wikiHow to Answer the Door Safely

Home invasion - that is, forcibly entering a home to commit robbery or other crimes while the occupant is present - is frightening, personally threatening, and can happen anywhere. This kind of robbery is increasingly common. Criminals gain entry by posing as legitimate visitors. This article shows how to identify a potentially dangerous caller before you open the door, because once he enters the home, it's often too late to do anything about it.


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    Think before you open the door. Are you actually expecting anyone? Do they have an appropriately-marked automobile? Are you alone and vulnerable?
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    Look to see who the visitor is. Look through a peephole or make sure your security chain is locked and open the door just a crack. If you don't recognize the person ask them their business and request that they show their identification. If they have a legitimate reason to be on the premises (i.e. they work for the utility company or they're a police officer), they'll be happy to show you their ID. If you are still afraid to let them in, ask them to come back later and have a friend come over when they are scheduled to return.
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    Check on the person. If the person claims to be from, for example, the electric company, and you've not been notified that someone would be coming, call the company to check on him. Even if he shows you identification, it's a good idea to call and check: his ID could be fake. Look up the number in your phone book; don't call a number that the visitor gives you, as it could belong to an accomplice.
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    Take your wireless home phone or a wireless cell phone to the door with your finger near a speed dial that calls emergency services (911 in US and Canada) automatically. Be careful that you do not push the number accidentally in the event the visitor is friendly.
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    Take a photo of the caller and his car (with tags visible) and secure your camera before opening the door. Let him know you have taken this precaution.
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    Leave the house if you feel uncomfortable after letting someone in. If you've done your best to verify a person's identification but you begin to feel uncomfortable after you've let the visitor in the house, make up an excuse to leave the house and go to a neighbor's home or call the police. If you feel threatened, don't worry about being impolite – run out of the house and call police as quickly as you can.
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    Don't answer the door if you are vulnerable, or tired.
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    Install a security door. A heavy duty door with dead bolt will add a barrier between you and the person on your doorstep. You can open your door (after looking through the peephole) and still be protected. A locked storm door or screen door can also provide an extra layer of protection while allowing you to converse with a stranger.


  • If you suspect danger, don't open that door! You have a right to be safe and comfortable in your own home. Unless your house is on fire, nobody has the right to enter your home. Keep your door locked and firmly tell the person that it isn't a good time and ask him to leave. If the person persists, he/she is trespassing and may be dangerous; call emergency services right away. The trained operator on the other end of the line will help you decide what to do next and can send the police if you need them.
  • Teach children to answer the door correctly. Kids are often eager to answer the door, and if you can't be sure they will do it safely and securely they should be prohibited from doing so.
  • Install a peephole in your door if you don't have one already. If you have to open the door to get a look at the visitor, you are vulnerable. If you have a security chain, make sure you use it properly every time you answer the door. Be aware, however, that very nearly every security chain can be broken by one swift kick from a motivated criminal.
  • If the person at the door looks strange, i.e. they wear large sunglasses, wear a hood over their head, hiding something behind his back, or is trying to hide his face, it's most likely they could try to hurt you or enter your home without permission and steal your belongings. Actually, you may chose never to open the door, even criminals can appear to be harmless...until it's too late!
  • Consider a simple, and cheap, CCTV camera directed over your front door so that you can see the visitor from the comfort – and safety – of your living room. Most of these are under $50, plug into your TV or video, and come with added features such as a chime, or the ability to start a VCR in the event that movement is detected.
  • A guard dog can be very helpful to protect you as well.
  • If needed, buy a gun and take shooting lessons. The gun noise will frighten the criminal and will not let them come back.
  • Always have a cell phone near you to call emergency services.
  • If you have no peep hole or no security chain, look out a nearby window or a window on a door, while carefully concealing your face from outside view until you are sure it is safe to open the door.
  • If in doubt, keep them out. The visitor can always come back later, or another day.


  • A woman caller can be dangerous too! Many people who would exercise caution with a male visitor will drop their guard when a woman or girl comes calling. Keep in mind that women have been known to participate in home invasions and other crimes, and they are sometimes used as decoys to gain entrance because people usually feel safer around them.
  • If someone forces their way in, and you make the decision to fight back, do so right away – it is much safer than waiting. If somebody is going to violently assault you, they will probably want to do so behind the closed door. So fight as soon as they try to force their way in. Be very cautious about making a decision to fight someone; such a decision should not be made lightly. Do not endanger yourself further by attempting to disarm someone wielding a gun or other weapon. Unfortunately, nearly all front doors open in, which gives the attacker a considerable physical advantage.
  • Security chains are not necessarily all that strong, and will break if the door is hit by someone of sufficient size and strength. They can also be cut using bolt cutters.
  • Consider having a locksmith install extra-long bolts which secure the chain into the framing of the door (and not just into the decorative woodwork). While he is there, have him check the integrity of your deadbolt lock; most "locked" doors can be kicked open by a determined thief with two or three kicks.

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