Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Just the Basics – Home Defense – Perimeters


Perimeter: a line or strip bounding or protecting an area

Exterior: being on an outside surface, situated on the outside

Interior: lying, occurring, or functioning within the limiting boundaries

Let define the general parameters of this post. This post is NOT about defending a perimeter around your home during:

  • The Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Not during a major TSHTF time period (The S#&T Hits The Fan)
  • Not during TEOTWAWKI time period (The End Of The World As We Know It)
  • Not during a WTROL time period (Without The Rule Of Law)
  • And, it’s not a primer for your local militia unit on small unit defense.

What this post IS about is getting you thinking about where you live, how accessible your home/condo/apartment is and presenting some thoughts and ideas on making the task of breaking into your home to rob you or harm you harder or higher risk.

In the event a threat penetrates your home – what is your defensive plan? What does your defensive perimeter look like and what can you do to harden your defenses and make the intruder’s risks higher. Let’s begin as with the exterior of your residence and then tackle your defensive positions should your home be breached.

Exterior Perimeter

An average home – with a front and back yard, driveway situated along a street or rural road is a good starting point. Let’s take what we have learned already in defensive shooting and apply it to your exterior perimeter.

An attacker can cover approximately 21 feet in 2 seconds. That means that at a good jog, an intruder can cover ground to you home in about the same amount of time. Don’t make this easy. Have as open as possible space around your home – I would stretch this to 30 feet if possible. Look at the shrubbery you have around your home. Will it provide good concealment for an attacker? If so, could you replace it with something lower, less dense yet just as attractive? How about exterior lighting? It is a fairly simply matter to mount motion-sensitive lighting on the corners of your home. As an attacker passes through the individual regions – lights come on. How about shrubbery around you driveway where you enter and exit your vehicle? Keep these areas clean and clear. In the event you live in rural areas or on a lot with a long driveway – install a remote alarm that will notify you when someone has passed down your driveway. Consider some surveillance equipment for your primary entry points. There are any number of good camera systems – many wireless – that install easily, are fairly inexpensive and can add an extra set of eyes as well as monitor your home when you’re away.

Prepare your lot to help “funnel” would be attackers into areas where they are visible. Thorny foliage along your property line, the use of privacy fencing, garden spaces, hedges - again with an assortment of roses or “prickly” bushes - can do a lot to encourage prospective threats to take the “easy way” into your home.

Pay attention to your neighborhood. Meet your neighbors, learn their cars, watch their homes (and ask that they watch yours), meet your local law enforcement officers – you are all on the same team of keeping your property safe – join the “team”.

Obviously for apartments, townhouses, condos – much of this in irrelevant. Still, the premise is the same – where possible, funnel your threat. Create as open a space around your residence and driveway as possible. Install motion detectors where possible and get to know your neighbors. Be proactive – NOT a victim.

One thing your yard is NOT – a “free fire” zone. You’re home at night, a motion detector turns on a light, a motion sensor on your driveway sounds an alarm – perhaps you actually see a prowler. Don’t grab your long-gun, head to an upstairs window “high hide” and proceed to shoot the intruder. Things will not go well for you after the gun smoke clears the room.

It would be a good time to have the family go to the safe room, grab your gun, flashlight and cell phone and place a call to the local police to let them know you have an intruder, tell them where you are, that you are armed and that you will remain in that spot until they arrive. Keep your phone on (perhaps on speaker) and keep a dialogue going with your 911 dispatcher. We’ll talk about your Interior Perimeter in a moment.

The idea of an Exterior Perimeter is to make you an “unattractive target”. Have your home be the one an attacker looks at and passes up because there are easier victims available.

Interior Perimeter

Your first step should be to harden the very exterior of your Interior Perimeter. Make sure each exterior door has two locks – the one on your door knob and a dead bolt. Install a viewing port (or use a surveillance camera) to see who is at the door. Have your door entry points well lighted – motion detector/manual switch would be preferred. Replace as substantial portion of your door jam with a steel insert to strengthen the lock/door-jamb interface. Have locks on your window or patio doors. If you have a sliding door, a simple cut-down broom handle can provide good security against the door being slid open.

Consider an alarm system. It could be as simple as one that sets off a shrill tone if the front door is opened to as sophisticated as a multi-sensor system to cover both the interior and exterior areas of your home. Consider wireless remote light switches as well like this one from Stanley. With the simple press of a button you could turn on multiple lights from your car or safe room. Again, your intent is to scare the intruder into leaving, not usher them into a kill zone.

Obviously, these precautions would be ineffective against a determined criminal who would simply crash through your windows. Wear your damn gun!!!

Interior Perimeters tend to be driven by the family dynamic. I am at an age where, most evenings, my wife and I are home alone. Kids are grown – with overnight visits from time to time from them and their children. So, for us, we are typically in close proximity to each other and could easily move to our “safe room” together. Additionally, I carry at home as well. My weapon is on my hip until I go to bed, then it is next to my bed.

For families with children, the process of gathering kids and getting to the safe room becomes more complicated. At times it may make more sense to have a different parent go to each child’s bedroom. Other times, it may make sense to gather the children to one spot. This is the perfect time for a reminder – “you have all the time in the world to plan NOW – make a plan”.

If you have prepared a safe room, some precautions on the door – treat it as an exterior door. I would suggest a solid-core door at the least – a steel door is better. Have a dead bolt accessible from the inside only and a lock on the door knob as well. Again, replace a portion of the door jamb with a steel plate to strengthen the lock/door jamb interface. Have a flashlight/cell phone and gun in the room at all times you are in the room. A backup defensive weapon is a good idea so more than one person would be available for defense. As Jeff Cooper would say – “one gun is no gun – two guns is one”. Meaning, plan for a weapons failure in advance, a backup is a must.

This should be your defensive position. And, it will work well provided you have time to get there. Home owners with a home on a lot, where they have paid attention to my thoughts above and have advance warning that trouble is coming would do well to just go to the safe room, lock the door, “lock and load” and call the police to wait for their arrival.

A homeowner with children – again with some advance warning – could gather the kids, and take appropriate action in your safe room.

However, violent entry – doors and windows kicked in – your primary option is this event is instant engagement. Should I say this one more time?? Carry your damn gun!!! Your legal standing here depends on your state and in some cases your city. In Iowa we DO NOT have a castle doctrine in place. Even in the event of home entry – we are obligated to retreat if possible. And, if that IS possible – go to your safe room, call the police and simply defend yourself as needed. Remember – as a gun owner and a person who carries a concealed weapon – YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE TO KNOW THE LAWS OF YOUR STATE/COUNTY/COMMUNITY!!! Learn them. That said – if you ARE in mortal danger (it is clear to you that if you do nothing you or your family will die) you have a moral right to defend your life. FIGHT!

Finally, for me – in my home (I am NOT RECOMMENDING THIS ADVICE TO YOU), if an intruder enters my home and insists on entering my safe room – I will engage them until he/she is down and unable to hurt me or my family. And, as I hear them on the other side of the door – I will, in a very loud voice – make this perfectly clear. This does two things – it could save THEIR life, and it will be recorded by the 911 operator so there will be absolutely no doubt that I gave “fair warning” to our attacker.

Protect your perimeters. Make entry difficult. Carry your damn gun!! Have a plan that everyone knows and periodically practices. Make your residence an “unattractive” target.

You have all the time in the world – now – to make a plan and prepare . . .

. . . . time to get started.

Next Up -  Weapons


  1. Yeah, works well if you OWN the home, but apartments are a different story. You are limited in what you can do, and you NEVER want a ground floor apartment.

    1. NFO - yep, renting makes it more difficult. Still, with alot of today's tech, a wireless alarm system, wireless surveillance and wireless light switches should be doable - at lease within the appartment. As for the exterior concerns, probably implies a bit more diligence with appartment selection. A steel door, perhaps not unless you could find an exact fit and do a "remove and replace" when you leave the appartment. Good catch though - thank you.

      Agreed on not living on the 1st floor. If memory serves, even higher floors can leave one "exposed"??? :)

      Have a great day!