Prepping Beyond The Basics: Make Your Home Your Fortress

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Written by Richard Douglas

“Prepping” is a broad concept that naturally occurs. Some animals prepare by hiding food when it is abundant, and some work to build body fat before hibernating. Other animals build nests that are tough for predators to reach, or build dens that can easily be defended. As humans we naturally do some of these same things. Our pantries and refrigerators are short term food caches, and our houses have locking access points.

The Basics:

When you are just starting to “prep” for a worst case scenario, obviously you want to cover the basics: water, food, shelter, and sanitation/medical. These are all so critical to basic survival that there are tons of articles and publications with varying opinions.

1. Water – Aim for one gallon per person per day, and don’t forget about any pets. Try to store at least three days worth of clean water and have a backup system (ex: rain catchment and purification tablets/filters).

2. Food – Aim for at least three days worth of food.

3. Sanitation/Medical – Often undervalued and overlooked, proper sanitation is critical for long term comfort and health. Having the right knowledge and supplies will make all the difference.

Unfortunately there may come a time where you need to expand beyond basic survival and defend your life and loved ones. While there are some great firearms for defense, semiautomatic or otherwise, there are other options as well.

Passive, Low-Tech:

When it comes to securing your home and making it into a fortress, there are plenty of “passive” tactics you can utilize that will work for you even if you aren’t home.

Deadbolt Locks

If you don’t have one, get one. Most forced entries occur through the front or back doors and while a deadbolt is not thief-proof, it is a much better hindrance and tougher to force open than other locks.

Strike Plate Screws

This is my absolute favorite and goes with the deadbolt, but is definitely worth calling out separately. The weakest point for many doors is where the bolt slides into the doorframe. When the door is kicked or forced the bolt can stay “locked” but splinter a wooden door frame admitting entry. Do yourself a favor and check all your exterior doors. Unscrew the shiny decorative metal plate where the bolt of the lock slides into the door jamb; there should be a much thicker steel plate behind it. That thick plate is often screwed in with flimsy 1” screws. Take them out and replace with much stronger 3” screws, then reinstall the decorative plate. That’s it! These longer screws help anchor that steel plate, keeping it from being ripped from the frame. My favorite part is that it is cheap, anyone who can work a screwdriver can probably handle it, and even if you rent your landlord would never know.

Thorny Bushes and Fences

This one is tougher if you rent, but can be very effective. Planting thorny or sharp bushes under windows may be all it takes to deter someone from attempting entry. Same thing with fences, if they are allowed in your neighborhood. An average 6’ chain link or privacy fence might be enough to throw off a would-be thief. Just make sure not to give marauders too much cover, and avoid blocking sight lines from your windows.

Stoppers for Sliders

Here is another one for renters and owners alike. Sliding doors and windows are some of the easiest access points; so much so that some insurance premiums are higher if your house has them. An easy, cheap solution is a sturdy wood or metal rod (even a broomstick) cut to length and placed in the track where the door slides. This physically prevents the door/window from being opened. But just like deadbolts and body armor, these only work if you remember to use them.

Garage Door Lock

Another possible point of entry is your garage door. Simply cutting off the handle of the emergency release lever inside, can prevent a thief from using it from the outside with the aid of a coat hanger. You can also install an interior slide lock that keeps the door from opening similar to a deadbolt, just know that you can’t utilize your electric opener when the lock is engaged.


Hearing a barking dog can stop a thief or at least make them think twice; sometimes even a “Beware of Dog” sign is enough. While thieves may not want to take the chance of setting off the fido alarm, don’t rely on Fido to actually attack unless specifically trained. The average household dog can be diverted with a handful of treats.

Active or High-Tech:

There are other devices or actions you can take to fortify your home, but you may need to be home to activate or use them.


This one can be handy for confirming who is at the door, but they can also be easily covered with a hand or hat. You can now even purchase electronic peepholes or doorbells and remotely identify someone at your door.

Security Systems/Motion Lights

Motion lights and security systems may be enough to deter a would-be invader, but they can take some skill to set up if your house isn’t already wired for it. They do have battery operated versions, but then you need to remember to change them out just like some smoke detectors. When leaving the house, you often need to remember to turn on the security system as well.

Window Shutters

If the situation has really gone South, having functional window shutters can make a difference. They don’t have to be permanent bars. Just like preparing for a hurricane, thick plywood that has been precut to the size of your windows can be secured in place relatively quickly. While it takes a bit of time to install, it can be enough to stop smash-and-grab vandals.

Booby Traps

If you are looking to set booby traps, just make sure you know the laws and local ordinances as some types of traps are illegal. There are infinite possibilities, so look for something that is not only legal but quick and easy to install/deploy.

Safe Room

Having a safe room is a great option if you have the space or money. If those are a commodity, identify the most easily defensible location in your house. Sometimes a hidden attic access can keep you safe until the threat passes, just make sure you have at least two exits.

Weapons and Combat Training

When it comes to the very last resort, your personal skills could be tested. Being prepared with protective items like body armor or even hearing protection can’t hurt, but being comfortable fighting back with firearms and fists could make the ultimate difference.

Author Bio:

Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller and other publications.

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  1. Another great article! While “boobytraps” are a BIG time legal issue, I’ve found that non-lethal “boobytraps” work well. Motion detecting speakers with dogs barking, a tripwire with a blank that goes BANG, and other deterrents are excellent.

    1. Hey Joseph, Yeah boobytraps are a controversial topic. Always have to make sure they are legal in the state, and definitely non-lethal, just enough to scare off. Thanks for the comment!

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