When criminals want into your house, they will get in if they are committed enough. The best you can hope for is to delay their entry. If you can delay their entry long enough, they may lose their commitment to enter or you can be better prepared to use lethal force if needed to protect your family.
This article is the first posting of a series that will deal with home security during grid-down. I will be providing some thoughts and suggestions to you regarding the security of your home and your family. I am no expert in home security by any stretch of the imagination. However, I have provided personal security to a few folks over the years. If you are LDS, then you would instantly recognize a couple of those twelve special people. I have coordinated event security in a number of venues and never had a breach. So, I will just go about this using common sense, my personal experience, and some expert’s advice I picked up along the way from very knowledgeable people.
These articles will tie directly into my “Layers” philosophy in case you are interested, specifically protecting yourself from the threat of violence.
OK, back to strengthening your door…
Step #1 –
The first thing I feel you need to do is to keep the “bad guys” away from your door.
If they can’t reach your door, they can’t breach your door.
Here are some passive preventatives –
- Have a a fence around your yard, the bigger, taller, and more intimidating the better. When the SHTF put some barbed wire inside the fence but secured to the fence with wire. This is known as “tangle foot.” It won’t stop people but might deter them. If it doesn’t deter them, then it will slow them down. So buy a roll or two of barbed wire from your local hardware or farm supply store and keep it in your shed until needed. It is fairly inexpensive and a great add-on after the grid goes down. If someone jumps your fence they instantly become entangled in the barbed wire.
- Have a dog that barks real loud when someone approaches your house. They don’t have to be particularly mean, just as loud as possible. Your dog sees your home as part of their domain. And as a dog they realize that their ranking in the pack requires them to act as a warning system for the rest of the pack. Dogs are really great at that. No bad guy wants their victims warned in advance of their presence. And most folks don’t want to deal with a 100lbs of snarling teeth.
- Driveway alarms will help announce that someone is approaching the house. Same thing can be done on the sidewalk that approaches the front porch. Along with the audible alert there must be a protocol of action that the family uses. Its one thing to be alerted, it’s a whole other thing as to what is done about it. You can also place these devices inside the fence line so when a bad guy jumps or cuts through a fence he trips an alarm.
- If you have a garager, don’t leave the door open. That may be a little challenging to some family’s lifestyle. They may like having it open to make it easy to get and out during the day. They may also like the “openness” and “inviting” feeling it projects to the neighbors…your family is approachable. That is all fine and well, but it projects the same messages to bad guys. And when you are living grid-down…you are should be worried about being inviting or approachable.
- If you have an alarm system, great! Post signs that you have an alarm system. The meaner looking the sign, the better. If you don’t have an alarm system put up the signs anyways. It might make the lesser committed bad guys walk on to the next house.
- Go to Lowes or Home Depot and purchase a couple of the non-functional outdoor video cameras. They are small and inexpensive but make it look as if the house is under video surveillance. Better yet, if you can afford it, get an actual high-definition video system to record what is happening around your house. Even better yet if you can view what is happening in real-time on your computer and/or cell phone.
- Consider putting up a fence or courtyard type wall around the front of your house in proximity of your front door. While it won’t prevent people from reaching the door, it can aid in slowing them down.
- Install motion sensitive high-intensity LED lights in the immediate vicinity to your door…facing outward. If someone approaches at night the lights will automatically kick on. Criminals don’t like light. One added benefit is ruining night vision. If they are not wearing night vision devices the high-intensity light will greatly reduce their ability to see well in the dark by ruining their night vision. If they are using actual night vision devices the sudden bright light will washout their night vision devices ruining that advantage.
Step #2 –
In the information above I provided some suggestions on slowing people down or dissuading them from approaching your front door. Now, we assume they have reached your front door. At this point they want to get in, your job is to once again is to slow them down. Remember, if they want in and they are committed to doing so, they will get in. What you are trying to do is to challenge that commitment. And by challenging their commitment you are forcing them to decide on what price they are willing to pay to get through that door. Low-level creeps will not want to pay too high of a price. Professional criminals will pay a somewhat higher price in terms of time and skill requirements. The hardcore insane or hardcore criminal, especially organized crime family members, are willing to pay almost any price, including losing their life, to gain entry. It is now your job to decide how far you are willing to go.
This is your home, your family, and your responsibility…How committed are you to protecting your family?
Here are some suggestions –
- LOCK THE DOOR(S) AND KEEP IT LOCKED!! As silly as this sounds, you would be surprised how many doors are left unlocked. As a firefighter we were trained in a dozen different ways to force open a door. But, we trained to always first try to simply turn the knob before forcing a door open. Establish a family policy on keeping the doors locked, especially the front door.
- Don’t open the door to answer it. Yup, keep the door closed when answering it. OK, if you know the person really well then it is your call. But leave that door shut when answering the door. Have a peephole or a window you can look out and see who it is. And remember, peepholes have a whole lot of blind spots. I don’t like peepholes…too restrictive in seeing what is going on.
- If you have a wood door, replace it with a high quality steel clad door.
- If you have windows in your door, replace your door with one that doesn’t have any windows. Or, make sure the window is too small for a person to climb through…including a small child. Or, ensure that the windows are resistant to breakage. One way to make windows virtually impenetrable is to apply hurricane/security film to the windows. The stuff is amazingly strong and will go a long ways towards keeping the bad guys out.
- There are two weak points to a door; 1) door sets, and 2) hinges. The weakest of these is the door set (a.k.a. handle & lock).
To strengthen the lock-set I would suggest –
- Add a deadbolt to the regular door latch. The deeper the deadbolt goes into the door frame the more strength it will have against breaching by kicking or with a weight. Same would be true if someone was trying to pry open the door with a tool such as a Haligan.
- Along with adding a deadbolt I suggest you strengthen the door frame that the deadbolt and latch are secured with. There are a number of ways to do that. First, you can use 3-1/2” – 4” long screws to secure the strike plate to the door frame. And additional 3-1/2” – 4” screws inserted through the door frame every 6” apart to secure the door frame to the framing studs.
- There are also commercial products on the market that are essentially long metal plates that are secured to the door frame to help prevent the door frame from splintering when force (kicking or mechanical) is applied.
- There are also products that can be attached to the door itself around the lockset and deadbolt to keep the door from splintering and failing.
To strengthen the hinges I would suggest –
- Ensure that your steel entry door has three hinges at a minimum.
- Replace the short screws in your hinges with 3” screws to more securely attach those hinges to the door frame studs.
- Add a commercial product to the door frame that runs the length of the hinge area of your door frame.
- A trained criminal trying to enter your home may understand that hinges are the second weakest point. They may come prepared to use a shotgun and place three shots in the vicinity of each hinge to blow away enough door and frame material to weaken the structure enough that it is easy to breach the door. You, or a handyman, can easily add two additional hinges in between the existing hinges for significant additional strength.
So we’ve touched on how to strengthen your door. In the next post I will go into some really serious ways to strengthen that door of yours!
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