Tactical Tuesday: Hardening Your Home

I tend to be a slight bit paranoid. I’m a political writer in a politically charged climate. I’ve had people threaten my safety from my own side of the political aisle, much less people from the other side.

Because of that, I tend to think a lot about bad things happening.

However, most folks don’t piss off the number of people I do on a regular basis. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take some simple precautions to harden their home and make it a little harder for the bad people of the world to get into.

First, let me make one thing perfectly clear. If someone wants to get into your home, they will. Nothing will make your house an impregnable fortress that no bad person will ever be able to enter.

So What’s the Point?

The point here isn’t to try and prevent anyone from ever entering your home. It’s to make your home the worst possible target for them to pick.

What you want to do is either dissuade a bad person from trying to break it, or to make it such a time-intensive effort that they quit before the police arrive. You want to make it such a pain in the butt that they give up and move on.

This is an achievable goal, but it shouldn’t be all anyone does. Do not harden the home and think that you shouldn’t take any effort toward personal security should someone break in. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.

What follows are just a few tips you can follow through on to help make life difficult on anyone who thinks breaking into your home is a good idea.

Alarms

Home security systems are the go-to solution for most people, and I understand why. The idea of the police responding to a break-in, even if you’re not home, gives people a warm, comfortable feeling.

Unfortunately, they’re kind of expensive and require you to pay a monthly fee.

If you can afford it, get it. In a lot of cases, the little sign the alarm company puts outside is more than enough to deter a lot of criminals, especially the street-thugs looking for a quick score.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with an alarm. However, understand that if someone thinks they can defeat the alarm, they’ll try and that won’t be enough to stop them. As such, alarms should be part of a layered approach.

Landscaping

People like to have nice-looking yards. I get that.

They love the bushy shrubs nestled up against the house, softening the lines of the brick, making it look a lot more inviting.

However, to a burglar, thick shrugs can be something else. A large bush is a good place to work out of sight of neighbors and passers-by. Large enough, it can even gain access to the house via the window and no one will even know there’s an access point available.

The standard recommendation is to keep shrubbery trimmed low to minimize this risk, and I agree with it.

I also think the selection of shrubbery matters. Most bushes don’t really do anything except decorate the yard, but if you go with something like a Chinese holly, you get a bush with a thick, spiny leaf that will poke and prod at anyone trying to push through the shrub line.

My personal favorite, though, are various kinds of rose bushes. In addition to beautiful flowers, they have the thorns that will make life less than pleasant for anyone trying to approach the windows. Placing those under any window will fill a role similar to barbed wire–only in so far as deterrence effect for most folks, but not to someone who really wants in–but is far more attractive.

However, let’s also face facts. Most criminals will prefer to gain access to your home through the side or back of the house. That means your backyard is a place to try and deter the bad guys.

First, fence it in if at all possible.

If not, well, you’ll have to skip this very next part.

If you can, though, then what you want to do is try to use shrubs in the same manner previously described. By planting them around the inside of the fence, you basically provide a thorny surprise to anyone who wants to try and jump the fence. Just make sure they’re planted in the ideal location.

In the backyard, you can also try and plant things like blackberry bushes. Some varieties still have thorns and they produce some tasty berries to munch on as well.

It’s just a thought.

You’re also going to want to plant similar shrubs below any windows in the rear or your home. Don’t assume the fence will keep all the bad people of the world out.

Windows

A house has to have windows. I get that.

However, they also represent a major weak point in security.  Obviously, they need to remain locked at all times.

Unfortunately, most of the ways available to secure a window can also be a safety hazard in the event of a fire. As such, mounting anything that will stop a window from being physically opened might actually cost lives.

Instead, try some of this film from 3M. You apply it to your windows and it makes them all but indestructible. You can also apply it while the family is out of the house so you don’t alarm anyone.

Further, films exist to help insulate your home (I’m not sure if it’s the same film or not), so you can always use that for a reason if a neighbor asks what you’re doing. (Pro tip: Never tell anyone you don’t trust with your life about your security.)

This should also go on any windows on doors.

Doors

Ideally, you want a good, heavy door that won’t give easily. Unfortunately, the striker plate for your door, the part that’s mounted in the jam, is a weak point. In particular, the screws.

Replace the short screws with much longer ones, at least a good two to two-and-a-half inches at least. Swap them out and you now have much more wood securing that plate in place.

That said, be careful. Going with screws too long can cause problems as wiring may be nearby. That’s the last thing anyone wants.

Also, a keyed deadbolt is ideal. While you’ve already made it difficult for anyone to get through any of the windows, the last thing you want is for them to be able to unlock the door easily if they do.

While doorknob locks are simple, the keyed deadbolt will give you a much greater security than the alternative.


Obviously, these are just a few tips. I couldn’t begin to outline everything one can do to secure a home. That’s a topic for an entire book, and I honestly don’t have that kind of time right now.

But I hope this will help you secure your home and keep your family just a bit safer.

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