What’s In Your Nightstand?

It is the sound that almost everyone fears at some point. ‘That noise’ you hear while you are in bed that doesn’t sound right. I don’t know how many times I have been in bed with my wife and we will hear something and she will say ‘What was that’? Already, my ears are perked up and I am trying to figure out mentally what that sound was. In some cases it is perfectly normal like my daughter dropping what sounds like a 50 pound brick on the floor upstairs. Other times it may be outside or isn’t something I can explain so I get out of bed to investigate. It is times like this that I want to have items within arm’s reach that I may need should that bump in the night be more sinister than my daughter.

You aren’t much more vulnerable than when you are sleeping at night. Usually, we aren’t in clothes that would provide any reasonable protection. We don’t have shoes or socks on and if you are woken from sleep, you could be groggy and disoriented. Going from being warm and comfy under the covers to ready to defend your life doesn’t happen immediately, but the sooner you can be prepared to address a threat, the better off your chances of survival will be.

There was a time after the death of our last dog and before we got the latest survival dog that we couldn’t depend on a canine friend to warn us of danger, or to investigate strange noises. If something was wrong I would spring from bed and do my best job of investigating any noise and clearing rooms to ensure I hadn’t missed someone. Now, I would do the same but I would be sending my dog ahead of me because her senses would be far superior to any human at finding any trouble quickly and potentially starting to deal with the threat.

Even with a dog there are items in my nightstand that are ready for me to grab in seconds if a situation like this happens.

Gun – Assuming you aren’t anti-gun or they aren’t illegal where you live a gun is my first priority when it comes to home defense. Why not something like a baseball bat? Because a bad guy might have a gun and I would rather stare down a criminal who is bold enough to enter my house while I am sleeping with a gun that try to assume I can crack him on the skull and not get shot. In my case, the gun of choice is a 1911 .45.

Flashlight – There are some downsides to having a flashlight from the sense of showing the bad guy where you are, but the benefits of being able to see what you are shooting at far outweigh any downsides. For the obvious reasons of being able to see where you are going and what is the source of the noise a flashlight is extremely valuable. Add to that proper identification of the threat and you should agree that having a flashlight could save a life too. If you think someone is in your home and you have a gun in your hand you should be able to see accurately what you are aiming that gun at before you pull the trigger.

Phone – You may need to call 911 from your bedroom and if you are somehow trapped in your room you want a way to call out.

Knife – Why have a knife if you have a gun? For me, I have my knife on my nightstand anyway simply because it is part of my EDC gear that I have to wear daily. The knife is a worst case backup. What if the bad guy breaks down your door before you can grab the gun, or the gun jams? Not my ideal choice, but it is redundant gear that I have anyway.

Glasses – If you need glasses or if you sleep with your contacts out, you need something to help you see as quickly as possible. This is probably a no-brainer for anyone who does have vision issues but I know some people by routine leave these in the bathroom.

Shoes – Ideally something that you could slip on fast and I am not talking about slippers.  If you have some violent altercation you would be better equipped if you had sturdy shoes on or at least something that would give you traction and could protect your feet. What if there was a broken window and you needed to move through the area with broken glass? You would ideally not have to worry about what you stepped on as you moved through the home and you wouldn’t want to slip and bust your ass on the stairs either.

So there are 6 items you can keep in your nightstand or directly next to your bed in the event you need to spring into action to investigate something in your home. I left off the other basics of a notepad to write down ideas…. or a glass of water. What are your ideas for what to keep in your nightstand?

  1. Those old cell phones that get updated by the latest & best …. they still can call 911 even without a current calling plan …. just keep it powered up and handy

    1. Those disconnected cell phones are perfect when travelling and you come into an emergency. They can work in your home too (particularly if you don’t have a modern smart phone like most people that doubles as your alarm clock / insomnia game machine, etc…)

      The downside to these phones though, (besides kids playing with them) is that they do not convey GPS information to your local 911 center. With a landline sending info from the phone company and with a modern cell phone connected to service we can get location info even if you’re incapacitated, put the phone down/drop it, or are panicking.

      You’d be surprised at how many 911 calls I get on a daily basis where normally intelligent and collected people are thrown for a loop and can’t recall their address (or aren’t paying attention to what mile marker they’re on, or what intersection they’re at, etc). You MUST know where you are/not panic and be able to give that information with a disconnected cell phone.

      Without your location, you can give me all the descriptive info you want, but I will most likely listen to you die horribly since I have nowhere to send help. A 3×5 or some other highly visible note by your phone with your address can serve as a reminder to jog your senses when you or your loved one may be paralyzed by fear or otherwise distracted by the goings on.

      1. Great points Matt!

        So with normal landlines, they have your street address and cell phones they know where you are calling from by triangulation? Wouldn’t those old cell phones still be using the same cell towers?


        1. I think you’d be surprised by the number of home invasions that are proceeded by the phone lines/alarm being cut …. the more sophisticated are now even using signal jammers to eliminate cell phones ….

        2. Pat you’ve got it right, data from phone company for landlines, triangulation for cells with active accounts.

          The old phones use the same towers but the cell phone companies do not maintain the ability to get gps location. The specifics are above my paygrade, but I’m guessing that the tech is there to track, however once a phone’s service is permanently disconnected (its obsolete, account is closed, etc) the company simply dumps any data/software that it had stored regarding that particular device and thus loses its ability to track. It’s probably a simple matter of keeping things clean on their end lest they have to maintain databases on tens or hundreds of thousands of obsolete devices.

  2. After reading this post I was thinking that we should probably keep our wallets in our nightstands, too.Better to keep the wallet handy, than to panic once you remember its accessible to the intruder elsewhere in the house.

  3. I keep my KelTec 9mm on the nightstand next to my flashlight and the dog is very much alert. I saw a training video a while back that you should hold the flashlight above your head or away your body so the intruder isn’t sure where you are.

    In the winter months I sleep in a pair of sweat pants, long sleeve cotton shirt and socks because I like a chilly bedroom so if I have to chase somebody outside I’ll be OK for a period of time before hypothermia sets in.

    I like the idea of having a spare cell phone on the nightstand as well. I’m in the market for a new phone and will keep the old one in the bedroom on a charger.

    Best to all,

    Snake Plisken

  4. I just bought a 45 cal. for protection against brown bears on a recent backcountry hunt. Is a 45 caliber overkill for the bedside table? Is there a safer caliber that will not travel through an attacker, then walls, then your child? Yes, gun control is about hitting your target- but if you miss, or have a pass through- then what? Yes there is ‘safer’ ammo that’s not supposed to do this, but I am sure that in your scenario you will not be rummaging through boxes of ammo to pick out the best type. Can anybody recommend a a ‘safer’ caliber for this home intrusion scenario? I am thinking 9mm like a previous commenter.

    Additionally, what is the safest way to store a pistol bedside for quick access- I am thinking of purchasing a biometric safe, are there any other options… My current safe (next to my bedside table) is the dial type which can be turned to the last number of the three digit combination to be opened. It is quick to open but could prove difficult in the dark. I don’t like the idea of leaving a loaded pistol where it could be possibly accessible to my children who now are too young to learn about gun safety and I would not trust children with a firearm regardless until they are adults. I don’t carry, so said pistol would also be accessible to thieves when I am not home- and I would not want to be responsible for arming a criminal…

    1. This is just my opinion and I know there will be others, but I am worried more about stopping the threat than the highly unlikely (but possible) chance of my round going through him and walls into someone else. The odds of that are just off the chart.

      Yes, there are safer options, but anytime you start making compromises, you lose something. That is the very definition of a compromise. I have heard of graduated loads for shotguns to avoid the same thing. Load pepper shot in first, then bird shot, then buckshot. That assumes a lot of variables that you likely won’t be able to control. My preference is the .45 because of the big hole it will leave. Yes, I do have to hit the target and I know if I am aiming at the guy and he is standing in front of the wall that is on the outside of someones bedroom there is a good chance the bullet may go through.

      For the safe, I think the Biometric is the best option if you want to have it secure from children. You lose a couple of seconds, but you don’t have to worry about little curious hands either.


  5. Hi, i’m not 100% sure if this is right what i’m saying here, but i recall that if you use hollow point bullets! they do not treval that far but making a nice impact! of course do not miss the target and it has to be allowed in your state! and how about a laser on your gun ?

    1. Thanks for the comments Andi. Hollow points are usually preferred for the amount of damage they do but you are right in that they are supposed to be used in situations where you want to control the penetration, like on an aircraft. Not like I could ever do that!

      Anyway, HP are my default load for home defense anyway.


  6. Great article. Please don’t get me wrong, for what I am about to say, I am all for protecting your home and family from a intruder.
    Most intruders are experience criminals and understand the system better then law abiding home owners. Its rare for an intruder bring tools to break in your house or a weapon. For the simple reason is that if they get caught or someone is killed, the charges get enhanced. Most intruders use what is available to them around the outside of the house and if they want a weapon they will find something in the house. Bringing tools or a weapon shows intent and will argue for lesser charge because the DA can’t prove intent. They know this.
    As much as it sucks sometimes the home owner can be held liable for injuries and/or death. I am 100% behind anyone protecting their family. Just something to think about. Best way to keep a intruder out is to make the house inconvenient.

    1. Don’t worry about it Richard, speak freely!

      I know what you are saying and believe you are absolutely right about the serial criminals. Those who have been through the system know what to do. Of course, if someone broke into my home and was shot, I can guarantee that when the police arrive, they would have a weapon, maybe a kitchen knife in their hands…


  7. I’m definitely *not* anti-guns, but I’d recommend some bear spray in addition to a gun. Kids do stupid things and sometimes sneak in after dark (or have friends sneak in after dark.) It’s much harder to undo a gunshot wound to the face, than pepper or bear spray to the face.

  8. In my state – if you are in my home without my permission, I am allowed to shoot you until I feel safe. Alas, the last few comments above mine (T. Gene Davis and Richard) do bring up a great point. The “what if” senerios. What if bumble bees had machineguns? We would all be screwed. What ifs can, infact, be killed by training. Is shooting through and intruder, and a subsequent wall an honest fear you have? Train to it. Find a round that will work in your house. I felt very comfortable in my CA house with a .45, due largely to the structure of the walls and the layout. Back here in NC, I still feel fine as even with a shoot through (very unlikely by the way), my kids beds are not in range or in the SDZ (Surface Danger Zone)in 9 of 10 senerios that I have PHISICALY WALKED THROUGH.. Both of my kids have a go-to spot if they hear gun fire.
    A second on flashlights – there are reasons you always see cops with them in shows and movies – you have to see it to shoot it. It’s called Positive ID. How would you feel if you shot your daughter’s boyfriend as he was sneeking into the house? Honestly, I would be ok with it mine, for now… But what if your lind of liked the guy? Positive ID, and hold the flashlight in a manner that suits you. Try different combos and see which one works for you. Then train to it!!!! Train like you fight and the little things will work themselves out.

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