Home Security and Invasion Countermeasures
(Chance Sanders) As a society, we like to think of our home as the one place we can relax and feel safe. When not at work, we spend the majority of our time at home. Our most valuable possessions are kept in our home. For most of us, that is our family. Yet, the majority of Americans give little thought to the actual security of their home. I hope to bring some solutions to often overlooked weak points in a home security plan.
The first thing we want to do is a complete threat assessment of our area. This should extend out into our local area where we conduct most of our activities. When doing a threat assessment, you should take into consideration the routes where you shop, eat and conduct business. I recommend getting to know your local law enforcement to get a real view of what’s going on in your area. Simple things such as an online search will give you list of all registered sex offenders in your area. It would be wise to purchase a police scanner and learn the 10 codes of law enforcement and emergency responders in your area. Also, purchase a street map and plot locations of emergency responses and close proximity civil unrest should it ever happen. After a short time, you will have a good idea of what’s going on and where threats to your home security are located. It is also important to know the distance from your home and the nearest police substation so you can estimate response time and where to drive if you are being pursued. For a SHTF situation, this map will be invaluable for plotting your exit route. Knowing where gangs are located and which direction they are likely to go in a civil unrest situation is vital.
After we look at our general area, it’s time to assess our home and property. You want to pay special attention to avenues of approach and egress as well as concealment. One way to do this is try to sneak up on your own house. Is there ample cover to move unseen to the house? Are there any dogs or nosey neighbors (which isn’t always a bad thing)? What about obstacles and lighting? Are you starting to see the picture? This should be done prior to and after any security upgrades. Most physical security countermeasures can be remedied by a trip to the local hardware store and at most a call to a fencing contractor. Expensive alarm systems require monitoring, a power source, and a dedicated response officer. Consider an alert dog to be a worthy replacement for such a system. Remember, you are always the first responder to any situation that may occur at your home. Be sure to conduct routine surveys of your property to determine any unauthorized activity. Cut fencing, tire marks, and litter (cigarette butts, food wrappers, drink cans) are all indicators of human activity. Consider installing cameras like those used to monitor game trails. Newer models allow them to be viewed remotely and less fancy versions are relatively inexpensive.
Now let’s look at the home itself. You want to ensure that you have ample lighting outside of your home. Try to avoid lighting that back lights you and instead blinds an intruder. You should position light fixtures where tampering would be both difficult and noticeable. Keep in mind a power failure would render these ineffective unless they have an independent power source.
Next on the list is a look at controlling entry into our home. As we all know, doors are a major weak spot in our homes physical security. Most residential doors can be defeated by a determined fifteen year old. A door that fits loosely in a frame is a serious security hazard. Consider replacing all exterior doors with one of solid core construction and ensure a proper tight fit as well as adding a strong mesh outer door. This will enable you to open the inner door without making yourself vulnerable to attack. This door should have a dead bolt lock as well. If this is not possible, then perhaps an intercom and/or a camera mounted discreetly facing the door would be a good alternative. Special attention must be given to the integrity of the doorframe and hinges. If the hinges face out towards the intruder, then all that is needed to defeat the door is a screwdriver. There are ways to prevent this such as drilling a small hole though the hinge itself and inserting a pin into the main hinge pin. Although they are not standard on most houses, an outward opening door will withstand being kicked in to a greater degree.
Locks are the first line of defense for most homes and as such they should be effectively integrated into other security and protection systems. Locks should be carefully considered and seen as an investment. The better quality designs and strength of materials should be considered for upgrading your doors’ locks. A phone call to your local locksmith will most likely give you a good recommendation for what locks you need. A strict control of keys is imperative to controlling access. Having a hidden lockbox with your homes key will prevent you from losing them and having to replace all of your keys. Locks are by no means foolproof and should be considered a delaying device. Paired with a motion alarm that will alert you to any presence around the general vicinity of the lock will serve as an early warning system. This will give you those precious few seconds to implement your response plan. A serviceable motion sensor can be reasonably purchased at your local hard ware store and painted to match your environment. These can further be hidden in bird houses built around them.
Windows pose more of a security problem than doors given the material in which they are constructed. Most intruders try not to break glass due to the noise. However, depending on their intent, they may have no such inhabitations. There are screens that can be purchased to limit flying glass from a broken window. A simple way so secure a window is to drill a hole through the frame and insert a pin that can be removed in hurry if you need to open the window and escape. Although considered overkill by some, placing bars over windows will prevent unauthorized access. They must however have the ability to be opened from inside in case of fire or other emergency that requires you to exit. If possible and depending on your geographical location, keep enough material on hand to board up your windows in case of adverse weather or civil unrest.
Once we have done our physical security measures, it’s time to do some more planning. Sit the family down and go over some basic safety rules. First thing, children never answer the door. Adults do not open the door until identity and business has been verified. Any questions like, “Is your husband home?” by someone knocking on your door may just be the answer a home invader is looking for. We also need to develop a recall roster for adults of the house, workplace and emergency contact numbers. This should be kept by the phone. It’s also a good idea to develop a security alert plan. Each person will know where to go and what to do. For example, if the dog barks, perhaps mom looks after the children while dad investigates. This is something one needs to give much thought. Protection of one’s family comes before protecting property. It does your family no good if you are shot trying to keep a thug from stealing your lawnmower. Do not allow yourself to be drawn into fight over something that can be replaced. The exception to this is when you are protecting something that is vital to your family’s life and welfare. Items such as food and water should be stored in a secure location and away from unauthorized access. A good practice is to keep a few good caches around the property so no one can deprive you of all your preps. Something else to think about is creating a safe room or safe zone within your home. This could be just installing the same type doors as on the exterior of the house. One may get as creative with this as their wallet allows.
I have left firearms for the conclusion even though that is the first thing that most people think of when home security is discussed. A well placed handgun or shotgun should be part of your overall security plan. However, it should be the last resort instead of the first option. Proper weapons selection and rapid access to those weapons are vital. The market is full of bedside safes, holsters, and single long gun storage units. I strongly recommend keeping a small pouch with a spare magazine, flashlight and cell phone that can be draped around your neck before going out to investigate a noise or alarm. I personally keep a bulletproof plate carrier nearby that can be donned in seconds. This gives me a much greater chance of surviving an armed conflict in my home. Remember your first responsibility is to your family. Secure them first then deal with the threat. It is a good idea to look where the kids or other household members sleep in relation to where you are. Over penetration is a real danger and should be considered when selecting a firearm and ammunition. As with most things, it is the sum of the parts that makes the whole and home security is no different.
Chance Sanders is a former U.S. Marine marksmanship instructor and firearms and security specialist. He teaches survival skills in his native South Carolina.