Your home is your fortress, usually the best place to be during times of disaster.
Most of our prepping energy goes into preparing our home for any emergencies or disasters. It is the place where we are best protected and stock up on our emergency supplies. As such, there are many things we need to do to prepare and protect this shelter.
As Preppers, we spend a lot of time and money to stock up our water and food supplies to be ready is disaster strikes. We may have vehicles stocked up with emergency supplies. We have our bug-out-bags ready to go. We have stocked up on other supplies that we may need during a disaster, like medicines, soaps, toilet paper, and other personal hygiene products, alternate energy supplies for cooking and heating, firearms, and tools. Plus we have all our other possessions we need to safeguard.
To protect all this we need to fortify (also referred to as hardening) your home, to protect it from both natural disasters and man-made disasters like home invasions.
Let’s start with protecting it from home invasions.
Make Your Home Look Uninviting To Burglars
There are others who may want what you have, so your first step is to remove the target. What I mean is, you want to make your home NOT look inviting to criminals and looters so they won’t target you home for a break-in. You don’t want your home to stand out from others in your neighborhood as a place that has something special worth stealing.
- Don’t advertise you have stuff to steal. For instance, barred windows on your home with no other homes in you area doing the same may just give the message “Hey, I have something worth stealing!” to the criminals. Don’t leave boxes from purchases like TV’s and expensive electronics or appliances sitting out by your trash can. Put your expensive “toys”, like boats, motorcycles, ATV’s, etc. in a location more hidden from view and not on display for everyone to see.
- Alarm systems. Make sure you have your home security monitoring signs displayed outside your home. I like to have the sign in the yard with a solar light on it to make sure it will be noticed by potential thieves. I also make sure to have signs posted by my gates in the back yard and stickers on windows and doors around the house. Many alarm systems can alert you on your cell phone if someone comes up to your front door, and you can acknowledge them. Surveillance cameras, whether real or fake, can also be a great deterrence.
- Install motion-activated lighting in strategic areas around your home. Thieves don’t want their activities highlighted by bright lights.
- No easy way in or out of your home and property. Keep gates, windows, and doors (including garage doors) closed and locked. If you have fences or walls around your yard, try to keep them high enough and in good shape so they can’t easily be jumped or broken through.
- Dogs are not only good companions, but their keen sense of smell and hearing makes them a great alarm at alerting both you and the neighborhood of unwelcome visitors. Beware of dog signs may also help deter the criminals, but be sure to know what liabilities they may place on you if someone does break into you home or yard and is injured.
- Use timers on your lights inside your home if you’re not there. Be sure to change them occasionally to not make a pattern that will be easily recognizable if a burglar is casing your home.
- Use Neighborhood Watch systems. Know your neighbors and keep watch for suspicious activity around the neighborhood. Get Neighborhood Watch Signs installed if possible.
- Landscaping. Don’t have bushes, etc. in places that can easily hide a burglars activities. Maybe plant bushes with thorns under windows to make them more inaccessible to thieves.
Beef Up Your Doors & Locks
- Make sure your entry doors are steel doors or good quality solid wood or at least solid-wood core doors.
- Avoid windows in doors or side light windows around the door. They can both allow a potential burglar to look inside to see if anyone is home or if there is something worth stealing. The glass can also be broken out to reach the locks. If you do have these types of windows, at least add curtains to block a thief’s view. You can also install a security film on the glass to help keep someone from breaking the glass and reaching in to undo the locks. The glass will still break, but it will be held together by the film.
- Install good quality deadbolts. There are cheaper deadbolts that can be easily broken or bypassed. Get a good one.
- Reinforce the door frame where your deadbolt’s strike plate is installed. Use long screws that penetrate deep into the wall studs. To even better reinforce the strike plate on my door, I added a steel bar also screwed into the wall studs. If an intruder were to try and kick in my door, they would have to rip out over 4 feet of the door frame and wall studs to gain entry.
I did this to my front door after it had been kicked in and our home was robbed. At that time I had a cheaper front door that failed to resist the kick. Now we have a steel door and a better deadbolt. It will take a lot of kicking to break in now. Take my advice and take these protective measures BEFORE a break in happens to you!
- Add a peep hole to your door so you can see who is there before opening.
- Door chains are ineffective. They can easily be ripped out of the wall or the chains themselves will often break if forced. Instead you can use a door stop alarm that will wedge between the bottom of the door and the floor if an intruder tries to force it wider open on you.
- Patio doors need extra security added. They often have simple locks that can be jimmied open. Don’t just lay a board or broom handle in the tracks as the doors can sometimes be lifted off the tracks or tilted enough to bypass the locks. Add better locks of get a security bar that can be attached across the center of the door instead of the bottom. You should also consider installing security window film on the glass doors to help prevent them from being broken to reach the locks. This is especially important if you doors have small panes of glass in them.
- Don’t forget to beef up any back and side entry doors (including those going into a garage) as well.
- Garage doors: Try to eliminate any large garage doors that have windows in them. Again, they can be broken to allow access. At least add curtains to block anyone from viewing what is inside. Again, security window film can be used here too. Automatic garage doors usually have a quick release latch with a cord to pull on them. Thieves can work a wire between the garage door panels to pull this cord from outside. Remove the cord and keep a separate hook inside the garage that you can use if needed.
Secure Other Entrances
- Skylights can have bars or wire over them to better secure from entry. Often they will have a wire mesh installed over them to protect from hail damage and help deter entry. Again, you may be able to install security window film on them. (The film won’t install on the domed style skylights.)
- Attic vents also offer an entry to your home. Just using a ladder could allow a burglar access to crawl through and gain access. Add bars to secure them.
- Don’t forget to secure basement doors or entrances to crawl spaces under you home that could also allow a burglar’s access.
None of this can stop a home invasion if the intruder is determined enough. What is does dohowever, is to allow you time to prepare. You have added time to escape through a different exit, to escape to a panic room if you have one, or to arm yourself.
Other Protections For Your Home
Smoke alarms should be installed and batteries checked and replace at least twice a year. Fires are unfortunately, too common a cause of disaster for families.
Fire extinguishers should be available, especially near the kitchen and garage. Make sure they are in a location where you can access them without getting trapped by the fire and allowing you safe exit.
Carbon Monoxide detectors should be installed anyplace a fuel is being burned in you home. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous, colorless, and tasteless gas caused by fuels not burning completely. This could come from things like furnaces, water heaters, gas clothes dryers and ranges, a fire-burning fireplace, or a car left running in a garage. Even a small amount of this gas can be harmful and cause permanent damage or be lethal with heavier doses.
Water alarms can be installed in basements and in crawl spaces under homes to alert you should a pipe break or burst to limit the damage that could be caused.
Radon detectors should be installed in basements. Radon is a naturally occurring gas from soil and certain rocks that have begun to decompose or erode. This gas can accumulate in basements, especially if there are cracks in the concrete. If the levels build up, it can cause lung cancer.
More Ways To Protect Your Home From Disasters
Proper maintenance of your home can protect it from a multitude of disasters, but there are still some other things you can do.
Areas that are prone to severe weather, like hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. will often find home owners stocking extra supplies for protection and emergency repair. Hurricane shutters, plywood and/or tarps to cover broken windows or holes in roofs, as well as nails, screws, rope, and tools to make these emergency repairs.
Make sure you have a “safe room” or someplace safe to go in you home that is protected. When I lived in Wisconsin, severe storms and potential tornadoes had us retreating to a safe area we had set up in our basement in case these storms hit us. Many times it will simply be a large closet area with no windows that will offer extra protection from storms. Some preppers will even build a secure “safe room” they can retreat into in case of home invasion.
Those in areas of possible flooding may have sandbags, water pumps and portable generators available.
Think about what disaster could possibly happen to you, and what other ways you could prepare.
Do you have any tips that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!