The recent riots in Baltimore highlight how fragile society really is, as the city descended into the most violent period it has experienced in 40 years. Before this is was Ferguson, and who could forget the problems that plagued residents of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. When looters come knocking at your door, wanting to take your supplies to help keep themselves alive, what can you really do?
Unfortunately, most looters are not people you can rationally deal with. They've thrown the rules out the window as a lack of law enforcement following a disaster provides ample opportunity for criminals to get away with whatever it is they have planned, and any police officers still trying to keep the peace are often outnumbered as they deal with hundreds (if not thousands) of issues just like your own. In addition, bugging out to the wilderness and evacuating your home is not an option for many, and you'll find the most practical response after a disaster is to stay put. This may seem counter-intuitive, but especially in the first stages of a crisis staying locked down is often the best choice.
Here's our advice for keeping your home safe before looters come scavenging through, and to turn your home into a fort.
After the fact
Once a disaster strikes, you may find your home has a number of weaknesses which need reinforcing. Always have basic building supplies, sandbags and a can of spray-paint in your stores.
Building supplies. An ample supply of wood and screws to "batten down the hatches" is fundamental, and can employed against people looking to raid your supplies, or just reinforcing your home against any bad weather. Boarded up doors and windows sends a psychological message that accessing your home is going to be difficult, and all but the most determined looters will probably move onto an easier target.
Sandbags. The military uses sandbags in nearly every operation, and for good reason. You can quickly and effectively position sandbags into defensive positions, creating fortifications that are very good at absorbing gunfire. Their size makes them easy to carry and stack like brickwork, and sandbags work wonders to support any vulnerable doors or windows where access to your house may be gained.
Spray paint. Take your building supplies and make a couple of warning signs that explicitly advertise what you will do to anyone that enters your property. Signs like "looters will be shot," make it clear you're ready to defend yourself, a tactic that many survivors used in New Orleans to keep their families safe inside their homes while looters rampaged the streets.
Before the fact
If you really want to fortify your home, there are a number of defensive measures you can begin putting in place today.
Windows. Most intruders gain access to your home through a window, so replace every glass pane with Plexiglas making it almost impossible for a looter to smash through your windows. Steel bars can be very unsightly, however they're one of the best ways to stop anyone using a window to gain access to your house. Unless situations are dire, most looters will not bother breaking through a steel barred window.
Doors. A few solid kicks or a strike with a heavy item (like the rocks decorating your front yard) is usually enough to break through most doors. bulvár . The hinges will give way, or if the deadbolt is cheap the latches may bend, or simply rip through the frame. Replace all of your external doors with steel reinforced models, and install a security kit to reinforce the door jambs and the latch.
Safe room. If your home is breached, where do you plan to go? This may be a small hidden area you can use to wait out the intruders, or a fully constructed safe room that is impossible to break into where you can wait it out until the authorities (or reinforcements from your neighbors) arrive.
Barriers. Make it difficult to get from the street to your front door. Almost any fence can be penetrated, you can deter all but the most desperate looters with a solid fence that's topped with razor wire. Of course, you may only be able to install the razor wire after the SHTF, but build your fence with this in mind and most criminals will think twice before creeping up to your home.
Guard dogs. Treat them well and you'll have a loyal companion that will protect you and your family from any threat. Their sense of smell and hearing is far beyond your own, and they're light sleepers that will alert you and your family when things aren't right around your home.
Maintaining security. Never, ever discuss with your neighbors, friends or random strangers how well prepared you are. People have long memories, and when you have something they want, you may find yourself fighting for your life just to keep it. Hide your supplies and stores away from prying eyes, and you may want to take it a step further following a disaster to make it look like you're worse off than you actually are, so you can blend in with the rest of your neighbors.
Form friendships with your neighbors. Just because you don't tell them every detail of your planning is no reason to keep them out of the loop, as a strong and well-connected group is the best chance you have at defending your home and your family. More people means more eyes keeping watch, and more reinforcements should they ever be needed.
Weapons. For obvious reasons a firearm is a very effective tool for deterring looters, when combined with the right training and mindset to use it effectively. For its close range stopping power a shotgun is our go-to choice, especially when used in conjunction with a rifle to shoot effectively with some range. Try pepper spray for a non-lethal alternative, it's a fantastic deterrent if anyone gets too close.
Knowledge. The key to adequate defense is knowing what your enemy is up to. Motion detectors can alert you when someone has crossed into your property, and are a great security device especially when connected to an off-grid power supply. Install camera's and motion-sensitive lighting to give you ready access to every angle around your home if you think there are looters approaching, so you know your best path of escape, or how to mount your own defensive attack.
A defensive plan. The final tactic is to put together a plan so in an emergency everyone in your family knows what to do. Don't wait until criminals are breaking down your door to make a decision, your wife and kids need to know where to go and have practiced these situations beforehand. A well trained team will perform far better than a group of scared individuals who are frozen in fear.
Setting up these defenses is typically more than enough to keep most opportunistic looters at bay, sending them drifting off back into your neighborhood as they search out an easier score. Start making progress on these items today and you'll ensure your home, your family and yourself are prepared when disaster inevitably strikes.