Your home is your castle, or so the old saying goes. What did kings use castles for in the days of yore? Although they were fantastic and often garish displays of wealth, their primary role was to create a defensible position to protect inhabitants from a siege. While you might not be defending your home from invading armies, it will end up being the place you retreat to in a dangerous situation.
Unfortunately, while most modern homes will keep out the average casual burglar, they’re not really designed to be defensible. How can you increase your home’s security in case we end up facing the end of the world as we know it? Here’s some thought.
1. Design Your Own Home
Considering moving? Why not build and do so with defensibly in mind? When modern architects design homes, they’re thinking about things like curb appeal and aesthetics. Whether or not you can use it to protect your family during the zombie apocalypse is the furthest thing from their minds. If you have the means to build your dream house, why not turn it into something that will also keep you safe during SHTF?
Contemporary home designs — which are often rectangular and made from concrete because it’s more energy-efficient than wood-frame and drywall — are a great place to start. In crisis scenarios, concrete homes aren’t just resistant to attack — they’re also fireproof or at least fire-resistant which could be a very important point during times of rioting. Plus, you can design your home with more defensible entryways and even secure ways to get in and out. Here’s a good video on generally fortifying your home for defense:
In the long run, you can turn nearly any property into a defensible apocalypse-proof home. However, it might be more cost-effective to start from the ground up instead of pouring thousands of dollars or more into an existing property.
2. Light Up the Darkness
When the sun goes down, darkness can be an ally or an adversary. It can hide you from prying eyes but it can also leave you vulnerable, providing cover for those that might do you harm. You’ve got a couple of options here, depending on the situation and exact details surrounding your personal apocalypse.
The first is to keep the area around your house lit at all times. Yes, it will let people know where you are, but it will also prevent them from sneaking up on you.
The other option is to install motion sensors that light up if someone gets too close to your home. This prevents you from being an obvious target and will alert you if someone is sneaking up on you. Consider powering both your lights and motion sensors with solar energy or other off-grid options. This will keep your home secure even if the local power fails.
[Editor’s note: they make decent battery-powered motion sensing lights that run off D-cell batteries. Of course, they’re not nearly as good as grid-tied lights, but certainly better than nothing.]
Bonus: Set Your Alarms
We’re not talking about your alarm clock here. Rather, there are plenty of other alarms that are crucial for your survival. Smoke alarms are a big one, so make sure they’re in working order and have a schedule to check them often. Another must-have is a carbon-monoxide detector, which should be on every level in your home.
Of course, you can get a security system that will have alarms go off if someone tries to enter your house, assuming the grid still functions or you have your own power generation setup. FYI, for everyday use, get a smart security system and you’ll have protection 24/7. Plus, it helps with insurance and can even save money on your energy bill.
3. Increase Window Security
Your windows might be great sources of natural light, but they’re also one of the most vulnerable parts of your home. Even if you’ve got a double-paned insulated window, all it takes is a well-placed rock to turn it into shards on the ground. You can replace your existing windows with security glass, but that can be expensive. If you’re not interested in breaking the bank, you do still have some options.
Security glass film can turn your existing windows into something a little bit safer. All you need to do is apply it to your window glass, and it will prevent your windows from falling to pieces when they break. It won’t prevent a determined criminal, but it will make the intruder’s job a little more difficult because they have to clear away the now broken glass inside the film. It also helps make your home safer during poor weather, preventing flying debris from making its way inside.
4. Use Landscaping to Your Advantage
Mother Nature has come up with some pretty nasty plants that can help improve your home security, both now and in a lengthy survival scenario. Use your landscaping to your advantage. Start growing things that have sharp thorns or harsh poisons in areas that might otherwise be vulnerable or be difficult to surveil.
Plant blackberries and gooseberries under your windows or along fences. In addition to creating a spiny hedge, you’ll have plenty of berries to enjoy during the picking season. If you’ve ever stumbled into a blackberry bush, you know how sharp those thorns can be. Plus, they can grow nearly anywhere, thrive on neglect and take over your yard if you let them. [Editor’s note: I can attest as to how pervasive and nasty blackberries can be living in the Pacific Northwest!]
Thorny vines like bougainvillea can grow up to 40 feet long, making them ideal for draping over your fences. They’re covered in thorns and their sap can cause painful rashes.
These are just a few possibilities. There are plenty of ways to make Mother Nature work for you when you’re trying to improve home security, including using foliage as cover, purposefully downing trees to block access to major roadways, and using hills as defensible positions.
5. Fencing is Essential
Don’t make it any easy for people to get to your home. Fencing is essential to keep the unwelcome away, but it’s not all created equal. Even short fences can deter some would-be burglars simply by making it more difficult to reach your property. However, if you’re looking to increase home security in a survival situation, taller fences will be the best option.
Keep in mind, don’t block lines of sight if you’re going for tall options. Chain link and wrought iron fencing are both good choices that can keep your home safe without impeding your ability to see what’s going on outside of your perimeter. Either way, your fence should completely surround your property or, at the very least, cover crucial areas of egress. Of course, leaving gaps just makes you more vulnerable if someone should choose to attack your home. Add some concertina wire and most people won’t bother with scaling them.
If you’re worried about getting in and out quickly, consider installing a couple of security gates tied to an off-grid power source. You can set these to open and close automatically, giving you the freedom to move in and out of your property without leaving your home vulnerable.
6. Reinforce Doors and Entryways
Doorframes are typically made of relatively lightweight wood, and door handle kickplates are installed with half-inch screws that don’t even reach the nearest stud. Don’t make it easy for anyone to force their way into your home. If replacing the door frame isn’t an option, swap out those kickplate screws with longer ones that are at least 3 inches long.
Another suggestion is to upgrade your door to something a little more heavy-duty. Steel or solid hardwood versions might be heavier and harder to hang, but they’re going to withstand an assault better than the standard hollow-core doors that are popular in modern homes. Here’s the idea in action:
7. Arm Yourself
This should be common sense, but when it comes to improving home security, one of the best things you can do is to arm yourself. This is one of those questions where you can ask ten different people what the best weapon is and get ten different answers. The exact guns you choose are up to you, though most people agree that having a 12-gauge shotgun around is going to be one of your best choices for home defense.
Whatever weapons you choose to arm yourself, there is one thing you need to remember: practice makes perfect. Buying a rifle, shotgun or handgun is useless if you don’t know how to use it. Take a gun safety class. Enroll in a concealed carry course, even if you do not intend to bring your weapon in public. Make regular trips to the range and practice. Knowing the ins and outs of your guns could save your life. Make sure you store it in a safe, and one that is made specifically for storing firearms. You don’t want the wrong hands gaining access to it.
Here’s a few more considerations we all should know as preppers, but sometimes forget.
Gather Necessary Supplies
In an SHTF scenario, having plenty of supplies isn’t just going to keep you healthy in a survival situation. It will also mean you don’t have to leave the house to scavenge for food, water or for other things you might need until things start to go back to normal.
Start building your supply cache as soon as possible. Make sure you have food you can rotate into your normal pantry to keep them from spoiling. In general, you’ll want to have everything on hand that you’ll need to survive for long periods–even months–to outlast the chaos.
Focus on things like food, water, hygiene supplies, medicine, batteries and ammo to keep you safe. Collect everything you use on a daily basis under the assumption that if things go south, you won’t be able to make a trip to the store.
Keep It to Yourself
When you’re fortifying your home and preparing for the end of the world as we know it, there is one important rule to remember: keep quiet! No one, beyond your immediate family and your survival group, needs to know what kind of precautions you’re taking or the supplies you have on hand. Bragging about your attack-proof house or your supply of food is only going to make you a target.
Be Ready for Anything
If you’re ready for anything, nothing can surprise you. This is the rule that you should live by when you’re preparing for any sort of survival situation. When it comes down to it, we can never predict what might happen. Global pandemic. Civil unrest. Nuclear war. World-ending asteroid. Zombie apocalypse. Alien invasion. Yellowstone supervolcano eruption. The possibilities are nearly limitless, and each of them is equally terrifying.
That’s why it’s so important to be prepared for anything and everything On the small scale, you only need to worry about things like food, water, security and protection. Start getting ready today, because tomorrow the world could end.
It’s like the story of the ants and the grasshopper. The ants spend the summer collecting food for the winter while the grasshopper plays. When winter comes, the grasshopper dies while the ants survive. Don’t be the grasshopper. Taking the right precautions will ensure you’ll end up on top.
[Note: This was a guest post.]