Home Defense: Good Ideas

Before you can determine the best methods and steps to take to properly defend your home you have to do a good threat assessment.  What will work to stop a burglar will probably not work to stop a determined looter or bandit.  To get an idea of what steps people took to control banditry and even inter-family rivalry look no farther than the fortified tower houses built by medieval families in Tuscany.  San Gimignano is a good example, every tower was a family home and fortified against attack by rival families; 14 survive today but their used to be 72 of them in San Gimignano alone.  It is probably not advisable to go to this extent today, at least not before the Collapse.  I can think of no better way to draw attention and attacks than to have a 100 foot fortified tower on your lot.

View of the medieval town of San Gimignano in Tuscany, northern Italy.
View of the medieval town of San Gimignano in Tuscany, northern Italy.

There are some common sense things you can do and material you can acquire prior to any Collapse that will make your home more secure.

  1. Have reinforced doors – let’s face it, it is hard to make your house look like a fortress and not have it attract attention like sugar water attracts hummingbirds.  A good solid door is smart even if the world never ends.
  2. A sturdy, tall fence – a good 7-8 foot tall sturdily built fence will deter the majority of lazy thieves who will simply skip your place for somewhere that looks more inviting.
  3. A wall – Even better, build a wall around your property like they do in many societies throughout the world.  A wall can be decorative as well as functional and it really only needs to able to withstand small arms fire.  You can even buy the commercial version of HESCO Bastions and fill them with dirt with an ornamental rock outer filling.
  4. Window Shutters (the link is to a product page and I give no endorsement, it is just an example) – Have pre-made steel window shutters that you can install at need on all ground floor windows.
  5. Sandbags – if you live in a wood frame house then bullets will generally go right through the walls with enough force to injure, if not necessarily kill you.  Have some sandbags or equivalents on hand that you can use inside the home as additional impact protection.  Keep in mind the floor load if you have a basement or your house is supported on pilings.  Sandbags get very heavy, very fast.


Another thing to remember is that you need a lot of sandbags, more than you think.  If I were buying sandbags for my home I would have a supply of at least a few thousand on hand.  We used over 10,000 sandbags on my FOB in Iraq and it was small, only 150 guys, and we mainly used HESCO baskets for exterior walls.  Sandbags were mainly used for building reinforcement and in guard towers.

  1. Maintain Clear Fields of fire – This is a military term also known as the “kill zone” that means simply keeping anything in in the area you want to control with fire from providing the enemy a place to shelter.  For the typical home I recommend a minimum of a 25m cleared space with up to 100m preferred if the size of your property allows it.  This is the area fronting your home/defensive position that is cleared of brush, trees, and buildings so you can more easily see, engage, and kill anyone trying to come take your stuff or your life.

The above are just some basic ideas, the list of things you can do to make your home and property more defensible is almost endless.  A good resource and example of the kind of survey you need to do of your property before planning or constructing anything is: The Leader’s Recon: Planning the Homesteader’s Defensive Battle Space on the SurvivalBlog.

Something to keep in mind when preparing or planning any defense is the resources of time, money, and materiel you have available.  It makes no sense to plan something only to find out when you are done with building it that you will come up short.  A less elaborate but complete defense is infinitely preferable to a defense you started building but then could not finish for whatever reason.  I would counsel you that it is best to start out simple and then make your defense more complex and impenetrable as time allows.

My upcoming book (Fall 2014) will delve into how to plan and construct a home defense in much more detail but this article and the one before it should get you started thinking.

Remember, a good defense deters the bad guys before you have to shoot them but if it does come down to shooting, ensures that the kill ratio is so lopsided they give up rather than be wiped out.