What Goes Bump In The Night? 6 Tips On Clearing Your Home


When you awake to hear something rustling outside your door, there’s a moment it takes your mind to simply grasp that something may be occurring.  It could be something or someone – it could be nothing.  But when you wake up in the middle of the night hearing noises, what’s your first response?  A lot of people take for granted that having a weapon is sufficient to securing one’s home in the event of a break-in.  However, if you’re not comfortable clearing and securing each room, you’re putting yourself and your family in jeopardy.

Have a Plan – Communicate That Plan

That first step is critical.  If possible, it’s always great to consult with other family members and people living in your house so they know what to expect from you.  More importantly, it helps them understand how they can assist.  Sometimes it can be as a simple as, “if you hear me shout ‘floorboards’, I need everyone to get on the ground and stay there until I come and get you.”

6 tips for planning home defense includes a family meeting to discuss

CONSIDERATIONS:  There is a moment of discomfort when other people have to get used to a change in habit and home defense is definitely that.  We like to think that everything will work out – and it may – but those extra steps of preparation can increase those odds.

SOLUTION:  Make sure, when coming up with a home defense plan, that everyone is consulted.  Sometimes the person you least expect may have a good insight or better way to manage the situation during the planning phase.

6 Points of a Basic Home Defense Plan

1. Clear and secure your own bedroom.

2. Clear and secure each room starting from the end that the bedroom is on and moving in one clear direction.  If possible, move each occupant to your bedroom or a designated safe room which has already been cleared.

3. Communicate as you move from room to room.  If other occupants are sleeping, startled, unsure of what is going on – the only way they’ll know is if you tell them.

4. Check locks on external doors, check windows for tampering.


5. Conduct a headcount of all occupants of the home.

6. Once inside is secure, contact 911 and standby for further instructions.

Practice That Plan At a Regular Interval

If you live alone, then this is exceedingly easy.  For those with kids, pets, or elderly relatives who aren’t very communicative – practice truly makes perfect.  When you wake up in the middle of the night, your brain isn’t going to instantaneously kick into high gear.  You need to be able to rely upon quick instincts, muscle memory, and good, fast judgment calls.

CONSIDERATIONS:  If you do have multiple occupants, make sure to incorporate loud, distinct ways of communicating so they know what to do and you know they’re secure (or not).

SOLUTION: ALWAYS practice that same style of communication.  Especially when loaded firearms may be coming around doors and clearing corridors, there is a lot at risk.  Don’t take chances.

The Dangers of Non-Lethal Weaponry

Mace, pepper spray, tazers, bean-bag rounds in a shotgun – man has come up with some ingenious ways to avoid killing.  Unfortunately, in a life or death situation – your enemy, his numbers, and his full intentions are unknown.  That’s why there’s no time to take chances.  If you or a family member identifies a hostile presence in the home, it behooves you to eliminate it as quickly as possible.

CONSIDERATIONS:  Weapons such as pepper spray, bear mace, etc., can all be extremely effective under the right conditions.  When it is unknown the intruder’s armament, armor, and numbers – pepper spray isn’t going to be particularly effective.  More importantly, there is going to be a “blast back” of pepper spray mist that has just as much potential to irritate your mucous membranes.

SOLUTION:  Save the pepper spray.  If you are going to use it – make sure you know what it feels like first.

About James England | View all posts by James England

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry…

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry handgun is a Glock 36 in a Lenwood Holsters Specter IWB or his CZ-75D PCR in an Alien Gear MOD holster.

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  • Bob Rogers

    hmmm. interesting. as for my home i’ve always had a plan. now my plan is based on just two occupants, myself and my wife.

    in the event i am certain that there is likely to be intruder the plan is to 1. get armed, 2. call police. 3. stay put (with my wife) in whatever room i’m in and wait for the police. i don’t care what i hear i don’t move. if someone enters the room that i’m in they are dead. to me, clearing a house only opens you up to a disadvantage for many reasons.

    am i the only one who thinks like this?

    • James England

      That is a great point. Securing yourself into a room is definitely a great idea from a defensive angle. I was trying to address a bit more for those who have more occupants in the house. Obviously, what ever you’re able to do fastest and safest is probably best.

    • Bill Wheeler

      That’s the same plan my wife and I have. I’m not willing to kill someone, or die, over a TV. However, if they enter our bedroom they’d better be ready for a fight.

    • Matt Barr

      I agree. As long as everyone is in the same room. I could less what gets taken. My priority is my family’s safety. I’ve got three kids, so it’s gonna be much harder to gather them all in one area. We’ve got codes words for our home that they obey quickly every time. Also a different word for when we’re out since that will usually require a different action (most likely, “stay right beside me, we’re getting away from this threat as fast as possible”). Clearing a house is WAY down my list of actions during what may be a potential threat. Only if absolutely necessary.

    • Duck Hunter

      Exactly my thinking. I don’t care about the TV or the…….. it’s all insured. I will defend one room with my wife and I. Enter it and you leave my home in a body bag. That simple.

    • Thomas Graef

      I think like you do if I’m the only one in the house.

    • Tyler Nelson

      Then the cops show up and shoot you.

    • William Snapper

      What if there are children in the house? Much different scenario!

  • CMac

    Nope, seek and destroy Rodgers. ‘Clean up on hallway one’

  • [email protected]

    Obviously this is a plan for a larger family. Still very good ideas. You adjust your actions according to the numbers of known family and friends in the house at the time. Like some have said, avoid the use of chemicals such as mace or pepper spray while indoors. Confined areas and back spray will also affect you and the intruder. Keep the advantage at all times. IF you want to avoid direct confrontation, have a pump action shotgun as your primary weapon. When all is nice and quiet, cycle the action of that 12 gauge pump action. It has a very distinctive sound and I would bet anyone breaking into your home will recognize it for what it is. If you do not hear the sound of feet pounding their way OUT of your home, be prepared to use that shotgun to defend yourself and your family. Because whoever is in there now was not concerned about the shotgun and has a greater concern about doing you and yours harm.

    • Tonto

      that is a sound like no other- trust me it will get a response

  • rsolid

    My wife stays in the room beside the bed with an 40 cal. she is to empty into anyone coming into the room that’s not me. Trust me , i will announce myself before knocking on the (locked) door. Another way she will know it’s not me is because someone is trying to knock it down! No way anyone gets in the house without setting off the alarm (if you have one your a fool for not using it)! As soon as i step out the bedroom door i can see all outside doors except one upstairs. If the grandkids are spending the night i secure that room while clearing the living room i go through 1st. Then i go out from there working my way to the upstair balcony door. You have to always be aware of if you fire and miss where that round will go , through what wall or room. That is why i work my way out from occupied rooms. When a storm sets off the alarm , it is a very stressful time as your failsafe just got tripped. Biggest problem is keeping the guns secure from grandkids but fast for me to access but i got that covered.

  • MP

    A house that is 24 x 30 makes it super easy.

  • HunterRoosevelt

    Without proper training for CQB, some of the advice in this article will get you killed.

    One man room clearing is not for novices or the “range Rambo” crowd. It’s a very specific skill set and one that even professionals will do everything they can to avoid testing.

    Most people are in no position to effectively clear room by room without ending up in a terrible situation. Unless you’re going to get real, ongoing training for CQB in a force on force environment (similar to Warfighter Academy in San Diego), your best bet is to call 911 and secure your family in one room.

    • [email protected]

      I believe the article states that you need to practice any response you wish to take. Even professionals have to practice all the time. Whether it is a reaction to a home invasion or even a house fire, the individual or the family needs to practice what they will do, where they will meet and who to contact.

  • James Bonanno

    Jim I read a lot of yours articles. They’re always put together very well. This time as I was reading I found myself respectfully disagreeing with some aspects. As far as room clearing, that really should be left up to the professionals, the only time I feel room sshould be cleared is if you have been separated from a loved one and they are possibly downstairs and you have to get to them. Other than that everyone needs to get to the safe room dial 9-1-1 and deal with the threat if it actually comes through that safe room door. Please clarify for me. As always thanks for your insight and your service.

  • William Snapper

    12 ga. Mossberg 500 tactical with combo 250 lumen light and laser!
    # 4 frangible ammo.

  • Alan Galbraith

    Step 1 – announce, in a very loud and authoritative voice that you have a weapon and desire anyone that doesnt belong in the house to leave. This gives your loved ones a very clear picture of what is going on and gives any potential bad guy the opportunity to leave. You dont want to use your weapon. The best way to win a gun fight is not to get into one. Plus you dont want to shoot a loved one up and around in the house. The goal here is to secure your house, what better way to be secure than to have no bad guys in it?