By Tess Pennington -
If you live in suburbia, security starts from the inside out. Your home should be a fortress, although not so blatantly that it catches the attention of casual passers-by, making them wonder, "What's in there?" Some simple updates can harden your domicile against intruders.
Doors should be sturdy and steel core. The frame around the door is equally important. Even the strongest door will not hold up to a determined intruder if it is seated in a flimsy frame. Look for a sturdy steel door-jam. Always use at least 3 inch screws to anchor the components of your door and its frame.
Install hardware for a door bar.
Envision the bars reinforcing doors in medieval castles or on barns. By installing brackets into studs on either side of doors to the exterior of the house, you can have a bar that goes across the door from side to side. The bar can be a very heavy piece of wood, or it can be iron or another metal. Unless you are in a high crime neighborhood, this barricade would not be necessary under normal situations. However, during a SHTF scenario, it will make your doors virtually impenetrable without the aid of a battering ram with a team of burly men behind it.
Secure your windows. Particular attention should be paid to windows on the ground floor. Install a sturdy piece of wood cut to fit so that the window cannot be raised from the outside. Consider coating windows with a shatterproof film. Keep valuables out of sight from the windows. If your door has a window in it, or if it has sidelights, a piece of decorative metal grid work can easily be screwed in over the window, making it impossible for an intruder to break the window and reach through to unlock the door.
Once you've made the house itself more difficult to penetrate, concentrate on making it less appealing to criminals. They do not want to draw attention to themselves and will pass by homes that look more difficult to access.
Install motion lights around the perimeter of your home. If they are solar-powered they will also work in a SHTF and grid-down scenario.
Practice defensive landscaping. Use thorn-bearing plants around your home to make ground floor windows less vulnerable to access.
Install cameras. Even fake cameras give criminals the feeling they are "being watched" - just make sure they are the kind with a light on them.
Beware of dog. People who don't have a furry friend can still make use of this tactic by posting signs on their property. Criminals are looking for easy targets - fending off a growling canine can be dangerous for them and also draws attention to them. Often, they will choose a different home to rob based on this factor alone.
Fence your yard. Enclosing your entire property with a fence is a deterrent. Doorbells and cameras can be installed at the gate, giving you a safer distance from those who come to your home. This added layer of distance can make a home invasion-style attack far more difficult to perpetrate. If the top of the fence is decoratively spiked, it serves to make it difficult for someone to jump or climb the fence.
Don't forget the importance of community in a SHTF or disaster scenario. To survive a shtf-situation, it will take a group effort. The neighborly way can extend itself far more than just helping a neighbor out in the yard. A group of people banded together with the same goal can defend far more effectively than each family for themselves.
Get to know your neighbors. If you don't already know your neighbors well, take the time to be more outgoing. Say hello when you see them outside, compliment their landscaping and do little things to be helpful.
Have a party. Another good way to pull the community together is through social interaction. Organize a block party or host a barbecue as a way to help people become better acquainted.
Getting to know your neighbors better is not only a good way to make allies, it's a good way to subtly identify those who might be a problem in an emergency situation. Organize a neighborhood watch. If you and your neighbors are already accustomed to looking out for one another, it won't require as much additional organization if disaster strikes. Make a plan. If some of your neighbors are like-minded, you might be able to do some advance planning, like choosing the most defensible property as a place to send the children, creating defense strategies for your cul-de-sac or figuring out the best way to patrol your immediate area.
No matter how much you like your neighbors, never put all your cards on the table. Be sure to keep some things private, like your food stores, back-up weapons, caches and ammo stores. If desperate people have to one day make decisions between their families or their neighbors, you can be certain that family will win every time. They cannot take what they do not know about.
It is possible to survive in suburbia. We can't all afford to retreat to the woods or a bunker. Take steps now to prepare and make the best of your personal situation.