When you hear a knock from someone you don't know, there are three possible reasons. First, the person is trying to get into your home. Second, multiple people are trying to get in; the person who knocked will keep you at the door while the others will get in through a back window or door. Lastly, the person knocking urgently needs some help.
Most knocks belong to the first two categories. Here are the things you should do when that happens:
Do not fall for cries or tears. A person with ill intent – be it a man or a woman – will rely on your empathy and kindness to get that door open. Your door might be the only thing keeping you from getting a serious injury. Stay cautious and don't open the door no matter how much the person begs, if you're unsure of the intention.
Call out from inside the house and make them keep talking. Some burglars knock to check if there are people at home. It's a good idea to discourage them upfront.
The next thing to do is to make sure that no accomplice is lurking around the house. Open all the outdoor lights and make a quick sweep across the house. Make sure that all doors and windows are shut and locked tight. Wake up the other people inside the house and make them go to a safe room.
Go to a window that looks outside and check who the person is. If it is a trusted neighbor with an emergency, you can slightly be at ease.
If you hear a noise from behind the house, stay on high alert. Don't try to take on the attacker yourself. If you have a family, you may be putting them in danger as well. Do the next step at once. (Related: Fit and ready: Self-defense tips for preppers.)
When a stranger knocks on your door, he may be in the middle of an emergency and in need of help. If that is truly the case, he may feel relieved if you call the police. If he has harmful intentions, he may get discouraged and go away.
After making a quick sweep through the house, call out to the stranger, "I understand you need assistance and I am calling the police now!"
Follow through with your word. Do not wait for them to go away and then pick up the phone. Once there's a response from the other line, make sure to inform them that there is a stranger outside your door. Inform them about the stranger's claims and ask for immediate dispatch. Try to stay on the line and wait for the police to arrive.
If you're with family, ask them to start calling the neighbors. If you're alone, call them after calling the police. Make sure that you're connected with someone the entire time.
Waking your neighbors will also light up the street. This will deter a criminal from trying to enter another house.
Moreover, it gives you witnesses. Once the neighbors are awake and you hear sirens coming your way, you can talk more with the stranger outside. If it's a person truly in distress, comfort them and tell them that help is on the way.
The world is filled with too many criminals and it's becoming increasingly difficult to be kind. But with the right mindset and knowledge on how to deal with these situations, you can fend off any would-be criminals and help others at the same time.