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Monday, February 17, 2014

Security: It's Everyone's (!) Job, Part 2

Zone 2: The Home

In my first article on security, I talked about keeping yourself from being visibly female in a SHTF situation, and therefore becoming a target. In this second article, I'll be talking about security for the second area of direct responsibility: the home.

This area can be broken down into three sub-areas: the exterior, the structure, and a highly secure area of last resort like a master bedroom or tornado shelter. For this article and the next, I need to make it clear that my source is my fiancĂ© , who is a former Marine rifleman and who has served on embassy duty in Iraq and Brazil


1) Exterior


The first zone to consider, especially for those of you in rural or suburban areas, is the exterior. Now, this doesn't mean the walls, windows, and doors; it means the outside. Think of how close an intruder could get to your abode before you see him. How close before you hear him? If he does get close, how will you know?
  • If you have the luxury, clear out enough space on your land to give you good visibility, especially on likely avenues of approach
  • Those avenues which you can't see should be blocked or alarmed (with motion-activated lights, trip flares, or even tripwires with empty cans). 
  • Your landscaping can channel intruders toward where they can be seen or heard. Bougainvillea is an excellent example of a plant that grows thick and fast and can make an impenetrable wall, or a guide that pushes intruders where you want them; find a plant that grows well in your climate that does the same. 
  • Motion-activated lights or alarms around the outside of your house are a no-brainer.
Now, if you live in an apartment in the city, things are a little different. There's little you can do to modify the surrounding area. But you can still pay attention to the area and where threats are most likely to come from, or your escape routes. And if the S truly HTF, you'll have a little more latitude to modify your environment. 


2) Structure

Now, let's assume the bad guy does get to your house.  How hard is it for him to get in?
  • Do you routinely check doors and windows to make sure they're locked? 
  • Are they alarmed? 
  • Are the locks good ones? (Lock-picking isn't some ancient secret known only to the monks of the Letmein Temple in Tibet.) 
  • Are the doors and windows good ones? 
If you have money, of course, you can buy only the best of everything - all your windows are bulletproof, the walls have 1/2-inch AR500 steel plates embedded in them, and you're as safe as it gets in a house. The rest of us have to use a little ingenuity and common sense and do the parts that matter most and hope it's good enough:

  • Get good locks. 
  • Reinforce the door at weak points, like hinges and latches. (This is a good and affordable kit). 
  • Make sure the interior doors are good ones too, not hollow-core worthless things. 
  • Remember that if the door stops them, they might try the wall. 
  • Do what you can with what you have.

[A note on dogs. They count as both exterior and structure security, since they can let you know when someone's coming and also help stop them. Get a dog that's good for at least one of those.]


3) Secure Area

So, despite your best efforts, the bad guy(s) got in. And the dog is outside barking his head off, or shot, or cowering under the bed. Now you may want to clear your house, find the bad guy, and stop him yourself, but for most people in most situations I heartily recommend against it. Highly-trained and highly-skilled people who go bump in the night for a living know enough to know that clearing a structure against an armed opponent is one of the most dangerous things they do, and they work in teams; you'll be by yourself.

At this point you, your spouse, and your children should retreat to the most secure area you have. This might be your master bedroom, or it might be a tornado shelter.

  • It needs to have a phone in it to call the cops (if the phone system and the police force are still functional) or a radio to call your neighbor (you did go over contingency plans and mutual support arrangements with your neighbors, didn't you?).
  • It needs to have weapons and ammunition in it to stop that bad guy if you have to. 
  • It needs to have a place for your spouse and children to hide if, in that last moment, there's shooting. 
  • If it's someplace hidden, it needs to have at least a little food and water in case you're in there a while.

One final thing: the bad guys may decide to just barricade you into your own house or room. Once you've confirmed the coast is clear, take the axe or large crowbar you've placed into your safe room and start making yourself an escape route. A tool like this is a crucial prep for debris clearing in many situations: earthquake, tornado, or someone deciding to block you in - and it makes a great melee weapon should the need arise.


This series will conclude in Part 3 with Security for the Near Environment. 

The Fine Print


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