A strong home defense plan is more than just a willingness to grab a gun or bat and tip-toeing off to investigate some bump in the night. A strong home defense plan will actually include layered, overlapping protective elements and defenses, some active and some passive.
Some may eschew anything more than rudimentary preparation but this is a grave mistake; the stakes are high in a home invasion scenario, and this is especially true if you have a family. You can expect to have little or no time to react, and you will likely be dealing with multiple invaders. For this reason, no amount of rehearsal or intricate preparation is too much when preparing for one of these terrifying encounters.
It is not all bad news, though. By intelligently hardening your home and making it both less appealing to potential invaders as well as more resistant to entry you can stymie all but the most determined of crooks. Should your passive and active defense systems fail to rout them, smart training, tactics and rehearsal will give you the confidence and skills you need to repel or halt the attack.
In this in-depth article, we’ll be examining what you should to prepare yourself, your home and your family to survive and prevail over home invaders. We’ll cover internal and external defenses, safety measures, tactics, techniques and procedures that will transform your home into a veritable fortress and you into a stalwart defender.
We’ll buff up our home defense plan in a few phases: exterior defenses and countermeasures, interior defenses, interior planning and staging to favor the defenders, and lastly personal skills and weapons. This may seem like a tall order for the average homeowner, but chances are as a prepper you will already have several, even most of the basic elements in place already.
The intent of our defensive plan is to foremost give a potential invader a strong incentive to look elsewhere to perpetrate his crime, in essence making our home’s potential juice not worth the squeeze. Second, if he/they are very determined or just dumb, entry will be difficult and very noisy, increasing their exposure by heightening risk of capture and allowing any defenders inside more time to prepare and rally.
Third, should our scumbags gain entry, inside they will be placed in a no-win scenario thanks to the skilled response of their erstwhile victims. Together these measures form a defense-in-depth, each layer working to slow or hamper and growing increasingly severe in effect on the attackers.
n the following sections, we will examine each element of our plan broadly and then in-depth, giving you a bird’s eye view of a sound defensive plan and step-by-step guides to incorporating individual action items into your unique situation. No matter where you live, or what your arrangements are, there are things you can do to decrease your chances of being victims of a home invasion and increase your chances of prevailing should one occur.
Below is your outline or checklist for assessing you home defense plan. Below that you’ll find detailed advice and procedure for every facet of that outline. Let’s move on and you can find out more.
Home Invasion Threat
- 1 Million+ Per Year
- Occupants in home violently attacked ≈25% of the time
- Expect to occur at night
- Typically forced entry
- Some occur via unlocked door/window
- Invaders usually armed with guns
- Layered defenses and deterrents will halt or catalyze threat
- Objective: make house less appealing as target
- Shape grounds, terrain and structural features to facilitate
- Location: Rural, Suburban, Urban?
- Potential observation and witnesses of invaders?
- Access Controlled or Open?
- Easy or difficult to approach/withdraw from?
- Tall=Bad, hides invaders from approach and witness observation
- All around perimeter lighting is a perk
- Pay attention to light up approaches and hiding spots
- Mind casting shadows, don’t offer concealment
- Defensive Plants
- Around all windows and doors
- Thornier/Noisier the better
- Grow them big and broad- cannot be bypassed without penalty
- Other features
- Does anything offer a concealed approach to the house?
- Can it be moved or removed?
- Covering perimeter near house
- Covering obvious ambush points
- Obvious or Low-Pro cameras?
Harden/Secure Access Points
- Exterior Doors
- Solid, metal or hardwood
- Quality hinges and locksets
- Long, durable fasteners and screws
- Anti-Kick/Jamb Reinforcement Devices
- Window film
- Mylar or similar
- Prevents glass from shattering
Alarms and Early Warning
- Electronic Alarm
- Windows and Doors
- Alarm set to instant fire on windows, appx 30 sec. delay on doors
- Little and yappy
- Big and intimidating
- Larger pooch may be useful if it comes to grips with invader
- Seek training for dog
- Improvised or Primitive Alarm
- Anything that makes a racket if knocked over or disturbed by movement of door/window
Defense in the Home
- Retreat will be impossible/unthinkable for many
- Home invasions typically rapid and violent
- Many invaders seek out master bedroom as first order
- You have time to prepare now
- Shape/Control battlefield
- You have Home Field Advantage
- Maximize it!
- Cover locations
- Must know backstops for any given projectile/location of friendlies in home
- Pepper Spray
- Less lethal
- Still affords range
- Can pre-gas room to deny movement to invaders
- Close Combat Weapons
- Knives and Blades
- Blunt or Clubs
- Swing can be hampered by close confines
- Avoid close combat at all cost, especially in multiple invader scenario
Assessing the Interior
- Friendlies present?
- Where? Near bedroom or scattered?
- Retrieve or shelter in place?
- Pre position to allow you to see blind spots while denying use to invader
- Cover Points
- What will stop bullets? What won’t?
- Add cover where tactically useful
- What will catch misses?
- Most home invasions occur after dark
- Have plan for ID’ing potential threats
- Turn on lights
- Utilize flashlight/WML
Rehearsing with Family/Friendlies
- Shelter in Place, Barricade or Retrieve?
- Plan depends on number of family and layout of home
- Simple plans are best
- One for Invaders detected, and one for gunfight started
- Practice responses ahead of time in daylight and dark
- Call police?
- Arm themselves?
- Secured and hardened room to wait out invasion
- Must be able to resist entry entirely and stop bullets
- Fortified master bedroom
- Dedicated or special room
Understanding the Threat
U.S. Department of Justice statistics report a little over 1 million home invasions each year, with home invasion being defined as a criminal entry of the home with an occupant present. Of those instances, about a quarter of them result in the occupants becoming victims of violence. A home invasion is a serious threat, and one that is disproportionately worrisome for many homeowners with families due to the nature of the crime; attacked where you should be safe, with the fate of your family left to the will of the depraved criminals perpetrating it.
Unsurprisingly, a great many of these incidents occur in the night, after 10PM. Contrast most burglaries which occur in the daytime, between 10AM and 3PM. The explanation for this is often chalked up to the burglars who are just after loot anticipate that the occupants of the home will be away, either at work or school and therefore they expect an easier job. We however are preparing for the lethal threat that will arise in the event of home invasion, and furthermore will not assume a home invasion will not happen just because the sun is up.
The majority of home invasions involve the invaders using force to gain entry, but a not insignificant fraction are tallied as “unlawful entry,” a distinct classifier from forcible entry, meaning that the criminals needed to only let themselves in through an unlocked door or window. That is unfortunate, but also inexcusable: we should never make the scumbag’s job easier.
Your home invaders will likely be armed, mosst often with a gun. Some arm themselves with implements found in or around the home. The classification of the crime varies state to state but is almost always considered a forcible felony. Your state may have laws described as “Castle Doctrine” legislation that specifies you have no duty to retreat from a threat in your home, or that presumes any unlawful and forcible entry into your home constitutes a lethal threat.
You must know the letter of the law in your locality before you can appropriately prepare yourself to repel any assailant in your home, though for the purposes of this article we will presume our home invaders, when discovered, are indicating a clear and imminent threat to the lives of you and your family. It is critical that you can articulate a clear threat to life or limb in the event you decide to use lethal force against an intruder.
Considering if we stop an attacker from gaining entry to the house we have gone a long way to winning the fight, we’ll start our security assessment outside the home.
Exterior and Perimeter Considerations
The task of fortifying your home does not begin and end with four walls and everything under the roof. No, like the medieval castles of old, a proper fortress is more than just a structure. Similar to how a castle’s surrounding earthworks, moat full of crocodiles and drawbridge serve to protect and deter invaders before they reach the walls, so too will we begin to shape our home’s exterior and grounds to deter home invaders.
Now, you may not have anything as dramatic or ugly as a moat full of dangerous reptiles (unless you live in Florida or Louisiana!) but there is plenty you can do to make your home as unappealing to door-kicking criminals as possible. Besides, moats are probably going to raise serious qualms from your HOA and neighbors!
First, assess your property site. Do you live in typical suburban neighborhood? In a rural or remote location? Do you live in a condo or apartment? All have advantages and disadvantages. Generally, competent home invaders will want a couple of things in place to feel confident in proceeding with their plan: concealment, to reduce concerns of witnesses and expedite their approach to the targeted dwelling undetected and ease of ingress and egress, to facilitate escape.
Using those considerations as a guide, how does our site affect the bad guys’ selection process? We know home invasions happen regularly in suburbia, so the presence of neighbors alone is not a deterrent. A remote property has less exposure to criminality of this type in general, but any incident that does occur will mean you are truly on your own for the duration. A condo or apartment will likely mean you have neighbors on all sides of you, and controlled access may stymie some criminals, but you will be working with probably only one entrance and exit to your dwelling, and a greater density of bystanders will place additional emphasis on any defensive shooting to prevent tragedy.
Start looking at defenses at the perimeter of your property. Apartment and condo dwellers site tight for a moment, as you likely have little to no influence over any terrain and structural features past your front door. For home owners, look first to fencing. Privacy fencing is great for keeping nosy neighbors from spying on your backyard pool parties, but a bad choice for security.
No fence of traditional height is tall enough to reliably keep criminals out of your yard and off your property unless it is topped with spikes or wire, but are tall enough to allow criminals to approach your property from a blind side and then avoid observation from witnesses once past it. It may not be fun or nice, but keeping fencing and hedges short or removed entirely is often a good play when it comes to making your home less appealing as a target.
Next consider lighting. As many predators hunt in the dark, so to do most seasoned criminals. Darkness is their ally. Banish it by ensuring your home has intense 360° perimeter lighting, especially around entrances and windows, and supplement that with softer area lighting farther out in the yard if you have a larger parcel. Keeping a property well lit will significantly decrease its appeal to intruders if it facilitates their observation or detection.
Keep in mind lighting can help or harm, both inside and outside the home: you will be able to see anywhere the light reaches, but any area outside the light or in defilade will be bathed in inky shadow, made even more impenetrable by the loss of your night adapted vision. Savvy criminals may take advantage of that fact, so setup your lighting to preclude an invader making use of it for ambush.
As we move up to the home itself, let’s consider what we can do to make potential entrances less appealing. By far, one of the most beneficial and still attractive things we can do is plant and cultivate aggressively thorny or noisy plants in depth around all windows and doors. No matter where you live, your biome will support at least one or two breeds of sharp, spiny plant life, perfect for deterring both man and beast, and in the even they persist slowing their progress significantly to keep from being riped and punctured.
An alternative is a plant that simply makes a great, crackly racket when disturbed. Early warning is a protective measure in itself, and if you do not want to deal with the hassle or harm of tending “hostile” flora, you may choose an ornamental that raises a racket instead. Whatever you choose, to be considered a viable defensive element the plants must be large and thick enough to prevent an intruder form sidestepping or hopping over them.
Lastly, take pains to ensure that no natural or man-made feature will allow someone to surreptitiously sneak all the way up to your house unseen.
Exterior Security Cameras
Aside from lighting, additional electronic security in the form of cameras can assist with keeping you safe from home invaders or anyone lurking outside your home. Camera systems can be hardwired into your home’s infrastructure, wired or wireless. All have perks and flaws, and all, especially DIY wireless systems, are more affordable than ever, allowing you to completely monitor the exterior of your home or shore up a major blind spot easier and cheaper than ever before.
The ideology of security cameras is a topic unto itself, with some experts advocating highly visible cameras as a deterrent with others recommending discreet or even concealed cameras so as to not draw any attention to the fact that you are going out of your way to secure your residence.
Whatever school you ascribe to, setup your cameras to cover all sides and approaches to your house. The idea is to eliminate blind spots in areas where you are most vulnerable to ambush, typically near doors. At any door, but especially your front door where you expect to receive visitors set up a camera with a frontal or ¾ top-down view and another at approximately waist level and quartered to see the rear of the person at the door. This will allow you to assess them and prevent them from concealing something in their hands.
Interior security cameras are popular for people that travel regularly or have dogs or kids at home, but these tools are less valuable than exterior cameras in a home defense scenario simply because you will have little or no time to check the display in the event someone is in your home now. Unless you live in a very large home, consider these a “nice to have” addition, not a mandatory one.
Hardening and Securing Access Points
The go-to access points for home invaders are doors, which are usually kicked in or, in the case of sliding glass doors, shattered. Windows are secondary access points for bad guys to due to concerns about noise and injury from breaking glass. Both should be kept locked at all times whether you are home or not. If windows are being kept open for ventilation they should be locked in position and not open so much that someone could enter your home stealthily. Do not become complacent and leave second floor or higher windows unlocked merely because they are not ground level.
Exterior doors should be solid, either sturdy hardwood or metal, and have correspondingly heavy duty hinges affixed to the frame with long, high-quality screws and fasteners. Locksets should be affixed with similar long fasteners. These simple upgrades will increase the time and amount of force needed to kick the door in, buying you time to respond or perhaps getting the would-be invaders to abandon their plans. Do not neglect back and side garage doors. Likewise the door leading from the house into an attached garage should be similarly hardened; many a thief or home invader has gained access to a garage and used the privacy gained and tools found within to get into a home with greater ease.
For apartment and condo dwellers, even if you cannot replace the door itself you should be able to discreetly upgrade the fasteners and lockset on your door, or slip one of the maintenance men a $50 bill and a case of beer along with the screw kit and he should be able to help you out. So long as the appearance of the door has not been altered, no one will be the wiser and you are not causing any damage to worry about.
A modestly priced, discreet and very effective upgrade for any door is an anti-kick device or jamb reinforcement kit, the one offered by Door Devil being among the best. These kits install easily into most residential doors and withstand persistent and repeated attempts to force the door open. Even for doors with side lights, or otherwise wimpy construction, an anti-kick device will halt one of the preferred methods of entry by home invaders.
Window glass can be clad in adhesive films like mylar and others to increase its resistance to breaking. These have long been used in hurricane and tornado prone areas to reduce damage from wind and secondary hazards form broken glass. That same capability is a great boon to anyone wanting to shore up what is one of the most fragile elements of a home.
Alarm and Early Warning Systems
An alarm system is a great idea for most homes, though honestly their ability to summon help is overrated. Their best attribute is alerting you that someone has entered or is attempting to enter your home via siren, with a secondary benefit of putting pressure on the home invader; when alarms go off, cops are close behind. You should alarm all windows and exterior doors, with any window sensor set to alert instantly upon breakage or movement.
Most door sensors and keypads are too generous with their default timing, often upwards of 60 seconds or more. If possible shorten this time to 30 seconds, perhaps less depending on the complexity of your code or deactivation sequence.
The alarm system itself, like cameras, can come in a wide variety of styles and makes, with many modern systems being completely user installed and monitored. A DIY wireless system can integrate seamlessly into existing user and home technology, but in our era many criminals are showing more and more technical sophistication, and you may need to do additional homework to keep your system safe from electronic attack, spoofing or deactivation.
One of the lowest tech but highest-yield alarm systems is a trusty dog. A dog of any size that shows a proclivity to bark repeatedly at unknown noises or movement is invaluable, as canine senses will easily perceive things that escape human notice. A small dog may be good as an alarm and little else, but even their barking can give lurking intruders cause to fear that a homeowner will be alert to suspicious activity. That fear may see them withdraw.
A larger pooch’s baritone barking and growling furnishes all of the above, and will further give a scumbag concern that he may be turned into kibble should he enter. A protection trained dog is a formidable ally in a defensive scenario, though obtaining that kind of dog is very expensive. Most dogs will come to their master’s aid when they are in trouble, but it is tough to predict how effective they will be if the dog has not been in that situation before.
Any dog’s effectiveness can be increased with appropriate training, and by abstaining from shushing him every time he alerts to something not to his liking. You can “whip” the instinct of defense out of most dogs if you are too intense in your scolding when he is barking.
Primitive early warning systems can be fashioned from anything that will make considerable noise if knocked over or disturbed, which when placed precariously near a door or window, will crash to the ground if wither is opened, hopefully waking you (if asleep) and giving you enough time to get in gear and “repel boarders.”
Remember that any alarm and most early warning systems are best used to give you an advantage on reacting to a break-in, and secondarily are deterrents for potential intruders. If they fail to have the desired effect on the bad guys, you must be prepared to defend your home and hearth from their predations.
Defense in the Home
For civilians, defense in the home is much like self-defense elsewhere in public with the addition of a few unique advantages and disadvantages. By training and preparing to make best use of the advantages and minimize the disadvantages you’ll be in a position to prevail over the threat.
First the bad news: if you are confronted in your home, retreat will be difficult or out of the question. Difficult, because most home invaders, statistically, make for the master bedroom at once in order to overwhelm possible resistance and stuff calls for help, and also because that is where the most valuables are stored in the average home.
Escape may be out of the question if you have a family, because you will likely not be able to them all up and escape before encountering hostiles. No decent person would abandon their family to the whims of a criminal. The outcome will be up to you.
The good news is your advantages are considerable. You have all the time in the world before a home invasion happens to set yourself up for success: training, lighting, planning, rehearsal, emplacing thoughtful cover points and more. The bad guys have a short window of time to overwhelm the occupants before they can expect a shootout or arrival of police, and they may flee if they perceive they have lost the initiative.
Additionally you have the home field advantage: assuming the invaders have not been in your home before they will not know the exact layout of your home, be able to maximize positional advantage or anything of that sort. You will, and that knowledge in conjunction with your skills will become a major factor in the fight, should it follow.
The most obvious and certainly one of the most effective weapons for home defense is a gun. For many people, this will be a handgun or shotgun, though short rifles can work fine for home defense. Another option is a large can of pepper spray, or a blunt or bladed weapon.
I strongly recommend the firearm, as no other weapon offers as many advantages as it does. If a firearm is not appropriate or available, I would choose the pepper spray for its range and perhaps supplement that with a knife or something similar as a backup. Think long and hard before choosing a close-quarters weapon only unless you have no other option.
Any weapon that requires you to be at arm’s length with your attacker entails much more risk to you. A blunt weapon that must be swung to generate effect on target is at a disadvantage in a structure where walls, ceiling and furniture may hinder the swing. Bladed weapons may cut or pierce with little force needed, but still require you to close with an assailant or they with you.
Pepper spray gives you the advantage of range, and you can “pre-season” a room with it prior to the advance of invaders to help deter them and degrade their vision, but some may be motivated or mean enough to fight through it.
Only a firearm offers the range, performance and unhindered delivery of force to count on when the chips are down in a home defense scenario. If they are available to you, get one and learn how to use it. If not, pepper spray affords you the range to keep a safer distance from a threat, and is very difficult for an assailant to fight through.
When choosing a firearm, consider the strengths and weaknesses of each type in the context of your situation. A handgun affords you a high degree of mobility, and is easy to protect when moving through the confines of a typical home, but are tough to shoot well and lack the effectiveness of a long gun. A shotgun is a popular option for home defense, and when loaded with shot have a greater hit probability than handguns or rifles, but are usually heavy, have strong recoil and low capacity in most makes and models.
A short, handy rifle whatever the model will bring more than enough power to bear against an assailant, and often will carry plenty of ammunition on board, but depending on caliber could have too much penetration to consider in typical urban or suburban settings for comfort.
Any long gun is tricky to maneuver safely through an occupied dwelling as you must take care that the long barrel does not present itself to be grabbed by an intruder when moving around a corner or through a doorway. Another issue with long guns is they require both hands to operate or shoot well, and anything you might have to do like opening a door, using a phone or picking up a child will require you to relinquish that two-handed grip on the gun.
Generally, a handgun is more than adequate if you are in doubt about what is best for the situation, or your skill and capability at wielding a long gun indoors. For situations where you will not need to leave your master bedroom (a barricade situation) or where all bedrooms are located close to each other a long gun makes more sense, as holding a prepared position and forcing the bad guys to come to you if they want to hurt you will let the long gun’s strengths shine while minimizing its weaknesses.
Assessing the Interior
Inside the home, you should take stock of your unique situation. Do you have family or roommates? If so, are they spread through the house or are all domiciles clustered together? How close are your neighbors? If you live in an apartment, do you have neighbors above, below or on either side? How about across the way?
Are mirrors or reflective surfaces placed to offer you advantage in seeing around a corner? Can they be used against you? What objects or surfaces will stop or severely hamper bullets? A layer or two of drywall often will not in the slightest. Nor will furniture. Both will hide you from view. Bricks and concrete are decent cover, as is thicker wood surfaces. A bookcase full of books is excellent cover on either side of the bookcase, less so front or back.
All of this is important information. When assessing materials and cover points, you are determining two things: what can offer you positional advantage in a shootout and what surfaces a can act as safe backstops for your fire in the event you miss or score only a scratch hit. Placement of mirrors or shiny glass can let you see around corners or into blind spots without exposing yourself. These factors must be weight and improved or changed depending on your default response plan.
That plan will depend on your living arrangements. If you have family, especially small children, across the house, you must assume you will move to them at best speed. If you live alone, or it is just you and your partner in the master bedroom, a barricade response is more appropriate. Depending on the nominal location of others in the home or neighbors around you, do you understand precisely what firing angles will offer you a safe backstop, or at least the smallest chance of collateral harm?
If this sounds like a significant thought exercise, it is, but it must be done. You can assume a solid hit on a human body will retain a bullet, but beyond that it is up to you to determine what your backstops will be if they exist. The onus on solid marksmanship is very high, not only to stop a threat quickly and decisively, but also to ensure your rounds do not wind up striking someone you do not intend them to.
Dealing With Darkness
You can safely bet that a home invasion will probably occur after dark, and depending on your home’s interior lighting configuration and windows letting ambient light in it may be anywhere from dim to very dark inside your home. You must have a plan for illumination especially when using a firearm. Positively ID’ing your target is an ethical and legal prerogative. Regarding how best to do this, there are two schools of thought.
The first is, assuming power is not off in the home or neighborhood is to simply turn on lights to allow you to see. The second is to utilize a handheld or weapon-mounted flashlight in conjunction with a firearm to provide needed light on demand for navigation, positive identification of possible threats and light for sighting and firing. Both methodologies entail tradeoffs. Let’s discuss them below.
Flipping the switch to turn the lights on is simple, more or less foolproof, and will instantly deny darkness to the bad guys while letting you use your best attribute, your skill with a gun, to good effect. The rub with that play is it also lets the bad guys see you just as easily, and if they have guns, shoot back with greater efficacy. Do not misunderstand, there is no magic shield that keeps you from getting shot just because you are in darkness, but a target that is poorly lit is harder to hit. The other advantage to turning on the lights is it requires no additional skill or equipment, ala using a handheld light or WML with a firearm.
Using a flashlight in conjunction with a firearm with skill will let you utilize the darkness of your home to your advantage: you generally know the layout of your home backwards and forwards, blindfolded. The bad guys will likely not. Using a flashlight proficiently will let you search, ID, disorient an intruder and fire accurately all without giving up the benefits of darkness. Proper use of light for this purpose without increasing your exposure unnecessarily is its own discipline and requires considerable training and practice to do effectively.
Handheld vs. WML is another item you’ll have to decide on. Handhelds allow greater flexibility when using a handgun, but require greater coordination to use effectively. Trying to use a handheld light with a long gun is likely a non-starter; WML is the default choice for them. A WML will greatly ease use of the light in conjunction with the firearm, but requires more care as the gun will be aimed more or less where the light is pointing. Quality WML’s can be pricey.
Planning and Rehearsing with Others in the Home
You can probably imagine the chaos in your house mid-home invasion; breaking glass or splintering wood, perhaps gunshots, children crying, dogs going nuts, stamping feet, the works. And of course you barreling out of your bedroom in your PJ’s, gun in hand to confront the evildoers. Pandemonium, and terrifying, absolutely.
Now imagine scared kids, relatives or roommates skittering around in the dark adding even more confusion. Can you take a shot to neutralize a scumbag in the midst of all this? What might you do to help tilt things a little more back to your favor, if not quite to orderly then at least to less commotion?
Simple: the same thing you do as a prepper for any contingency- Plan, Practice and Rehearse!
If you have a spouse or significant other, delegate what you would like them to do as a default response in the event of a home invasion. Typically getting on the phone to the police is a good idea. If they are also competent with a gun and you have no need to leave the master bedroom, the both of you locking and covering the door with guns will be close to a no-win situation for any home invader who wants to come through.
If you have children or other relatives in the home, rehearse with them what you expect from them and what you’ll be doing as a default response. If their rooms are close to yours, you may want them to get flat on the floor on the far side of their beds or other furniture to avoid gun fire. You may even want them to move to the master bedroom as soon as they know you are nearby. If they sleep on the far side of the house, you might want them to hide in their closets and wait for you, or something else.
You’ll need to assess their capabilities and plan accordingly.
Whatever plan you put in to place, keep it simple, with minimal variations. The chaos and resultant stress of a live home invasion will put any plan, even a basic one, to a severe test. You might be best served by a default plan when a break-in is occurring and then a backup plan for when things “go loud” i.e. when the shooting starts.
A safe room, or panic room is simply a designated room in a structure, hardened against entry to some degree and usually stocked with supplies and equipment to weather a crisis, often one similar to the subject of this article. The idea is elegance in itself: if properly setup, you and yours simply enter, close and lock the door while any ne’er-do-wells ransack your house and perhaps try fruitlessly to get in.
A safe room may take the form of a bedroom with modestly reinforced walls and door with heavy duty locks proof against small arms fire and a cell phone or a self contained miniature bunker complete with provisions and weapons for four, air purification systems, surveillance monitor and triple-redundant hardwired communications suite. The possibilities are endless… if you have the coin.
For certain layouts of homes and certain families, a well designed safe room may be just the ticket. Chances are you will not be facing a long term scenario where it will be a days or weeks long waiting game between you and your adversaries. If you can tuck tail in a bolt-hole and have a way to summon police or other aid you could be virtually assured of coming out of a home invasion unscathed. So what if they tear your house all to pieces or loot it barren; that’s why you have insurance, right?
The practical problems of utilizing a safe room in the context of home defense start to show themselves when you have more people spread throughout the house. The issue becomes one of retrieval, actually getting everyone into the safe room before locking it down. Do you plan for everyone to meet at the safe room, damn the consequences, or do you plan to go get them and bring them to the safe room? For either approach, what is the likelihood one of you will encounter our bad guys? Unless you live in a humongous mansion, probably a certainty, and if you are otherwise sure to confront our eponymous home invaders you had better be ready to negotiate in the only language these savages seem to understand.
This is not to the safe room concept should be disregarded, as it has merit for one person as much as a family of four or more. I only caution you to be realistic about implementation. The safe room concept makes the most sense when all bedrooms or sleeping quarters are on one end of the house and can be reached by all family members more or less simultaneously. For this purpose, the master bedroom can serve admirably with a little bit of hardening and equipping.
Think about it: at least one of you will already be in there, and probably two. You will certainly have a weapon handy, and almost certainly a phone. Stash a first aid kit, a spare light and a fire extinguisher and you are set on supplies for the short term. Hardening the doors and walls of one room will be less expensive than adding a room most times, and this approach will play to the inherent strengths of the concept.
Of course, if you have the funds and time, the sky is the limit as to what you can pull off. I will neither admit or deny that I once knew a wealthy prepper who had secret passages installed in every bedroom leading to a literally bomb-proof subterranean safe room stocked with equipment and supplies to weather World War III, but…
Home defense is more than a gun and flashlight in shaky hands when you hear rustling in the house at night. Your home is your castle, and you should defend it accordingly. With some sweat, elbow-grease and smart planning you can lock down your home with a defense worthy of any fortress of old, and make any would-be criminal invader rue the day he ever thought to assail it.