I wanted to post this article from Rebecca Bahret of SheKnows.com. It’s about the mental rehearsal (brainstorming) of emergency situations so that in the event of an actual emergency there is less time spent thinking and more spent doing.
“Every time I drive over a bridge with my children in the car, I envision us getting into an accident and plunging over the side into the water below. I then go through my “what would I do” checklist, ending with us being rescued and — most importantly — surviving. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of my Mommy friends who commented that they did the same, not just with bridges but with most potential high-stress situations. Then it hit me: We were all unknowingly participating in a training practice I learned back when I was a cop called crisis rehearsal.”
This mental rehearsal and imagery goes by many names. Athletes use it all the time. I was taught from an early age that practicing perfect repetitions in my mind would improve performance when it came to physically performing a task. I used this technique to maintain my shooting proficiency while I was recovering from my stem cell transplant five years ago. I literally had no quantifiable degradation in skill, though I wasn’t able to shoot a gun for 9 months or so. This stuff works. The mind is the most important training tool.
I use this daily, from looking for the nearest exits in restaurants to picking an aiming spot on questionable characters that I cross paths with (“If this goes bad, I’ll shoot this guy right there”).
Dr. William Aprill tells a story in his lectures about a woman who witnessed a brutal murder in her neighbor’s lawn. The bad guy chased her neighbor into her back yard, and stabbed her dozens of times in the chest in the middle of the yard. The neighbor witnessed this, and when questioned by the police if she had last see her neighbor she said, “Yeah, I saw her earlier today, she was in the backyard planting flowers.” The woman hadn’t even wrapped her head around the idea that she might see someone stabbed to death, much less her neighbor, so her brain created it’s own story to fill the gaps. The digging motion she saw was her neighbor being murdered. Like Dr. Aprill says, “reserve a parking spot in your mind” for such acts, and you’ll be able to act more rapidly to a developing situation.
As The Tactical Professor points out in his “Wargaming vs Brainstorming” series, you can take brainstorming scenarios to a higher level by wargaming them. You should read this series if the topic interests you. Part 1, Part 2.
I get it, you and your wife (or hubby) haven’t been anywhere together in a year. You need to go see a movie and grab some dinner. Time to hire a baby sitter. I’m sure there are hundreds of blogs and websites dedicated to picking a good babysitter. I won’t touch that one. However, I will add an extra step you should take with them when they arrive and you’re discussing logistics for different emergencies that might arise. The home invasion plan discussion.
Defining the Mission: “Enable and prepare an untrained teenager to get your child to a point of safety, bunker in place, and have the time to contact police in the event of a home invasion”
The first step in developing a home invasion plan for the babysitter is developing one for yourself. As my mentor Claude Werner points out, brainstorming about how to achieve the desired outcome isn’t enough. You need to war-game the various scenarios, shake out possible hitches in your plan, and work through solutions. It helps to have an opposing will in war-gaming to help us see other options and keep us from buying our own hype. If you don’t have an opposing will, use the great trick that Claude developed and make flashcards with the various decisions that the bad guy could make and work through your plan based on what ‘he’ does. Make it a game. You will quickly see the holes in your plan when you start the ‘what if’ game.
The second step is evaluating the caretaker to make sure they have wrapped their head around the possibility of an invasion. To paraphrase the brilliant William Aprill, you need to reserve a ‘parking space’ in your mind for the possibility of an unexpected and unprecedented event for which you have no previous frame of reference. Well, in this case, you have to evaluate the babysitter for this ability. I’m approaching this problem from the point of view that your babysitter won’t have access to a firearm (yours or their own), but if you find someone who is trained and trustworthy then that is just a great bonus. You can alter your plan to account for this as needed.
Teaching a fifteen year old babysitter the proper mindset on protecting your child if someone kicks in the front door is probably something that can’t be done in the hurried discussion that happens before you rush out of the house with your spouse. It would be good to have the sitter over for a test run to discuss all of the logistics ahead of time. When discussing the ideas pay attention to their body language and attitude during the discussion of the need for this sort of plan. If they glaze over or roll their eyes, it might be worth considering hiring someone with a higher maturity level. If you see their eyes sharpen, you know they’re likely to be able to keep it together and enact the plan. So just make sure the sitter understands that bad people might try to come into the house while they’re watching the baby and that it will be their job to enact the plan you’re about to cover with them. You’ll also be drilling the plan with them, so you can watch it happen.
Let’s make a quick and dirty list of items that you might need to buy in order to accomplish the mission I wrote above. The best home defense plans are layered. This post isn’t about beefing up the security of your house, which we can talk about later. So let’s assume you already have all of the peep holes, alarms, motion sensing lights, properly trimmed hedges, extended screws in the doors, the strike plates, the dog (or outward appearance of a dog), and a safe room with a solid core door and reinforced hinges and deadbolt.
A cordless phone or cell phone in the safe room. Write the address and phone number ON the phone, because the sitter will not remember your address. You could also laminate a script of the commands that you want them to yell as a challenge to the bad guys.
A bag of some age appropriate, non-perishable foods and bottles of water.
The safe room doesn’t have to be a bunker. It just needs to be a room that, at a minimum, you change the door and locks to and external door setup and some simple gear to slow the advance of a dedicated attacker. Also it would ideally have at least one piece of cover that could stop pistol caliber projectiles (the usual home invader weapon). You don’t have to spend a fortune to make a room ‘safe’. Don’t get a divorce by wasting $2,000 pouring concrete into the walls of your bedroom or anything silly. Here’s a nice overview of some more high points of safe rooms. Google around for some more ideas.
Formulating The Plan:
This plan will grow and evolve based on your living circumstances, home layout, existing home reinforcements, pets, etc. I’ll lay out the general idea based off of the tools I mentioned above, as I think a similar outline is a good jumping point for your own plan.
So let us assume the action starts when there is the sound of breaking glass, or the alarm sounding, or the dogs losing their minds, or a door being kicked, or the sound of several men yelling…. and GO!
Pick up the baby and quickly move to the designated safe room. Leave the dogs OUTSIDE of the safe room as extra deterrent.
Take the OC off of the wall mount and flood the hallway with a good 10 seconds of eye-watery goodness.
Close and Lock the door, and jam the floor wedge under the door.
Lay the towel at the bottom of the door to keep as much OC out of the room as possible.
Take baby and phone behind the best piece of cover in the room (you’ll have to decide and tell them this).
Use the house phone to call the police and tell them what is happening. Stay on the line with police.
Yell out “Leave Now! I have a GUN! The Police are on their way!” or similar. Even without a firearm in the room, posturing can be effective.
You get the idea. At this point, the bad guys have to run through a cloud of pepper spray, kick down a reinforced door, and possibly be facing someone bunkered in place with a rifle pointed at their chest. It’s about as much as we can hope for given the circumstances. The plan shouldn’t be too complicated, but it should be as robust and well thought as you can make it.
Practicing the Plan:
The willingness of a babysitter to dry run this plan a time or two will be a good gauge of how serious they take the possibility that bad people might try to come and hurt them or the baby.
Make them physically pick the baby up, and move to the room.
Pantomime spraying the fog (make sure they know how the safeties work), lock the door and jam the door wedge, stuff the towel,
Physically pick up the phone, have them say the words into the phone, “Someone has broken into the house and is still inside, the address is (read from label on phone), send the police”
For the coup de grâce have them actually YELL the challenge through the door. This will probably make them feel silly. That’s fine. Even a single repetition of this reserves the space in their brain to pull this off when time is of the essence.
In summary: Plan the work, and work the plan.
I hope you found some value in this post. Please share it if you found it helpful or thought provoking.