A large percentage of preppers plan on bugging in and weathering any possible TEOTWAWKI situation in our existing homes. While this plan provides the ability to stockpile lots of food, water, and gear (including weapons and ammo of choice) for the long term, it does not prevent one or more intruders from coming with superior numbers or fire power, penetrating our defenses, and taking all of that great stuff from us. We rely on the strength of our home, and we don’t realize or want to acknowledge that local building codes are not providing for castle strength. Modern homes are built to keep heat and cool air inside the home rather than to prevent someone from breaking down the door or coming through the window.
I know the plan; home defense is what our guns are for, right? What if I could tell you a way to stop a thief or a home invasion without ever having to fire your weapon? What if the window or door the intruders were attempting to penetrate could not be forced, pried, cut, or beaten through? Products that make this scenario a reality do exist, and they are used all over the world every day.
I have listed several ways to make your property more secure below. Obviously keeping a sentry awake all night is the best practice, but the products in this article could definitely allow one person to monitor a much larger area than would be possible when only implementing standard doors and windows. The increased tools and time needed to penetrate security screens, security films, and bars make noise and provide reaction time that would otherwise not be possible.
Stainless steel security screens are available from multiple sources and can be placed over windows, and stainless steel security doors can be purchased that make it extremely difficult for unwanted intruders to penetrate your home defenses.
For instance, in Australia gun ownership is much less prevalent than in America. It’s difficult to own a gun, and very few people are armed. The weather is hot, and crime in some places is a real problem, so they have another way to deal with criminals. Stainless steel security screens that cover existing windows allow homeowners to sleep with their windows open and still be safe from home invasion and theft. The same screens protect their doors and make it impossible for an intruder without the right tools, time, and lots of noise to break through.
Security screens are used widely in Australia, Japan, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom, but very few Americans even know what they are or what they are able to do to fortify their property. I’m most familiar with Crimsafe security screens, but there are several national companies that sell similar products.
TAPCO, Invisalign, and Crimsafe all make screens that can be installed to ramp up your home defenses significantly. Manufacturers vary about do-it-yourself installation, and not all manufacturers have dealer networks in all corners of the USA. Depending on where you live (DIY or professional installation) and the type of opening you have to secure these screens can make it all but impossible to have forced entry on your property without your knowledge.
While not as strong or as sure a barrier as security screens, security film is an excellent deterrent to forced entry. Amazon.com sells many versions of security films at great prices when buying in bulk. I prefer the 3M security film in 12 mil, but many different films are available for ease of installation and a great variety of tint and thickness.
It’s very important to cover the entire window surface with film and follow the manufacturer’s directions exactly. You should make every effort to get all the bubbles out, to make the film invisible. While a window or glass door with film can be broken through in time and with tools, it will prove to be loud and will definitely slow down a potential attacker. I would strongly consider having security film professionally installed, if you have more than three or four windows to protect. Most large and medium-sized cities have more than one choice for professional installation of security films.
Security film is able to withstand direct assault from a blunt instrument like a bat or board easily. Penetration with sharp objects like a knife are possible but difficult and would likely result in injury to the perpetrator.
While this is a project that can be done as a DIY project, it can get expensive unless you do it correctly the first time.
Large to mid-sized cities have multiple dealers for security bars. These products can be decorative and are certainly effective deterrents to forced entry. The bars are, however, only as strong as the structure they are secured to, and unless a door is made with bars for a security purpose it will only be marginally successful. Just screwing bars on a standard storm door is not an effective security barrier.
Many security bars are attractive and professional dealers know how to install these products to maximize their effectiveness. I recommend security bars in applications where the architecture of the structure allows them to be used to affix the bars to structure on the outside of the home. Also, the look of the structure will determine if bars are a viable solution. Examples of security bar companies are Mr. Goodbar and Window Burglar Bars.
Another type of bar window and door security is one that can definitely be done as a DIY project. This method of securing an entry point is not as attractive as the others mentioned in this article, but it can be just as effective. The materials needed can be purchased from your local big box retailer, such as Lowes or Home Depot. All you need are some 3 ½” screws, washers that are 1″ in diameter, ½” threaded pipe, and some three-way pipe connectors. Purchase the pipe in lengths that will cover your window at its longest point. Screw in the three-way connectors to each end and affix it to the structure of the building with the long screws. Leave no more than an eight-inch gap between the bars, and you should prevent anyone from being able to penetrate completely into the structure. Obviously this would work well in an out building, garage, or barn but probably not in your home since your wife would likely object to the way this would look immediately.
The least noticeable of the options above is the security film. A potential bad guy would never know that the security film was even installed, until they tried to penetrate the glass. Once they tried to break the glass, however, it would be quickly apparent that while the glass will break, they still could not penetrate inside the structure.
The security screens look like a normal window screen or screen door. They cannot, however, be cut, beaten, pried, or penetrated using standard burglar tools. Upon attacking the screen, the intruder would know immediately that the screen was not a standard window screen or door. Security screens also cut down the amount of light entering the structure, which cuts back on cooling costs.
All of the security bars described above would be visible from outside the window and may prevent the window from even being broken, since it should be apparent that the intruder cannot penetrate inside.
Most likely the wife or girlfriend would prefer the security film first, then the security screens, and bars of some type probably come in last place.
All cost estimates below are based on a 34” x 34” window. The lowest cost is not surprisingly the least attractive– the do-it-yourself bars. The DIY bars cost less than $100, and since this is a DIY job no installation costs would be incurred.
Security film would run between $75 and $150 per window for the film; installation would be extra, if a professional performed the work on this.
Security bars vary greatly in cost, depending on the design and metal content of the bars. Normally, the cost would vary between $200 and $500 dollars with extra cost of $75 per window required for professional installation.
Stainless steel security screens would be between $400 and $500, if professionally installed, and approximately $75 can be taken off that cost, if you install them yourself.
As a security screen dealer, I have seen all of these products used with various degrees of success. One type of barrier is not always the best for every application. In some instances, I have suggested window security films instead of screens. In all instances, an early warning system, such as an alarm system or even a low-tech solution like a dog, should be used whenever possible. There are many good ways to improve your home’s defenses. Just be open to all the possibilities, and let your budget, common sense, and availability of local professionals help you make your decision.
A combination of several security measures is always best, and I always like to see cameras, long deadbolts, and long screws in door hinges as well as the products outlined above. Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas to think about and use in making your homes defenses more effective.