Emergency PreparednessProtect Your Home

Get Tactical About Protecting Your Home in an Emergency

You may think you have a gun or two at home and you know how to use it. That makes you feel pretty good about protecting your home in an emergency. Not that we don’t think having a gun and being prepared to use it is a good idea. But there is more to think about than just pointing and shooting.

The biggest scare for us is protecting our home and family in the event of a real emergency. We feel prepared, and we don’t mind sharing our resources with other people that we can trust, but we don’t want our resources and our careful planning to be taken away from us because we can’t protect what we’ve got. We’ve been thinking about ways to “get tactical” with our home protection, and that means thinking of the home and property as a “war zone.”

Look at your home and property the way a military unit would. When a military unit is protecting an area, each solider knows what he or she is responsible for. Each person has a job to do and an area that they are covering. Consider assigning your family and your trusted friends a “sector” to guard. Physically mark out boundaries with some marker, such as a planter, stake, or rocks, if need be. The sectors should not overlap in the sense that you don’t want one person covering sector A inadvertently shooting at someone who is guarding sector B. Each “guard” should be able to focus on their section and not worry about looking over their shoulder. Make diagrams if you feel that you need to so that each person knows what “Wedge” of the property they are responsible for.

Evaluate your view from inside and outside. Go around to each window and door of your house and carefully evaluate what you can see, what a person looking at your house can see, and what things such as trees might be blocking your view.

Think about how your view will be different in night time. You likely won’t see someone coming. You could consider putting out some early warning devices, automatic lights, or traps that you can conceal and not activate until the event of an emergency. You don’t want everyone on your street to know that you have an automatic light that comes on just when someone reaches the tree 40 feet from the left flank of the home, do you?

Pace out the distances to sheds or other outbuildings on your property so you can tell your team how far to go in a certain direction, if need be.

Thinking about traps? Consider key points of attack from the attackers point of view. If there’s a key tree you know provides cover for someone approaching the front door, consider where an appropriate place for a trap or early warning device might be in that area. Make sure you put this information on the sketches for your guards.

Create a barricade location. You may choose to keep a separate firearm or other weapon in your barricade location. If it’s a room, stock this area with some basic supplies. Your barricade location could be a general “safe room” which is protected by a solid core door and a deadbolt on the inside. Large heavy furniture in the room can provide cover, or you could invest in some kind of hard-core closet door that can’t be easily brought down. This way, the room looks fairly “normal” to outsiders but you know it provides a high degree of protection. Inside the closet should be some way to communicate with the rest of your team or with authorities if that is possible. This is also an excellent way to protect yourself in the event of a home invasion.

Outside your home, consider a good fence. A sturdy fence that people can’t see through, but you can, can go along way to deter any sort of invasion. Chain link is also good, because it’s sturdy but you can see threats coming.

Reinforce your windows and doors. Specially designed bars or braces can go in some windows and sliding glass doors. Hurricane shutters can be closed off in the event of bad weather or any other threat.

Also, consider a good guard dog. We’re not in favor of dogs that menace the entire neighborhood, but a well-trained dog that knows its boundaries and will respond to your commands can scare off many potential threats. If you have a dog, make sure you consider your dog’s needs in your preparation plan and have extra food, water, medication, etc on hand for your companion animal.

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Mark James

Mark James

Mark James lives with his family in Western Oregon, the area that Oregon's FEMA director said "will be toast" in the event of a Cascadian earthquake. He hopes to share information to help others protect themselves and their loved ones.