Stockpiling food, water and other essentials in anticipation of a possible disaster is a great idea. Just knowing those items are ready and waiting for you provides great peace of mind. Even if you never end up needing these stored goods, preparing for an uncertain future is the way to go.
One of the great things about home defense is that it can help protect you, your family and your belongings during a future crisis when you could become a target for thugs who might try to take advantage of law-abiding citizens as society becomes lawless.
But a strong home defense system has the added benefit of helping you rest easier now, knowing that a burglar will have a tough time getting what he wants from someone who has prepared for this exact scenario.
So, what’s the best way to turn your home into a fortress without making it look like you own a lot of stuff worth stealing? Let’s take a look at some of those methods, as well as strategies to protect yourself if intruders do get inside your home.
KEEP THE BAD GUYS OUTSIDE
You’ve worked hard to provide yourself with what you need, both now and in the future. You owe it to yourself and your family to protect what you’ve acquired by making sure your home is secure against invaders.
If you follow the 10 steps listed below, your home will become a fortress that the bad guys will avoid next time they’re in your neighborhood.
This is especially important for those of us
who have become known for preparing for a disaster. Once others become aware that we have safeguarded our homes against power outages, food shortages and other kinds of chaos that are almost certain to erupt at some point, we have more to lose and we become targets.
The way for you to become as prepared to protect your home as you are to face power outages and food shortages is to take to heart these 10 tips for securing your home from invaders. Here they are:
1. Install Secure Doors. A door is the most likely entry point that an intruder will use, so keep your doors locked whether you’re home or away. Solid wood doors or metal-clad doors are effective.
2. Upgrade Your Locks. Grade 1 or Grade 2 deadbolts, accompanied by heavy-duty brass strike plates, should keep doors from being kicked in.
3. Install Secure Windows. You don’t want windows that can be manipulated from the outside. Keep your windows from opening more than six inches. Consider installing mounting brackets now so that you could quickly install window bars later if necessary.
4. Secure the Perimeter of Your Home. Install motion sensor lights all around your home. Fences can be climbed, but having one might be enough
to make an intruder choose a different home. Keep shrubbery trimmed to reduce the number of hiding places on your lawn.
5. Install an Alarm. The louder the better with an alarm. Even if you don’t have a full-fledged security system in place, the noise itself could scare away an intruder. Post a sign regarding your alarm near the entrances. Make sure your children or grandchildren know how important it is to keep alarm codes confidential. More on this later.
6. Secure Breach Points. Take a walk around your home – inside and out – and look for areas where someone could enter without much trouble. If there is a seldom-used door to the outside, install a 2 x 4 barricade on the inside.
7. Join a Neighborhood Watch Group. If one is not already in place, you may have to take the lead here. Neighbors watching out for neighbors can be an effective deterrent against burglaries.
8. Have a Dog. Being a dog lover, I think this is a good idea anyway. But if your dog can also make your home safer, all the better. Dogs can be trained in defense, or at least to bark when they hear a noise outside. If you can’t have a dog, you can still post a “Beware of Dog” sign in your yard.
9. Don’t Make it Obvious You’re Away. When you’re out of town, lights on automatic timers are very effective. Make sure newspapers aren’t delivered while you’re gone, and try to keep a car in your driveway. A trusted neighbor is important to have while you’re away.
10. Have a Family Emergency Plan. Every family member should know exactly what to do, in advance, if an intruder enters the house. Getting out of the house quickly is best, but if that’s not possible, a previously designated “safe room” is where they should head. Always keep a pair of tennis shoes, a flashlight and a cellphone by your bed.
GET YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ON BOARD
Under normal conditions, there are a number of factors that home invaders weigh when deciding which houses to hit and which ones to skip. The more expensive a house is, the more likely it will contain the types of valuables that thieves look for.
But the most expensive houses may also possess the most elaborate security systems, so a home’s value is not the only factor they consider. A home invader is more likely to target a residence that looks like it will provide easy entry and a quick getaway.
Once a disaster has occurred, you can throw all of the “home invasion logic” out the window. Thieves will go to where they can find food, and if you are known in your neighborhood as someone who has prepared for emergencies, your home could be a target.
A home invasion is one of the most terrifying things that can happen to you or your family. Once an intruder is inside, it can be too late to prevent the worst from happening. A criminal might only be interested in taking your valuables, or he might have more sinister plans such as kidnapping, rape or murder.
The best way to defend against a home intruder is to stop him before he gets inside. Because if you can convince a criminal that he can’t get what he wants easily at your house, he’ll likely move on to another target.
Something to think about is that you or a family member might be the weakest link in your home’s defense, both prior to and following a disaster. Many home invasions don’t begin when someone busts open a front door or crawls through a window. Rather, they happen because naive homeowners believe stories about a delivery, a charity collection, a gas leak, a cable or telephone problem, or a person in distress who asks to use a phone or bathroom.
If you let someone into your house that easily, you might as well hold the flashlight for them as they rummage through your cash and jewelry. It’s up to you how difficult or easy you make it for someone to get into your house. With that in mind, let’s look at some strategies for transforming your house into a fortress.
1. Never Open the Door to Strangers. The number one rule of home defense is never open your door to strangers. The person on your doorstep may have an innocent enough story, like collecting for charity or needing a phone.
But it only takes a second for someone to force their way inside, and once that happens, you’re at the intruder’s mercy. There won’t even be any sign of forced entry to tip off neighbors that you’re in trouble.
Steps you can take to prevent this include:
• Make a plan for every single time someone rings or knocks. Everyone in the house should know the rule is to never, ever ope the door to strangers.
• Ask for an ID. If someone is delivering something, ask for identification and call the company if you have any suspicions.
• Use the peephole. Make sure you have a peephole with a good view of your front porch, and you’ll also want a bright light so you can see who’s there.
2. Lock Doors and Windows. Keep your doors and windows locked at all times, whether you’re home or away. While it would be nice to live in a world where we could sleep with the doors unlocked, we can all probably agree we’re not in Mayberry anymore. Also, don’t leave your garage door open. You’re basically advertising things to steal (and another entry point).
3. Use a Security System. You’ll want a security system with a loud alarm, placing signs near entrances to tell potential intruders you have a security system. Key consideration for any system include:
• Maintaining system integrity. Some systems have technology that prevents intruders from disabling the alarm by smashing the keypad.
• Keypad location. You don’t want burglars to be able to see whether your system is armed.
• Motion sensors. Installed in strategic locations, motion sensors provide added protection at night or when you’re away.
• Keeping codes secret. It’s important everyone in your house knows never to tell anyone the alarm codes.
4. Protect Your House When You’re Away. Many burglars strike when people are on vacation, so it’s critical you take steps to hide the fact that you’re not home. Have the post office hold your mail and ask a neighbor to remove any packages or flyers. If you live in a snowy area, have that neighbor make footprints and tire tracks in the untracked snow.
5. Think Like a Burglar. Obviously you don’t want to leave your curtains open at night so passers-by can see your massive plasma TV. The same goes for leaving tools like ladders and crowbars in plain view, which a burglar could use to break in.
It’s important to think like an intruder to make sure you’re sending the message that your home isn’t an easy target. So, put an NRA sticker in your front window and consider getting a shotgun. Not only are they easier to aim than a pistol, just the sound of cocking your shotgun may scare off an intruder.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR WINDOWS
Aren’t those illustrated images of burglars breaking into homes great? It’s almost always a dark- clothed man squeezing through an open window. Regardless of where the window is located or how risky the climb was to get to it, that’s where they are trying to enter the home.
It’s true that sometimes home invaders use windows as their point of entry into a house, but the much more likely place for a burglar to infiltrate a home is the front or back door. I guess a burglar using a door to enter a home doesn’t make for as exciting of an image as one getting in through a window.
But while a door is the most common entry point for a person bent on robbing a homeowner – due to the fact that he or she wants to get in and out of your home as quickly and discreetly as possible – the truth is that sometimes a burglar will choose a window, especially if he can’t get past a front or back door.
1. Heavy Duty Defense
After the stuff hits the fan and lawlessness prevails, there will be people breaking windows with hammers or shooting bullets through them, so it is important for us to fortify our windows as well as our doors.
This makes sense even if we’re not afraid of home invaders or post-crisis gangs. Sometimes strong winds and hail – not to mention golf balls and baseballs – can break our brittle glass windows.
That’s where window film comes in. This is like body armor for a window, and it can protect against projectiles –with some armor even being strong enough to keep bullets from breaking through – and can also shield against UV rays.
2. Cost-Effective Armor
Chances are you will not need window film strong enough to protect against a hurricane, bullets or explosives. But some kind of window film would be a cost-effective way to bolster your window security, especially after you’ve upgraded your doors and locks, and help keep out would-be thieves.
Most likely, standard safety window film will be good enough to provide armor for these vulnerable spots in your home and protect you from burglars who choose to try to enter your home through a window.
GUNS FOR HOME DEFENSE
You may or may not be comfortable having a gun in your home for protection. But if you decide to use a gun on an intruder, aim for the middle of the body to increase the likelihood that you will hit the target.
A revolver will normally be easier to use than a rifle or shotgun within the confines of a home. Well before you ever need to use a gun against someone, learn how to operate it efficiently and safely, and fire it accurately. There are advantages and disadvantages to shotguns and handguns, so it usually comes down to personal preference.
One upside to using a shotgun is that it has more stopping power than a pistol when it comes to taking down an intruder. They’re probably not going to be getting back up if you put them down with a shotgun.
Assuming there is a decent distance between you and the intruder, a shotgun will be more accurate than a pistol. Another advantage is that a shotgun requires less training to use effectively than a pistol does.
The main disadvantage to using a shotgun when dealing with a home intruder is that turning corners in your home will be slower. And if the intruder is very close to you – especially in the dark – he may be able to grab your shotgun much easier than he would your handgun. Another downside to a shotgun is that not every person in your home who might need to use it can handle the recoil.
A pistol’s main advantage when it comes to dealing with a home intruder is that it is lightweight and easy to maneuver in tight places. Also, you can access it very quickly by keeping it under your pillow at night or on a nightstand next to the bed or tucked into a drawer in just about any room of the house.
Almost anyone can use a handgun, but training is crucial, of course.
WHAT IF THEY STILL GET IN?
We’ve all seen those lists of people’s greatest fears, right? In addition to dying, public speaking is right up there, as is being trapped in a small place. For those of us who have been victims of it, home invasion sure seems a lot more frightening than speaking to a group of people or suffering from claustrophobia.
If someone breaks into your home while you are there, your window of opportunity for reacting effectively to protect yourself and your family will probably be very small. You have to make every second count in this situation, and you will only be able to accomplish this if you are fully prepared.
If you have a gun and can access it quickly, that’s obviously the best answer to a home intruder. But if you don’t own a gun or are unable to get to it swiftly enough, you may find yourself in the position of needing an improvised weapon. This type of object is any device that was not designed to be used as a weapon but can be put to that exact usage in an emergency. Here are some of them:
1. Get Out If You Can
It’s possible that your best self-defense weapons against a home invader will be your legs and hands. If there is an escape route, take it. Use your legs to get out as quickly as possible and use your hands to knock things over behind you to slow down or perhaps trip the attacker, especially if it’s dark.
Run to a neighbor’s house and call 911. Maybe you’ll have your cellphone in your pocket and be able to place the call even faster. Of course, if you have other people in your home who you need to protect, you’re not going to run away. But if you’re alone, escaping might be the most prudent thing to do. That’s not being a coward. It’s being smart.
2. Stay Alive in Your Living Room
If you’re sitting in a living room or dining area when an intruder enters, you need to think fast. There should be a number of items you can grab to use as a club, including tall vases, candleholders, statuettes, large bowls or large ashtrays. Tall lamps can also be used as clubs, but they’re more effective as spears, as are fireplace pokers.
With a dining room chair in your hands, you can go on the offensive by charging your attacker. Make sure to hold the chair so that the legs are facing him in a diamond shape rather than a square. If you can get it around his neck, a laptop cord could prove very effective in subduing him.
3. If He Can’t Take the Heat, Remain in the Kitchen
Nobody wants to face a home invader, but if it had to happen, the kitchen would probably be your best bet. Talk about an arsenal. Your first choice would be to grab two sharp knives and start swinging them in the direction of your assailant.
Other options are frying pans or rolling pins for bashing, scissors or broken glassware for gouging, and canned goods, plates or a nice, thick tumbler for throwing.
A mop or broom handle could also do the job, especially a broken one with a jagged edge. If you keep a can of high-powered wasp killer in your kitchen pantry, you might be able to spray it in his eyes and really ruin his day.
4. Bathroom Brawling
The bathroom would seem like a bad place to be confronted by an intruder, especially if he’s bigger than you are. But you might be able to use a shower curtain rod or a towel rack as a spear, or hairspray to slow him down while you try to escape. A ceramic toilet tank lid could also do some serious damage if you have room to maneuver.
5. Other Weapons
There are probably plenty of other items in various rooms of your house that could be used as weapons, including…
• Fire extinguisher. Spray him with the white stuff and clunk him with the red thing.
• Golf club. Pretend like you’re trying to drive the green on a par 4.
• Baseball bat. We’re looking for the long ball here, not a bunt.
• Long knitting needles. Doctors will need to do considerable stitching to the assailant’s body if you’re able to use these effectively.
• Tools. The sharp edge of a hammer, the point of a screwdriver or a heavy wrench might be enough to make this tool think twice.
• Wasp spray. The single biggest advantage wasp spray has over pepper spray is that it can shoot farther – 20 to 30 feet – and yet remain accurate. Generally you have to be closer to an assailant to use pepper spray and that closeness could result in your attacker grabbing you.
In the frenzy of an attack, you’ll want to strike at any exposed area. But if you find that you have some options, go for the eyes, throat and groin. That’s where you are most likely to stop or slow down an attacker rather than just making him angrier. If those areas are too well protected, aim for just below the ribcage with a stabbing weapon pointed upwards, which may enable you to reach the spleen, pancreas, liver or kidneys.
We’ve heard it said that encouraging people to inflict serious injury on an attacker is wrong. Really? Did we ask to be attacked by some scumbag so that we could take pleasure in maiming him? No, but if someone attacks us, we will do whatever is necessary to subdue him. We’re not going to punch an intruder and then politely ask if he’s OK. We’re going to try to incapacitate him however we can and as quickly as possible. If we have to choose between the lives of our spouses and children, and the physical wellbeing of a home invader, we’re going with the former over the latter.
In a confrontation with a home invader, you will probably not be the only one using a weapon. You may have to go on the defensive first. Among the items you could use to fend off attacks until you’re able to take an offensive position are a metal cookie sheet, chopping board, backpack, trashcan lid, briefcase, book, duffel bag and stool. Use whatever you can get your hands on quickly.
WHAT IF YOU’RE OUTSIDE?
Sometimes an attacker will make his move as you are approaching the front door of your residence. When that happens, you won’t have those household items at your disposal, but you can use whatever you have on your person. A single key, held between your thumb and index finger, can be used to stab and slash. Or hold a ballpoint pen in your fist and strike with a hammer blow.
Carrying pepper spray or a pocket knife while walking from your car to your front door is not a bad idea. If you happen to be holding an unbreakable umbrella, it will come in handy. There may be bricks or rocks that you can grab and throw. Finally, loose change flung into the face of an intruder could slow him down enough to enable you to escape.
Being attacked is not something any of us want to think about. But it might happen someday and the better prepared you are, the better the outcome might be. So, think about the items you have around your home that could be used as weapons and work on grabbing them and being ready to use them in an instant. Practice maneuvers such as dropping and rolling under a table and then bolting for the door. Know your best escape path in each room of your home.
Remember that attacks can occur anywhere you are… restaurants, health clubs, banks, even churches. Always be aware of your surroundings, including the people in your vicinity. Wherever you are, look around for improvised weapons before an incident occurs, not afterward. The better prepared you are, the higher your chances for survival.
GOING HARDCORE WITH HOME DEFENSE
We’ve all heard plenty about home defense through the years. In addition to protecting ourselves and our families, we want to keep our valuables out of the hands of home invaders.
As we’ve discussed, the home defense basics are keeping front and back doors locked at all times, using only the strongest of locks, fortifying doors, placing bars on windows, keeping lights on whether home or away, never opening the door to a stranger, etc.
Now it’s time to crank it up a few notches. To really prepare for a crisis that could very well include people invading our homes to steal what we’ve stockpiled or do harm to us during a period of lawlessness, we need to raise the bar on home defense.
1. Avoiding a Standoff
Let’s look first at how to avoid a confrontation. If you can keep what’s rightfully yours without engaging in a gunfight, everyone will be better off.
Prior to a disaster, don’t make it known you are stockpiling food, water and other essential items. If you’ve announced your preparation plans to the neighborhood, yours might be the first home to which a mob comes calling in a crisis. And keep your emergency supplies well concealed within your home.
Once a disaster strikes, quickly pre-plunder your property. Make looters and attackers decide after one look at your home that it’s not worth investigating farther. Create the impression that your home has already come under siege and that mobs have taken away everything of value.
Your front and back lawns should contain trash strewn about, broken furniture lying on its side, and random piles of junk in various places. Maybe even spray bullet holes through some of these items to make it look like a battle has occurred.
Finally, have an escape plan. There might come a time when you and your family are absolutely overwhelmed by a force coming toward you and escaping is the only thing that will save your lives.
Have at least one door, window or hatch in mind that’s located on the least exposed wing of your dwelling so that as a last resort you can bolt out in a hurry and hopefully reach some kind of cover quickly.
2. Guns, Guns, Guns
You must own a gun – and probably more than one – for the type of emergency that it is probably coming around the bend. In fact, you should have at least two guns for everyone in your household who is old enough and trained enough to use them.
A gun is the only thing that might stop someone – or a group of “someones” – determined to do you harm and possibly steal your home right out from under you during a major crisis. Guns are going to give you the ability to defend what’s yours against people who want to overtake you with their guns.
A shotgun will probably do the trick for you. The nice thing about this type of weapon is that you don’t have to be a marksman to be effective with it. Because it sprays a number of pellets in a circular pattern, it increases your odds of hitting a moving target. It can be lethal up to 100 feet.
A rifle is another good choice because it can shoot accurately at a much longer range than a pistol and will also accomplish a higher degree of penetration into the target. It would be ideal for use while you’re on the porch or leaning out a window as a mob approaches.
Lastly, make sure you have several handguns. The biggest advantage here is maneuverability. Semi- automatic handguns are the way to go, and choose .45 caliber bullets over .22’s. A pistol’s range is limited, so they’re best in close combat situations.
No matter which weapons you’ve chosen for use in extreme home defense, make sure that you practice with them regularly. The more accomplished you are with your guns, the better the odds that you’ll be able to protect your family and property during an emergency. And it goes without saying that you need lots of ammunition for each weapon.
3. Home Bunkers
Some hardcore survivalists will tell you the only real solution to dealing with a catastrophe is an underground bunker where you could live for up to a year. While a bunker may be the only way to avoid fallout from a nuclear attack, it probably is not realistic for most people’s budgets.
In addition, there are ways that the bad guys can flush you out of a bunker, including through the ventilation and exhaust system. They could send smoke into your bunker, place a flammable object into your exhaust and light it, or drop an explosive into your bunker. They could try to drown you with large quantities of water or they could bury you alive with a bulldozer.
4. Seven Ways to Protect What’s Yours
More realistic – and less expensive – ways of protecting yourself and your home, while continuing to enjoy the benefits of staying in that house following a crisis, are listed below. Some are probably unrealistic to put in place now – including high walls and a moat – unless your home or bug- out shelter is in a remote location. But now you’ll know what projects you want to start once the stuff hits the fan.
Alarm Systems – This is something you might already have in place. If not, seriously consider it. It could be of benefit now before things get crazy. And at the very least, it could alert you to an intruder during a crisis, even if there are no authority figures able to respond at that time.
Electric Security Fencing – Very few home invaders want to mess with an electrical shock they might experience by trying to climb your wired fence. You can always keep it turned off until you think you might need it.
High Walls – Building high walls in front of your home now would draw unwanted attention, but having the materials ready to do so in front of the most vulnerable part of your home might be a good idea.
Trenches/Moats – Again, doing this now is probably unrealistic, but having a plan ready to dig a trench 25 yards in front of your front door could end up resulting in a potential intruder thinking twice about approaching your home, especially if he has to deal with water.
Hedge Rows – Planting hedges at strategic points on your property is something you can do now. The idea is to force the intruder to choose the path you want him on as he approaches.
Security Cameras – This is another item that could serve you well now, as well as during an emergency situation.
Attack Animals – Some animals that are very well trained can be counted on to attack those who mean you harm, simply by a command from you.
There are many things we can hope for. We hope that an intruder will never enter our houses, especially when we’re home. We also hope that if an intruder does enter our home when we’re there that we have a fully loaded gun handy to protect ourselves and our families.
When an intruder enters your home, you don’t know what he’s up to. But you have to assume the absolute worst. You have to assume that he will rape, torture or kill if given the chance. Defend yourself first – with whatever you can find – and ask questions later. This strategy could save your life.