I have been thinking about home security a lot lately. I am not sure why, but this is the latest thing that has been an ever present thought as I go through my daily activities. I suppose it is a logical extension of prepping after food and water sources are shored up that your mind would turn to security. I started to analyze our defensive options at our home since we have chosen to shelter in place should any type of disaster scenario happen.
This carried me down several paths that I hope to discuss with you and they all focus around steps you can take to keep your family safe, or provide some additional protection in your home if things get really bad. This is the first post in a series about what problems you may be faced with in a WROL (Without Rule of Law) society. This is a worst case scenario but I believe that exercising your mind by thinking about issues like this could prepare you better for less catastrophic emergencies. Honestly, I hope to never be in a situation that requires these plans and methods, but I think it is valid to discuss them in terms of preparing your family.
With all that said, I want to be realistic with you. What I am going to suggest is not going to make your house bulletproof. It will not stop a tank or military assault or prevent a fire. It will probably not stop several determined people who have the time to attack unopposed either, but it could give you just enough of an advantage that it could save your life and hopefully make them look for an easier target. What I plan to highlight are several considerations that you can implement that are relatively easy which can make it a little harder for people who want to get in and cause you harm or try and take what you have. This should offer some protection from the casual thief or looter, not necessarily the mutant zombie biker gang.
I think it is also worth saying that if someone is intent on killing you or getting to you or your family you have to consider what you are willing to do to stop them. I do not believe that it is realistic to expect bad people to simply go away because you talk sternly to them or get in touch with the pain they are feeling. If someone has made up their mind to get to you, the very least they will do is take what can either keep your family alive (food, clothing, water, money) or safe (security). If you are incredibly lucky, the only thing they will do is take your supplies. I don’t think that is realistic though and you may be in for a very horrible lesson if things get to this point. The lesson might end up costing you your life.
I do believe that you owe it to yourself and your family to be mentally prepared to use deadly force in a situation like this if the need arises. If you have no plans to fight back, then you should be prepared to live (or die) with the consequences. I fully expect anyone in my family and probably most who are reading this blog to be open to if not embracing the same beliefs. I never want to have to harm anyone, but if you are in my house or property with intentions to harm my family I will do what is necessary. Do I expect this is going to be easy or that it won’t change me when it’s over? No, but that is beside the point. I have sworn that I will do what is necessary to protect my family. That is one of the reasons I advocate carrying a concealed weapon, because violence like this doesn’t wait for a disaster. It can happen any day.
So, now we have the framework. Bad things have happened, you are forced to stay in your house and try to ride out the storm so to speak and people are or could be trying to get into your house or get at your family. If it comes to that, are you prepared to use deadly force if necessary to stop them?
Home security: 9 steps to keep you safe when SHTF
Step 1 -Know your enemy
The spectrum of people who could possibly be threats run the gambit from desperate beggar to organized gangs. Burglary and looting are crimes of opportunity. The opportunity for a burglar is usually an unsuspecting homeowner or a house that is easily broken into. Looting uses the opportunity of a situation in which the perceived enforcement of laws by police has dissolved. In time after time we see situations like Hurricane Sandy where people were looting the day after the hurricane. Some of these people were even dressed like power company workers to fool anyone who saw them poking around houses. You can expect that regardless of where you live, if the crisis is bad enough and prolonged enough there will be homes near you, maybe yours that are targets for this segment of society.
I think it is reasonable to assume if we routinely see this type of behavior with what is considered a relatively minor weather event; much worse could be expected as the level and intensity of the emergency increases. Right now even with all of the lights on, food and fuel still being shipped to stores and the welfare and unemployment checks getting delivered; we have women who are gang raped in Chicago, Veterans are beaten to death and there are attacks and murders in every major city it seems weekly. Can you imagine how bad this will get if we are plunged into total chaos? Can you foresee how completely dangerous your neighborhood might get if there is no Rule of Law (WROL)?
Staying in your home and Bugging In may be the only option you have, but depending on how serious the disaster or crisis that we are going through, that home might have to be your castle and fortress. There are some steps we can take to give you an advantage if this is your Alamo and may keep you alive to see another day. Hopefully, you can take steps to make your house a less ideal target and keep your family safer.
Step 2 – Gathering intelligence
First things first. Before you even consider how you would begin the planning process of defending your home it helps to know what is around you. By that I mean understanding what is in the area immediately surrounding your home and expanding outward from there, further out. I recommend periodically conducting what I call the neighborhood RECON to familiarize yourself with what is going on in your neighborhood. I don’t mean simply knowing your neighbors although that is very important; what I mean is knowing how to get to your house by methods other than the surface roads. What are the landscape features that may help or work to your advantage? Knowing who has certain resources that may become targets will give you information that the looter who is driving through won’t have. This can be as simple as taking walks through your neighborhood, but the key is to pay attention to details.
Having area maps is another step you can take in planning defenses and even exit strategies if the need arises. You can go online and order very detailed Topographical Maps from the USGS store. Knowing this information before you need it can show you paths of likely drift and avenues you can use to escape.
Once you know what is around you, another prerequisite to any defensive strategy is intelligence. The first and perhaps most important piece of intelligence is knowing who is in the area. It is important to know as far in advance as possible when someone is headed to your position before they are actually at your door. For a lot of people, this would be difficult without a large group and training. If you live in an apartment complex, this article might not work for you. On the other hand, you may be able to use the other people in your apartment complex to form a network that can take turns watching activity and alerting anyone of an advancing threat. If you have a typical home you do still have neighbors unless they have bugged out already. A security network would be even more advantageous in this situation but I will discuss how that might be set up in another post. For this discussion, lets pretend you are mostly on your own.
If we think about defense in rings around your home where the first ring would be your home itself. Going out from there would be your yard and then going out from there maybe 2 houses or 200 feet in either direction. These rings would indicate where you have different methods of identifying and stopping the threats. Ideally, you would want to know that someone is coming as early as possible so the outermost ring would demonstrate that distance. How would you be able to tell if someone was a few houses away and headed to your position or who at a minimum was worthy of additional scrutiny?
Assuming again that you are on your own, that you don’t have a squad of marines or a checkpoint at your disposal you would optimally have a method of knowing what is going on all around your property. This usually requires a position that is elevated so you can see over houses and bushes. Without having to have a guard tower installed. One option could be a tree climbing stand or my personal favorite, a kids tree house. These can give you the ability to gain an advantage and see a larger piece of the surrounding area. This may not be practical or possible so your advance notice will need to be adjusted to the defensive ring that you can see. If you can only see your yard then you greatly reduce the amount of head start notice you can have for this type of situation. It may also be that you must stay inside for quarantine or weather issues.
A simple way to be alerted to approaching people is wireless Motion detectors. Motion detectors outside can alert you to someone who shouldn’t be there. Assuming that we are talking about a real crisis here, there is a high probability that the power won’t be working. This is when having your own backup power would be extremely helpful but there are other, low-tech options you can deploy that work as well. If you have power and motion detectors at the perimeter you will have advance warning of someone who is entering your yard. Using this you can run to where the threat is coming from and address it or at the very least be ready to address it when they reach your home. Dakota alert has systems designed for this exact purpose.
There are also small trip wire devices that will pull a pin that triggers a .22 blank cartridge. These can easily be set up (provided you have blank .22 shells) and can alert you audibly. You can set the wires up in the places that someone would most likely travel to make it to your home and when they go off, you would have advance warning that someone is approaching.
There are other low-tech options too like setting up a string of cans on the porch that can make noise once the line holding them has been disturbed or crushing a light bulb so that you hear the glass breaking as someone walks on it. These are less ideal and probably work better in the movies in situations with complete darkness, but can work in some cases. The perfect system alerts you well in advance of when someone is near your home, but you do have to be able to hear it.
Now that we know what type of scenario we may have to defend our homes and families from and have a general understanding of knowledge that can help us, I want to talk about some options. Again, just to be clear that anything we plan for can be undone by a wide variety of factors. The suggestions aren’t meant to imply that you will have an impenetrable fortress, but it may buy you some time and will offer more protection than just closing the curtains.
Step 3 – Preventing access
Knowing when someone is approaching is only half of the problem. The real challenge is to keep them away as far as possible. If you have a group of people, this may mean meeting whoever is approaching far away from your property and dealing with any threats there as opposed to your front door. If this isn’t possible and you are forced to retreat, then your next best bet would be to not let them have an easy way into your house.
Starting with the driveway and your yard, if you can, move your car further away from the house to block access. Provided the bad guys don’t drive through your yard, this would prevent them from rolling up close to your house very quickly. Every yard is different of course, but these are just ideas. In a true collapse scenario it may be necessary to block the road entirely. Of course, this only matters if cars are still functioning, but let’s assume they are. This is something you would want to discuss with your neighbors naturally, but could be an effective way of blocking or slowing vehicle traffic. Blocking access to your neighborhood can be done a lot of ways and could provide a first line of defense against anyone who isn’t supposed to be there gaining access easily.
No matter what the roadblock is, unless you have a high wall guarded by a moat with crocodiles, even if they have to walk a little, they will eventually make it to your home. I started thinking about the preparations that homeowners make before a hurricane and this seems perfectly logical to apply to this situation. During a hurricane, windows and doors are boarded up to protect your home from a vicious assault by Mother Nature. The same could be done with your home to great effect. There was actually even an episode of Doomsday Preppers where one of the featured preppers, Jay Blevins already had this idea.
With some planning now while everything is relatively normal, you could acquire sheets of plywood and have them cut to fit over your window openings. This of course could be done later I guess, but it would be quicker to have them pre-cut and numbered for easy installation. Jay’s plan was to cover all of the ground floor windows and doors to prevent people from entering while leaving the second story windows open. This seems like a great idea too because he could coordinate fire on the people below if they really started trying to get in with axes or chain saws. The plywood boards themselves are attached via long bolts to a horizontal board going over the window opening inside so there are no nails or screws that can be pried out. That is pretty smart.
The weather is a consideration too because if it is hot outside you likely aren’t going to want to board up all of your windows and doors. Even drilling vent holes in the windows won’t help much and could weaken the strength of the board.
Even if you have everything boarded up, you will likely still need to get into and out of your home unless your supplies of food and sanitation can keep you comfortably confined for a while. An exterior door with protected access would need to be your way out, but you could have this barricaded with items that can be moved later.
Read the next 2 articles to understand how to layer your defense.
Step 4 -Slowing access
Maybe you don’t have the time or money to have every window and door around your house fitted with heavy-duty plywood. You can still board up windows and doors. This is another reason to keep scrap wood and lumber around because if you can’t keep someone out permanently, at least you should be able to slow them down. Couches and refrigerators in front of doors will slow people down. Implements like the Bar-Ricade bar or something like the Master Lock Door Security Bar will reinforce your entry doors and should slow an attacker down. The Armor Concepts door jamb hardware kit is simple to install and will reinforce your doors so they can’t be easily kicked open. Will they stop a big police style battering ram? I don’t know but they are better than nothing.
Step 5 -Reaction Plan
If you have some level of difficulty set up on your exterior entrance points, there will undoubtedly be noise associated with someone trying to get in. You may have a dog that is warning you also and I would say pound for pound they would make the best intrusion detection system unless your dog was like ours and got a little too sleepy after steak night. That’s my fault though.
You should prepare well in advance for situations where someone is trying to get into your house. Several methods can be deployed to try and fool you into thinking the attack is coming from one direction when actually it is coming from two or three. Once you have been alerted to someone trying to gain access, the key is to move quickly. Knowing ahead of time who is going to the front and who is going to the rear will give you two sets of eyes instead of one and hopefully you have some firearms for self defense so you will have two means of defending yourself and your home also. This may be easier said than done if the members of your party are wounded, sick or tired from guarding against assault all night. Depending on your defenses, the people attacking if they are smart will come at you from more than one location. This is so that if they can get you to focus on the front door while another one of them sneaks in the back they can attack you from two sides.
Step 6 -Plan for distractions
If the people attacking you are a small group they will likely try to distract you with noise or commotion in one area while they sneak in another. If possible have one person deal with the commotion in the front and position another in the back. This will give you the ability to at least deal with someone from either direction. If this isn’t possible you may have to fall back into a hallway or some other narrow spot so that you can concentrate fire if they do enter your house.
Step 7 -Take the high ground
If you have a second floor, your fallback position might be the second floor. If this happens, and they have gotten into your house you have to block their access to you at all costs. Stairways can be deadly if you are the person at the top firing down on the intruders. Obstacles on the stairs can slow them down; even throwing items at them while they are trying to navigate the stairs can slow an advance. This might sound a little too much like Home Alone, but we aren’t all Navy Seals (even the bad guys) so fight with everything you have. It may be your bowling ball, but if you crush a skull of someone who was trying to kill you who is going to care that you saw it on a movie?
Step 8 -Make a backdoor escape
If you are forced to retreat into the second floor, having a way out may be your last hope. This could be a window ladder down to the first floor or attic access to a point that you could escape. If this is really your last stand barricade the doors again to give you more time to exit and run if possible. Our attic gives me access to a door over the garage and I can escape through there and out into the yard. If I had to I would punch a hole in the wall to gain access to the attic and then try to escape while the bad guys were trying to get into the room on the second floor. Whatever you do you have to try and fight to survive.
If you are forced to flee, you should have a rally point already defined to meet everyone at in times like this. Hopefully everyone makes it there and you could have supplies stashed in a hidden cache so that you aren’t completely out of options for continuing to survive.
Step 9 -Live to fight another day
Hopefully, if things have gotten so bad that you have to employ any of the suggestions above just to stay alive you were able to defend yourself before you had to run away from the house. However, it may not work that way. You may have to run away to live and I think running and living in some cases is better than standing and dying. Now, I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t have everyone in my group with me, but I think you get the point.
Bugging In is not a perfect solution either
To Bug in and hunker down or to Bug Out and take your chances on the road? This is one of the major questions at least logistically for preppers and you will have people on both sides of this issue. Bugging out brings with it an entirely different set of circumstances and must be planned for in different ways. Hunkering down can eliminate one set of problems, but presents a whole new set of challenges. Further complicating the issue is that life gets a vote. Just because you make a decision now whenever everything is pretty much normal doesn’t necessarily mean that circumstances won’t change and cause your plans to need adjusting. In some cases your carefully laid plans may need to be thrown out altogether.
A lot of careful consideration usually goes into the decision to either hunker down or to bug out. I think that in no small part it comes down to your resources and your common sense when you are asking yourself these questions. First off the obvious question, do you have a place to go to? If so, bugging out becomes much more realistic. Then questions like how will you get there, what to take and who else will be going with you start to get answered. The pieces begin to fall into place and you can make a plan for dealing with the contingencies as you think of them. For a long trip, you can plan how to load the vehicles, where to refuel, storing caches of supplies along the route, alternate routes, etc.
If you have no place to go and there is not an immediate, life-threatening situation that is making you leave your home; if you have supplies such as food and water then why leave? For a lot of people, absent some impending natural disaster, disease, nuclear accident or chemical spill, staying where they are living currently is going to be the best option. You may have a support structure at your current location or family that prevents you from leaving. Even in war torn cities people stay behind and this isn’t without precedent historically. Bugging in would seem to me to be a logical choice in a lot of situations unless you have a fully stocked survival retreat within a few hours away or have friends and family to turn to within a relatively short distance. It may be the only choice you have if life steps in again and prevents you from implementing your Bug Out plan above.
Regardless of whether you chose to Bug In as part of your plan to be fully prepared, or are forced to stay where you are, you may have to deal with the unpleasant reality that usually rears its ugly head anytime there is turmoil or disasters. Humans can on one hand be incredibly loving and also incredibly evil and after a disaster there are usually stories of both. In this article I plan to talk about some steps you can take to protect your family from the later type if you find yourself Bugging In.
Hopefully that gave you some ideas. If you have any suggestions for everyone else, please let us know in the comments below.
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