Posted on: August 16, 2020 Advice

The first word I can remember learning was “EXIT”. It was of course in school, and pounded into us as the word on a sign we’d all follow in an orderly line in case of fire. Almost 45 years later, that is the only elementary lesson I can still vividly recall and visualize.

I think we’ve all had a similar lesson. All had the dry run of a fire evacuation that we probably thought we’d never have to execute, but because of a mandate, we fell in line. Based on this type of mandated preparedness though, of the over 3,300 structure fires in U.S. Schools each year (see, the average annual death is only at 1, and average annual injuries at 42.

So, let’s take the fire analogy and point towards homes. Home fires per year average 70,800 (see, with an annual average death count at 2,620, and an annual average of injuries at 11,220.

Now, I am no math wizard, but this makes home fires over 100 times more fatal than school fires. So, why? Perhaps some of that has to do with the hours of day the fires occur, or the characteristics of the combustion that causes the fire? Both of those could be true. But I’d argue that it’s simpler than that. The fact is, the majority of “common man” is all preach and little practice and fire preparation is not on the agenda.

After “Fireman Bob” presents all the dangers of fire and talks to children about going home to their parents and making a fire escape plan, what happens next? Most parents don’t even bother with the child’s request, and those who do, do so to check a box but never remember nor rehearse the plan. So, a lottery is then played. The “it will never happen to us” syndrome kicks in, or the “we will get out if that happens” dismissive comment is made. Either one solidifies the fact that the percentage statistics will never change.

So if most families never bother with a fire evacuation plan, what about a plan if a robber or even worse, violent home invader enters the home. What then? I know you’ve probably heard the same comments I have, or even stated them. “If someone comes into my house, they’re dead!”  Really? If you’re smart, probably not, unless they push the final phase of your home defense plan. Oh, wait, you don’t have one.

A good home defense plan outlines the actions of each person in the home. Which room is the safe room? How is it secured? What happens if someone enters it? Who’s calling 911? Who is in a defensive position and what is that person defending with? What are the rules of engagement if only protecting property? What about if you perceive an imminent threat to life? No, no, you probably don’t have this plan laid out- most don’t.

Almost 4 million household burglaries occur annually according to the DOJ. Of those, 25% of the time a household member is in the home, and about 10% of the time, is violently attacked. Let me put this in better perspective, according to the FBI, you can expect 1 in every 36 homes to be broken into, and in more than half of those cases, a weapon involving a firearm or cutting device will be present on the invader.

So, with the statistics showing the threat to potential life or serious physical injury, not to mention mental and emotional trauma, why do we not prepare for these events? Is our ablity to rationalize that this will never happen to us that strong?

My thoughts are, we LIE to ourselves. We play the Lottery with ourselves and family by believing these things will never happen to us. We are Ignorant to the realities of the threat because they don’t come to mind unless we experience the horrors through our network; given most of us are desensitized from the news. And lastly, we let our Ego take hold of us with an overconfidence created from the fact that we don’t really understand threats well, for if we did, we’d pay much more respect to them.

As my blog title says, WE are ill prepared, and leave threats up to chance. So, I have a challenge. Do a series of visualization drills while you are sitting alone on your back patio sipping your glass of wine, or coffee. Take the easy one first. Visualize how you’d handle the fire alarm blaring in the middle of the night, where you can smell smoke quickly permeating through the house. What are you going to do? How are you going to escape? How many ways of getting out or identifying you need help do you have? Who’s grabbing the kids? Discover your gaps and then commit to filling them.

Once you’ve addressed the fire, tackle the one that is statistically more likely to occur, a home invasion. Visualize a few scenarios from daytime break-ins to night time invasion. If you are real with yourself, this will be scary. You will absolutely have gaps in your plan, if you even have any plan at all besides grabbing a bat and heading towards the threat (a sure mistake by the way).

Most of you who read this will shrug it off. Some of you will read this may comment and/or ping me for suggestions, while a very few will ask for my help. Either way the statistics won’t change for the masses, but it could change for you, if you stop the LIE.

*this is a blog not a white paper. It represents my opinion based on my knowledge, experiences, and training.

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