Statistically speaking, this is the safest time in history to be alive, but that doesn’t mean bad things don’t happen all the time. Our home is where all our belongings are, where our family is, and where we should feel the safest. Because of this, home security and home defense tactics should be a top priority, but are often overlooked.
It’s human nature to become complacent when nothing happens. This is why preppers tend to get a bad rap. We look at possible disaster scenarios and plan for them, regardless how likely or unlikely they are. Because our home is our sanctuary, defending it (and everything in it) should be a top priority.
If someone want’s to get into your home badly enough, they probably will. But there are some things we can do make that harder, and possibly deter a home invasion in the first place. We also need to consider what to do if and when they gain access to our home.
Expectation of Privacy Zones
Before we begin to think about home defense tactics and home security, we need to think about what we can, and can’t do. Because the most frequent visitor to our homes is the FedEx driver these days, it’s not feasible to fortify our property like a military base.
No Expectation of Privacy: In public areas like roads and sidewalks there isn’t much we can do about who travels those paths. We can however monitor those areas and set up deterrents to incentivize people to stay in that public area, and off our property.
Limited Expectation of Privacy: A driveway is an area of your property that you would have a limited expectation of privacy. We need to make these areas somewhat available for visitors and deliveries. These should be the only areas of our property that unexpected guests have access to.
Complete Expectation of Privacy: Our front yards, back yards and our home are areas where we have an expectation of complete privacy. This means that unless they were invited, they are trespassing on our property when they enter these zones.
Home Invasion Deterrents
Before I get into the three areas of your property to cover when thinking about home defense tactics, I want to go over deterrents first. Deterrents go hand in hand with perimeter and property security.
Deterrents are a great way of solving a problem before it becomes one. Criminals are opportunists and are looking for an easy score. The more your home looks like a challenge, the more likely they are to move on.
Dogs For Home Defense
Having a dog is like having a low cost security guard, all you have to do is feed it. Obviously, the larger the dog, the bigger the deterrent, but even small dogs can be effective.
If you don’t own a dog, you can still make it look like you do. Having a dog house, dog bones in the yard, or a dog chain can be a good home defense tactic. Keep in mind, this is a bluff if you don’t actually have a dog.
As criminals of anyone wanting to enter your property case your home, they are looking for signals about how easy of a target it will be.
Signs like “beware of dog”, “gun owner inside” or “Smile, Your on Camera” can make them think twice about your home. Just like dogs, it’s more effective to have these things if you have the signs.
Having your perimeter blocked off is more of a mental barrier for people. Fencing is a visible barrier that tells people “if you cross this line you are trespassing”.
If someone want’s on your property or in your home bad enough, a fence isn’t going to stop them. With that being said, some fences are more effective than others, it all depends on how far you want to take it.
Diveway & Yard Gates
Having a driveway gate is a great way to completely separate the public or semi public areas from the private areas. As I stated above, semi public areas are the part of your property that you have a limited expectation of privacy.
A driveway gate can be open during the day for deliveries, and closed at night for security. A gate to your yard can keep people in that semi public area, while allowing access when and if it’s needed.
Bushes & Shrubs
The addition of bushes and shrubs to your homes perimeter can make your existing fence line even more effective. This adds an extra challenge for the intruder, causing them to think twice about using that as their entry point.
Plants and shrubs that grow spikes are especially effective in preventing a home invasion. If a burglar jumped a fence and landed on one of these plants, they would get a major attitude adjustment.
Motion Sensors & Lights
Installing motion sensors and motion triggered lights are a vary effective deterrent. As I stated earlier, criminals are opportunists and love the cover of dark.
While a motion sensor isn’t necessarily a deterrent (unless it’s audible to them) it is an early warning system. It will give you more time to react when someone breaches your perimeter.
Security cameras offer a few benefits when it come to home defense. They are a deterrent, they are an early warning system, and they can record the perpetrator and their actions.
Having a complete home security system can get pretty expensive, but these days there are a bunch of low cost options for home security cameras. We installed a Ring doorbell camera for around $100 mainly for the deterrent factor.
There are also dummy cameras you can install, but they come with a risk. Just like having a “beware of dog” sign and not having a dog, if the intruder decides to risk it, there’s not much you can do.
Home Defense Security Zones
As you are putting together your home security plan and thinking about home defense tactics, break it down into three categories. These are perimeter security, property security and home security.
The perimeter of your property is your first level of defense. The whole point of having good perimeter security is to deter an intruder, and the need for further home defense tactics.
Once someone breaches your perimeter it becomes more about defending your property. Make sure these areas are wide open as possible, leaving few concealment options for intruders. This means no picket fences around gardens and no large bushes.
It’s also a good idea to get to know the neighbors because they can alert you when someone enters your property as well. This area also includes the exterior of your home which I will go into more detail about in the next section.
The third zone is the house itself and is the most critical zone. After all, this is the target for the intruder right? This is where you will spend most of your time and energy because everything you are protecting is inside your home.
The Main Points of Entry
When it comes to securing your actual home from intruders, there are only 2 areas than need attention, doors and windows. The average home has around 10 windows, 3 doors and a garage door.
Securing Your Front and Back Doors
Your front door is the main point of entry and should be your first priority. However, because back doors are less secure, intruders tend to use them as an point of entry. Here are a few things you should consider for front and rear door security.
- At the very least you should replace the short screws that fasten the door frame to the home with 3.5″ screws.
- Make sure you have quality deadbolt lock installed on both the front and back doors.
- Your exterior doors should be made of metal or solid wood (they usually are anyway) and have no windows, or a very small one.
- Armor Concepts makes a door security to the next level with their Door Armor Kits. Watch the video below to see the one I just installed.
Securing Sliding Glass Doors
Reinforcing a sliding glass door is a little tricky because it’s basically a big window. I’ll go into more later about windows, but as far as the door goes there are a few things we can do.
- Most sliding glass doors come with a simple latch. Install a security lock on your glass door to deter intruders.
- Use a security bar on the door at night. This could be a 2X4 or an adjustable door jammer like this one.
- Install curtains or blinds to obstruct the view inside the home.
- Install a glass break & vibration detector to the door. This will not prevent an intrusion, but it will alert you.
- Cover the door windows with security film (more on this below).
Securing Garage Doors
It’s fairly difficult to get into a garage if your garage door is attached to an electronic door opener, but not impossible. Another benefit of a garage door is that it’s 1 of 2 doors an intruder needs to breach to get into the home.
The door from your garage into your home should be treated the same as a front and back door. I plan on installing a Door Armor kit on my garage entry door in the near future.
If you have a garage door that opens manually, make sure and check the locking mechanism and replace if necessary.
Dog Doors Security
Not everyone has a dog door, but for those who do it’s a bit of a double edged sword. We have one, and while I suppose someone could crawl into the house through it, it is useful for home defense.
I want the dogs to have unlimited access to the back yard. If someone is trying to gain access to our home via the back yard, our dogs will be out there to greet them shortly.
At night, or when the dog door is closed you can add a motion/vibration sensor (linked to above) or a heavy piece of furniture in front of it.
Home Defense for Windows
One of the biggest challenges we face when thinking about home defense tactics is windows. These are easily the most vulnerable potential entry points for an intruder.
With that being said, there are a few things we can and should do to make things a little harder for anyone trying to break into our home.
- The first step is making sure we have quality locks installed on our windows. An intruder will attempt to open a window silently before breaking the glass.
- Installing security film on all windows that could be access points is a great idea. This wont stop an intruder hell bent on getting into your home, but it will stop the glass from shattering, and make it much harder for them.
- Most windows come with the typical nylon screens. You can replace those screens with stronger metal screens. Again, this won’t stop them, but all these security measures may make them rethink their plans.
- Motion sensors and window alarms are also a good deterrent. Imagine what an intruder would do if they were messing with your window and an alarm went off. First they would crap themselves, and then they would be off in a flash.
- Make sure all of your windows have blinds or curtains installed (and used). Criminals want to look inside and see if if breaking into your home is worth it.
Home Defense Tactics
If everything you’ve done up to this point has failed, that means the intruder (or intruders) is hell bent on getting inside your home. This could also mean they know you are not home, and will meet no resistance.
If you are at home, your home defense tactics at this point become more about self defense rather than determent. This doesn’t necessarily mean confronting the intruder, it means surviving the situation.
Escape Plan & Meeting Places
Depending on the situation, your best option may be getting out and getting help. None of us want to leave everything we own behind, but nothing is more important than our family.
Everyone in the home should have a clear understanding of escape routes in the event of a home invasion. This means everyone understands that if someone comes in here, we go here. Or if someone comes in there, we go here.
It’s likely that the family could become separated in a situation like this, so it’s important to have a place where everyone will meet. This could be a neighbors house, a public building, or anywhere help might be available.
Safe Rooms & Hiding Spaces
When we think about “safe rooms” we tend to think about 8″ concrete walls and a blast door. While this would be awesome! It’s not feasible for most people.
A more feasible solution would be a room that is reinforced. In the podcast I talked about how I use my basement as a “safe room” of sorts. It has a window that serves as an escape route, and has a solid wood door. I also plan on adding a Door Armor kit to this door as well.
It’s also important to have the necessary self defense supplies in this room if escape isn’t possible. In most cases an intruder will take what they want and leave, but in some cases you may need to defend yourself and your family.
As you talk with your family about escape routes, discuss some areas in the home that could be used for hiding spots, and the difference between concealment and cover.
(If it can’t stop a bullet, it’s not considered cover)
Self Defense Tactics
In the event that escape isn’t possible, you may need to defend yourself and your family. While this doesn’t always involve lethal force, we need to address that possibility.
When it comes to firearms (or any weapon for that matter) we need to check our local laws about defending ourselves in our homes. In some states it’s basically illegal to defend yourself in your own home. Sad but true.
Firearms for Home Security
Firearms are the most effective option, but should only be used when absolutely necessary. They can also be a good deterrent, but be prepared to fire if necessary.
This may go without saying, but if you don’t have the proper training or experience with firearms, you have no business owning one. The last thing you want to do is shoot a family member coming home late, or your weapon getting into the intruders hands.
Shooting at paper targets at the range is far different than clearing a room in a stressful situation. There are classes offered everywhere, so do yourself a favor and take one if necessary.
Your firearm should also be stored in a safe place where only you have access to it. This means either in your hands, or in your safe. Firearms accidents happen all the time, but rarely do they happen to people who follow the correct procedures.
Less Than Lethal Weapons
Some people choose not to own firearms, and some situations don’t call for lethal force. In these situations there are quite a few options available. Some wouldn’t even be considered a weapon until the need arises.
There are far too many less than lethal self defense weapons to list here, but these include pepper spray, stun guns, pepper ball guns, kitchen knives, baseball bats etc.
It may be a good idea to store some of these less than lethal weapons strategically place around the house. That is of course, you feel comfortable that someone in the family isn’t going to do something stupid. If you have teenagers or young children, you may want to think twice about this.
The most obvious place would be a baseball bat right next to the front door. If you’ve planned your escape routes, you could place weapons under tables, under/in furniture or anywhere that may surprise your attacker.
Self Defense Skills
Another option is self defense skills like MMA, Jujitsu, or martial arts in general. There are also some basic self defense skills that don’t require years of training.
In a past podcast we did with Sara Hathaway, we went over self defense tactics and physical fitness. Sara has years of training and offered up some great advice.
The Cover of Night
Another good idea that a lot of people don’t incorporate is keeping a light on in the house at night so you can see. This will not only alert you (and them) of their presence, but more importantly, you can see what your aiming at.
We keep a small kitchen light on, and also have a few strategically placed motion activated outlet lights plugged in around the house. as a bonus, teenagers really have these.
Practice, Practice, Practice…
Before I get done here I want to reiterate how important practice is. practice your escape routes, practice your plans and procedures, and practice with your weapons. After you do that, go ahead and practice some more.