Keeping Your Family Safe While You’re Gone: 4 Critical Steps

Every day, soldiers and police officers leave their families and loved ones behind so that they can protect others. An unspoken consequence is that those best trained to protect their own loved ones are not there to do so should the need arise.

When I first started in law enforcement, I tried to keep my wife sheltered from my day to day grind. She already had some understanding of the potential danger because she had grown up with close relatives in law enforcement and she serving in the military at the time, but I did not feel the need to add to her worries by providing specific details for her to recall late at night when I was late getting home.

All this changed one afternoon when I was approached by a retired officer I knew who wanted to warn me a defendant I had recently arrested on a rather minor charge was bragging about knowing where I lived. My first response was a macho “Tell him to bring friends!” As the afternoon progressed, I realized that given my work schedule, it was more likely anyone attempting to confront me at my home would instead find my wife.

Home Security SystemsWhen I got home that night, I told my wife what had happened and, despite my assurance that the subject was simply a blowhard, instructed her in the proper use of my 12 gauge shotgun. The trusty 870 then took up residency in the hall coat closet and would stay there until my first daughter was a toddler and capable of exploring said closet.

Bottom line is you need to realize that not only are you a target but, by default, so is your family. To ignore the possibility and simply say “It will never happen to me” is no different than not wearing your vest because you do not plan on getting shot.

Have a Plan

  • Where are personal firearms? Do older family member know how to access private firearms? Are they comfortable with their use and do they understand when to use them?
  • What are possible escape route from the home? Can members escape from upstairs room, basements, garage etc.?
  • Who can I call for help? Make sure younger children know who to call in an emergency, the house address and description.
  • Where should I go? Identify a safe place for family to retreat to – a neighbor’s home or nearby business where they will be not only safe but also able to await your arrival or that of other first responders.

At some point in time, your family is going to realize what you do and to some degree how that makes your family different than that of their friends. Until then you can treat home security as if it were a kind of fire drill. This will allow you to drive home the underlying importance without unnecessarily scaring them.

We all hope that our loved ones never need to stare into the face of a wolf. However, if the wolf ever does knock on your door, it is far better he see a pack of German Shepherds than a flock of lambs.


Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell

1 thought on “Keeping Your Family Safe While You’re Gone: 4 Critical Steps

  1. Absolutely agreed, Tom, it is incredibly vital to instill both firearms safety and marksmanship, and not only in spouses left home alone. When children are old enough to responsibly handle firearms – an age I believe is extremely child-specific – they, too, can and should learn. Lives have been saved more than once by children picking up and using a firearm dropped by an injured family member. And speaking as a woman, I have to add something: ladies, don’t think you need to use a small-caliber weapon for protection. Master the recoil of a larger, more devastating gun. This is a great piece, love it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *