View Full Version : Home Defense with Children

April 15, 2011, 11:21 AM
For years I've kept a handgun in a quick-access safe under my bed and a shotgun in the gun safe in the master closet (key to gun safe in quick-access safe). These days, I've got 3 small children. My concern is not preventing access to the guns, but what to do when the burglar alarm goes off in the middle of the night.

The way my house is laid out, the master bedroom is downstairs and the children's bedrooms are upstairs, on the other said of the house, which is fairly big (4,000 sq ft).

I'm torn between the plans of:
1) Get hand gun, quietly and slowly move through the house to hopefully get a jump on the BG (if it's not a false alarm).
2) Get gun, and dash upstairs toward kids to take defensive stand upstairs and protect kids.

It seems like #1 is the only viable choice because getting shot by BG during dash upstairs win't help them at all.

Anyway, I'd like to get people's ideas on home defense when the family is spread out.


April 15, 2011, 12:15 PM
You may want to consider a dog. Doesn't have to be an aggressive type, just a little mutt will do. They will warn you, and give the time to put your plan into action, and not be taken by suprise.

Don't forget that there may be more than one BG. They like 3-4 now days. And don't buy in to any of their BS. They are professional liars and con-artists.
Best, Eagle

April 15, 2011, 12:45 PM
Hi, Jon. Welcome to TFL.

Actually your best defensive location is upstairs. It is easiest to defend against someone climbing the stairs.

What you didn't mention a wife. If you are married, what is she going to do?

April 15, 2011, 01:35 PM
I'm married but my wife is not gun-literate and, being kind of clumsy and slow to wake up, it is probably best that she doesn't help.

We tossed around the idea that maybe she go into the closet and get the shotgun (20-ga pump with a pistol-grip stock) while I guard the bedroom door with my pistol (H&K USPC .40), then we switch guns and I go investigate with the shotgun. This could take a minute while BGs are in the house and the kids are upstairs by themselves.

Of course, the first thing we need to work on is our frame of mind. We've never had a break-in but we have had false alarms (doors not totally latched that pop open). So, when the alarm has gone off, we usually turn it off and then go investigate. That obviously defeats the purpose of having a monitored alarm.

April 15, 2011, 01:41 PM
The second option! I know a pi, he is an ex-marine and one of the toughest guys I know. He lives in a lousy neighborhood, in a house he inherited from his father. He says if anyone ever comes in, I am staying in my bed room with my pistol in my hand and a lot of prayers they leave with out coming in my room. He has no kids, but the point is the same. Protect yourself, your children and family; your possessions can be replaced!

April 15, 2011, 01:48 PM
mnero, That is exactly what I would do if I had no kids. That's my dilemma. I need to leave my "safe" room to go protect the kids.

April 15, 2011, 02:01 PM
I got ya. I should have been more clear. Go upstairs and take the weapon with you. Hopefully you will get there first and without running into the perps. I can't imagine having the responsibilities you have; protecting your family. Seems like you are doing what you should though. Secured weapon, close to your sleeping place, and a good alarm system. Just grab the pistol and get upstairs; forget the shotgun, there may not be time.

April 15, 2011, 02:05 PM
Gotta go with #2. Clearing a house is not to be taken lightly or without training or back up. Too many things can go wrong, even in your own home.
Find the easiest and safest route to your kids upstairs that offers the least exposure to you and your wife. Let the police clear the house.

April 15, 2011, 02:12 PM
I would second the dog if it's a responsibility you are willing to take on. Dogs are a great layer of security if trained to alert bark and/or protect. Breed selection is important to make sure they are what you and your family need and want, especially if it's a family/guard dog.

As a family with 2 young boys, 6 years old and 13 months, we decided to get a family pet first and guard dog as a secondary trait. We adopted an adult dog who had been around young children for all his life and yet met our guard dog criteria. He's a 5 year old German shepherd/Rottweiler mix with a good temperament and tolerance for kids, while still being aware, protective and fearless. He's a great animal and he's good at placing himself between the kids and anything he thinks might be a threat.

As for a plan of action, I want to secure my kids as 1st priority. For me that means getting armed and getting to them while making sure all is clear in my path. I use a pistol with a TLR-1 mounted light for home defense and think lights are a great tool. Clear the house as you go to your kids and make sure you know your layout and target foreground and background before you engage.

April 15, 2011, 02:22 PM
I wouldn't want a dog for the reason that it would give me yet another loved one I felt I had to protect. I have a little 14 yr old dauchshound; he is not much of a guard dog, but I would protect him like he was family. Of course if you are willing to get upstairs and let the dog stay and engage the perps or alert and retreat, then yeah a dog is a great defense. We used them alot in the service and they are amazing; best marines I ever saw!

Onward Allusion
April 15, 2011, 03:02 PM
Home Defense with Children

I've thought about this situation as well and arrived at the conclusion that a wireless surveillance camera system is the solution. You can scatter a few of them throughout the house and monitor from a panel in your bedroom before you stick your head out of your bedroom. The cameras have IR night vision. It's not as expensive as you think...


April 15, 2011, 03:03 PM
mnero, good post on not wanting a dog. It's important to understand the responsibilities of a guard dog and your own willingness to own one. Dogs are a big responsibility and not for everyone or every situation.

April 15, 2011, 03:24 PM
Get gun, and dash upstairs toward kids to take defensive stand upstairs and protect kids.

I would also grab a phone.

I added onto my house wit hthis in mind, the kids bedroom is beside mine but anyone needs to come down a hallway to get there then turn left at my bedroom door a window over the kitchen sink behind the hallway lites it up at night, I can see them they cannot see me.

Art S.
April 15, 2011, 04:08 PM
I would think a well designed drill for family would start you in the right direction. you with gun, wife on phone to LE(with shotgun), kids going someplace safer like closet or bathroom (Something with a lock, that gets them out of the way). then carefully going directly upstairs. maybe add motion sensors to some internal lights. if the alarm goes off butt lights off probably false alarm. alarm goes off butt lights come on be prepared.
Just a thought.

Art S.

April 15, 2011, 04:24 PM
if your kids are old enough i think it would be good to have them in on your plans. as in, if the alarm goes off, stay in their rooms, get in a closet, and wait for a safe word before you come out. i have told mine (5 yr old son, 13 yr old daughter) to stay put and wait for someone to say "rotten egg" my family plan is to get everybody together but we're all close to start with. just move to a new house with a better floor plan ! JK i would grab the wife, phone and both guns, once prepared then carefully make your way upstairs and defend from high ground as a family. my wife shoots a .38 snubby with me 2 or 3 times a year, only because i ask her to, but has been taught to reload all 9 guns for me since i am the most proficient. my 13 yr old girl only weighs 100 lbs wet but can hit inside the "10 ring" at 25 yards with my .45 all day long. there are 2 other shooters in the house if (God forbid) i'm not home, wounded or worse.

April 15, 2011, 04:48 PM
Thanks for all the good ideas. I definitely need to practice some of these ideas with the wife. The kids are 4, 4 & 2, so they're too young to expect to act according to any plan (or even wake up if the alarm goes off).

April 15, 2011, 06:25 PM
I would strongly suggest you sit down with your wife and weapons to get her familiar with how they work then get out to the range every once in a while so she is at least used to shooting. I would keep it under 10 yards since you are not going to have that many long shots in a house. That way you are not the first and last line of defense.

I also think the best bet is to get to your kids and hold out there with LE on the phone. Give them descriptions of what you and your family look like and exactly where you are so you do not get mistaken as a bad guy with a gun. Leave the room clearing stuff to the pro's and keep your family safe.

April 15, 2011, 08:09 PM
Jon, here's the way I see it.

1. Fix the alarm situation, whatever you gotta do, to minimize false alarms. Otherwise you'll get complacent.

2. With your wife in the house, you've got 2 separate groups to protect. You can't be in 2 places at once. The wife and kids must be together. The best way I see is for her to dash upstairs (phone in hand) while you cover her. Then you dash upstairs.

3. Since upstairs is really your "safe area" in this scenario, I recommend you hide a weapon upstairs in a quickly accessible lock box. Your wife will then have something in case you don't make it with your gun, or she has an opportunity to fire too. You might want to keep ear protection upstairs too for the family.

4. Put a house key on a stick to throw out of an upstairs window for the cops to use to get into your house when they arrive, if you have to barricade and wait it out.

5. Waiting for the cops is preferable to clearing if you can wait. It beats a shoot-out.

April 15, 2011, 08:45 PM
I'd go with the those that said "No" to the house clearing. Group the family, barricade the door, and call the pro's.

Also : I did that alone for my yet to be wife due to a stranger entering her home. It was intense to say the least. I do not recommend it at all.

April 15, 2011, 08:54 PM
Clearing a room is at the minimum a 2 man job that takes hours upon hours of practice to get right and not shoot your partner in the back, let alone a house. Get to a spot to put the bad guys in a fatal funnel like a doorway or down a hall to stack the deck in your favor. Also have extra mags loaded and kept in hiding around the the house in strategic spots so you don't run dry.

April 15, 2011, 09:14 PM
This is a tough one and I can't give you any recommendation other than to say that I have 6 kids, two down stairs (basement bedrooms) and 4 more at the opposite end of the hallway. If something goes bump in the night I have no choice but to leave my wife where she is and go first to the younger children or perhaps downstairs if that's where I hear the bump.

I can only hope it it ever happens for real that it's one dumb bad guy because I'm very disadvantaged but I have to go check on the kids, period.

My wife thinks even talking about scenarios like that are silly. I've told my kids to stay put or get behind, under their bed if they hear something and to scream bloody murder if someone appears in their doorway other than me.

Beyond that I'm trusting in the Lord.


April 16, 2011, 06:52 AM
My wife thinks even talking about scenarios like that are silly.

So does mine, although I am making headway stating that we need to have emergency plans for dealing with fire, tornado and home invasions - she finds that at least more reasonable when I include the zombie infestation removal with other possible emergencies. At the moment, the best I'll be able to do is tell her to fall in behind me with the cell phone and make our way to our son's room, which becomes the safe room.

Yeah, you guys without kids that say "baricade yourself, don't leave your safe room" have it easy. ;) But as others said, the best you and I can do is a compromise. Don't clear the whole house, just do the minimum to get to your children as quickly as possible, while mitigating as much of the danger to yourself and your wife as possible (yes, no easy task).

My house is small (1 story, 1650 ft2, about to become 1850), but it is VERY open, and it is a fairly straight shot to my son's room, which does make taking the shotgun viable. Trade a bit of portability for a huge bump in actual capability -that was actually one reason why I picked this particular house. Problem is there is about a 95% chance of coming face-to-face with the BG on the way to my son's room (we can bypass about 35% of the house, but were only talking 1650 ft2 here).

The other crazy idea I had was to exit my bedroom through the window, go around to his room and bust the glass with the butt of the shotgun, and climb in. Crazy enough that I'm not sure if it is brilliant or totally idiotic.

As for having to go upstairs, yeesh, I don't envy you in that task. Going up a stairway is probably the most dangerous point in the whole scenario. I had a similar problem in my previous house. Our son was upstairs, and in order to get there from our downstairs room you had to go down a narrow hallway that opened up into a combination living/kitchen/dining room with a 2 story cathedral ceiling and a small balcony on the 2nd floor (going down the hall, the living room ran from 12:00 to 3:00, the dining room was from about 10:00 to 12:00, the kitchen was at 6:00 to 10:00 and the balcony was directly above) - what a friggin nightmare :eek:. I actually considered moving our room upstairs (crappy little 8x10, yes), but it would have been a defender's dream up there! Glad I don't live there anymore.

April 27, 2011, 10:23 PM
I was thinking of this the other night - what I would tell my kids if there were an intruder - I was thinking I wouldn't want them to get under their beds because the way my house is setup the BG will probably either be downstairs of them in which case they are in danger of rounds coming up through their floor, or the BG will be on the same floor as they are in which case I would want them in the closet behind a wooden dresser.

But anyway I am divorced and my ex is still dragging me through court. I refused a request to increase unallocated support and two weeks later I had a DCFS agent at my house. My ex had called them and complained about living conditions at my home. So I went through the house with the DCFS worker, and he specifically asked about my guns. According to him - my ex wife expressed concern that my weapons weren't locked up appropriately. So while showing my house, the kitchen, the bathrooms, etc... I showed him that my weapons were locked up and inaccesable. Basically she was on a witch hunt hoping that a case worker might find something... a dirty sink or a dirty toilet or guns that were not locked up.

My house is fine, the report came back stating that the allegations were unfounded.

But it's an example of how having kids in the equation can totally change things.

April 28, 2011, 02:14 AM
I don't think this has been mentioned yet, so...

If you go by your local store, you can usually find little night lights that plug into your standard electrical outlets. Some of these night lights have motion sensors on them.

You can place these motion-sensing lights throughout the house. If you see one light up, you know there's something moving around over there. Just a thought that may help you decide a course of action when the stuff hits the fan.

Of course, those lights may also give your position away. But since you're on the defensive in this scenario, I think the lights will help more than hurt.

April 28, 2011, 08:39 AM
Have my house set up so that one must traverse a long corridor before reaching any of the sleeping areas. The corridor is easily defended, and there are always toys strewn about (and a falling barricade) for the unwary coming up the stairs.

For clearing the house, (I do this alone [before kids my wife had my six], wife now stays with children) I use Makarov, 38 spl, 44 spl or 45 ACP chambered short barreled handguns to minimize penetration risks. Do not own a shotgun. I use a bounce light....in a darkened room you toss it at a sound, it turns on only when it contacts something.

If your house cannot be redesigned/renovated into a more protective layout I would consider relocating to a more appropriate home.

Family is number one and they must be protected.

April 28, 2011, 09:33 AM
A question ... I don't have kids and live in a one-story house, so my solution is to stay in my bedroom behind a locked door with my 1911, flashlight and cell to call the cops.

But in your scenario, I've often wondered why people don't use locks on bedroom doors for their children. If they're infants, they don't get up at night. Lock 'em in. For older children, use something like a deadbolt that they can operate with a keyless handle, while you have a key to enter from the outside in case of emergency. Many homes offer a "jack and jill" setup, where two children's rooms share a bathroom, so they wouldn't need to leave their rooms after bedtime, tho they could with the deadbolt control in their room.

we had this very scenario in a class I took; we went to one of the student's two-story homes, found all the bad things outside that would allow easier access to crooks (bushes by the garage door to hide behind, a shed near the house allowing access to the second-floor windows, no security lights). We all agreed that if children were present upstairs, our first move would be for both parents to arm themselves and head for the stairs with flashlights after calling 9-1-1. I also agree that a dog is a good idea; my yowling beagle is better than any security system, since he makes a lot of noise and has teeth.

Onward Allusion
April 28, 2011, 10:05 AM
Seaman, What is a bounce-light? I tried Googling and only came up with toy balls, photography references, and corded work lights. The bounce-light as you described it sounds like a great idea if it isn't corded. Are you talking about the work-lights?

April 28, 2011, 10:23 AM
In addition to the above, it sounds like another shotgun may be a good idea; that way you wouldn't be leaving your wife with a pistol...

April 28, 2011, 01:16 PM
Ahoy Onward Allusion ---

My kid got a bounce-light as a gift...kind of a rubbery interleaved tubular ball about the size of a softball (baseball). Last time I cleared the house, 1911 in hand, and telling the perp, in a loud guttural voice that I was gonna "blow off his @??#&^%% balls to hell," the perp retreated real quick to the kitchen. I followed and tossed the bounce-light into the corner of the kitchen where the perp was, my 1911 pointed, safety off. This bounce light gives off a soft blue light, and there I could see the perp cowering...the biggest fattest raccoon that I'd seen in a while. I prefer the bounce-light to a gun-light or flashlight becuase that just makes me the target.

Ahoy gk1 ---

Am not big on shotguns, they are large and real loud, and if you miss, it could be wrestled away. Prefer a short barreled handgun, very difficult to disarm if the shooter is holding it correctly. A 101st Airborne sandbox vet (now a cop) showed me the proper way to hold/shoot a handgun in CQC, I'm sure those tactical schools cover such things.

April 28, 2011, 02:35 PM
I'm in the same boat as you with 4 kids upstairs in two bedrooms and then my wife and I downstairs. We've really struggled with the best way to secure our home, but came up with a variety of different solutions to best meet our needs until we can relocate. First, we bit the bullet and got a yellow lab. She's a great temperament around our kids, is good with the steady steam of visitors and friends we have coming through here, a great watchdog when the kids are outside during the day, and a good first warning for home defense. Just a few months back she started barking in the middle of the night, and when I got up to check found that she had heard someone breaking into my truck outside. Sweet Jesus I love that dog!

More to the question of home defense, since a dog doesn't seem like an option you want to pursue, we've decorated our home in such a way so as to better facilitate clearing. It's not an option for us to move our room upstairs since we have a split level home and that would put kids at ground level windows, so our plan is that in the event if a home invasion we will move locations to secure our children. We've added decorative mirrors at strategic points that enable us to quickly move up the stairs to the kids while also maintaining visibility of possible intruders, and my wife and I have practiced our emergency plan to make sure we are ready to move together quickly.

One other thing we've done is pack an emergency bag that is stored in one of the kids' rooms. Bag contains spare handgun magazines, first aid supplies, flashlights, and most importantly a cheap corded phone. The drill in a home invasion is that we move quickly up the stairs to secure the kids and my wife retrieves the bag, plugs the phone into the wall, and dials 911. I'd rather have a rifle stored up there personally, but the wife didn't feel comfortable with that so we settled on an emergency bag stocked with spare handgun magazines. We also added some cheap Tiva-style sandals to the bag this last summer so that her and I would have some sort of footwear available if we elect to leave the home during the emergency.

I think the key, regardless if what you plan, is to talk about it often and practice at least once a month. And for those of you who have wives or girlfriends who don't love the idea of practicing home invasion plans, I warmed my wife to the idea by first suggesting we talk about fire plans. Once we started working through and practicing those, it wasn't too difficult to get her on board also considering an invasion. Longer term though, we do plan to relocate and now have a much different list of things we want to find in our next home. :cool:

April 28, 2011, 10:54 PM
I do not have any small children & I do not own a large home/property.
I would suggest buying a copy of author/tactics-firearms instructor Massad Ayoob's book Gunproof Your Kids. See www.Bookfinder.com or www.Ayoob.com .


May 16, 2011, 12:31 PM
Having kids is totally different.

2yr and 8yr old are in bedroom next to me on 2nd floor.

I would follow the protect the upstairs from bg route. They would have to go up the main stairs and down a hall that could easily be defended.

My concern with all of this is the safety of your kids. I would throw wife in with them and say to not go out. Make sure your kids are not wandering around prior to an incident. Make sure they are in bed and not getting a glass of water downstairs!

My other question is if my gun is in locked case - do i have to have another case with the ammo? It is hard enough to get one case open let alone two.

I would prefer to have my beretta in a case with a 17rd mag. ready next to it. That is actually the legal way to transport in a car in IL. ammo does not have to be separate if the gun is unloaded and in a case.

i'm going to get a dog in the near future as soon as my 2yr old son can take care of him a bit.