It’s the terrorizing stuff of an anxiety-riddled movie plot. A house break-in can be very traumatic, and leave you feeling vulnerable. It can even threaten your safety.

Where should you avoid storing your valuables? Should you confront the intruder? And how can you stop this from happening? You could be stuck hiding under the bed, or hiding in the closet, and there’s no time to look for answers in a manual. If you want to survive, remember these tips.

Step 1: Take a deep breath

Try and calm yourself. Hearing a mysterious noise in your house may cause you to panic. Fear is your brain’s reaction to danger, and it’s a powerful survival tool, especially if you can stay calm. This will help you make better decisions in the heat of the moment.

Step 2: Get out of there!

Get as far away from the burglar as possible. Do not try and confront the burglar. If you can, get out of the house through a window, or a door. If that’s not an option, hide. But try and avoid the master bedroom.

This is usually the first place the burglar will head for, because most of us keep our valuables there. If you can find a room that has a lock on the inside, great. If not, you may have to hide in a closet. Either way, you may have to barricade the door. Put heavy pieces of furniture against the door to keep it closed. Or, you can jam a chair under the doorknob. This could slow down the intruder, by making it harder to push the door open. And keep quiet, so you don’t draw attention to your hiding spot. The good news is, burglars only spend an average of 8 to 12 minutes in your home.

Step 3: Defend yourself

Hopefully, it will not come to this. And it should only be a last resort. Studies have shown that 86% of burglars will do whatever they can to avoid any sort of contact with people during a robbery. And three-quarters of the burglars bailed out of a robbery attempt, because they heard someone in the house or returning home. If you do need to defend yourself, do it from a distance.

Keep the tools to defend yourself handy, like pepper spray, a baseball bat, or any heavy object like a lamp or a pot. Remember that your goal is to buy you more time to get away from the intruder, and call the authorities.

Step 4: Call for help

Keep your phone on you. As soon as you distance yourself from the intruder, call 911 and notify the police.

Step 5: Be prepared

The best way to survive a house break-in is to not have it happen in the first place. Stash your valuables out of sight, so they don’t attract a burglar. This could mean making sure the curtains are closed, and moving large items such as the television, stereo, or computers away from windows.

Don’t give the impression that you are home alone. Turn on lights in several rooms, even if you’re not using that room. Keeping some noise in the house is also a good idea when you’re alone.

And maximize your home security. This means having locks on all entry points, doors, and windows. Keep your house well-lit at night, and install motion detector lights. Installing alarms and security cameras may buy you some time before the authorities arrive.

Take the time to know your neighborhood. This will help you identify any unusual changes and shifts around your house, including suspicious cars and activity on your street.
And don’t broadcast that you’re leaving town on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. Talk about your trip after you get back, and make it clear that you’re home.

Being trapped in your own home while someone rips off your belongings can give you a helpless and scary feeling, kind of like being trapped in a horror movie. How would you get yourself out of that mess?

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