So you want to set up a home defense system to prevent intruders from getting in, and to keep you safe in case they do? There is a lot of great advice about home defense available online, but you’ve got to bear in mind that each home is different, and what works for one home might not be the best solution for another. If you can afford it, I’d recommend hiring a security expert to audit your home and come up with a customized plan. If you are going to take the DIY approach to home defense, then you will need to devise your plan with these important home defense points in mind.
1. Plan AND Practice
Everyone needs to have a plan about what to do if a home invasion occurs. But a plan isn’t going to do you jack if you don’t PRACTICE YOUR PLAN.
Have you ever heard a bump in the night and thought it was an intruder? Your adrenaline levels immediately surged, your heart rate increased, and you feel an intense rush. That is how you felt when you thought an intruder might be in your home. Imagine how you’d feel if you knew for certain that an intruder was trying to get in or had already breached your home.
Unfortunately, many of us do stupid things when we get scared. One is to freeze up. Another is to start shooting (which could accidentally kill a family member or give away your location to the intruder). Yet another is to attack the intruder when you should have hid.
The best way to make sure you will react properly to a home invasion is to practice your plan.
Don’t just practice it once or twice. Run drills multiple times, representing various scenarios. And get the entire family involved in the drills – especially if you have children!
2. Know Your Weak Points
If an intruder really wants to get into your home, he is going to be able to do it. But intruders are always going to aim for the weak points. A weak point isn’t always obvious. Some of the things which make a point “weak” are:
- Easy to access (such as a front door or first-floor window)
- Are hidden from view (such as backdoor)
- Are easy to breach (such as a door without a deadbolt)
- Would allow them to remain undetected upon entry (such as a basement or dark room)
Try to think like a criminal and determine how you would break into your home. Once you’ve identified the weak points, you can set about fortifying them.
3. Perimeters and Barriers
A lot of people use the terms “perimeter” and “barrier” interchangeably when talking about home defense, but they are actually two very different – yet related – concepts.
Perimeters are distinctive areas outside and inside your home.
Barriers are obstructions that you put up on perimeters to deter intruders from entering.
The most important thing to realize here is that you have multiple perimeters to your home. The obvious one would be your yard or property line. Another perimeter is the property itself. Any geographical feature, like a pond or trees, could also create a perimeter. The house walls are another perimeter. And there are even more perimeters inside your home too.
At the very least, you need a 4-tier system for perimeters and barriers:
- Outer Perimeter: For houses, this would be your property line. If you have it in the budget, you want to build a big wall or fence on this perimeter – preferably topped with spikes or other sharp objects.
- Inner Perimeter: This is the space between your outer perimeter and your home. KEEP THE INNER PERIMETER CLEAR! You don’t want to have lots of trees or foliage that intruders could use for cover and sneak up on your home.
- Home Perimeter: The walls of your home act as another perimeter, and they have weak points which can be fortified.
- Safe Room: You must have a final perimeter inside your home, and that is for your safe room. You must be able to secure your safe room from within so it cannot be breached easily.
With apartments, the perimeters are going to look a lot different. The outer perimeter might be the actual building, whereas the home perimeter would be your door. But there might be other perimeters unique to your situation. Likewise, homes can have many more perimeters – such as if you have a big wall surrounding your property as well as an inner defensive structure.
4. Vantage Points
You should always be able to see all of the perimeters of your home clearly, so you can know whether any of them have been breached or are in the process of getting breached.
Ideally, your home would be situated on top of a hill with at least 50 yards of clear space around it (no trees or foliage to give intruders cover). But most people aren’t that lucky.
To make sure you have a good vantage point, keep your landscaping trimmed so no intruders can hide in it. Also be sure you don’t have any landscaping near the home so intruders could hide in it while scoping out your home.
Set up security cameras for any points you cannot see. For example, if you’ve got a defensive wall surrounding your home, then you will need a camera so you can see what is happening on the other side of that wall.
5. Defense Tools and Gear
Home defense gear isn’t all about guns and ammo! Foremost, it is all about making sure your gear is accessible when you need it.
The Well Armed Woman has a good article about where to store your gun for defense. If you have children at home and plan on using a gun as your home defense weapon, then I highly recommend investing in a biometric gun safe for your nightstand while you sleep.
But a gun doesn’t have to be your home defense weapon. A baseball bat will do the trick in many situations (and save you a lawsuit when you kill or injure the intruder). There are also other cool home defense weapons, like pepper spray foggers which work on trip wires.
In addition to your weapon, you are going to need:
- Cell phone (in case the landline is cut or you cannot reach it)
- Flashlight (don’t turn the lights on and give away your position; use a flashlight to pie the corner)
- First aid kit
Have all of this defense gear readily accessible, and accessible in your safe room. It is also good advice to keep a cell phone charged and stored in your safe room in case you can’t grab yours in time when rushing to the safe room.