It’s 3 AM, and you are woken up suddenly by a loud noise. What could it be? Home invader? Wild animal broke through a window? Fire? A big storm breaking windows? An accident survivor struggling to find help?
It’s important to have a plan in place for emergencies like this, and everything you need right at hand. Some of it is common sense, but you’d be surprised what people DON’T have prepared.
First thing is light! Regardless of the situation, having light on hand can be very important. We recommend a small powerful LED light. Ideally one with at least two modes: low output and high output. LED lights allow for higher output from a smaller package as well as much more reliable bulbs. This is an area where we strongly recommend making an investment in a good light rather than a cheap option. When it comes to tools that could save your life, or the lives of your family, SureFire makes a selection of high quality and reliable lights, but there are others.
If you can, plan to pay over $100 for a better light. If that’s too rich for your blood, get the best light you can afford. A good light will not only work reliably in an emergency but will last for many many years. This light should ONLY be used for emergencies to preserve the batteries and ensure it is always right where it should be.
If you are unable, or unwilling, to have a firearm for home defense, you may want to consider a larger Maglite style which can double as an impact weapon in a pinch.
Batteries should be replaced annually (or more often if you end up using the light more often). It’s good to pick a day once a year (Jan 2nd, the day after your birthday, whatever works for you) and replace all your home’s critical batteries. All your smoke and CO2 detectors (and check their expiration dates), flashlights, weapon lights, weapon optic batteries, etc….
The next most important thing is to have a pair of shoes that you can slip on quickly and will be secure (no slippers or flip flops) for you to walk or run in. This is often overlooked, but in almost every emergency situation having shoes on can be a matter of life or death. In many emergencies there will be broken glass in your home and you may need to walk across it. There may be fire, embers, or burning wood. There may be snow or freezing water in your house. You may need to go outside, potentially into snow, sharp stones, sharp plans, etc.. You may need to run over rough ground. You may need to flee the house entirely. Being barefoot can be crippling in many of these scenarios.
Next I recommend shorts or sweat pants, depending on the outside weather. You want something quick to throw on while you’re still waking up. You need to have multiple pockets. And freedom of movement. The pockets will be for things like your phone, extra magazine for your weapon, your light if you need to free up your hand, etc..
Nice to have, but not necessary, is a shirt or hoodie, especially if the outside weather is cold. Worst case you may want to be prepared to have to flee your home due to fire or a overwhelming enemy force.
Next is your phone. You may need to call 911, take photo or video evidence, or use the mapping feature to make it to a hospital, or other location. Keeping your phone, fully charged, within easy reach is a good plan.
Finally we recommend having a weapon close at hand. This might be a handgun, rifle, shotgun, baseball bat, or whatever works. If you have a firearm you may want an extra magazine close at hand to slip into your pocket. Adding a weapon light to the firearm is a very good idea. If you’re grabbing your bedside firearm chances are it will be dark, and having a good light for proper target identification is critical.
There are good techniques for pairing a flash light with a handgun, which are worth training. A weapon light is generally a better option however as it lets you use a better grip on the firearm, or free up your off hand without giving up your light or weapon.
The right weapon depends on you, your home situation, and your local laws. We are happy to offer advice customized to your exact needs. You may need this to defend yourself or your family from assault (or worse), or to convince an injured wild animal to leave. A crazed deer in your living room can absolutely be deadly.
A critical part of being prepared for an emergency is having a plan for the most common potential issues. If you have a partner or children, your plan needs to include everyone.
If you’re going to investigate the issue, does your partner come with? Or get somewhere safe? Do they prepare to call 911? Do they start gathering key evaluation supplies (go bag, car keys, etc…)? Do they get your children or pets? Obviously a lot of that will depend on the nature of the threat, but each path should be planned and prepared for. Clear and quick communication, such as yelling “Call 911!” or “Run!”, or “Evacuate” should trigger clear plans.
You should also have critical things prepared and easy to get at if needed. A trauma medical kit, a Go Back, etc..
As we talked about in our Threat Analysis posts, you should list the most likely threats, and come up with a response plan for each.
As with most things, you need to train. In this case that means practice your emergency response. If you can, set an alarm for 3 AM, and practice getting your shoes, shorts/pants, light, phone, weapon, etc.. all ready to go. If you live with other people practice your roles for likely scenarios. Who goes to investigate? Who provides support? Practice different scenarios. Grab your Go Bag and put it in the car. Everything you can think of. Practice working without power (electricity could be out or cut) using just your flash lights and weapon lights.
It won’t take many repetitions before it feels comfortable, and you feel that you will know what to do if you’re ever woken up in the middle of the night by a big noise.