What’s the first thing you’re going to do?
Turn out the reading light.
Then you take your carry pistol from the drawer (or shotgun from under the bed). Softly rack a round if one is not already chambered. Be still and let your eyes adjust. If it is possible to silently move so that anyone coming up the stairs will be backlit, you want to do that.
You know by now that it wasn’t the dog, and so you worry. If you are prepared, I would argue that you should wait before calling 9-1-1. Circumstances are impossible to forecast. Situations are volumetric in number and proportion. But one size—one answer—does not fit all.
Unless you are absolutely caught unawares, the odds are in your favor. You know the layout of your house or office. You know just how the coffee table juts into the living room aisle, how chairs are positioned around the table. Your knowledge of your surroundings is your first, best defense. The intruder is feeling his way in the dark or semi-dark.
Even if he has visited your home before—as a guest or even burglarizing it earlier—he’s going to bump, break, scratch. You’re going to hear him, know exactly where he is, and you can almost hear his heavy breathing as he fumbles in the darkness.
There’s an intruder. You find your concealed carry protection and turn out the light…right?
Now, the question…
Should you turn on a diversionary light? Unless you can flip a switch remotely or have installed some motion-activated burglar alarm, the answer is probably no. Moving around—even crawling—makes noise and informs the intruder of your position. That means movement is going to cause the plywood-covered joists to squeak, even if you worm your way across the carpet like a turtle. An aggressive or frightened intruder might fire up through the ceiling and floor if he believes you are tracking him, ready to ambush him—and, of course, you are.
Large caliber handgun bullets are not stopped by residential floors or walls (cement, sure). This could be a problem when you unleash your .45 at the shadow stalking up the stairs of the apartment. Some of those bullets may hit, but some will cause your neighbors to—the scientific term is “freak out.”
I believe the best solution is to take a ready position with the lights out. Allow your vision, and especially your peripheral vision, to work for you. Your first job is to be safe and safeguard your family. Keep the lights out. Do not try to move and call 911.
Be alert. You are armed; you are dangerous—and the person who has broken into your house in the dark should be afraid, very afraid.