What To Do, When Your Nightmare Comes True

by Sharon Callan

It’s 2:30 in the morning and you are suddenly woken from a deep sleep. You lay there groggy, trying to figure out what may have happened. Then you hear it; the noises coming from the living room. At this point you now have to determine what will be your course of action. Did one of the kids get up to get a drink of water? Did your husband come home early from a business trip? What am I going to do to protect myself and my family? A lot of us feel more secure having a firearm next to us in our bedrooms or easily accessible elsewhere. However, how many of you have developed a plan with that firearm? And how many of you with a plan have actually practiced that plan? What exactly are you going to do with that firearm or weapon of choice?

In order to have a successful outcome of any scenario, whether it is one of self defense or just remodeling your bathroom, you must plan and know in your mind the ending you desire. In the above scenario, some think they will just immediately wake from a deep sleep and be completely aware of their surroundings. Think about the last time you were suddenly woken from a sleep. How long did it take for you to be aware and to get your mind in gear. Now add fear and darkness into that mix and your brain becomes even more confused. Here are some things to think of when making your plan:

1. Where is your firearm and what condition was it stored? Is it loaded with one in the chamber? Is the magazine sitting separate? Have you practiced accessing that weapon from where you sleep?

2. Where is the rest of your family?

3. What am I willing to do should the intruder be a stranger?

4. Will I be going to my children to shelter in place?

5. Am I going to attack or take a defensive position?

6. Have I explained and practiced this plan with all of my family?Capture

First, while you are in bed, reach out for that firearm/weapon. Is it easily accessible? If you are suddenly woken by someone standing above you, can you still reach that firearm? Practice many times until you can do this without thinking. That leaves your brain free for step 2-5. If you have practiced this scenario with your children, they will know what to do and will be expecting you to act according to your plan. Now you can think almost exclusively about the intruder, allowing for a increased chance of a successful outcome of the plan. Also, don’t believe that darkness is your friend. Turn on lights. This helps locate AND identify the intruder and allows you to re-orient yourself and potentially disorient the intruder.

These are all questions you MUST have answered before the incident occurs. If you try to decide on the fly, you will fail and people will probably be hurt. Remember, this is your home. You are the most familiar with it’s layout. Know what to do!


Lt. Sharon Callan 25 years with Tucson Police Department 3 years as a gang investigator 9 years as a detective in Robbery and Adult Sexual Assault units. Currently, night time Force Commander in charge of the patrol divisions.