By: Trevor Thrasher, Senior Instructor & COO
When it comes to self-defense, or nearly anything else, I often rely on Pareto’s Principle or the “80/20 Rule.” For most things, you will get the biggest bang for your buck if you focus on a few of the most important things — the 20 percent, which actually have more impact than the other 80 percent combined. Here are some of the high impact, must-haves for home defense.
5 Essential Items for Home Defense
1. Hardened Exterior & Safe Room Doors
Every door that leads to the outside or from the garage into the home should be hardened as much as your front door. First, you need a tight-fitting, solid wood or metal clad door with no easy reach through windows and a peep hole. At a minimum, the door should be secured with 2.5-4” hardened screws and the deadbolt should seat at least 1” into the frame. For just a few dollars and some elbow grease, you can add hardened screws to a strong door and buy yourself a lot of time in case of a “kick in” invasion. For as little as $60, you can add a simple to install and barely noticeable door reinforcement kit that will provide a much higher level of security. Keep in mind, many doors leading from the garage or from back yards are very weak. Interior doors are especially weak, and you may have to replace your safe room door with something sturdier. A $20 door jammer post from Master Lock that fits under the door handle is another easy and cheap addition to add even more security.
2. WiFi Cameras
WiFi cameras are now so affordable that you can’t afford not to have one. You don’t have to go overboard on expense. At a minimum, add a front door camera like a “Ring” doorbell and one internal camera covering a large common area. You might need one interior camera for each floor. The Ring camera system allows you to see anyone approaching the door and there are neighborhood information sharing programs that allow you to alert neighbors and share video of anything suspicious. The interior cameras allow you check your home from the safety of another location, or from the safety of your bedroom without the risk of exploring the home to find intruders, which is often a terrible idea. In addition, most cameras include some type of motion sensing or deliberately activated alarm.
3. Motion Sensing Lights
Again, technology has come to the rescue. For as little as $20, you can buy a screw-in motion sensor that can replace nearly any light around your home. These provide an extra layer of early warning and deterrence. Put these lights near all obvious entrances to your home to include any windows that provide easy access.
4. Rapid-Access Gun Lock Box or Safe
There is a large variety of relatively inexpensive gun safes available. If you’re a gun owner, it’s important to have a lock box or safe that is easy to use under duress, in the dark, and allows you to access the firearm within five seconds of touching it. Do not use safes that are finger print reading only. There is too much room for error and although the technology is much better, I personally do not like them as the primary method of access. If you do not have a gun for protection of the home, I would highly suggest you obtain several fire extinguishers or OC (pepper) spray devices to use at a distance, and a few items for closer range, like a hand ax or knife. You can also hide a few weapons around the home. A baseball bat is a bad choice, most attackers will walk right through anything but a perfect swing and they are hard to use in close confines. Hiding out in your safe room while not being prepared to do morally righteous violence in self-defense is a victim-based attitude. Your family deserves a better plan, so get your mindset right from the start.
5. Family Emergency Response Plan
Keep it simple. The plan starts with method of alert for both the family and 911, involves adjusting to the situation presented, provides a few simple procedures, gives everyone a job, and ends in accountability and dealing with secondary responders (police/fire/EMS). Have a simple code word like “safe room,” that easily identifies the plan to execute. Something like “red alert,” might let everyone know there is trouble and they must think for a moment before they start acting blindly. Also consider duress code words that put people on alert without letting the potential bad guys know that you are getting ready.
Each home, neighborhood, and family is unique and there are numerous items to add and maybe even take away from the list depending on your exact situation, but the above few items are a great start in your home protection plan. If you want to learn more, 88 Tactical offers free Intro to Home Defense presentations that provide you with a great deal of information on home protection, and a Basic Home Defense course that not only gives you the information you need, but allows you to practice home defense against actors portraying real bad guys. That adds a level of excitement and realism you will rarely find anywhere else. Don’t procrastinate! “Red Cell” your own home and look at it from the bad guys’ perspective, find one or two simple, inexpensive things you can do this week to improve your home defense.