ANXIETY leads to FEAR, which leads to HELPLESSNESS.
Last week I mentioned a neighbor who had their house broken into. This is a peaceful area; in the 30 years of living in this rural area the break-ins are few-but increasing with the economic down turn. As expected, no matter what you believe, there will be continued decades of heart-wrenching unemployment with declining cash flow within the system, and prices on available commodities will increase. This is going to cause more violence. You, the individual homeowner can make low cost improvements to your security and peace of mind.
Historically people in all countries and ethnicities have found it necessary to fortify their homes, or band under the protection of some warlord in a castle. In merry old England, where castles abound the first concern was the outer perimeter which was usually swept clean of trees followed by building hedgerows of impenetrable black Hawthorn trees which livestock could not pass through, nor eat. Even Sherman Tanks in WWII could not penetrate the hedgerows in France. Then as we neared the front line of defense were the outer walls of the castle that harbored the merchants abutting the wall, and then the construction of a township. When under attack, the townspeople flocked into the castle with their livestock, bags of food and grains, hay, bows and arrows, throwing stones, and such as they manned the walls in defense.
Inside the castle walls, if breached, lay the “Keep” an imposing edifice where the lord, and his retainer, lived in squalor confines. The water well was usually outside in the courtyard as directly below the Keep walls was the dungeons, and the residue of the privies above. Pity the prisoners.
We can learn from this basic construct that our first consideration would be assessing the risks. You need to review old newspaper articles on home invasions, talk with the police and neighborhood watch to ascertain what the growing trends are and what the risks will be. Various scenarios of threats, albeit from inner-city mobile gangs, disenchanted unorganized mobs, a small band of break-in artists, night invasions, drug related invasions, racial attacks, etc. Each of these threats can define necessary precautions such as, selecting one communial house as a refuge as the Keep, the outer houses being abandoned. Life and limb becomes your priority; if you have children, their safety is paramount; secondly with the women folk, and aged.
There was always an escape route in the castles of yore. An escape today is measured in advance warning and moving the people. Where will you, and the band of refugees, escape to? Keep in mind that it is not only barbarians swinging a battleaxe who threaten you but the knock on the door by the authority model war lord giving you 3 minutes to get out! This was demonstrated in the recent Yugoslavian Serbian-Croatian genocide. What are you going to pack up in 3 minutes? Do you have a bug out kit ready to go? Can you use a vehicle?
A recent Government nuclear attack study, on going since 1955, reveals from Homeland Security that an expected 700,000 refugees will swarm up into West Virginia, probably sweeping through your community. When Castro released the prisoners in Cuba some years ago it almost broke the bank in Florida trying to contain the hordes of people, then free, to cross the 90 miles to Florida.
Suburban housing with the neat rows of homes offers little opposition to mob invasion unless the neighbors can set up street barricades. It is surprising that a barricade, no matter how flimsy, does affect a psychological barrier to the invaders. This requires organization and preplanning. Most likely the entire concept of this construct is alien to community thinking, and will be rejected, most in denial and not cooperating.
That is why you listen to me, and others who have experienced war. You can become the neighborhood leader in such a scenario since few will have any idea what to do.
In more rural areas where you have some land about you, clearing the land of bushes and obstacles affords you better vision and permits instant action based upon a pre-planned preparation of what to do. Your hedgerow can be a big growth of wild rose bushes that that make a beautiful, but thorny draught resistant barrier. www.FourSeasonNursery.com offers impenetrable hedges of this sort.
When you call a security business to “wire” your house with alarms and maybe hook up to a central rent a cop patrol car service may afford you peace of mind. The problem is power outages, and then, these systems are useless.
Some systems are internal to the house with modern technology such as TV set/computer monitors accessing several video cameras around the house. These are good if you are there to observe, or be forewarned by an alarm. They also make good recognition of the incident by documenting the event. However the cheapest one I can fine is at http://www.northerntool.com/ for $300.00; each additional camera adds to the cost.
Were I to install such a documentation – after the fact- system at my remote location I would use a high mega pixel black IR flash Deer Camera with WiFi to my computer that clicks on only with motion, not a continuous run. This keeps a good record of the event figuring about $175.00 and up. When you are looking at deer cameras they are different in the respect that some have a visible flash and the black face does not. Deer do not care about flashes –criminals do. Another aspect is that deer cameras run continuously but those that only shutter click on motion are best. These cameras are mounted outside or inside to capture facial recognition after the fact. See http://www.sportsmansguide.com/ Item #L2X-221220.
The inner perimeter with a good fence is a barrier deterrent but unless you are building a castle wall 40’Feet high and a moat, it is best used as a dog patrol area. A big, well-trained protection dog, not an attack dog, will greet all four legged and two legged invaders. I have one good fence deterrent to show my limits of perimeter, and my faithful 150 lb. Great Pyrenees dog who is a deterrent. If the would be invader climbs over the 5 foot fence, then it is an invasion, and my insurance will prevail. Oh, by the way, insurance companies are not keen on big dogs.
Now the invader is at your Keep, the back door to the house. He has shot the dog, climbed over the fence and is kicking the door.
THE DOOR: A BIG BOX OUTSIDE AND INSIDE DOOR IS JUST A VISUAL BARRIER AND THE WEAKER POINT OF ENTRY. THEY ARE FLIMSY, SAWDUST FILLED COMPOSITES, SOME WITH A CHEAP METAL COVERING THAT LOOK SUBSTANTIAL BUT ARE NO BARRIER TO ANY INVADER WITH A BIG FOOT OR A HEAVY HAMMER. Bam! One good kick to the door lock area and they are in.
Let us discuss the big double $2,000,00 doors on the McMansions. They, like their cheaper cousins are an outside frame of 1 ½” white pine soft wood and the outer and inner door skin is an attractive paneling. Inside the door hollow area is a glue/sawdust mixture that makes the door very heavy. Some of these doors with beautiful sculptured windows are covered in a lightweight sheet metal.
The first problem with all household doors, that you can fix your self, is the hinges. Usually there are 3 left hand hinges. The door swings inside the house. The screws that hold the hinges to the door jam are usually about a 3/8” to a 1” length and they screw into a soft wood frame; or even on one house I looked at – paper frame.
The first step is buy some stainless steel 3-inch length or 4 inch new screws and replace the ones you have.
Hinges are usually cheap pot metal coated in brass paint. The hinge pins are cheap. Replace the hinges with good sturdy farm hinges, or a continuous piano hinge running down the door. The police easily shoot out the original hinges, or anyone with some bird shot at the 3-hinge location. Farm hinges and piano hinges give you an edge.
Another weakness on outside doors is the lock. You are aware that you need a double lock system with keys and you spend $300.00 for a new lock and maybe installation fees. Open your door and look at where the striker bolt on the door assembly braces up against the door jam. That is a cheap small tinny frame with two holes in it for the striker bolt to recess in. That tinny piece of metal is the reinforcement for keeping the big foot off the door. BAM! The pot metal striker assembly made in China is strong enough to rip out the door jam.
What to do? Consider that the door opens inward. The doorframe has a lip on the outside so you can put a winter insulation strip on it. If you kick from the inside, that door strip acts as reinforcement to the door. So the question of why does a door open inside, when the reinforcement is on the outside?
I took my door off. I pried off the inside of the door jams to the supporting wall structure and added more 2”x4” studs at each side and above lintel to give me a reinforced structure to hang a new door. I screwed in a 2”X6” face plate and lintel to each side and above. I was able to obtain oak boards from the sawmill, but the big box stores sell smaller planned boards so you have to measure carefully. I used construction glue on the studs’ and face boards. I also painted them with copper brown at the base to prevent termites and rot.
Now I have an option of buying a door from the big box store custom cut to fit the inside dimensions that OPENS OUTWARD. The door maker will cut hinge standards for you – do you want standard 3” hinges, or do you want farm strong HINGES? If the latter, you will probably have to wood chisel out the depth of the hinge.
The door is hung to the outside edge of the door face and a strip of 2”x6” edging is applied around the inside of the door; perhaps 1” at the door edge and the remainder width screwed and glued against the frame. You can see now that a big foot will have to force beyond this inside lip of reinforcement.
Now install a quality double lock and if all else fails do not use the tinny striker plate. You can make your own, or track down a stronger plate. Use long, long, strong screws.
Wait! We are not done. You will want to install on the inside of the door, one, perhaps two, farm size sliding bolts on the left side above the door lock near the top and bottom of the door. Perhaps a traditional barred door like in the old castles will suffice. If you are observant in the apartment living in New York, the doors are slabbed over with sheet metal and have a rotating cross metal and vertical sliding bolt assembly.
I am in favor of the 16 gauge or heavier sheet metal screwed into the commercial door. If you have to have a window in the door specify polycarbonate bullet resistant from the dealer. It is available.
Aside from making your own door, or having one made at a custom shop with no sawdust, you are as safe as you can get from this invasion point. The harder you make it, the more likely they give up.
You can install cheaply, a two-way intercom from inside to outside the door and you will not feel guilt about not opening the door. A motion detector flood lamp up high over the outside of the door is a discouragement for the criminals as they do not like light – keep it high beyond reach. If there is no light, then your suspicions are aroused.
Inside your Keep you need a safe room This is an inner security area that can be like Fort Knox in the basement, or most likely the bathroom which has, I hope, a cast-iron tub. Put the children and kids in the bathroom with a cell phone that works. Have a secure door, not the Philippine mahogany hollow door and extra flimsy catch lock. With reader interest we can elaborate on this at a later date. Fix those outside doors now.
Windows can be grilled, or what I favor is real heavy-duty shutters that lock from the inside with farm bolts. We will discuss this and the application of firearms next week in defense of the castle.
This would make a good video with reader interest.
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