Ways to Make Your Home More Defensible

Karen Hendry
By Karen Hendry March 3, 2016 11:09

Ways to Make Your Home More Defensible

Your home is your castle, but it should also be a fortress, especially when times get tough. If society collapses and you are bugging in, either because you chose to or because for whatever reason you couldn’t make it out of the city to your bug-out location, you need to ensure that your home and your family stay safe.

Naturally, if there is a collapse of society, whether it is financial collapse, natural disaster, pandemic, EMP, or something else, things are going to get bad.  However, the good news is there are things you can do to prepare your home so it is more defensible should looters or desperate people come knocking.


The very first thing you absolutely must know about defending your home, the number one rule of prepping itself, is to never ever tell anyone you are prepared. No one should ever know you have food, water, and supplies stocked up. I know it’s hard not to brag, but once people know this, yours will be the first door they knock on.  You will have extended family members, neighbors, parents of your kids’ friends, and numerous other people knocking on your door and asking for handouts. Simply put, if they don’t know you have it, they won’t ask for it and they won’t go looking for it. If you want to help someone you can choose who you want to help.

Appearances are everything.

You will want to be sure to look as desperate as everyone else. Blend in. Go outside each day like everyone else and talk about how bad things are. 

Ask people if they know where to get food or what the government is doing to help.  You don’t really care about these things, but if everyone around thinks you care, then you will seem as concerned and desperate as they are and they won’t be wondering why you aren’t looking for help when everyone else is.

Aside from this, you will still need to prepare your home to withstand assaults.  Remember, the important thing is to keep people from gaining entry to your home, because once they are inside, you have most likely already lost.  Fortunately, there are many things you can do inside and outside of your home to ensure your home is as defensible as possible.

Exterior Home Defense

Let’s start with making the outside of your home more defensible, because if you do your job right here, there is less of a chance your inside defenses will even be tested.  When it comes to the outside of your property you want to accomplish a number of things:

  • Ensure your property is highly visible
  • Deter people from entering your property
  • Direct people who are on your property
  • Create areas cover for yourself


There are a couple of critical ways to improve the visibility on your property.  The first of these is to install solar-powered motion-sensor lighting around your property.  This will ensure that if anything is out there, they will trip the sensor and it will be very difficult for them to sneak up on you.

The second thing you should do is remove as much ground cover as possible within a radius of 100 meters (110 yd) around your house.  In other words, remove bushes and any other ground cover in which someone could easily hide.


The best way to protect your home is by keeping people from entering your property in the first place.  One of the best ways to accomplish this is to erect barriers to keep people out.  These barriers can include fencing, a rock wall, ponds, dense brush, and ponds all around the perimeter of your property.  If people can’t see your house well or it’s difficult to get into your yard, they are less likely to bother.

defensible home

There are other deterrents you can use.  First and foremost is a guard dog, but be sure to put up a sign so you can cover your bases in the legal sense (for pre-SHTF situations).  Aside from a guard dog, there are other deterrents that are purely symbolic, but carry a lot of weight.  For example, you can spray paint your house with gang symbols that will warn people to stay away.

Or as one of our readers (Rustynail) wisely commented on a different article : “Post the property with signs saying trespassers will be shot on sight”. This way you’ll also be sure that whoever enters your property is a villain so you ain’t going to shoot innocent people.

If a pandemic has occurred, then you can mark your house with a spray painted red X and/or place a couple of biohazard bags outside your house full of old clothes and junk.  No one will know your display is fake and they would have to be pretty desperate to risk checking out your house.  The point is to be creative when considering potential deterrents and take advantage of the situation.

Direct People

defensive thorny plants

If someone does get onto your property, you want to direct them to the areas of your property you want them to go to.  You can do this by constructing pathways lined with gardens that contain thorny plants and bushes.  Keep them away from your windows by planting thorny bushes, such as raspberries or roses.  The only direct and easy path should be from the sidewalk to your front door, somewhere you can easily identify and deal with the person.

Areas of Cover

Another good idea is to ensure you have some areas outside of your house that give you cover.  These can be areas of cover that allow you to move about your property unseen, such as from your house to your garage, or allow you to take cover to watch suspicious activity.  You can use strategically placed bushes, boards, or fencing that will conceal you if needed.

Interior Home Defense

There are a number of things you can do inside your home to ensure it is more secure and defensible, which primarily means securing doors and windows.


When it comes to windows, these are the easiest entry points in most houses.  For this reason, you need to be sure they are well fortified.  The following can be done to ensure your windows are secure:

  • Ensure windows have a solid lock
  • Install steel bars to the inside of windows
  • Replace the glass with Plexiglas, which is not breakable
  • Have a piece of plywood for each window that will fit securely in place or have sand bags or cinder blocks to cover them (particularly if you don’t have Plexiglas or bars)

Sliding Steel Bars for windows

Naturally, you don’t want to eliminate your ability to see outside or interfere with your line of sight for strategic areas outside of your property, so be sure to make the appropriate adjustments on any plywood you put into place so you have a good view of your entire property.


Doors are also an easy point of entry into your home.  After all, they were designed to let people in.  However, you want your doors to keep people out if necessary, which means doing the following:

  • Install high-quality deadbolts on all doors that access the outside
  • Make sure your doors are solid steel or solid wood with no windows
  • All door frames should be steel or doors should be attached to the door frames with steel supports
  • All hardware used to secure the doors should be at least 3 inches in length
  • All doors should have a steel bar that can be locked into place on the inside

Defense Items

Aside from preparing your property to keep people out and make it more easily defensible, you should have some self-defense tools and weapons on hand.  Any kind of construction supplies are good to have in abundance.  This includes tools, such as hammers, nails, and crowbars, and materials, such as plywood and lumber.  You should also have shovels, sand bags, and spray paint.

When it comes to self-defense weapons, there are many you can keep on the premises.  Of course, having at least one firearm for each person is a good idea and enough ammunition stored away to use for a long period of time.  The important thing is to ensure you are licensed to own a firearm and that you and anyone else using one have the proper training to use it effectively.

Having proper training is a concept that is critical for any of the self-defense weapons you might choose to use.  Choices include:

  • Crossbow/bow and arrows
  • Pepper spray/mace
  • Taser
  • Stun gun/baton
  • Staff
  • Kubotan

Hiding Places

Finally, should anyone gain entry into your home and you are unable to stop them, it is wise to have at least one location in your home where you can hide food, water, and supplies so they won’t be found.  It is also wise to have a hiding place for the people in your family so they have a better chance of staying safe if intruders penetrate your defenses.  If you, your family, and your food and supplies can remain hidden, then you have a chance of coming out of an intruder situation relatively intact.

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Karen Hendry
By Karen Hendry March 3, 2016 11:09
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  1. Rockmanr March 6, 02:52

    You maybe you will survive a small scale raid but not a military assault. I have a log built home with solid log and mortar walls,. 2in thick wood doors bolted together reinforced with oak cross beams that drop into place. There are plywood sheets to cover each win6dow. I have placed large circle saws on the walls of the house outside as decorations and also armor plate. Since there already has been an attempt by an armed gang to robr the house at gun point we are all armed when up. The robbers ended up in jail by the way. Despite it all there is still the unknown that can trip you up. In Kosovo people barricaded their doors and win6dows at night and had AK 47s Anyone who does not include good firearms as part of their defense system is dead already Body armor is also required.as are gas masks and helmets A good dose of luck will help also.

    Reply to this comment
    • C. Davis March 6, 20:43

      I would trade houses with you when SHTF

      Reply to this comment
    • Law573 June 18, 21:28

      A military assault is likely to have resources that you can’t hope to defend against. Another thing to keep in mind is that they can always burn you out as a last resort or an example to get your neighbors to cooperate. It’s always better to fight on your terms. Good security means patrolling, having visibility to an area much larger than your property and learning about threats before they are in your yard if at all possible.

      Reply to this comment
    • vocalpatriot March 23, 00:45

      where can I get some of that good luck?

      Reply to this comment
    • Dan July 25, 16:35

      Military will always take the strongest looking places ASAP and use them for their self. Have a stock of materials and hat can make it look like you have been breached.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Chas May 15, 04:43

    For windows a 1×4 as long as the window sill is with lots of nails in the 1×4 if one should come through the window I’m sure it not going to be nice on hands and knees.. Just an idea.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Rick August 8, 01:23

    If you can lay hands on a few manhole covers they worked well in Serbia as window defense positions that will take most anything up to a .50 cal. Consequentlg, they work we’ll around the house rather at windows or flip up spider holes on the property.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Hidden February 22, 15:47

    Logged in under another. Against an attack keyword fireworks explode so learn a simple circuit to set off fireworks and lexand or leksand is bullet proof glass and gasoline sprayed is a great weapon

    Reply to this comment
  5. ironhand March 22, 13:55

    I have been an insurance agent for 40 years.
    My comments are not my opinion but that of insurance underwriters.
    Putting up a guard dog sign indicates you are aware your dog will bite. Your liability will be almost impossible to defend.
    Signs saying that trespassers will be shot again makes your liability almost impossible to defend.
    No trespassing signs registered with the proper local authority is a much better idea.

    Reply to this comment
    • Mickey June 8, 21:59

      Under the SHTF scenario, insurance, liability, and law enforcement is all suspended. We are talking about survival, not legalities that are part of a civilized society!

      Reply to this comment
      • Uncle July 5, 07:15

        Ironhand maybe suggesting. have a big smiley face on your fence that says HAVE A NICE day…Then when the SHTF happens, turn it around. Trespassers shot – OUR DOGS BITE. 🙂

        Reply to this comment
    • Mike July 25, 17:23

      Any type of sign in this situation just draws attention to you and your place! No mowing of grass, no neat clean place, drag broken old tree limbs over the driveway, leaves and unkept weeds everywhere, making your place look abandoned. Cover transportation with old tarp, and leaves twigs on tarp…again make look unused. If possible move vehicles to where they cannot be seen by anyone just driving or walking by your place. Darken windows from inside. I agree with others, high quality weapons necessary, both as carry pistols for daily activities and semiauto rifles for night time. Might even pay to have a secret bug in place on your property, if you live in the country, and stay in there sporatically during event, just to not get into a routine.

      Reply to this comment
      • Steve November 25, 01:30

        If the place looks abandoned, the someone who is looking for shelter will surely eye any property that looks like nobody is living there. Not the best idea in my opinion.

        Reply to this comment
    • JC August 6, 13:41

      Normal situation I agree. Here it’s not a normal day. It’s shtf day. Anything goes.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Kochman March 22, 18:23

    No mention of how to fight against fire.

    Lesson! If they are at your door, it’s too late.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Nikola the balkans guy March 28, 07:52

    why not considering a several claymore mines (hard to get i know, you can make one’s with a bit of skill with alarm movement sensor or use a wire to activate it yourself, electronic fuse, pound of gunpowder, handful of steel shoota and a simple tin can), few bottle’s of home made napalm placed in small bushes around house perimeter covered with nails etc.. also land mines and trigger miners are pretty easy to make (2x beer bottles with 10ft in between, filled with gunpowder and steel pellets/nails/buckshots what ever similar you have.. thin fishing line and two fire cap triggers on bottle opening, cover bottle’s with mulch/gras, some small branch what ever.. Vietnam era traps are also very effective, also several AA-12/Saiga 12 with drum magazines and AK-74/Yugo M70AB2 are pretty good shoice to repell even and militarizes police assult (if your doors and windovs are hardened agains small smoke/hand granates etc.. but for some APC/MRAP to defend your self.. huuh if you are that unlucky you will need something like 25mm bushmaster etc.. otherwise that will need a lot more preparing and planning from what direction those vehicles can approach your house and then plant high amount of homemade expl. bellow ground to activate from inside of house best way to channel them is planning landscape around your house with some 1ton big boulders and make it look like a professional landscape set of an average suburban home wih rose bushes full of big torns around for channeling assaults on foot towards killing area, also great thing for stoping vehicles is to liquefy sand (2-3ft of sand area with pipes for compressed air bellow all that sand and when they reach that area you press the valve, sand is liquifyed and vehicle wheels sing 2ft into fine sand and get stuck (will work on humvi, lav25 etc.. not on tracked one’s..) or just buy your own APC if you can 🙁

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