False Alarm

It was a lazy day for us; we cleaned up around the house a bit, listened to music, danced, played in the backyard with our daughter and watched a movie. After the movie,  we went upstairs, climbed into bed and started to watch The Exorcist TV series by way of Hulu. Our daughter was in bed with us, watching an episode of whatever it is she watches on my iPad. Why was she even awake, you ask? I ask myself that very same question all the time. I had already watched six episodes of the TV series but, of course, my wife wanted to start watching, so, back to episode one we went. I tried to hang on to consciousness and watch along with her but I found myself dozing off.  At around 1:19 AM, I heard a noise in the near distance. I woke up with a jolt! I looked to my wife and my daughter and neither of their faces showed any semblance of worry  nor concern. I grabbed the remote control and hit the mute button where both my wife and I heard that noise that no one ever wants to wake up to, the sound of our home alarm going off!

I immediately jumped up from bed and looked around for something, anything, that I can use to defend myself and my family. There was nothing except for maybe one of my wife’s high heels. I switched on the light to the bedroom, opened the door into a hallway and peered out into the dark beyond. My wife got up from bed as did my daughter, who kept asking us what’s happening, what is that sound – I could hear the fear in her voice as I’m sure she could see the fear in my eyes. I turned on the light to the hallway and looked towards the downstairs to where the alarm sensor was triggered. I started to make my way downstairs when my phone rang – it was the alarm company. They verified who I was and asked me if everything was okay. Of course, I did not know if everything was okay as I had just awoken to the sound of the alarm and did not know whether or not anyone was actually in the house. I was sort of in a confused state, it all felt surreal. I looked back up to the top of the staircase and saw my wife looking down at me as she held my daughter in her arms now crying and trembling with fear. I shouted back to my daughter over the deafening sound of the alarm and told her that everything will be okay, that I am here to protect her. In my head, I wondered if I could protect my family. The only defense that I had with me was my adrenaline and my clenched fists, the latter of which I have not used in a very long time.

hudson-valley-blog-quote The alarm rep on the phone asked if he should dispatch the police to my home. Stupidly, I did not answer him as I continued to walk through my house to make sure that all the windows and doors were still closed and locked. Again, the rep asked if the police should be called and dispatched to my house. Having checked all the rooms and the basement, I told him that there was no need for the police to be called and I disarmed the alarm to stop the noise and, more importantly, stop the bleeding that seeped from my ears (exaggeration). Before I re-armed the alarm and went back upstairs, I went around the house again to check all the doors, windows and closets. Upstairs, I held my daughter and wiped the tears from her eyes. I told her that I am here for her and I will do anything to protect her.

Of course, I couldn’t go back to bed after that fiasco this whole ordeal got me thinking, what if there was someone in the house?  What would I do? What can I do? The thought terrified me. I looked at my daughter and I felt helpless; it is a feeling I never want to experience again.

I realized that I was so ill-prepared; I didn’t have a plan! My first reaction was to jump out of bed, go downstairs and check the house. Instinct or  stupidity? But, again, what would I do if I was faced with an intruder with nothing to defend myself?  The sound of the alarm still had me in a state of shock as it was nothing that we ever experienced before and did not know how to even react to the situation. Should I have just told my wife to stay in the room with my daughter and hide? Should I have tried to get them both out of the house and into safety? How would I have done that? We have no evacuation plan.

In retrospect, I thought about how dumb my actions were that night. Why, in good consciousness, would I go downstairs with nothing to defend myself. Maybe I should have grabbed those high heels after all- hey, it’s better than nothing, right? So what did I learn?

Step 1: Have a plan. Steps 2-5 are irrelevant without a plan. Being without a plan is like a deer  in headlights with no sense of direction.

Step 2: Remain calm, but remain vigilant and alert.  I should have told my wife to stay inside the bedroom with our daughter and to try and remain as quiet as possible. Also, make sure she has her phone handy, just in case.

Step 3:  Call a family member. I should have called my parents who live about 10 minutes away, regardless of how late it was, to let them know that the alarm in my house was just triggered and if they do not hear from me within the next 10 minutes, or maybe five, to call me back and if I don’t answer call the police and have them come to my house. I am still trying to figure this one out because I wouldn’t want the police to come to my house if there was no need for them to do so. Still, better safe than sorry?

Step 4: Wait for the alarm company to call me first. I should have just waited for the alarm company to call me first before heading downstairs by myself.  This is where my adrenaline kicked in. I wanted to go downstairs to make sure that everything was okay but, at the same time, there was really nothing I could do to protect myself had an intruder really been in my house with a weapon. In this case, I should have waited for the alarm company to call me and remained on the phone with them should I indeed needed the police to be dispatched.  (Note: make sure you have the alarm company’s phone number saved/programmed into your contacts)

Step 5: Make sure to have some sort of defense with me at all times. The thought of not having anything to protect myself or my family never really occurred to me until this night. It really did make me aware of how vulnerable we really are. So what is my remedy to that? Well, as the title of this step suggests, I’m going to make sure that I have something, anything, to use as a defense should something like this happen again. Whether it’s a false alarm or not, having something that I can utilize to defend myself is somewhat comforting.

Despite all of this, I am glad that the alarm company called me right away as it made me content to know that the money I am spending monthly is going to good use. Had they not called me, I would have considered opting out of this contract and seeking a better, more secure alarm company but, thankfully, they are on top of their game.

Has something like this ever happened to you? What would you do? Any tips, suggestions?

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