January 13, 2024
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We’ve all heard the above olde English proverb at some point in our lives. These words are true enough, but only when societal tranquility and civility rule the day. In times of uncertainty, turmoil, or strife, however, this phrase rings empty without taking measures to back it up with preparation, training, and fieldcraft. Before a natural or man-made crisis strikes, there is one key decision you should dedicate a significant amount of critical thought to: Does it make more sense for you and your family to shelter in place, or evacuate to a location that is more advantageous to your safety and well-being? There is a litany of considerations when it comes to remaining at your primary residence. Among them are the ready availability of basic provisions (food, water, medicine) and the ability to store them, the ability to generate power and/or heat in the event of a grid failure, and perhaps the most difficult to assess: how defensible is your residence from those who may want to steal what is yours and do harm to you and your family. In that regard, planning is the key to success in providing a safe, secure environment for your family during a civil or national emergency.
Predicting every contingency you and your loved ones may potentially face should a crisis erupt is a daunting task. But plan you must, and the first step is to initiate a realistic assessment of the property and structures to be protected. Before we get into the meat and potatoes of physical security measures, it is important to first discuss an aspect of home security and risk management that may seem a bit off-topic, psychology. Remember the bullies you had to deal with back in grade school? I do. The first time I ever fought back whole-heartedly against my own personal Scut Farkus (Ralphie’s yellow-eyed, coon-skin cap wearing tormenter in A Christmas Story) I learned a valuable lesson. Bullies and their ilk generally prefer an easy target. This psychological phenomenon holds true when it comes to your home and property as well.
Put yourself in a bad guy’s shoes for a moment. You’re casing two homes identical in general structure and location. One has a well-kept driveway (perhaps even a gate), a tidy yard with little or few encroaching brush or shrubs to provide an opportunity for concealment, stout entryways (bonus points for metal security storm doors), and plenty of outdoor lighting. This home also has wireless cameras, a security system (with strategically placed windows stickers and yard placards) and a garnish of tasteful but “to the point” signs at the driveway entrance and other appropriate locations warning trespassers that you take “border security” seriously. The other home sports a shabby driveway, encroaching forests and fields, unkempt shrubbery, poor lighting, standard doors, and no visible cues illustrating the owner’s mindset in relation to home security. Appearance isn’t everything, but to a ne’er-do-well or scalawag looking for an easy hit, it definitely has an impact. While crisis situations may involve a different brand of ‘bad guy’ with motivations that may be more insidious than garden variety burglars, the basics are still in play. A bad guy’s initial observation of your home may provide the psychological impetus for them to move on to an easier mark and avoid you.
HOUSE #1: Sparse concealment during ingress and egress, stout doors providing limited ‘easy access’ points, security countermeasures and signs that are somewhat disconcerting, and an overall appearance that demonstrates House #1 may be a difficult target, and potentially dangerous as well.
HOUSE #2: A “soup sandwich.” Lacking in every physical security element and visual cue House #1 exudes with vigor. Everything about it screams pushover.
With “Hoodlum Psychology 101” out of the way, let’s start with the boundaries of your property and work our way in. Our friends who live “out yonder” in rural areas are often lucky enough to have a buffer-zone between their home and primary road. If this buffer-zone includes an intermediate to long driveway, they hit the jackpot. The prize for which is a head start on home security measures in contrast to those poor saps without driveways or sadly abbreviated ones. Even when a crisis or disaster hasn’t heightened your desire for security and domestic tranquility, a driveway presents you with a simple option that is not popular with scofflaws hoping for easy access to your property and residence, a gate!
Gates serve two purposes. First, they are psychologically definitive in their visual cues. Their mere physical appearance sends a message to those standing before them that continuing on will likely come with consequences. Their second and most obvious purpose is physical security. While most gates available to the average civilian can be breached, they leave the miscreant attempting to do so exposed and in the open. Again, bad guys generally seek out unsecured locations or victims who are not prepared. The term for this unenviable descriptor is “soft target.” If you don’t have a gate but are lucky enough to have cooperative terrain conducive to creating a bottleneck, a spare pickup truck or other vehicle jacked sideways works as a movable, yet solid substitute. From fancy hard-wired gates with key pad access and automated opening/closing capabilities to standard manually operated ones with a heavy duty, protected padlock; they all serve as a deterrent and first line of defense.
Before we motor on up the driveway to your house, there is one more relatively inexpensive, easy to install device you can accessorize the approach to your house with: driveway sensors. The most popular and easiest to install units utilize motions sensors and a base station (some models also utilize pressure sensors physically embedded in your drive). Some of these base stations and wireless transmitters are capable of operating efficiently even when separated by 3/4 of a mile. If you want simple, advance notification of interlopers closing on your position, this is a must-have device.
Whether you are prone to being dramatic and refer to it as your citadel, compound, or fortress … it will always be “home sweet home.” The more secure it is, the sweeter it gets. I’ve been in the “number one/number two” positions on my agency’s high-risk entry team during the past 23 years for the execution of well over a thousand warrants and arrests throughout the U.S. and Caribbean. From hardened masonry entryways with wrought iron doors to narrow, inward opening trailer-home doors buttressed with 2x6 planks, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every one of these fairly dangerous and difficult breaches. Here are some basic countermeasures I’ve learned during my travels, the hard way! Exterior Doors: The stouter, the better. Thankfully, if you have to work with what came with your home and it “ain’t all that,” your local home improvement stores sell some fairly serious security storm doors complete with wrought-iron and shatter-resistant glass.
Interior Doors: Stout is good, but if this isn’t possible, there are quite a few easy to install “jammers,” “blocks,” and security bars available that will confound a bad guy anticipating an easy door-kick.
Hallways and “Choke-Points”: In the event of an ongoing crisis or national emergency, there is no easier way to stall out a home-invasion than strategically placing furniture at the top of stairs, hallways, or just beyond entryways. In a clinch, these obstacles are extremely effective in slowing down intruders and placing them in a vulnerable position.
Bedrooms: Your inner sanctum. If you don’t have a stout door, purchase or design a buttressing device. Develop a defensive plan of your “castle keep” and conduct walk-throughs with your family. Failing to train-up and then attempting to act decisively under duress is a recipe for disaster. Your plan should involve the identification and implementation of cover from small-arms fire (heavy dressers, cabinets, safes, etc.). Finally, it is realistic to expect the employment of firearms in your home defense/security plan. In that regard, it is paramount your plan address crossfire possibilities and institute steps to minimize the potential for a friendly-fire tragedy.
If evildoers cross your threshold, don’t go on the offensive unless absolutely necessary. Avoid movement and unnecessarily exposing yourself. Allow their unfamiliarity with your home’s interior be your strength. Let them stomp and crash their way to you. Your strength is your familiarity with your environment. Utilize concealment and cover. There’s no shame in going prone, kneeling behind an over-stuffed chair, or assuming an aggressive firing position behind a full-size stuffed Kodiak bear. Play to win and remember, if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’. Securing your home and loved ones against human threats involves the almost certain employment of firearms, as well as knowledge of how to utilize cover, concealment, and tactical movement.
Human conflict is a grim subject, but training (for your entire family) is important. Whether you treat it like a game with the youngsters or “cosplay night” with your spouse or significant other, train you must. Do walk-throughs and even better, role-play the bad guys so you can anticipate what they may do to short-shrift your security measures. Remember this old cliché is a time-proven truism: “The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat.” Always have an evacuation plan. Keep your vehicle topped off with fuel, provisions, and supplemental weaponry. If you can park inside, do so and be ready to charge straight forward out of that garage like a Kentucky Derby champion amped up on a feedbag of espresso beans. Have pre-prepared backpacks with survival gear and provisions for everyone in your party and again … a plan. In the end, analysis, preparation and training can save the day when the forces of evil are afoot, so get busy with your risk management, maybe even have some fun, and stay safe out there!
This article was originally published in Be Ready! magazine. You can find an original copy at OSGnewsstand.com. If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.