If you were sitting inside your home and three men suddenly broke through the front door without warning, would you be able to get to a weapon in time?
The thing about any home invasion is that the bad guys get to choose when it happens.
You then have to REACT to the attack, which puts you, by definition, behind the eight-ball.
The time you have to respond to that attack is called the reactionary gap.
The more warning you have that an attack is coming, the better able you'll be to fight back and repel that attack.
So how can you harden your home to create more “reactionary gap” in which to respond to a home invasion?
I talked to my friend Massad Ayoob about this issue, and here is a summary of what he told me.
Home Invasion Survival: 3 Ways To Increase Your “Reactionary Gap”!
Home defense should be thought of as a layered concept.
Your defense shouldn’t start at the safe room.
It should END at the safe room.
Since the safe room is where your family is hidden, it makes little sense to depend on only that one defensive area.
You start at the safe room and you build outwards, wrapping your defense around the safe room.
You should be armed, ready, and waiting at a choke point or fatal funnel, yes, but that's just another layer of the defense.
Your defense doesn’t end there, either.
You want to consider your entire home as a defensive position and layer your defenses outward as much as possible.
Tip #1: Reinforce The Front Door
Let’s start with the front door of your home, the main entryway.
First and foremost you may just want to go ahead and replace it with a good, strong wooden door.
There are plenty of security doors with steel plates in the middle as well.
When combined with a solid set of locks, it’s hard to beat.
Always go with a solid deadbolt, a nice heavy beast that is hard to kick and bend.
A spring bolt lock is the one that locks automatically and is equipped nearly universally on door handles
It’s got the little spring loaded wedge shaped tongue on it that goes into the mortise when you close the door.
The problem with these as a primary lock is they’re very easy to loid.
Loiding means you take a piece of plastic like a driver’s license, shimmy it through the door, and it pushes that little spring loaded wedge out of the way and allows very quick entry by the intruder.
That’s why none of us in the business would recommend you use that as a primary lock to prevent intrusion.
The deadbolt, by contrast, requires a physical turn from the inside to close it, but once it’s closed it takes a chisel or heavy tools to break through it.
It’s a good idea to have both a spring bolt and a dead bolt.
They work well in unison and as a team are hard to beat.
Tip #2: Install An Alarm
On the other side of the door you can install a simple door alarm.
These micro alarms are available in every big box store in the country and cost about 4 bucks apiece.
They can emit a 120 db worth of earsplitting siren, alerting you and your family that something is wrong.
These are very simple.
One end goes to the door, the other on the wall, and when they are separated, it goes off.
This isn’t the same as a monitored system, but the whole point is to scare the invader with an unexpected, loud noise that makes him think he’ll be discovered.
These alarms can be equipped to windows, too.
You can buy several of them at a price almost anyone can afford.
Every barrier you can put in place to deter an intruder is a positive.
Hardening Your Home Against Invasion, Tip #3: Take Other, Layered Security Measures
Home defense isn’t just the gun or just the alarm.
It’s a holistic system, meaning all the parts work together.
You need good solid doors, good solid windows, and locks on both.
Windows can be secured in a number of ways, but most people don’t want to install bars.
There are some alternatives.
One is a security company like 3M, which makes a film that holds a window pane together if someone tries to shatter it.
It’s not impenetrable, but it provides you with a few extra minutes of reaction time, which is time in which to get armed and ready.
Door chains have a place, too.
They keep a layer of protection in place if you open the door to an external threat by mistake.
They may seem flimsy, but they do buy time, and a few extra seconds matter.
A door limiter, the solid bar you find in hotel rooms, is even stronger and just as effective.
A peephole is also good because it lets you look out the door without actually opening it.
Peepholes, however, can be easily defeated with a simple thumb over the lens.
This is where we can turn to high-tech monitoring systems.
A closed-circuit TV or webcam is an excellent choice.
The cost of these has really come down in recent years.
Don’t forget the power of light in low-light situations, either.
A few lights with motion-activated sensors can really improve your security perimeter, and for not much money.
Remember, home invaders are vermin.
Much like roaches, they hate the light.
There are some lower tech options, too.
For example, you could plant a small prickly plant or other bush under your windows to deter people from getting close or looking/climbing in.
It should be tall enough to touch the window sill, the spikier the better.
You want to make the potential home invader as uncomfortable as possible as they try to break in.
Make them work for it.