Hardening Your House, by R.R.

Preparedness has gained a lot of attention and a whole new meaning in 2020. First, everyone got hit with the threat of infection. Next, a lot of supplies which some households stock regularly, while others buy as needed, went out of stock in the stores causing further panic. Next came civil unrest because folks could not seem to obey simple instructions and suddenly the bad guys became saints and poor victims, but I digress. Altogether, I have to be honest – I’m waiting now for a threat of a meteorite strike or an alien invasion! It seems that in 2020 anything is possible!

With any and all threats, for years there have been groups of folks who had a plan and those who got caught unprepared. For some folks the plan is to get the heck out of Dodge, while for others it is to shelter in place and build bunkers or bunker-like structures. What is often overlooked by those who are ready to bug out, is that leaving is not always an option as your way out might be blocked by fires, protests, quarantine, or some other factor that is beyond your control. Additionally, if you planned to bug out, but have a family member that is sick and can’t be moved for a time or maybe is making his or her way back home to bug out with the group, you might have to wait things out. What do you do then?

Since March 2020, people including myself have experienced an array of problems starting from toilet paper shortage down to meat shortage. Coming from a formerly communist country, I have to say that I have lived a much worse version of it as a kid and while it was very inconvenient, it was not the end of the world. I recall being 6 years old and standing in line to the butcher shop with my mom, hoping that by the time our turn comes, there will be something left to buy. I remember abandoning all planned activities and getting in line to purchase toilet paper because there was a delivery made. We were hoping that more would be sold over the counter to customers then through the back to the friends and families of the store employees. Seems very similar to what we have experienced in the first half of 2020. So what’s different this time around?

Under the communist rule, the issue was poor planning, poor management of delivery routes and the fact that quality products were sold elsewhere (Soviet Union or the Western Nations) and the citizens were left with poor quality products or with nothing at all. It taught me how to plan for the future. Now I live in the United States and going shopping has not been much of an issue, but I do live in California, the earthquake capitol of the United States. This means that I have to be prepared any day of the year for a breakdown in supply infrastructure. WIth that in mind, I have always made sure that we had at least a month of food supplies and about one week of drinking water supplies with the ability to purify our own water, as needed. Add to that two generators for power, reasonable fuel supply, firewood and charcoal for the grill and the smoker, propane canisters for the portable stoves – I believe that we would do pretty good if push came to shove. If needed, we could make the supplies probably stretch beyond a month.

Unfortunately, preparedness nowadays needs to be taken to another level. Closures and breakdown of the supply infrastructure as well as manufacturing in some cases resulting from the virus combined with people’s panic buying have made life more complicated. Throw in civil unrest for whatever reason it occurred that particular week, there is a possibility that should things get really bad, the smell of food, the sound of the generator or even just the lights on in the house could attract unwanted attention. If you doubt that might be the case, look back at Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and the following aftermath – how many people foraged, or rather looted and stole from those that had supplies and were prepared. Some did that to satisfy their own needs. Others did it for profit, by selling what they acquired through nefarious means often back to those who were robbed in the first place.

This brings me to my main concern: how to keep my family safe and keep what’s ours, ours. The threat of the breakdown of society and the possibility for lawlessness somehow felt worse this time around and back in March when the virus first hit triggering all the closures, I saw the writing on the wall. Mind you, things were still pretty quiet then, but it already felt like we were sitting on top of a ticking time bomb. I kept reflecting on the riots from the previous years and even though most of them occurred on the East Coast, I knew that with the right triggers they could occur anyplace. So what did the writing say you might ask? It stated: make sure your house and property is hardened against break-ins and assault. Now mind you, living in an urban area with houses being separated by about 6 to 10 feet from each other, that’s not as easy as being out in the country where you can have a clear view in each direction to monitor for approaching threats and set up early warning systems to notify you of danger.

Know Thy Neighbors

Living in a densely populated area, you have neighbors all around you. Couple questions that you have to ask yourself:

  • How well do you know them?
  • Can you rely on them in an emergency?
  • How prepared are they themselves?
  • How can they contribute?

Now that you have asked yourself these questions, next comes the most important part: discuss these questions with your neighbors. It might be a touchy subject with some, though you might find out that you are not the only one that is struggling with these issues. At the end of the day though no matter what agreements you make, you have to understand that in a lot of cases you have to count only on yourself and your family – anything outside of that is a bonus.

In our case we live in a 3,000 square foot, two-story house with one occupied bedroom on the bottom floor and two occupied bedrooms on the top floor. What concerned me is the fact that the bottom floor of any house has a lot of easy entry points that are not doors. We live in a fairly nice neighborhood, so we never saw any need for security bars in the windows. There have been a few break-ins in the area, but it is hard to find a place where there are none. Most of the break-ins were into the unlocked cars at night, though about once a year we hear about a house being broken into. Additionally, while security bars protect you against folks coming in, they do not protect you against folks throwing anything into your house trying to smoke you out.

Plywood For Every Window

This got me thinking – since the windows have wooden frames around them, the easiest, quickest and most efficient way to secure them would be to install plywood. I took my tape measure and calculated how much plywood I am going to need to secure all glass entry points into the house. I took that number and then added three extra sheets of plywood to the list, for redundancy. It was an easy trip to Home Depot for supplies. While there I also picked up some 2×4’s in case I would need to shore up any part of the structure (more on that later). And while at Home Depot, remember to pick up extra screws, nails, and anything else that you think you might need to use. Oh, and don’t forget fire extinguishers, as those might come in handy when the local Fire Department gets overwhelmed for one reason or another.

In my neighborhood, we are located a good distance from any place that would be the start of a riot or some sort of unrest, as those rarely ever begin in the middle of a housing tract. Combining that with the news as well as monitoring the area, should give me enough notice to be able to install the plywood in time. I semi timed it: I measured how much time it would take me to get pre-cut plywood to each window, lift it up and use the cordless drill to secure it. It averaged out to 15 minutes per window and 30 minutes for the sliding door. The plan of course is to do anything street-facing first, which should be under an hour, and then deal with the backyard windows and the sliding glass door.

JWR Adds:  I suggest buying a couple of boxes of “high security” power screws–preferably two lengths. These are ones with a square lug instead of the much more common Torx head or Phillip’s head.  Some clever looters might have a screw gun with them, but odds are that they won’t have a square bit handy for it.

Unfortunately, that is only part of what needs to be done to secure the house. Having dealt with windows and already having security metal doors both in front and in the back of the house I am left with one more concern – garage doors. The garage is attached to the house and I store some of the supplies there as well, so allowing folks entry into the garage is not a good idea. Unfortunately, even though the garage doors look nice, they are the flimsy aluminum panel doors. Replacing them at the moment is not in the cards so I spent some time trying to figure out how to secure them. What I came up with while not most elegant, will work. I can put together a small frame out of 2x4s inside of the garage door opening and screw the garage door panels to the frame. Granted not the most elegant solution, but it will work. Also this could be done from the inside as the aluminum panels have railing reinforcements to stiffen them up. This is important because the work can be done from the safety of the inside of the house and the task will be somewhat time-consuming.

JWR Adds:  Needless to say, if you have an electric garage door opener, then it should be unplugged or otherwise disabled just before internally bracing your garage door. Otherwise, the opener could destroy itself and/or your door.

At this point, you can consider Phase One of securing the house is complete. Phase Two could be considered securing the property or the compound itself. Most urban properties are similar to mine in the aspect that the front yard is street-facing, for the most part open, maybe with a smallish decorative fence. The back yard is more enclosed with a taller fence, maybe even a wall. This unfortunately means that little can be done about the front, short of building a tall wall which is not cheap nor is it fast and sometimes even impossible due to permitting rules in your area. So here all I can see that can be done is making sure that you have strategically placed cameras and easy access to the first story roof from the second-floor windows for overwatch and threat mitigation.

Let there be light!

Lights are an important part of securing a compound. They can serve as a good deterrent as most folks would prefer not to be seen while they are up to no good. A good source for lights are solar-powered ones that charge up during the day and operate at night. One thing to consider though is that the light should have the ability to be turned off remotely so that during the times that you want to play possum and not be noticed.

The next part that needs to be dealt with is access to the back yard from the front of the house. Side gates are often not lockable and not too sturdy. What you might consider there is to replace your gates with security steel gates or solid wood gates and set them up with padlocks. In my case I was halfway there – my gates were solid wood and all I had to do was make them lockable from the inside. After doing so, I took things one step further – I added an alarm to the gates so that if they’re not disarmed and forced open they would make noise. The alarm could end up being enough of a deterrent to whoever was trying to breach the gates, but in case they decided to proceed I would already be aware of the threat and could deal with it appropriately.

Securing My Back Yard

This leaves me with the back yard. Granted it has a 5.5-foot wall all around it, but it can be easily scaled. Only one of my neighbors has a dog and I no longer have a dog. I wish we still did as a dog is one of the best yard security systems you could have. Unfortunately for a variety of reasons that is not the case. So what can I do to increase safety? Two words – wireless cameras. I ended up picking up a couple of rechargeable units that operate for more than a week per charge, and you can easily conceal them in the yard. Unfortunately, when you step into the camera’s field of view, you can hear a loud click when the motion sensor activates the camera revealing the device location. The upside is that I get an alert on my phone and with a touch of a finger I can monitor the live feed.

You can also make overlapping fields of vision that will allow me to look at other cameras to see what’s going on should I lose a camera or two. An important thing to note is the fact that while the cameras need wifi to work, they do not need the internet to work. This means that I connect directly to them so that I can view what’s going on even when the Internet and power is out. (My access point is powered by a big UPS).

Is there anything else left? Hardening your house is an iterative process. You can always improve on what you have done so far while also expanding and adding:

  • Proper supply of strategically placed fire extinguishers throughout the house and the garage.
  • Flashlights strategically placed throughout the house and the garage.
  • Personal defense implements placed strategically throughout the house and the garage.
  • A good supply of ammo.
  • Additional security floodlights that are both motion-activated and remotely-controlled. There will be times that you might want to turn them on and leave them on or turn them off and leave them off.
  • A Public Address (PA) system that you can use to warn off intruders and alert neighbors.
  • Good siren to notify folks of danger.

So, what is next? Well, next is building up your food stores. So if you end up digging in, you will be well stocked and well-fed, but the details on that are for another time.


  1. Windows: Downside to plywood on windows is not being able to see out, An exterior frame of 5/4X4 with 2″ X 2″ square 14-12 gauge “pig fencing” mounted 3″+ from the glass protects against bricks, rocks and molotovs. Design it to be QUICKLY removable from inside in the event of fire. Extra points for adding 8-12 mil clear 3M security window film to interior glass surface “just in case.”

    Remember, all obstacles MUST be protected by armed overwatch to be effective.

    Garage door opener. Add external on/off switch to the internal wiring and a pull chain on/off switch for the light. Pull chain switch allows raising the door electrically without turning the light on, master on/off switch used to disable the opener temporarily. Remove safety release cord with handle and replace with smooth length of 3/4′ EMT or 1 1/4″ closet rod to prevent “bowing” the door from outside and hooking the rope with coathanger to unlock the door. Smooth handle Should be long enough for shortest person to reach; put one plastic wire ties on safety release latch – will still be able to be used by pulling firmly on smooth rod, wire ties prevents accidental or “unauthorized” operation of safety release.

    Mix of fire extinguishers: Dry chemical, CO2, 2.5 lb pressurized water. Different fires require different solutions. Use K-Class in kitchen.

    Battery powered LED closet lights (Amazon, about $25 for 3-pack) have magnetic base and can be attached to underside of rain gutters. Set to “night motion detect,” they’ll turn on if someone walks within about 10 feet, stay on 20 seconds with no motion, longer if motion still present. Not real bright, but enough light for “target identification” and “intruder startling” effect. Glue the steel strips (included in the package) to gutter (you’ll need a ladder) then use “grabber-reacher” to install/remove LED lights. Establish recharging schedule (mine go 80-90 days because they’re not on often, and when on only for 20 or so seconds).

    If your yard slopes, use concrete “wall blocks” to build a terrace, backfill with dirt, plant grass or SHORT flowers (extra points for using thorny bushes on lower side of wall as “decorative” measure to obscure the wall; thorny bushes work where HOA, etc.prohibit fences. ). 32″ high terrace will stop nearly all wheeled traffic. Extra points for positioning a few built-in sprinkler heads to keep lawn outside terrace soaked, intruders will have difficulty concentrating while being soaked with cold water.

    6X6 posts (extra points for using sections of 10″ diameter utility pole) set deep (48″-54″) on 4-6 ft centers and 42″ above grade with “decorative”
    painted chain of heavy hemp rope (1.5″+) strung between them will prevent simply running up to you front door – it’s another “decorative” obstacle that intruders will have to step or jump over to get to the door or porch.

    Yard fences: build the fence with one “false gate” and one real one. The real one is hidden-looks like an unbroken section of fence. The fake one looks just like a real gate, with real hardware, a working latch that moves, stepping stones in the lawn outside leading to it, etc. but it’s solid fence. Intruders will go for the fake one – they want easy access – so put the fake gate where it can be used as a “fatal funnel.” Be careful of foot/wheeled traffic through real gate as that will mark it as the real access point.

    When you think you’re all set, lock up, go outside and try to [mock] attack your own house AND THE PEOPLE IN IT. Look for ways you could gain access. Is your garage door up all day so the kids can come and go? Or do you leave the back door unlocked for them all day so they can come in for snacks? Put a small fridge on the back porch instead. You know your house better than anyone, use that knowledge, and do not forget destructive intrusion – an intruder will not care what he breaks or destroys to get in, study those intrusion methods also. Any corners need mirrors so you can see who/what is there from inside? Your porch may be well lighted at night, but is it dark enough during the day that someone walking to your door cannot be identified because they’re just a backlighted silhouette? Does your car GPS have it’s “home” setting as your driveway or is it a shopping center parking lot 1 mile (or farther) away? If someone steals your GPS in a mall parking lot, where will pressing “home” take them? Is the garage door opener in your car or do you use a pocket model that you can carry with you instead? Are your entry doors equipped with double cylinder locks so anyone entering through a window can’t simply exit through a door? NOTE: DOUBLE CYLINDER LOCKS REQUIRE YOU TO KEEP A KEY CLOSE BY THE DOOR WHEN YOU’RE HOME AND SECURE THOSE KEYS WHEN YOU’RE NOT HOME. If the house catches fire or there’s something outside that needs immediate attention having to go to your dresser, or dig in your purse, for a door key isn’t just inconvenient, it can be fatal.

    What do you have to do AFTER an intrusion if one happens? Do you have plywood, etc. to cover a glass door or a window if an intruder breaks it to get in? Do you have an up-to-date inventory of assets, with purchase or replacement costs – furniture, appliances, electronics, clothing, tools, kitchen stuff, etc. ? Do you have an alarm system? Even a simple one protecting only a few areas in the house is useful – burglars ALWAYS go to the master bedroom first.

    Are you leaving tools or weapons out for burglars to use? All those tools on pegboard over the garage workbench look nice, but can Bad Bart use them to gain entry to the house? Can he gain entry to the garden shed and find an axe? That handy cordless circular saw under the workbench will cut through a wood door in seconds so secure your tools in “jobsite tool chest” if necessary. Is there a fancy knife block with knives in it sitting on the kitchen counter? Or, are your kitchen knives in a drawer, out of sight. A lot of burglars don’t carry weapons in case police stop them so they pick up a weapon when they get into a house to burglarize it.

      1. I am all in for the first, most important suggestion: Living in a densely populated area, you have neighbors all around you. Couple questions that you have to ask yourself:

        How well do you know them?
        Can you rely on them in an emergency?
        How prepared are they themselves?
        How can they contribute?

        Neighbors help kep the hazard distant, for them and you.

        Once the bad guys get to your house, you are already toast, no matter how well armed. Gasoline bombs destroy the best plans.

        Cultivate community. Perimeter defense. Work together.

        Carry on

    1. Excellent suggestions, Nosmo!
      In addition to barrier strategies, the idea of the sprinkler system to flood the yard and create discomfort and distraction was quite clever.

      We are looking into an industrial grade siren for an elderly relative who lives very nearby, and think we’ll attach it to a panic button. The decibel level alone would likely drive an intruder away, and of course, the system we’re considering can be heard from quite a distance.

      This idea, of course, is a back up should someone manage to pass by all our other security features including cameras, sound alerts, motion sensor lights, gates, and other impassible physical barriers including but not limited to the protective placement of large vehicles.

      1. @ T of A

        I’ve never used this but the Wildlife people here say that the Critter Gitter is quite good. They recommend it to use for bear problems etc but I don’t see why it could’ve work just as well for picking up 2-legged problems. Has a siren setting.

    2. Over the years prepping I have thought out different devices you can use as a defensive weapon which is casually not defined as one. Tried to put myself through situations of what to use and what might be very effective deterrent for intruders….one device that really stands out is to procure the old 3 gal pressured liquid fire extinguishers. You can readily buy them on eBay, garage sales, etc. Try and buy the ones that are already empty (saves on shipping). These have a screw off top, and a pressure air receptacle that allows you to use your air compressor to reload. I clean the inside with water and soap air dry, and then pour in six half gallon bottles of clear ammonia, after replacing the top I fill with about 200 lbs psi of air. The full bottle has about a 45 sec use time, and the liquid will reach a whopping 50 to 75 feet. We are talking about a full continuous stream, you have smelled the ammonia vapor, now imagine getting soaked from a stream of ammonia the fumes would take your breath away getting it in your mouth and eyes would totally render you senseless. I was in law enforcement and comparing it to any type of mace, or pepper spray it is many times more effective, plus it is a caustic agent, it could conceivably injure or kill. I have found the ammonia will stay full strength in the extinguisher for years, and it has other purposes since it is a cleaning agent I have used it wash outside of houses, boats and rvs…it works great. The ammonia’s fumes always disappear after about 10 to 20 minutes. In a closed house or garage you would need a full face mask with filters in order not to be exposed to the ammonia. The extinguisher is heavy when”loaded” so would suggest keeping two or three around the house and garage. They can be prepositioned for emergencies, but be careful around children, this is a deadly device not to be played with. In my experience there are few devices that have The ability to control even a small crowd the way this could. Please share your ideas ……..so we all can benefit from them.

      1. John,

        I have developed the same idea with a weed sprayer. I was thinking vinegar but ammonia (or something else!) would be more effective. I kind of thought of that if someone were to approach my vehicle or my loved one in a restaurant.

        Also, I believe you and I have talked on the phone a few times as we had a mutual accquaintance in a small town in the middle of Nevada. Back then you recommended UNAmmo as a good source as I remember. And they are a very good source. But, maybe I’ve got the wrong person. I sure don’t want to say more and create opsec problems so I’ll just finish with a thanks for the great comments on this blog.

    3. Having watched a mob on TV tear into a police station that supposedly had protected windows, I swore to only use real plywood, and not that chipboard type stuff.

      The police had used a [OSB] material that had long shards of wood glued together in a way typical of many homes I have seen being built. I’m sure all the specs are great.

      However, once the mob had managed to crack a smallish hole in the board, the rest of it readily shredded apart under continued attack, and the police station was breached.

      Plywood would never do this. You can whack on it all you want, it will not shred and break apart.

      Plywood means plywood, and not any kind of substitute.

  2. For the grab and run thug(s) your ideas are sound. Make it look like too much work and the unspoken GIVEN that Rule of Law, EMS and the Police are around.

    That might not be so.

    For the far more serious dangerous people AND I include normally decent folks hearing their Kids crying “MOMMY I’m HUNGRY” your plans will not be so successful.

    We all need allies, trusted folks that have our backs. Electronic devices can help but you DO have to sleep and exhaustion makes us all into Idiots.

    You need a series of rally points if, NO When you get driven out of your home. You did not mention is your home is built of solid brick but I suspect no. So even one not so clever soul with a Molotov might set your home ablaze and the Fire Department and Police are unlikely to be responding quickly.

    You need trusted allies that you can rally and regroup at. As a EMS responder nothing is so harsh as seeing parents frantically searching for their kids during a home fire.

    Be an asset to trusted friends as they are an asset to you. For the price of a fancy camera or three you can have extra cases of canned soup and rice to support those normally decent people for quite a long time.

    Otherwise your setup is a juicy target for the Hungry and simply depraved destroyers that are awaiting the time the police will NEVER Come.

    P.S Get a Dog.

    1. Hey JRJ, the biggest concern with any window is making sure you are far enough out on the frame so you don’t hit the glass when drilling. The windows I have taken apart had the glass extending only 3/4″ into the frame. So from where you see the glass disappear, I’d go out at least an inch.

      As far as hanging the plywood on aluminum-framed windows, it should be pretty easy if you have a helper. I’d first cut the plywood to the exact size you want. While holding it firmly in place where it’s going to go, draw a pencil line along the bottom of the plywood on the window frame, then take the plywood down. Drill holes and screw two deck screws (or whatever screws your using for this) into the window frame along the pencil line one quarter of the way in from each edge of the plywood. These two screws will be permanent and are going to hold the plywood up while you are drilling the holes for the rest of the screws, and later on when you are installing the plywood in preparation for the roving hordes since you want a quick and easy installation. Once the two screws are in place, put the plywood back up and make sure your helper is holding the plywood firmly in place while you drill the screw holes through the plywood, into the window frame. I would also scratch a line in the window frame on the left and right side of the plywood to help align it later for a quick installation. Sharpie lines don’t last long in the sun so a scratch would be better and nobody will notice it from the road. Lastly, make sure each piece of plywood is clearly marked so you can quickly grab each one and know exactly where it goes. I’d also drill a few holes in some scrap metal so you can test out the best size hole for whatever screws you are using.

      1. Suggestion on plywood over windows…..for windows that are sliders up or down have used in the past 3/4 or thicker with two eye hooks at the top with Two heavy screws or hooks that are mounted at the top of the window on the outside…..this allows you to hang the plywood easily over the window While you secure it from the insidea……with a window part way open on the inside you have a length of 2x 4 that you put across the open window with holes drilled through the 2×4 to insert screws through and screw them into the plywood over the outside windows. This would hold the plywood securely And the 2×4 in place and not require any further screw holes into the outside of the home. It they are not sliders, then just secure with screws on the outside.

  3. Using thorny bushes such as barberry or others around the foundation of the house especially windows and as a hedge can make access more difficult. A good thorny hedge will direct all but the most determined to easy access points such?gates of driveway.

    1. Wintergreen Barberry is the way to go, the thorns are much longer and more agressive than Japanese Barberry. Someone isn’t going to walk through a hedge of Wintergreen Barberry without some serious pain.

        1. Michigan holly is good for some 4a. Japanese Burberry is good for some 4b. I don’t know your climate specifically, but if you have protected areas or around the foundation of your house the Burberry might do ok particularly in full sun, mulch heavily. Another possibility is blackberry which has the added benefit of fruit. Check with your local nursery or if you have a co-op extension.

  4. The issue of window protection is always on my mind. My home is located in an “acreage community”, with lots ranging from 2-6 acres. It has lots of windows (my lovely wife insisted), so anyone with moderate marksmanship skills could lie in prone at the edge of my property and pick us off through the windows – easy-peazy! I’ve considered the exterior plywood approach, but, as mentioned above, you DO need to see out from all sides. The “shutter approach” employed in JWR’s most excellent novel, Patriots, is appealing, but not practical for this house/neighborhood.
    I’ve about decided on interior contractor-grade trash bags with peep holes, leaving the top 12″ open to allow light in, just to eliminate a convenient aim point, but this offers no protection against intrusion.
    Are my priorities wrong?
    Any ideas?

    Best from TX

    1. SH-
      I also had a similar concern. Opted to use 12 mil security film to slow ingress, and instead of plywood, have built aluminum frames with 1/2″ UV resistant lexan (polycarbonate sheet) to mount infront of the exterior glass. Though not ballistic protection, it will stop thrown objects and can slow handgun projectiles. Also has the advantage of not being obvious from the rd.

  5. Google “CrimSafe” for windows and doors including large glass sliders. CrimSafe window screens have a quick release that allow the screen to swing out for easy exit.
    Also, rolldown shutters on garage door add a second (heavy duty) extra door that protects the flimsy aluminum garage door. The rolldown can be manual or electric (switch or remote control).

  6. An excellent article and comments to which I would like to add a suggestion. IMHO a contractor’s ROLL of 6 mil or heavier black plastic works well for covering windows and is typically heavier than the contractor’s bags that I found difficult to find thicker than 3 mils. A roll of plastic could also provide a temporary covering for a wood pile, a damaged roof, etc and would be easier than using bags.
    As a side note to longivity, some years ago experience with clear and black plastic demonstrated that black plastic lasted longer when exposure to the sun.

  7. definitely work on your window/door board-up strategy >>> screwing down the board perimeter is only a slight hinderous to someone with a crowbar …

    you need inside 2″ X 4″ crossbracing with threaded rod bolting – backed up with large diameter washer plates to eliminate fastener “pull-thru”…

    if persistent with adding screws to outside board-up >>> select a truly unique screw head like a “clutch head” or a security one-way >> if nothing else use a variety of conventional screw heads to aggravate & hinder the screw gun raider ….

    1. So maybe I’m wrong but I guess that I always assumed that unless you were targeted specifically because you were known to have “good stuff” or your place was remote, out of sight and it was known that the house would be vacant for quite some time, wouldn’t most looters want to just smash a window, kick in a door and grab and run? I somehow can’t imagine them having the forethought to bring a screw gun(with charged up extra batteries) and various screw-heads to deal with whatever screws they encountered unless they already knew that your place was worth their while and they wouldn’t be disturbed. Or I suppose if they started by eliminating the occupants and then had lots of time; who cares at that point??

      I guess I just assume that if you basically make your place look uninviting(or greet the looters with ballistics) most will just move on to easier pickings.

        1. I hear what you’re saying but we are not talking about 1 or 2 screws. In my case (and in case of quite a few other houses i know of – used to work construction for my uncle while in college many years back) the window frames are solidly installed into the house frame and having the screws spaced every 2 to 3 inches, plywood ain’t budging.

          Granted as someone else mentioned you can shoot through the plywood… Yes that’s true. You can reinforce your glass windows with the film, but then they can shoot through the wall next to the window….

          Bottom line is that if you live in a city in SoCal, you don’t have brick walls, you don’t have a basement. You can make it harder on intruders, setup overwatch from the roof, and to a degree make the house look uninhabited or unappealing. Is it the best long term solution? Nope…this is for you to be able to hide your time a bit before you make a move or things pass if they’re short term.

          1. See Joel Skousen’s ballistic protection method. Basically, it is 1/4 to 1/2 inch gravel sandwiched between two plywood sheets, with the gravel about 4 inches thick. See his book on the Secure Home for construction details. It is cheap, and extremely effective.

            Basically, the bullets keep ricocheting off of the gravel, and never penetrate into the structure.

            I plan to use it to protect my propane tanks from hunters with bad aim, and marauders with good aim.

            You don’t have to cover everything with it, you can make it just high enough to give you cover.

  8. Call “Mis Dig” and find where things are buried under ground. Buy 6′ metal posts, cut in half, pound 12″ into ground, and run wire between posts. That makes it hard to run up to the house. Smooth wire will work and barbed wire in really bad times.

  9. Thanks Wrench – good thoughts. I just scanned the net for 1/2″ Lexan, and found that a 4×8 ft piece costs $1540.00!! Unless I’m way off base, this may be problematic as an all-around solution. Am I looking at the right stuff?
    Thanks again!

    1. SH- yes, forgot to mention that it is expensive. 1500 seems pretty high, though i havnt bought for a while. 3/4″ is un reasonably expensive! Several thousand. But i remember buying mine from McMaster car for around 500 a sheet. Only had to do three windows with it, as the rest are out of reach without a ladder.

  10. Especially if one is stuck in the city, read Selco’s books on his experience on how he survived Bosnia. His account is not academic, but the real deal. I personally would sell at a loss and find something I could afford, even if it meant moving to the middle of nowhere and living in a shack. NW Arkansas is affordable. Selco also advises not to be where conflict happens. Don’t be there. Some of his information is free on the internet. This link can help you get an idea of what he offers.


    1. I read Selco maybe 15 years ago. Reading again now. I recommend The Gulag Archipelago although it’s a loooong read, each volume 700 pages, and there’s 3, and it can be difficult reading + potential nightmares. But, it definitely explains the nitty gritty of a Marxist/Communist takeover. Women are never spared, nor are little girls and not even little boys. I think the most important thing is to be armed and everyone old enough to be trained with lots of ammo. I think it’s a crying shame that many Governors across the country would rather see people butchered than protect themselves. People are afraid to defend themselves.

      Fathers, teach your daughters to shoot under all conditions and to never be afraid to pull the trigger.

      Other than the above, I have “view windows” and I think often about what that means should trouble come to this rural place. I like that I can see what’s coming my way, but at night I hear nothing. Hence, German Shepherds.

      I too would sell at a loss just to get out.

      1. So true. I grew up on Solzynitzn. He regretted that they didn’t stand up for their rights earlier.

        My daughter is 14 and she’s a total marksman who is often more accurate than my self. She’s calm and poised.

        There’s a lot of people in this great nation who are never going to take gun confiscation or encroachment and threats to their personal liberties.

        Including a government that commands or demands for us how to think and how to talk. Great comments

  11. Tried all this. The HOA wrote us up incessantly for fines. Then filled out all their online paperwork to add shrubs, shutters, tint in garage windows, three-foot high security designer fence, new steel out door, designer spikes around concrete back wall.

    Denied denied denied on everything.

    The move to the Redoubt is the only option. Suburbs are out due to militant HOAs and the city is always out.

  12. Regarding comments on why screw head may be most common, the square bits are most common, at least in my 30+ years in the construction industry. If you could use star head screws it may be a bit better, and as impractical as they are, flat blade screw heads, could possibly be the most difficult for imposters to quickly unscrew.

    I have used silicone on screws before that I wanted to secure, and it actually worked very wel! As far as the difficulty in removing the screws.

    1. You are correct that the standard square head is commonly used for deck screws. But I was referring to the “large square” (SQ4 or SQ5), which is quite uncommon, and a good choice for higher security. There are also triangular heads available. The small Torx head is becoming ubiquitous for home carpentry. The Bad Guys wil probably have that bit.

    2. There is also another fix – 3 seconds with a drill to strip out the Star or philips from the screw. Short of someone else drilling out your stripped screw head or having the reverse bit for removing stripped heads you’re golden. And when it’s time to remove the plywood you can take your time with it.

      Also… Let’s not forget the overwatch detergent from the second story 😉

        1. Lol stupid autocorrect- bleaching out the issues could work – pouring Clorox down on intruders heads would be akin to pouring down hot tar on folks trying to breach castle gates.

          Anyways the word was supposed to be deterrent.

  13. Hi RR, lots of good info in your article.

    As far as solid brick or cider block walls go, in Latin America the most popular way to keep people from going over the wall is to put a fresh layer of mortal along the top and imbed broken glass from bottles etc. into the mortar. With the glass sticking up, it makes a good poor-man’s barbed wire.

    1. I saw a beautiful example in Celaya, Mexico. The well-built wall was topped by broken plate glass, all pieces close in size and shape, set at an angle and parallel to each other.

      Wall was protecting a private car park.

  14. Been looking into security screens both for the bottom windows, backslider and reinforced screen / storm door for the front entrance.

    Trouble is we’re talking thousands of dollars. The missus is more interested in a new bathroom/kitchen. She’s heard my doomsday speech the last 10 years and isn’t having any of it.

    Plywood sound like the only alternative at the moment. Don’t relish the idea of living in a cave. However the rioters have upped their game and now go into the suburbs throwing rocks through people’s windows.

    Most people around here don’t think it could ever happen . Their idea of protecting homes is putting up “black lives matter” sign on their front lawn. The neighbors will definitely be a liability.

    “Bug out plan” is traveling from one coast to the other. Yeah ,we’re screwed :-b

    Good luck to my fellow Americans and Patriots.

  15. Very good article and lots of good discussion. I would recommend those bugging in to consider Impact Resistant Windows and Hurricane Shutters. For those who do not live in hurricane zones, you can have shutters shipped to your location. Here in Florida, Hurricane Shutters are available in most hardware stores, in Minnesota, probably not.

    One problem with boarding or shuttering up is you may inadvertently make yourself a target. Think carefully about the situation before you shutter or board up.

  16. I would recommend those bugging in to consider Impact Resistant Windows and Hurricane Shutters. For those who do not live in hurricane zones, you can have shutters shipped to your location. Here in Florida, Hurricane Shutters are available in most hardware stores, in Minnesota, probably not.

    One problem with boarding or shuttering up is you may inadvertently make yourself a target. Think carefully about the situation before you shutter or board up.

    1. I have always like those metal roll up shutters for doors and windows like that are common in the costal states. They are costly but in a short fused situation they would be worth every penny. Remember that all the way closed they were very weather resistant and almost closed they allowed the occupants to see out and still remain virtually unseen.

  17. When using any kind of wifi device make sure to change the default passwords and settings. Google shodan to ser how many forget to change default settings or even put a password in place at all.

  18. Has anyone heard from RKRGRL? It’s been a few days since her surgery and I’m wondering how she is. I think I got her “name” spelled wrong, but I didn’t do a look-see to find the right spelling.

  19. I read where the Anitifalala folks were using lasers and strobes. Is there a [laser] goggle that would help protect the baby blues and still provide visibility through optics?

    1. Laser productive goggles are only made to protect against particular wavelengths. So unless you know the type of laser you will be attacked with, then you are out of luck.

  20. Visited the public shooting range here last week.
    It was a steady stream of traffic = people frantically getting their firearms in working condition.

    A Trump supporter from Arkansas was killed in Denver. We need to pray for wisdom = How to deal with the intense, growing hatred towards conservatives and Christians in this country.

    1. Your right, John.
      Plus, Christians are dealing with absolute Demoniacs in America. … Faithfulness to God, with Church attendance, along with ‘Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving’ is the solution to spiritual problems in America. [For the Pagans: = Almsgiving is charity for the truly needy.] Solving spiritual problems will help solve the social problems.

      We need to also pray, for the Rich and their subservient Politicians. Many wealthy people have gained their money by sending American Jobs and Factories overseas to Economic Slave Labor facilities.
      The American wealthy have facilitated Communist China’s oppressive government, with its ~economic and ~military threat to the United States and the World.

      The phrase “large campaign donations” to politicians can often be translated, for the less fluent in English, as ‘bribes’ from some wealthy people and groups.

      God has given people the ability to spot the severely possessed Demoniacs. … Nancy Pelosi needs to be sprinkled with Holy Water publicly by a Priest in her Church. Surely, Pelosi’s head would start spinning around like the gal in the movie The Exorcist. … There’s a lot of other people in the USA, as demonically possessed as Pelosi.

      Seriously, if anyone is attending an event or place, and the women with small children start leaving; it’s time to ~leave too. [Unless you’re armed and looking for trouble.] … A lot of us guys might think the gals are ditzy sometimes. … But God has given the gals, especially women with small children, the ability to sense that dangerous trouble is in the crowd.

      God have given women an ~intuitive sixth sense. Faithful Church attendance along with prayer, fasting and almsgiving will ensure the gals are listening to God and NOT the Serpent. +The obligations by God are placed more severely on Men. [God’s gift to us guys.]

    2. @ John

      It’s not just conservatives and Christians experiencing hate; Orthodox Jews in NYC have been taking back their lives, synagogues and streets from the Covid lockdowns forced on them and they are being demonized in MSM. A leader of the protests has been arrested. The NYT can’t stop hating on them as they are religious, conservative and reliably Republican.

      1. Ani, you’re right too.
        Jews experience more vicious unwarranted attacks, than anyone else. … In New York City, the Orthodox Jews suffer because of Mayor de Blasio and his supporters.

      2. So true-It’s a general hate towards Christians. Zionist and Jews.

        It’s like they want to eradicate our Judeo Christian foundations.

        Most of us who are anti-Marxists are never gonna put up with it.

        Some of our parents fought in Iwo Jima, World War II or the Civil War.

        The dumb globalist media and control freaks are head over heels for Islam and communism-In France a teacher was beheaded by a radical.

        They criticize Christianity and Judaism—But fear touching the prophet Muhammad. Its premeditated media cowardice.

        The faiths from the Holy Bible and the Pentatuech/ Torah gave birth to the Magna Carta in western civilization

        And they steal our icons like the rainbow which is millennia old… They are redefining our symbols and our face because we’ve been to weak and accepting.

        I don’t hate gay people but the rainbow always meant a sacred symbol from the heavens from Yahweh.

        There’s complete disrespect for our Judeo Christian foundation and that has to be restored. I believe it will be. In the most peaceful and nicest as possible way (i hope).

  21. This will give any intruder a bad day. Us what we used for BEARS in Alaska. In front of your door’s and windows take 3/4 inch plywood and put 3 or 4 inch deck screws every 2 inches or so on A piece around 2X3 or bigger. (Alaska cabins don’t have big windows.) Put them in the dirt in front of your windows if things look like the SHTF is going to happen. Put your plywood In front of doors put a light towel or some covering that will let the screw penetrate. For the window’s set you plywood under the ground so it can’t be seen and put a light covering of leaves or brush so your screws aren’t easy to see.

    If you are not a person who knows much about building, then measure your windows and make your plywood 8 to 12 inches wider than your windows. Most hardware stores will cut your plywood for you. Remember not to put them in front of any escape avenues you may want to use.


    There are other things you can do also but if you not a Vet you can talk to some old Nam guy’s about what we ran into over there.

    God’s blessing to all. Remember think long and hard about what you should do.


  22. Hard to cover all the bases…..in my lifetime of 70 years I have had two burglaries at my houses…..if I remember the average span for a person to have an insurance claim for a breakin or burglary is every eight years. I made a choice years ago to have gun safes in obvious places in the home…..and to have hidden storage wherever I could place it, and never stored high dollar items in the master bedroom. My losses were always from the master bedroom and garage…….they never tried to get into gun safes, or nor did they find my hidden storage areas. They did take camping items, tools, and cookware, my feeling was they did not spend a lot of time in the house, also both burglaries were when I did not have dogs. Both properties were fairly remote, and not close to the road. My neighbors who lived close to a county roads were burglarized several times in comparison to myself. Seems like these people choose homes that were easy in and out….they tended to shy away from homes that were not close to the road. Always tried to store expensive or cherished items out of the way or in boxes labeled as donations or clothing, it worked in both cases for me. Being the gray man, also works for your residence, try to make it look as neutral as possible and avoid signs that advertise you have guns or such things. Please understand I am not a believer in trying to have Fort Knox, as a determined person or persons seem to have a knack to gain easy access……When I lived in Dallas, Texas would read about a favorite break in device was to take big rock or concrete block wrap it in a blanket etc and heave it through a window or sliding glass door..The other thing they would do after getting into the home Open the garage door drive a vehicle in and close the door while loading it up with the goods. Never understood people reenforcing doors but never touching or upgrading their windows or sliding glass door is the same as posting a sign, “rob me”. I am a big believer in Having shipping containers, they are the last thing a burglar is going to want to try and access. We all need to do the upgrades and work to safeguard our family’s and our properties and Possessions, use common sense, put yourself in a burglars mindset, how would I gain access and where are the areas I am going to look for “stuff”…..my first choice master bedroom, look under the bed, between mattress and box springs and side cabinets, closets and drawers., my second would be garage and kitchen or den ….so how does that effect your house, how much would I have found and taken. What I have learned over the years, take a video of all your “stuff” and also the home inside and out, anything with a serial number log it in the video, and lastly on a written copy with pictures have it notarized, So it is proof positive before an event happens ….its worth so much with a police report and even more when dealing with an insurance adjusters.

  23. a)
    Be someplace else.


    Be invisible.


    Burn your home and property.
    Burn vehicles in your driveway.
    Burn the Dumpster©.
    Burn the neighborhood.
    Scatter trash, busted television sets, rotted furniture, burned ‘no trespassing’ signs.
    Scatter hundreds of obvious fired cartridges around your perimeter.
    Shoot hundreds of bullet-holes in your barricaded-and-blown front-door.
    Fake campsites around your perimeter for imaginary looters, filled with trash and burned mattresses.

    Be the ‘already looted’ place.


    ‘Be someplace else.’

    Consider a live-aboard boat… in a floating well-established community of like-minded.
    Something similar are the SeaGypsy communities developed by SeaGypsyPhilosopher Ray Jason.

  24. Thanks for all the comments everyone! I love the discussion this sparked as there are a lot of ways to skin this cat and hardening your house is not a one size fits all solution. I started replying to all, and I realized that some of the posts overlapped as well as that there were so many of them that attempt to comment on all would quickly get out of hand.

    The suggestion to use storm shutters is a really good one. It requires though preplanning and it’s not something that you can pickup and go to Home Depot and have available to secure your house that same day. Also the cost is significantly higher – but believe me, if that was in the cards, I’d have them installed in no time flat.

    Also getting back to the topic of aluminum windows and other materials, you need to check your frame within which the window sits – your window should be “framed” with a wooden frame inside the wall – longer bolts and you can anchor to it.

    Regarding the visibility through plywood – the idea is not to have any. For situational awareness you have your cameras and then benefit of blacking out the inside of your house so that you don’t attract attention while you can live a somewhat “normal” life inside.

    You want outside light and sunshine, second story!

    I didn’t cover the other issues – having sandbags at the ready that you can quickly get inside of the house so that should things really get bad, you can secure some walls and create “bunker” like interior. Tub’s used to be a secure place to hang out in, unfortunately most tubs are nowadays coated fiberglass or some soft composite.

    Anyways, you can’t cover all the bases – no matter what you do. All you can do is mitigate issues that you expect and plan for and hope that when you get hit with something unexpected, you have enough supplies, tools and ideas to deal with them as they come up.

    I haven’t covered what to do with vehicles – there are pros and cons to having them in the garage. There are pros and cons to having them parked in front of the house. There are good reasons for not keeping them in the driveway so that when they get set on fire, they won’t impact the house.

  25. For the outside perimeter……….try making caltrops…….the ground spikes that date back to Roman times. Can buy them ready made …….or a really neat way to make them yourself is to buy some nails and pl max construction adhesive in a tube……..this stuff is extremely hard when it dries it will weld metal, stone, wood to anything….except plastic I make mine with the idea they can be tossed in a area, so I start with a ball of construction adhesive about the size of a walnut, let it set up for about an hour and then I insert nails any size I desire into the ball of adhesive about one inch, using enough nails so that they are sticking out in all directions. When dry you have a very formidable weapon that could be used hidden in front of windows or pathways behind bushes, in pathways you could spring some leaves etc over them. Also they would be useful to disable vehicles. On the inside of a house put them in a hallway or any entrance, stepping on these would ruin somebody day big time. I also have made them where one side is flat with out nails these can be preplaced instead of using them as a thrown one which no matter how it lands there are nails protruding. Using the adhesive they can be made any size or shape to fir the need. If you remember one of the Charles Bronson movies where he uses a 2×4 with nails in them hanging by a window ….so that when a perp tries to enter they trip the device and it swings down and impales them……ouch. You can do the same thing with a caltrop on a string or rope that when tripped would do the same thing in a limited area like an entrance or hallway.

  26. Re: window protection coverings

    I’m going with pre-built plywood window covers that secure to an inside crossbar using long smooth headed bolts outside, large washers and wingnuts inside. Crossbar either wood or angle iron with holes for the bolts.
    (Will be adding rubber to the crossbars as the Mrs. was highly unpleased with scratches on the window moldings when prototyping.)

    Our windows are vertical sliders, bottom pane moves up and down, top pane is fixed. Open window, remove screen, I lift up cover from outside while the Mrs. secures.

    However, some are so large that I won’t be able to lift the covers myself while the Mrs. puts on the washers and wingnuts. Opting for multiple pieces, vertical planks if you will. This also allows for heavier / thicker protection, as well as being able to install from inside, too!
    Am now considering a variation on the Joel Skousen’s ballistic protection method suggested above, or perhaps laminating layers of plywood and other materials.

    I will be modifying some to include small, thick lexan ‘lead resistant’ windows, since it’s so dang $$$. Also adding some quickly removable / replaceable ports for ventilation & returning lead if necessary.

    Re: Ammonia extinguishers – absolutely brilliant! Thank you.
    (I had been kicking around an idea using a paintball gun and balls filled with fly attractant from our barn, which reeks something awful.)

    Peace & prayers,

  27. There is no reason to use a single security head on your screws. Tow or even three heads alternated. Put in one type and then install the next head.

    I like the polycarbonate idea. That gives you light, visibility, and security. Set up to appear as a storm window it can remain all year around without attracting attention. Blackout curtains or shades allow you to block out light from inside.

    As mentioned previously Lexan is good. I have worked with the Tuffak brand. I installed 1/4″ in a jail. One of the guards and I took some scrap out to a gravel pit and shot it. We set it at a slight angle so it wouldn’t bounce back. All the various .38’s bounced. Most of the .357’s bounced depending on bullet shape and loading but some penetrated. I wouldn’t dance around waving the single finger salute, even behind the 1/2″ polycarbonate but it is impressive.

    After the test the jail had me install a double layer of 1/4″ polycarbonate in the sally port to protect the guards in case of an assault/jail break. We felt that it was unlikely that a handgun would penetrate both layers and that if it did there would be far less energy in the projectile.

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