According to an old saying, “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” The meaning is simple – don’t be the one that stands out from the crowd. That’s advice worth considering at any time, but if the SHTF it becomes essential. If you get noticed during a crisis, your chances of survival will fall dramatically.
As a prepper you’ll almost certainly have a plan to defend your home from looters, but there’s no point ignoring the ugly truth: If enough people want to overwhelm your defenses, and they’re determined enough, they’re probably going to succeed.
If everyone around you is cold and hungry, but you’re comfortable and well fed, a lot of people will soon be very determined to get their hands on your equipment and supplies. To survive, you need to avoid being noticed; that means you, and your home, need to be invisible.
Obviously you can’t literally be invisible, but you can achieve the same effect. Your goal is to make your home blend into the background. You don’t want it to stand out; you don’t want people walking past to stop and think “That’s unusual.”
Your home might be powered by a generator, heated by a woodstove, stuffed with food and medical supplies, and defended to the best of your ability – but you want it to look like just another anonymous house, not worth paying attention to. That won’t throw a Harry Potter-style invisibility cloak over your roof, but it’ll make you invisible enough.
Making Your Home Invisible
There’s one way to make your home as close to literally invisible as possible – camouflage. Of course, how practical this is for you depends on where your home is. If you live on a street with neighbors, it’s going to be basically impossible to conceal your home with camouflage. If you live in an old farmhouse surrounded by trees, it’s a lot easier.
Look at old photos of military buildings from WWII. Allied forces didn’t have to worry about satellites or thermal imagers, but if the US military is searching for you with reconnaissance aircraft you’re not going to successfully hide anyway.
On the other hand, you can camouflage a remote house well enough that anyone passing by won’t notice it until they’re close enough that, with any luck, you have already seen them – and had time to prepare.
The most obvious way to camouflage your home is to paint it in colors that match its surroundings. That doesn’t need to mean ugly, military-surplus paint, either – matching brightness levels and general color scheme is a lot more effective than a coat of flat olive green.
Try viewing your home from a distance. Look for highlights and lowlights – places that catch the sun, or cast a shadow. You can use tasteful natural colors to eliminate those and make your home blend in a lot better.
In an actual crisis, more options open up. Camouflage nets can be very effective in breaking up the outline of your home and slashing the distance it can be noticed from. The downside is that if it does get noticed, people will be curious.
You might even be planning to move to a bunker if the SHTF. These are a lot easier to camouflage than a house.
Letting vegetation grow on the roof will do most of the work for you; painting entrances to match the surroundings will hide the rest.
Hiding in Plain Sight
Sadly, for most of us, actually hiding our home isn’t an option. Instead, we need to make the inconspicuous and anonymous. To do that we need to look at the things that could attract attention.
That boils down to things people will want after a crisis and signs that there’s something inside worth protecting. Here are the things that need to be hidden to make your home invisible.
If the power’s off all over town, but all your lights are on, it’s pretty obvious you have a generator or some other alternative power source.
Some people might decide to steal your generator, but that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that it will be obvious you’re prepared for disaster, and people will start wondering what else you have in there that they could use.
Food? Medical supplies? Guns? Once they start wondering, rumors will spread – and before you know it you’ll have a mob at the door.
Do everything you can to reduce your generator’s signature. Put it at the back of the house, enclose it in a shed, add soundproofing. Hide the fact it’s there as much as you can.
Don’t turn lights on unnecessarily. Use blackout curtains at night to hide the fact you have power. Don’t play music or do anything else that reveals you have electricity.
All that canned food you have in the basement won’t be obvious to anyone passing by, but what about vegetable gardens and livestock? Keep these out of sight of the road if possible. If you can’t keep them out of sight, try to disguise them. Plant taller plants around vegetable gardens – even something simple like bamboo or long grass.
Disguise a chicken coop as a shed – the sort that looks like it might fall down if somebody sneezed nearby, not a sturdy one that might have valuables in it.
You’ve done all you can to make your house secure; now make sure that isn’t obvious. Rely on thorny plants instead of barbed wire where you can. If you do use barbed wire – and it’s so effective it would be a shame not to – hide it where possible.
Concertina wire or low wire entanglements can be disguised by simply letting grass and weeds grow up around them; anyone trying to walk through will get an unpleasant surprise. Rely on hidden wire inside your boundaries than obvious security fences on them. Warning signs beyond a simple “Beware of the dog” tend to attract attention; avoid them.
It’s a good idea to patrol your property at least daily, to check for signs of intruders. Don’t be obvious about it, though. If you walk the perimeter in full tactical gear you’ll draw attention. Instead, look shabby and pretend you’re foraging for edible weeds. Anyone who sees you will assume you’re at least as badly off as they are; they certainly won’t assume you have plenty food stockpiled in the house.
Because we can’t rely on magic, we need to aim for the sort of invisibility that’s actually achievable. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a home that’s remote and isolated it’s impossible to stop someone seeing it – but what you can do is make sure they don’t notice it. Be prepared, but do it quietly and unobtrusively. You don’t want to be the nail that sticks up.
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