It was a warm summer evening in Brooklyn, NY, and I was out with my finance friends talking about the future of BitCoin (right after the first bust).
When I got home, I proceeded to open the door and realized something strange. It appeared that my door was barricaded shut.
I went around the back and saw one of the windows opened. It was at that moment that I realized what had happened. My apartment was burglarized.
Yes, me, the founder of Ready To Go Survival, came home to experience the aftermath of a break-in. Shocking right?
After taking a moment to internalize how much this sucks, I sprung into action and began to investigate.
Although I felt like my home was secure, I was missing a few basic preparations that could have saved me from this experience.
It is common for preppers to focus mostly on storing away food, water, and supplies. Of course, these things are critical, but they are not the only aspect of prepping. Simply put, if intruders can easily get into your home, you will lose everything you stored away in an instant.
So, the best thing to do is keep people out.
There are different aspects to DIY home security that you need to consider. And the very first one is to try to avoid the need to defend. Take a look…
#1 – The Grey House
You have heard the expression the “grey man.” This is the person who blends in. There is nothing obvious about this person, no reason they should stand out in a crowd. There is no reason to think this person has anything of value.
You want to make your home a “grey house.” You want to avoid being obvious or appearing as though you have anything other people would want or need to survive. Why? Because the first line of defense in DIY home security is to avoid attracting attention.
First things first. DO NOT let anyone know you are prepared! Not your neighbors, your best friend down the street, your kid’s teacher, or the neighborhood grocer.
Only your immediate family members and anyone who is in your prepping group should know. Otherwise, you will have a whole lot of unwanted guests show up at your door at the first sign of trouble.
Even if you are prepared and stocked up, you have to act as though you aren’t. To accomplish this appearance of being as desperate as everyone else, act like everyone else. Ask questions. Talk to people. Look like you are hungry and running out of food. Check the grocery store to see if it’s open.
Even though these aren’t really issues for you, it will look like they are. Otherwise, people will wonder why you aren’t looking for help like everyone else is.
In a SHTF scenario, you also need to conceal your “good fortune.” If you have lighting of any kind, you will need black garbage bags and some duct tape to cover the windows at night. That makes it so people can’t see the light from the outside. These bags are also great in case you need to seal the house against airborne agents, such as a biological pathogen or other pollutants.
You also need to consider cooking smells and trash as you go through your supply of food and water. Keep cooking during waking hours to a minimum so odors don’t attract hungry people. And make sure you don’t throw your garbage out where people can see the empty cans and food packages.
Conceal, conceal, conceal!
#2 – Keep People at Bay
The next step when it comes to protecting your home is to not let people come near it. If they do come onto your property, you need to guide them to where you want them to go. This part of DIY home security is about preparing the outside of your property. Here are some things you can do:
Ensure You Have Good Visibility and Warning
First and foremost, you must have good visibility. You need to be able to see who is around your property at all times. There are many ways to accomplish this in DIY home security. First, make sure you remove all ground cover. This way, it will be more difficult for people to sneak onto your property.
Install motion sensor lighting all around your property. This lighting should be installed to remove any blind spots that are present when the sun goes down.
You should also install a security system around your property if you can afford to do so. A good security company will be able to install cameras and sensors. These will provide automatic alerts if there is an intruder.
Sensors and alarms will help ensure you know what is happening on your property at all times. They will ensure no one sneaks up on you. Here are some useful alarms to have:
1 – Window opening alarms such as the GE Personal Security Window/Door Alarm.DIY Hom
2 – Doberman Security SE-0106 Window Alarm
3 – .22 Cal Trip Wire Alarm.
4 – The RoboCopp 130dB SOS Personal Alarm
It is also important to note that there are now smart security cameras and systems. These are Internet of Things devices that can connect to the cloud and can be controlled via your mobile phone. Provided the power and Internet are still up and running, you can keep your home secure, even when you’re not there.
And remember, even if you have very little financial means or don’t own your home, you can find ways to set up intruder warning systems. For example, keep a container of broken glass near your door. You can spread this on your walkway and steps and the noise of people walking on it will act as a warning.
#3 – Deter People
You want to deter people from venturing onto your property. Surround the perimeter of your property with a fence, hedge, rock wall, or some other type of barrier to keep people out.
Get a guard dog. This is a great deterrent, at least if it’s a large, intimidating, well-trained dog. However, if you have a dog, then you need to put up a sign indicating you have one. This is required to legally cover your behind in case someone gets bit.
If you really can’t afford security cameras for DIY home security, then install dummy cameras. They are cheap and look enough like the real thing to act as a deterrent.
Know the Signs
People won’t risk walking into an infected or gang-ridden home unless they are incredibly desperate.
By knowing the signs and symbols that gangs, thieves, and homeless people use, you can spot if your house is being scoped out, or fake the signs to scare people away from investigating.
Aside from these physical deterrents, there are other psychological deterrents you can use to keep people away, such as:
- If there is a pandemic, you can put a couple of stuffed hazardous waste bags on your front step.
- You can spray paint a red/orange X on your door to help convince people to stay away. Rescuers and federal agents use this system to communicate.
Burglars often stake out houses and flats before breaking and entering. They leave chalk marks next to the entrance to the building. Learn how to interpret these markings and don’t forget to wipe them off.
As a diversionary tactic, you can use spray paint to paint gang symbols on your house. Be careful though, if the gang symbol used is a prevalent gang in the area, other gagsters belonging to the group might consider your home a safe haven. It’s a good idea to get to know what gangs operate in your area as they’ll definitely become more of a threat during an interruption of law enforcement.
#4 – Ensure People Go Where You Want Them To
Naturally, there will be people that will come onto your property. The mail carrier, the newspaper carrier, the guy who reads your meter, and the neighbor who wants to borrow your lawnmower. When people do walk onto your property, it is up to you to control where they go.
The way to control where people travel on your property is to lay out paths. You can line these paths with thick bushes, such as rose or raspberry bushes. These prickly bushes are also ideal when placed below ground-floor windows.
Place gardens, ponds, rock walls, bushes, and anything else you can think of throughout your property. Basically, don’t give visitors options. You want them to go from the sidewalk or driveway to your front door. Period.
#5 – Create Areas of Cover
Now, I know I said above that you need to clear all ground cover so you can see your entire property. The cover I’m talking about here is cover for you.
There might be times when you want to move around your property unseen. Maybe you want a concealed route between your house and garage. Maybe you want a lookout so you can watch for any suspicious or unwanted activity.
The key is that you are the one planning the layout of your property. You can make it so you have concealed areas for you and your family without compromising safety. Just ensure the areas are known to the members of your family and not visible to visitors.
#6 – Fortify
When people make it to your front door, they can get inside if they really want to. However, you can slow this process considerably, and possibly avoid it in some cases, by fortifying the structure of your home.
Key entry points in your home are windows and doors. The windows are the most vulnerable. For this reason, make sure you have the following on every window of your home:
- A strong lock
- Steel bars installed on the interior of the window
- Plexiglass instead of regular glass
- A piece of plywood on standby to cover the window (alternatives include cinder blocks or sandbags)
Just be sure to maintain your ability to see out the windows with a good line of site.
When it comes to the exterior doors, you can do the following:
- Replace all the doors with solid wood or steel doors
- Install high-quality deadbolt locks
- Ensure the door frames are made of steel or have steel supports for the door
- Ensure all door hardware is a minimum of 3 inches long
- Install a steel bar on the inside that can be closed if needed
A great product that helps secure your doors is called the Door Sentinel. It comes with all the hardware to reinforce your exterior door so it will be much more difficult to break into.
#7 – Use Force and Escape
Once intruders are inside your home, your defenses have failed and it’s time to resort to more extreme measures. No DIY home security system is complete without a few force multipliers, and an escape route.
Self-defense & Weapons
It is wise to keep weapons on hand in your home. You need to be careful with this. How you react to intruders will depend on the severity of the situation and whether there is still basic rule of law and law enforcement available. Here is a list of potential weapons:
- Gun and ammunition
- Combat blade
- Throwing knives
- Stun gun or baton
- Pepper spray
Ideally, you are trained in the use of a firearm and have your license. And ideally, you have a firearm and a combat blade in every room of your home. If you do not feel safe storing a loaded gun, then buy a gun that uses magazines. Have at least one magazine loaded up close to the firearm, but hidden away for quick access.
Shotguns are particularly beneficial. Keep one by your bed and have more on hand if possible. A shotgun is very intimidating. Just the sound of pumping it is enough to instill fear in most people. Plus, if you do have to fire on an intruder, the buckshot cannot penetrate the walls of neighboring houses. This will keep your neighbors safe.
You know your home better than any intruder. If you feel your safety is threatened enough that you need to leave your home, be sure you have planned sufficient exit points for you and your family.
You should also plan for the situation in which you become trapped upstairs and need to escape. Leave a method of escape that is easily accessible in each room. A fire escape ladder is perfect in this situation.
If you have anywhere within your home that you can hide, you might be able to wait out an intrusion. A panic room is ideal. This is advanced stuff, but worth it if you have the means to make it happen.
A panic room is a concealed, secure room within your home. This is a place where no one can find you, and if they happen to, they cannot get in. The most basic form of a panic room is a converted closet. A room like this can also be hidden behind bookcases, mirrors, or wardrobes so that it remains concealed.
However, a basement in which you can pour concrete and use steel reinforcements in the door and walls is preferable. In a safe room, you can stock up food, water, and supplies. You can also have communications equipment and monitors so you can access the view from your security cameras.
Your Home is Your Castle
You must defend your castle at all costs. If you are to be successful at DIY home security, you need to plan ahead and take precautions. Then you and your family will have a better chance at safely bugging in for as long as needed.
And if it all seems overwhelming, remember this is like any other part of prepping. Take it one step at a time. Start somewhere and work away at it.
Did we miss anything? If you have other ideas for DIY home security, please let us know in the comments section below.