Hardening your Home -- doors, lighting, alarms, weapons, neighborhood awareness

This is a discussion on Hardening your Home -- doors, lighting, alarms, weapons, neighborhood awareness within the Home (And Away From Home) Defense Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Let's have a detailed discussion on taking steps beyond the carry of firearms, by reviewing good, practical steps to be better able to withstand forcible ...

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Thread: Hardening your Home -- doors, lighting, alarms, weapons, neighborhood awareness

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Question Hardening your Home -- doors, lighting, alarms, weapons, neighborhood awareness

    Let's have a detailed discussion on taking steps beyond the carry of firearms, by reviewing good, practical steps to be better able to withstand forcible attack at home.

    GOAL: Presumably, we each have a primary goal of making it harder for criminals to get to us and our family; to enter the home at all; to get in or out undetected and undeterred. Let's presume that's our goal here.

    QUESTION: What practical steps make sense to make it harder for criminals to gain access to your family via entry to your property and your home?

    Consider aspects such as:
    • Location
    • Home design/layout -- what works well, what inhibits
    • Proximity to dense foliage (clear lines of sight from the home)
    • Proximity to tough foliage (difficulty of entry to the home)
    • Tougher doors/windows
    • Lighting -- what specific options work well
    • Alarm / monitoring -- what works well, or doesn't
    • Dogs or other (4WD or aerial) notification systems
    • Knowing your neighbors -- how does this help
    • Neighborhood awareness, generally -- what level of knowledge/awareness
    • Knowing your local police/sheriff -- how does this help
    • "Safe" room or other suitable ensconced position
    • Weapons access/availability, an precautions against unauthorized access (criminals, children)
    • Training -- knowledge of safety/security plans amongst family members
    • ?


    What do you recommend? What have you found that works, or doesn't work? Got resources, for further study?

    Let's discuss practical steps, their utility, their relative pros/cons as you see them in the larger scheme of preparing against crime. Keep it clean and above board, please, without devolving into tit-for-tat claims of morality and relative need. We'll all see the relative need or utility of a given step or tool differently. This is where we can learn from each other about aspects of practical defensive posture we might not have previously been aware of.

    Now, some things you have no control over, immediately, such as the specific design/layout of the house. Can't change that without moving. But, each of the items should simply be a matter of a moderate investment in time, money, commitment.

    Let 'er rip: discuss the features, pros/cons, aspects of a defensive setup that you would most like to see, or that you can practically obtain in your home.
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    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    One thing I'd add to the list is home layout, particularly the locations of bedrooms. If a child's bedroom is at the other end of the house or on a different floor than the parents', then the response to a possible intruder is going to be much more difficult and dangerous than if the child's bedroom were right next door.

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    Member Array DarylW's Avatar
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    I've seen firsthand that most door frames are NOT secure. One kick from a decent sized fella will break them.

    That said, if they get in my house, they get the priviledge of dealing with me.

    I have 5' non-climb V-mesh around my property, with a strand of barbed-wire on top. it's unlikely anyone can climb it, although a person in good shape might vault it.

    My gate has a motion detector that sets off a buzzer in my room, so I know when someone comes through the gate (the easiest and only reasonable way in). I have five dogs (two airedales, two JRT's, and one australian shepard) that will alert me to anyone entering the yard. Normally, one of the dogs (the aussie) sleeps inside, and is VERY defensive toward anyone entering the house until she knows that "mom and dad" say it's ok.

    I have motion activated flood lights mounted on the house. Their purpose is obvious, but necessary.

    So, if you enter the property, I already know you're there. The lights won't come on inside, but I'm there waiting. If you get inside, you deal with an armed and practiced homeowner that's willing to do what's necessary to defend his home and family.

    I think that's about the best I can do.

    Daryl

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    adding my $0.02 . .

    Just last week I finnally got "agreement" from my wife to make a security modification to our home (but even I agree it's not pretty!).

    Changed the back door at the deck to steel-covered instead of the wooden one with all the glass; then at all 3 doors I screwed a 3/8th inch eyebolt 6 inches long thru the door trim ( yeah. . .that's the ugly part) into the framing on each side of the door just below the knob/latch height. At night I slide a 48inch length of 1inch dia. steel pipe through those eyebolts accross the door.

    It may not stop a forced entry but I'm thinking it will slow 'em down and make a little noise if they try to breach it. . . . and after I "stop" the threat I'll have a pretty clear demonstration that it was a forced entry.

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    Member Array Defensive Arms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarylW View Post
    I've seen firsthand that most door frames are NOT secure. One kick from a decent sized fella will break them.
    The prices on metal security doors with much sturdier metal frames, are starting to come down.

    If you shop around, you can get a good all-metal security door installed for a fairly reasonable price.

    They're not impregnable, but will provide a lot more security than the standard wood frame door.
    "I've run across shooting after shooting where the defender shot a violent aggressor with a .380 and did little to immediately stop his depredations. A good hollow point load in 9mm or .38 Special will, historically, end lethal assaults more quickly."

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    Senior Member Array bps3040's Avatar
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    On all my doors I take out the little screws that come with the dead bolts and door knobs and put the plates in with 3" screws. I know it works because I was working on the computer in the back room of the house and someone tried to kick my front door in. It split the frame a little but did not break all the way. He kicked it 3 times. I also add, up and down the door frame, the screws.
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    For my money, the basic layout is a key concern for personal safety. I have an overwhelming desire not to live in a 1-level house. Unless Spiderman turns bad guy, anyone breaking in will have to climb stairs to the second story to do harm to the occupants during normal sleep hours.

    Double-key deadbolts on doors with adjacent glass; reinforced lock strikes; pinned hinges; thru-pins on double-hung windows are good things to do to deter forced or at least unauthorized entry. Short of a true "safe room", using an exterior door for the master bedroom with a substantial deadbolt, hinges, doorframe, etc. will give a higher level of protection than the lightweight and hollow-core doors typically used for home interiors. Again, this depends on the specific occupancy of your home. Also, furniture layout should consider the possibility of shots being fired through the locked door - you probably don't want the bed right in front of the door.

    Given a clean sheet of paper, I would prefer a home with a steel frame and masonry construction, with commercial-grade door and window frames. Upper-story windows would be located to provide no "blind spots" from which unauthorized visitors could avoid being seen. I wouldn't go so far as to emulate the "Vauban Star" layout recommended by the late Jeff Cooper, but that layout has features worth incorporating in the design of a secure residence.

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    VIP Member Array zacii's Avatar
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    My deadbolts are keyed inside as well as out. However, my concern was that if the deadbolts are locked, we couldn't get out throught the doors without a key in an emergency like a fire. I suppose we could abandon the doors and use only windows for emergency exits.
    Trust in God and keep your powder dry

    "A heavily armed citizenry is not about overthrowing the government; it is about preventing the government from overthrowing liberty. A people stripped of their right of self defense is defenseless against their own government." -source

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    Senior Member Array wjh2657's Avatar
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    Good storm doors, with tempered glass, add delay time and stop lock picking. No door, even steel is going to stop them. What you want is for the door to delay them. I have shotguns at each end of the house. Give me more than 2 minutes of delay and the symphony of 00 Buck begins.
    Retired Marine, Retired School Teacher, Independent voter, Goldwater Conservative.

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    VIP Member Array jbum's Avatar
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    Dogs....best early warning ever.

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    Senior Member Array wjh2657's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbum View Post
    Dogs....best early warning ever.
    Completely agree. I have mixed breed Lab/Border Collie who sleeps on front porch. She is very possessive of the house and does not like strangers, especially after dark. Dolly is worth her weight in gold.
    Retired Marine, Retired School Teacher, Independent voter, Goldwater Conservative.

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    VIP Member Array grady's Avatar
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    An intercom system at the front door allows one to talk to anyone outside without opening the front door. A good security/storm door would also provide some of the same protection.

    Treating the entry door from the garage into the house as an exit door will increase security. If someone gains access to the garage, whether from stealing the remote or some other way, breaking into many inner house doors is easy because they often are not hardened.

    As was mentioned, double-keyed deadbolts, especially on outer doors near window panels, will increase security. A key can be hidden nearby for family use.

    Replacing the small hinged basement windows with cemented-in glass blocks would require a lot of force and noise for entry. The downside is this would eliminate a possible exit route in a basement with no exterior door, but for walkout basements, this reduces the possible entry points.

    An alarm system that covers every window and door will be more expensive, but will provide greater coverage.

    Exterior doors can be strengthened by reinforced strike plates, reinforcement strips that run the entire height of the door, longer screws (including in the door hinges), and adding a metal gizmo that covers the area around the door knobs (forgot the name).

    Good-quality peepholes are cheap. I recommend not installing too high or they won't be used by shorter members of the family. It's easier for a tall person to stoop a bit than for a shorter person to find a stool. I also added a peephole in the door that leads to the garage.

    Reinforcing bars will help some for sliding doors and windows. Not a perfect solution, but better than nothing.

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    Distinguished Member Array mr.stuart's Avatar
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    Lights,dogs,locks,guns. Sleep with bedroom door locked. I know,some people have little kids and leave the bedroom door open. That locked bedroom door buys you time and will wake you up if someone attempts to enter.

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    VIP Member Array edr9x23super's Avatar
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    I learned a few things over the years, and have adapted my tactics and home defense accordingly:

    1) First and foremost, A high-tech alarm system with motion sensors glass break detects inside; Outside I have night-vision capable color cameras with motion sensors that alert me to any movement outside. The alarm system has a battery backup/w a cell phone optiion in case power is lost or the line is cut. Generally the motion sensors go off when someone is 10 feet from any exterior wall. The cameras also record everything.

    2) There is a Fort Knox gun safe bolted to the foundation; no one is getting into that without a LOT of effort. All the doors are double-cylinder deadbolted solid core doors with kick-plates. Someone that wants in is going to have to bring some serious hardware to get through those doors.

    3) Anyone who gets to the front door and within is going to have to come up a narrow unprotected stairway to get to the Bedrooms; The master bedroom doorway is at the top of those stairs. In the master closet is a smaller wall safe that fits between the wall studs, which we use to contain the shotgun and the AR-15 when we are entertaining guests or need to secure them. The rest of the time the Benelli and the AR are at the ready just inside the master closet.

    We did some experimenting with how much time we would be afforded in the event of a home invasion with BGs approaching the house and coming in through each door. We estimated that with an average of 10 seconds taken to kick in a door, we would have roughly 45 seconds to a minute for BGs to get to us in the upstairs bedrooms. This was with the motion sensors alerting us to someone approaching the house, which hopefully allows us at least time to grab weaponry and be waiting. The alarm will definitely go off regardless, as there are motion sensors at each entryway into the house downstairs.........
    "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined". - Patrick Henry

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    Member Array Beretta96's Avatar
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    I have a camera with sound at my front door and a peephole that you don't have to stand close to the door to see through it. I also have a deadbolt on my door to the garage. It gets locked every night before bed.

    My wife has an attack cat. No joke. She growls when she hears a noise she doesn't like.
    Nevada CFP
    Utah CFP

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