Hardening Up Your Retreat by Robert Henry

In previous articles, I talked about what exactly is needed to stop different types of projectiles to include lists of materials and the thicknesses needed to achieve the desired protection. Here, I’m going to talk about some specific items you should give consideration to protecting at your retreat.
Yep, your gonna need a lot of sandbags. No way around that. Some things we can get creative with, some we cannot.
Let’s start close to home. If your house is not of the construction that will stop bullets, and you intend to live at that house after TSHTF, then we have some work to do.
At a minimum, I would sandbag to the height of the windowsill of each window for all windows that you could shoot out of. Furthermore, I would sandbag the width of the window plus 1 or 2 sandbags wide and an additional 4 or 5 higher than the sill (on the sides you widened. If you windows are lower, you’ll be squatting or kneeling if you have to shoot out of them anyway. If time and the situation permits, and they haven’t already been shot out, you should attempt to open the window before shooting out of it. Remember though, you don’t want to stick your weapon THROUGH the window. Actually, keeping a good distance BACK from the window would be helpful in many ways–it will lessen the flash and smoke seen from your shot, the shadow should help conceal you, you will be less “framed” than standing directly in the window, and the angles will work to your advantage as far as being able to see more from further back.
Let me explain that angles thing a bit. Think about when your driving down the highway. A big rig is going slow in front of you and you want to pass. You get right on his tail and try to look around to see if it’s clear to pass- you can’t see much can you? So you drop back 20 or 30 yards, nudge over just a bit and you can see clearly. It’s the same way working with angles in houses. This is also great for clearing rooms also, but that’s another article.
If you have the will and inclination, and your floor can handle the weight, you might opt to build a 3 or 4 bag high wall around on the INSIDE of the house. Why the inside? Surprise. If you stack 3 or 4 sandbags high on the outside of the house, this will just encourage someone to shoot higher and to expect return fire from you. If it’s INSIDE the house, no one will know from outside.
Can your floor handle it? On a “slab at grade” style house, most definitely. On a house with a basement, you’d have to check. What your looking for is the size of the floor joists, how far apart they are, and is their any bridging (little brace looking thingees between the joists). With this info, you can go to the local library or Lowe’s and check a book on carpentry. Any decent carpentry book with have tables with allowable floor joist sizes and “live” and “dead” loads for each. You need to know this ahead of time if you intend to sandbag later. You can always reinforce the joists if you know ahead of time.
What other things around your retreat should you plan to “harden?”
How about any above ground fuel storage. Namely liquid propane (LP) gas tanks. When you get one, have them install it a good stand off distance from your structure for this reason. Yes, it will cost you some extra money in the distance of the line, but it’s better than blowing up your house isn’t it? You could sandbag your fuel tanks or if they are a permanent fixture, you could also pour a rectangle footing around the outside of it, and build block walls around it. Be sure to use rebar and fill EVERY cell with grout mix. Be sure the block wall goes higher than the top of the tank. You could make this decorative with a tin roof.
Any building housing critical infrastructure should be hardened. A small shed containing a well pump should be hardened for ballistic protection as well as EMP protection as well. The same goes for your generator building.
Any exposed hose bib that could be used for fighting fires should be protected as well.
All observation posts (OPs) and trenches should be hardened either by the use of sandbags, packed earth or permanent construction with concrete and rebar.
Communications and medical buildings should be protected at least to the level of a four high sandbag retaining wall.
Any critical equipment such as well pumps, generators, radios, should be double sandbagged if possible.
If you have the idea that your retreat is going to look like a firebase after TSHTF, then you are on the right track.