Home Security Basics

In a world without the rule of law, only those who can protect their families and their stockpiles will survive. Even during somewhat normal times you are at risk for home invasion, assault, theft, and other unpleasantness.

Whether we’re talking about a single-family apartment or a giant corporation, every comprehensive security plan centers on three facets—Deter, Delay, and Defend.


Almost every decision made by a human being can boil down to risk versus reward. Is devouring the fresh out of the oven pizza with gooey mozzarella cheese worth the risk of burning the roof of your mouth? Is the new knife going to be worth the tongue-lashing you’ll receive from your spouse for buying it?

You can deter the threat by increasing the perceived risk and/or reducing the perceived reward. Remember, perception is reality.

Alarm company signs — Burglars and other ne’er do wells don’t want to mess with alarms. Putting up signs and stickers advertising alarm companies goes a long way toward making your home look like a less appealing target.

Don’t put up gun ownership signs — Those funny signs that say things like, “This premises protected by Smith & Wesson” do nothing other than advertise the fact that there are likely firearms inside. This increases the perceived reward. A criminal may zero in on your home for that reason alone. They will wait until the home is unoccupied, then break in and search for anything that goes bang.

Dogs are a tremendous deterrent — If you have the means and are able to commit to it for the long haul, a canine companion is an excellent security asset. Few home invaders will want to tangle with a dog if given the option to just move on to another target.

Light up the night — Exterior lighting is critical to a home security plan. Every entrance to the home should have a motion-activated light above or nearby. Not only will the lights deter a break-in, you’ll know instantly if your teenager is trying to sneak in after curfew.


Should the criminal be undeterred, the next goal is to delay their entrance to your home for as long as possible. The idea here is to increase the amount of time it takes for them to reach their goal while, at the same time, reducing the amount of time it takes for you to become aware of their presence.

Install locks and use them — Sometimes the simplest solution eludes us. Almost every home is equipped with locks on the entrance doors. Use them every single time you leave home. Add a deadbolt on all exterior doors and use them, too. Be sure the bolt extends at least an inch into the door frame.

Replace hinge screws — When doors are installed, the hinge screws used are typically very short. Replace them with stainless steel wood screws that are at least 2-3 inches long. Swap them out one at a time so you don’t need to rehang the door. If the screws go beyond the frame and into the stud itself, the door will be much harder to kick in.

Prevent party crashers — Buy and install shatter resistant film on all ground level windows. Done right, it is invisible and you’ll never see it. It works very much like safety glass in a windshield in that it keeps the glass fragments together. They can break the glass but won’t be able to get their hand inside.

Alarms are great — Store-bought window and door alarms can work very well and aren’t that expensive. Do searches for traveler alarms and you’ll find all sorts of gizmos. A very cheap DIY approach is to buy the loudest and most obnoxious wind chime you can find at the thrift store. Hang it on the back of your front door each night before retiring. Make sure it is high enough that your cats can’t mess with it.


When confronted with the strong potential for violence to be visited upon your or your family, you need to be prepared to act without hesitation. Few people relish the thought of injuring or killing another human being. But, if the decision is them or a member of your family, the choice should be obvious.

Know the laws — It is important to know just how far you are legally allowed to go in terms of self-defense. While yes, as long as you are on the green side of the grass the next morning you can consider it a win, you could lose your savings, even your house, if you didn’t comply with the laws in place at the time of the confrontation. Look up the applicable state statutes or, better yet, talk to an attorney familiar with such cases.

Act decisively — A confrontation, particularly with an armed assailant, is no time to be wishy-washy. Act fast and act decisively, neutralizing the threat as quickly as possible. Remember, too, that the ultimate goal is for you to get away from the threat. Sometimes, a shot of pepper spray to the face is all that is needed for you to have the opportunity to beat feet.

Take a class — Seek out training in basic self-defense, including empty hand techniques and the use of weapons (improvised as well as those of the concealed carry variety). You’ll not only learn how to protect you and yours but you’ll gain a higher level of self-confidence, which will be evident in how you carry yourself.

Armed is ideal — If you are legally allowed to do so, carrying a weapon will put you ahead of the game when it comes to self-defense. Know your weapon intimately and know how to use it properly.

Don’t overlook non-firearm weapons — While they may not be ideal in some situations, weapons like pepper spray, knives, stun guns, monkey fist keychains, and such are still an improvement over your own two hands. Be sure to know how to use them effectively and understand the limitations they have, such as range.

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