Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Conundrum

A family friend had a scare last night.  As she was sleeping, someone came in through her kitchen door.  She had forgotten to close the deadbolt, and a goblin took advantage of it.  Luckily for her, the Christmas jingle bells she has hanging on the doorknob rang, causing her Shelty to bark his fool head off.  The goblin heard the ruckus and took off.  My friend called the police, who checked things out, took a report, and put a couple extra patrols through the neighborhood through the night.  Another friend came over and stayed with her through the night, and this morning they were both exhausted from staying up and talking.

I say luck because that was all that kept a scary moment from turning into a real nightmare.  My friend is a small, physically frail middle-aged woman who takes medication to help her sleep.  Her husband travels for work five days out of seven, and her children are away at college.  She's about as close to an ideal scenario for a home invader as you can get.

I've talked to her about the need for better security at her home, including offering to take her shooting to at least see if she can find a gun she can shoot well and works for her.  She's not anti-gun, but due to some of the medications she takes for pain and to help her sleep, she's hesitant to have a gun for self-defense.  Her main worry is that under the influence of her medicine, she could make a really bad decision and hurt or kill someone that wasn't a threat.

I can see her point.  My friend isn't a drugseeker by any means, but the stuff she takes for pain is pretty powerful.  The fact that mixing painkillers and gunpowder is a bad idea is one of the reasons that I don't have anything stronger than acetominiphen around the house for my arthritis.  I don't want to be slowed by medication if I have to defend the home, and I don't want my judgement clouded by opiates, or have an attorney or prosecutor be able to argue to a jury that I was impaired when I shot a goblin.

I've thought of getting her a couple bottles of wasp spray to have around the house.  It's not a .357, but it's better than nothing.  I'm also going to suggest to her husband that he upgrade the locks on the doors and get an alarm system.  Again, better than nothing, but they might at least deter a sneak thief that just wants to get into the house, grab something, and get out. 

So what advice would you guys give to my friend if a firearm isn't in the cards?


Rauðbjorn said...

A larger dog? One with great, huge, pointy, teeh.

*maked bitey motions with hand*

Seriously though, something a bit larger than a shelty might be a good idea. Something in the 80-150 lb range prehaps. So might a stun baton. Most chemical deterants are as bad for the user as the target in close spaces so pepper spray and the like are out. Not a whole lot else to go with, everything else is either lethal or requires lots of physical ability.

A blowgun with curare envenomed darts? Kinda ninja, but relatively easy to use and non-lethal.

Bob S. said...

Pepper spray or TASER could be possible.

A portable screech type alarm would also be a good idea, especially if she talks to her neighbors about responding if they hear it.

One bit of advice about the firearms -- if she gets a quick opening safe, would that extra step be enough to alleviate her concerns?

Unless she practices with it constantly, it would require focus and attention to open it.

DaddyBear said...

Thanks for the tips guys.

Hopefully they won't go for a silent alarm, but the husband is level headed enough to think that through.

I hadn't thought about having a safe complicated enough that she won't be able to open it easily when impaired. I'll have to suggest that.

Lazy Bike Commuter said...

I'd definitely agree with pepper spray not being a great idea indoors. Someone sprayed a TINY amount in a classroom I was in in high school, and pretty much everyone in the room was adversely affected. I have a feeling that a guy who is drugged up who gets a direct dose in the face will be impaired about the same amount as a non-drugged up person standing in a fog of it in a living room.

As for Shelties...I think we have the only one that DOESN'T bark all the time. I'm definitely fine with that since we're in an apartment.

I think the taser/stun gun sound like they could be good ideas. I haven't been hit with one to judge, but I haven't been hit with a bullet either.

PISSED said...

Difinately install more secure locks, motion lights, and yes a loud alarm that will wake the neighbors.

Old NFO said...

Wasp spray is a GOOD idea! Long range, and it will get their attention...

Ruth said...

A couple of those little scrEEEtch alarms they sell for travelers to put on hotel doors. Inexpensive, and generally REALLY loud. Simple to use, simple to disable too, but loud enough to wake the dead in the several seconds it would take the bad guy to find it and disable it.

If there's already an exterior light by the door(s), you can get modifier that screws into the light bulb socket (bulb then screws into that) that turns the light into a motion detecter light as long as the power switch is turned on (saw one for less than $30 on Amazon though I've no idea quality wise on those). There's indoor versions too that we have in a couple hallways where lights tend to never get turned off right.

Definetly talking to the neighbors about calling 911 if they hear the alarm.

I'm a bit iffy on the wasp spray (it would suck if in her half awake state she caught the dog, or her husband with it), I'd rather see pepper spray as less likely to do seriously damage to family (already ruled out by the above comments, but still), or maybe instead of pepper spray, they make a pepper spray "gel". I don't normally recommend it, but since its a clingy form it would be less likely to cause damage to other than the target.

Suz said...

It wouldn't hurt to accessorize the entry porches with muddy men's boots and a crumpled up (carelessly discarded) paper target or two, well perforated. Or a few thoroughly used-looking dog accessories, like a somewhat dirty set of food/water bowls, the kind that come with a stand. For really really big dogs. And maybe even a big dog house, and a demolished rawhide. A sturdy leash with a 20+ inch battered collar. Just a few things to make a punk wonder if 140 pounds of fur and teeth are in the house, or maybe even approaching him from behind.

pax said...

The ideas for beefing up home security are good.

Not a fan of wasp spray for personal defense; too likely to fail to stop the BG while still doing permanent (lawsuit-worthy) damage to him. I'd rather use something intended for self defense. If she wants a spray based defense, that means OC or Mace or some combination thereof. Um, not to be self promo, but there's an article about pepper spray on my website that might help.

Re the firearm, it's a bad choice if she's not willing to use it. If she IS willing to use it, just reluctant because of the medication factor, then leaving a (loaded) gun inside a locked safe might be a good solution. That's especially true if she and her husband beef up security around the house; with better locks and a good alarm system in place, she'd have a much better chance of having time to wake up completely before she got to the safe.

The medication concern: if she takes it regularly and really needs it for pain, it isn't making her drunk anyway. It's just making her able to function like a somewhat-normal person. If she's still willing to drive in an emergency, she should be willing to use the firearm in an emergency. This is very much NOT the same thing as going to the range or otherwise handling the gun unnecessarily when she's taken her meds! I'm talking about emergency use only, for a chronic pain patient who knows her own body.

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, not a lawyer, and certainly not your doctor or lawyer. If something sounds stupid to you, you shouldn't do it. Make your own decisions and live your own life!

Bryn, North Wales, UK said...

Given the variable nature of pain meds and the limitations imposed by them, I would dare to suggest that the lady is limited (regrettably) to passive defence only. Lights, alarm system(s), large dog if possible certainly.
What is the internal construction of the house in question?
If it has brick internal walls, I would suggest a 1-hour rated fire door & frame with a multi-point lock and possibly some lightweight shuttering on the window(s) - a Panic Room lite...
Not forgetting a cell-phone (with a GOOD signal) permanently on charge on the bedside table.

Ruth said...

Note: large dogs are cool, but if she's got physical issues they may not be for her. Remember, she has to be able to handle the dog herself when hubby's out of town.

On the other hand large dog accessories left lying around wouldn't be hard to manage. Also if she doesn't already have such a sign, both Petco $ Petsmart carry "Dog on Premisis" signs. (beware of dog might be more effective, however in some areas its also considered a legal acknowledgement that you know your dog is dangerous, which can make things worse down the road if something happened. Check your laws before putting one up)

Drang said...

Wasp spray is a nerve agent, so I'd re-think that, especially if, in a civil lawsuit, it turns out that that's why she kept it at hand.

Maybe bear spray.

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