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You bolt awake in the darkness. Although you can’t say why, your heart is racing and your breathing is fast. Straining your every sense, you begin to hear it—footsteps in the next room. Someone has invaded your home and they are moving toward the ones you love.

In this nightmarish scenario, a gun is one tool that you can use to defend yourself. However, to be truly prepared for any eventuality, you need more than your pistol, rifle or shotgun. Here are a few things you will want to consider adding to your bedside home-defense kit.

Spot The Threat

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A bright flashlight like the Streamlight ProTac HL USB is an absolute necessity for identifying threats.

Having a flashlight enables you to navigate your home, search dark rooms and identify potential threats. Without a good quality light, tragic mistakes can happen. A good light to keep handy is the rechargeable ProTac HL USB from Streamlight. This flashlight throws a blinding 850 lumens of white light and offers a runtime of 90 minutes on a single charge. Lower output levels are instantly available for navigation or work needs.

RELATED STORY: Tactical Flashlights for Defense in Darkness

The light is charged via a USB cable, something many of us already have at the bedside for our cell phones. The light will also run on CR123A batteries. The light is water and impact resistant, plus it is covered by a limited lifetime warranty. I’ve carried Streamlight products for more than a decade as a police officer and highly recommend the brand. MSRP: $180. (http://www.streamlight.com; 800-523-7488)

Stay In Contact

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“It is much harder for someone to block a cellphone signal, so you increase your ability to summon help should you need it.”

Even if you have a traditional landline phone immediately available, you should also keep a cell phone at your bedside. A hard line can be cut, and there have been multiple home invasions that were preceded by interference with normal communications. It is much harder for someone to block a cellphone signal, so you increase your ability to summon help should you need it. By its very nature, the cellphone is portable, so you can take it into the driveway, garage or the back 40 without losing communications.

If you do not have a cell phone, try to find a friend who can give you an old, unused phone. As long as the battery works, you can still call 911 without signing up for a service contract. In fact, many police departments offer used cell phones to senior citizens or victims of domestic violence for precisely this reason. Contact your local police of sheriff’s department for additional information.

Instant Trauma Care

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A Safariland Shield Trauma Kit can help you survive until help arrives.

I consider an individual first-aid kit to be an absolute must for everyone. This is not the first-aid kit you pick up in the local supermarket with a few disposable bandages for cuts. This is a purpose-built kit to address life-threatening injuries that you may receive in a self-defense encounter, like gunshot and knife wounds.

RELATED STORY: Learn to Save A Life – Take A Dark Angel Medical Course

Blood loss is one of the most common ways someone will die from injuries received in a violent incident. Many times, it will take an ambulance longer to respond to your location than it will for you to die of blood loss. So many people will recommend several things to address stopping, or at least slowing, blood loss. These include a modern tourniquet that can be applied with one hand, an Israeli-style pressure bandage and a blood-clotting agent. Proper training is key in knowing how and when to apply these life-saving tools. The training is not hard, and has become much more available in recent years.

While an individual first-aid kit can be assembled piece by piece to meet your needs, Safariland currently offers the Shield Trauma Kit that includes high-quality components to address the kind of traumatic bleeding most likely to occur in a violent encounter. It was designed for law enforcement officers, but it will also serve the needs of a homeowner. The kit is about the size of a large wallet and will fit into a cargo or jacket pocket. MSRP: $100. (http://www.safariland.com; 800-347-1200)

Rapid-Access Safe

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“The Hornady RAPiD Safe allows a gun owner to secure a handgun from kids while still allowing it to be readily accessed in an emergency.”

If you keep a firearm for self-defense, it is your responsibility to ensure that it does not wind up in the hands of unsupervised children or others that should not have access to it. Hiding the gun is no sure way to prevent an accident. Only by locking it down can you be assured that a child will not wind up with a deadly weapon in his or her hands.

RELATED STORY: 3 Rapid-Access Gun Safes

The Hornady RAPiD Safe allows a gun owner to secure a handgun from kids while still allowing it to be readily accessed in an emergency. The RAPiD Safe uses radio-frequency ID technology to read a wristband or key fob that has been programed as a virtual key. When one of these items is placed over the reader, the 16-gauge steel lock box springs open and puts your gun at hand. The safe also has a keypad for rapid entry and barrel keys should the electronic locking mechanism ever fail. I have one of these in my home and highly recommend it. MSRP: $275. (http://www.hornady.com; 800-338-3220)

Body Armor

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Quality rifle plates, like these from AR500 Armor, offer protection from all kinds of threats.

Donning body armor before a confrontation with an attacker makes as much sense for the homeowner as it does for a police officer. If time permits you to throw on a hard or soft armor carrier, that armor can change an otherwise deadly shot into a bruise.

There are a wide number of armor options available on the market today. One of the best values on the market is the Urban Go Plate Carrier with Body Armor from AR500 Armor. This kit includes front and rear plates rated to stop rifle rounds, plus a heavy-duty carrier that allows you to quickly throw it on over your head. The carrier is even outfitted with PALS webbing so you can add pouches to carry your first-aid kit, cell phone, flashlight and other gear. MSRP: $175. (http://www.ar500armor.com; 602-501-9607)

Protect Your Hearing

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Electronic ear protection need not be expensive. The Caldwell E-Max retails for less than $40.

Something else to consider keeping handy for self-defense is a set of earmuffs to protect your hearing. If you need to shoot an attacker inside your home, the muzzle blast can do permanent damage to your hearing. While that might be an acceptable tradeoff for having defended your family, it can also temporarily impair you from hearing a family member or law enforcement officer. With a little imagination, most people can see what tragedy could result from not being able to hear someone in such stressful conditions.

RELATED STORY: 11 High-Tech Electronic Earmuffs, Earplugs and Behind-The-Ear Units

Electronic ear protection is the way to go. Not only can it protect your hearing, but you can also turn up the volume to hear faint noises more clearly. There are many very good options on the market, with many running into the hundreds of dollars. For an inexpensive option, take a look at the E-Max from Caldwell Shooting Supplies. The E-Max will amplify sounds below 85 decibels, but any noises above that mark will cause the system’s microphones to momentarily shut off to protect the user’s hearing. MSRP: $30. (http://www.btibrands.com; 573-445-9200)

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