safe room with the tools you need to defend your family. Have a one-touch programmable speaker phone to call 911.
Name: Lars Fidler
Bio: A student mainly of Hardy Holm’s (Chief instructor at Students of Goju Ryu) multifaceted system of self defense, Lars has studied and practiced self defense martial arts since 1997, and taught it regularly since 2007. Lars holds belted ranks and/or experience in other forms of martial arts as well.
“My first advice to you, and to anyone asking about home-security, is this: Take the responsibility for your safety off yourselves. Even if you were the strongest, fastest, most superior martial artists in the world – so strong that ten men with guns could not defeat you in a fight, you have to sleep sometime.
Taking the responsibility off yourselves can be done in several ways, the simplest and most common being a set of two alarms: One loud that brings the neighborhood’s attention to your house and scares intruders, and one silent one that goes straight to the police. Another, and one of the oldest methods of home security, is getting a dog.
It doesn’t have to be a 1200 pound, combat trained pit bull with sharpened fangs. A little yorkshire terrier will do, or something of that size. Something that lets would-be intruders know they’ve been spotted before they’ve even entered the house, and that they’re not welcome. Something that barks and growls, waking you up in the process.
If alarms are too expensive and dogs are too much of a hassle, a simple thing like leaving the light on outside is often enough. Something that makes anyone outside your home visible from the street.
If your home is located so that lights outside wouldn’t help much, and there is no way for you to easily sneak out of your home in an emergency and call for help (or possibly just stay out of sight until the intruders leave), then we might be looking at physical self defense.
For physical self defense, your age, size, fitness level and minor ailments are next to irrelevant. The principles remain the same, and the principles you should keep closest in mind are these:
I. Either stay very close or out of reach.
– “Very close” means as close as you possibly can, and “out of reach” means far away enough to keep something in between you and your attacker, such as a chair. From one of those distances you apply the second principle:
– You don’t have to be fast or strong or technical – just flailing wildly and attacking everything around you to the best of your ability sends the message; the message being that it might be easier for them to just go somewhere else.
– I don’t support carrying weapons, but a home-breach is a little different. With “weapons” I still don’t mean guns. Stay away from guns, for several reasons. What I mean is something basic, like a sharp, sturdy stick of almost any length. Anything with a weighted end, a pointed tip or even a hint of an edge, really, and with that in hand – proceed to principle “I” and “II”.
I hope this helped, but if you have any further questions, there are several articles on this site concerning home-security specifically, and perhaps one of them can fill in any possible blanks!”
Analyzing the Experts:
- Takeaway 1 – Coach Dan presents a very realistic scenario. You may not be able to challenge your attackers directly, so the most advisable tactic is to minimize your risk. Change your residence to a safer neighborhood if possible. If not, minimize your risk with sensible home security techniques.
- Takeaway 2 – Chris brings up some valid points, the biggest of which can be summed up as that “your home is your castle”. Though we are long past the age of drawbridges & moats, the basic premise of keeping your home secure and well-defended is timeless. Check your premises for vulnerabilities, liase with local law enforcement to get information on crime statistics in your neighborhood, and address and rectify any vulnerabilities. Unless you are specifically targeted (i.e. you are a high-profile person), home invaders will usually seek out the “soft target”. Becoming a hard target is a huge step in securing your home.
- Takeaway 3 – Lars’ excellent advice is along the same lines as Chris’ but from a different perspective. Lars’ advice centers more on what to do if there is an invasion, regardless of your home preparations. Make yourself a hard target, an unpalatable “meal” to any potential invaders. Fight, kick, yell, delay and make the invader second-guess his decision to intrude on your premises.