If you’re like a lot of gun owners and self-protection advocates, you probably have a plan to defend your home should an intruder find their way inside. It’s likely you have a gun (if not multiple firearms) staged somewhere safe yet easily accessible in case of the infamous bump in the night. But what if you could prevent the intruder from ever getting inside in the first place?
Bad guys tend to look for easy targets - the quick score - smash and grab. They look for it on the street, in the alley, the back of a parking lot, and in your neighborhood. Make yourself an easy target and you just might find yourself facedown and your wallet and cell phone gone. Harden yourself against the threat and the bad guy moves on to find someone else.
Your home works the very same way. Here's how:
DID YOU KNOW? Most burglars enter homes right through the front door!
To ensure your doors are secure, consider replacing existing doors (especially those with large portions of glass!) with a solid core exterior door secured with a beefy deadbolt. Secure your deadbolt and hinges' metal plates with 3" screws rather than the standard 3/4" screws typically used on front doors. Longer screws secured into the framing studs make it darn near impossible to kick in an exterior door, especially one that's reinforced.
Around back, make sure sliding doors are made from reinforced glass or plastic (like polycarbonate) and keep a wooden or metal dowel in the track to prevent forced entry. Also, consider installing blinds and keeping them closed so lurkers cannot see inside easily.
The best first line of defense is to find your home’s weak spots, outside areas where a bad guy could approach and you wouldn’t know until it’s too late. These include blind corners, shadows created by trees, shrubs that butt up against the house where someone could hide, especially under windows.
Identify these areas then map out a plan to trim, clip, and light the areas to remove these vulnerabilities.
Take back the night. Bad guys don’t want to be seen, so simply lighting up an area can often be enough to make them change their minds and move on to the next house. (Sorry, neighbor, but you could also do this and avoid the break-in.)
Take away that blind corner by mounting a high-powered light under the eave, with a motion sensor adjusted so it triggers on a person, not a squirrel, and let it do the deterring for you. Some light sensor systems tie into your smartphone and include tiny cameras to give you a remote picture of who just tripped your light. If you prefer a light that stays on, add a dusk-to-dawn sensor that automatically turns it on when it gets dark and off in the morning.
Want to save on your electric bill? Get solar-powered lights and let the sun do the work at night for free.
Believe it or not, landscaping can be a deterrent. Have you ever been caught in a thorny bush? Spend any time in nature and you’ll discover how plants defend themselves. Those same natural defenses can keep intruders away from your home.
From rosebushes to cacti, planting a thorny barricade around your home can ward off even the most determined intruders once they get stuck a couple of times. Think of it as natural barbed wire. There’s a reason one of the most commonly used shrubs is called barberry. It has berries, but more importantly, it has barbs. Sharp, pokey barbs that grab and hold on.
Once planted, make sure to keep your landscaping trimmed low enough to not block a point of entry or conceal a potential attacker.
Cameras, cameras everywhere, and not a thing to watch! Good quality TV might be hard to find these days, but thanks to amazing lens and sensor technology, you can keep an eye on the goings-on around your house with clarity.
From smart doorbells with cameras to night-vision-equipped security cameras facing the back porch, you can see it all on your phone. In some cases, you can even talk to the potential intruder from wherever you are, faking like you’re home or at least letting him know you see him. These devices work on motion triggers and can be programmed to alert you the moment someone trips the sensor. Some even let you control and adjust the camera from your phone or tablet.
Being alerted to movement and having the ability to monitor your home from the front porch to the back door from your smartphone can also give you a tactical advantage over potential home intruders.
Not all home defense solutions cost an arm and a leg. For example, many DIY home alarm systems can protect your home for under $300 with no monthly monitoring contracts. Homeowners can buy, install, and easily monitor them without expensive installations or monthly payments for monitoring services.
Your existing smart home devices can give you a hand as well! The Amazon Echo has a Guard skill that can help keep your home safe. When you set your Echo Guard to Away mode, Alexa can send you Smart Alerts via notifications to your phone if an Echo device detects the sound of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, or glass breaking!
Whether you upgrade to a video doorbell, floodlights with motion detectors, or a steel-core front door, making a few affordable and DIY-able steps can bolster your home's security and your peace of mind!
David Workman is an avid gun guy and a contributing writer to several major gun publications. In addition to being an NRA-certified RSO, David trains new shooters on basic handgun skills and CCW requirements and is a strong advocate for training as much as you possibly can. “Real life shootouts don’t happen at a box range.”
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