CONCEALMENT 17 Implementing Layered Security in Your Daily Life Chad McBroom 1 Comments, Join the Conversation Layered security refers to the strategy of combining multiple security components to protect people, property, assets, and more. The military calls this defense in depth. The benefit of a layered approach to security is that it addresses the key elements of protection, detection, and response by using the strengths of each layer to mitigate the potential weaknesses of the other layers. The result is a system in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In this first installment of our four-part series on layered security for your home, we’ll provide the framework for implementing a layered home-defense strategy you can use to secure your home, personal assets, and loved ones. Community Deterrence The first layer in home security is community deterrence. When crime can be deterred from your neighborhood, it makes your home a less likely target for all sorts of criminal intrusion. One way to establish a strong criminal deterrence in your community is through a neighborhood watch program. An organized neighborhood watch allows neighbors to work together to keep an eye out for suspicious activity and individuals within your own neighborhood. An established communication system allows neighbors to relay important information to one another in a timely fashion. Examples include a neighborhood text message group or a private social media page. Simply getting to know your neighbors is also an important factor in establishing this first layer of security. By developing a relationship with your closest neighbors, they’ll know who to expect to see coming and going from your house and will likely recognize when someone appears out of place. Additionally, they can also secure packages left at your door when you’re away to prevent porch pirates and remove flyers left by solicitors that, if left in place for too long, can alert onlookers that you’re out of town. When the weather turns warm, hosting a neighborhood block party can be a great way to get to know your neighbors and establish relationships. In many communities, the local government or police department will actually provide funding for such events when supporting a neighborhood watch program. It’s hard to go wrong with the perks of free burgers and ice cream when it comes to knowing who lives around you. An active neighborhood watch is the first layer of a layered home-defense strategy. Limited & Controlled Access The next logical step in a layered home security is limiting and controlling access to your property and dwelling. This is accomplished through a variety of measures, including physical barriers (i.e. walls, fences, and doors), structural fortifications, avenues of approach, locks, and security codes. This layer of security has its own sublayers. The outer layer is the curtilage, the property immediately surrounding your dwelling. A physical barrier such as a fence or wall goes a long way in protecting your privacy and impeding intruders. We all know that a wall or fence won’t stop someone determined to access your property, but it’ll slow them down, make it more obvious that they don’t belong there, and impede their progress when they’re trying to make off with your household goods. It also limits the avenues of approach for legitimate traffic and funnels it toward the proper access point. The middle layer of controlled access encompasses those transitional areas between your curtilage and inner dwelling. This includes the garage and any interior secured areas such as a screened porch or gated walkway. These are probably the most vulnerable access points for most homes because they’re often treated as being more secure than they actually are. For example, many people leave their garage entry door unlocked during the day because their garage door is closed and held in place by the automatic door opener carriage. However, an automatic garage door can be quickly breached by slipping a coat hanger under the top weather seal and pulling the emergency cord to disengage the carriage. (Note: Removal or shortening of the emergency release cord is an effective countermeasure.) The inner layer consists of the actual or potential entry points into the dwelling, such as exterior doors and windows. These should remain locked most of the time, especially at night or when you’re away from home. Again, nothing can completely stop someone determined to enter your home, but doors and locks act as a deterrent and can buy valuable response time. There are a few additional measures that help harden these interior entry points and slow down an intruder: DEADBOLTS: Deadbolts, when properly installed, penetrate deeply into the doorframe and provide more surface area to secure the door. When mounting on a solid wood door, a higher-mounted deadbolt (distance of about 60 inches from the ground) will make the door more resistant to being kicked. Locating it higher makes it more difficult to kick the lock mechanism directly. A programmable keypad lock aids with controlled access by allowing different users to have different codes and eliminates the risk of lost keys. HINGES: The hinges are the weakest part of an exterior door. The reason is most hinge screws are only about a half-inch long or less. Replacing the standard hinge screws with 3-inch screws will add a whole lot of oomph to your door. The same can be done with the strike plate screws. There are also commercial products like Door Jamb Armor, which enhance the defensive capabilities of your door and doorjamb. Two of the four hinge screws have been replaced with 3-inch wood screws to make the hinge attachment more robust. SECURITY SCREENS: Installing metal security screens over your exterior doors and windows adds one more layer of difficulty for an intruder to fight through before gaining access to your home. There are also window film applications that prevent entry via a window unless the entire piece is pulled out. This means extra time for the crook, which is extra time for your neighbors to notice something is awry. Early Threat Detection Early detection of an uninvited guest is crucial. Answering a door without any knowledge of who is on the other side is like playing Russian roulette. Something as simple as a peep hole allows you to see who’s at the door without compromising your position. More sophisticated early detection devices like motion lights, motion cameras, and smart doorbells are relatively cheap and easy to install and provide an excellent early warning system and have a significant deterrent factor. Motion lights not only alert you but your neighbors, as well. Motion cameras will not only alert you to someone’s presence, but also give you a live view and archival footage to use as evidence later on. Smart doorbells allow you to interact with whoever is at the door, even if you’re not home at the time. An audible alarm system also falls into this category. Although an audible alarm likely means someone has already breached your last layer of controlled access, it will alert you before the intruder is standing over you as you lie in bed, asleep. Consider adding an external siren to your home security system to alert your neighbors, as well. Many people consider using dogs for early threat detection — this is fine provided your dog either naturally alerts to threats or has been trained to do so. Even the smallest teacup poodle is an early warning system if they’re properly trained; remember, this is about threat detection and not threat elimination. If a dog alerts you, the dog has done its job. Anything else is a bonus, but ultimately, it’s on you. An automatic garage door can be easily breached by slipping a coat hanger under the top weather seal and pulling the emergency cord to disengage the carriage. Removing the emergency release cord from the carriage is an easy bypass countermeasure. 911 Activation Once a potential, or committed, intruder is detected, call 911 as quickly as possible. The faster you can start the 911 response, the quicker you can get law enforcement on scene. This also initiates a recorded timeline of events that’ll work in your favor should things end up in court. At nighttime, keep your cell phone charging on your nightstand to ensure it’s close by and ready to go. It’s also a good idea to keep a couple of old cell phones charged up around the house. Federal law mandates that all cell phones, even inactive ones, offer 911 call service. A monitored alarm system will speed up the 911 activation process in the event you’re hemmed up by an intruder. Likewise, a system equipped with a panic button allows you to activate the system immediately and notifies the monitoring company that you’re under duress and unable to call or answer the phone. Some areas require the registration of an alarm system that can independently dial 911, and fees vary based on your municipality. Cellular systems used to be far more costly, but that isn’t always the case anymore; costs have dropped considerably over the last 5 to 10 years. A smart doorbell with motion activation can give you an early warning about the presence of a threat and help you in your decision-making process. Safe Room Establish a designated safe room where every family member can go during an emergency. Establishing this procedure lets you consolidate every member of the family into one location you can fortify and defend. To establish a safe room, determine the best strategic location in your home. Most of the time, this will be somewhere in the master bedroom, like a walk-in closet. The safe room should be stocked with survival items to hold you over until emergency personnel arrive. This includes a trauma kit capable of treating at least two people with life-threatening injuries (tourniquets, chest seals, hemostatic dressing, and gauze), bottled water, energy bars, cell phone, and a means of defense. Fortify the room by replacing a hollow-core interior door with a solid-core exterior door and deadbolt. Set up a code word for family members to gain entrance once a “lockdown” has taken place to prevent an intruder from coaxing the kids to open the door if the parents aren’t with them. A calm, level-headed response to any situation is key to survival. Having food and water can go a long way toward calming family members amped up by an adrenal response. Armed Response The last layer of defense for a complete home-defense strategy is the ability to respond to a violent intruder with lethal force. This requires more than just the presence of a firearm in the house. It takes preplanning and the proper mindset if it’s going to be efficient and effective. It’s important to make sure everyone in your home is trained in the safe handling of firearms, whether or not they’re capable of using a firearm. Take your children with you to the range to see and hear firearms in use. Teach them the tenets of firearms safety and show them how to pick up and carry a loaded weapon. This exposure eliminates the curiosity of the unknown and helps them develop a healthy respect for firearms, all while giving you peace of mind that you can trust your child around an unattended firearm. If they’re responsible enough, they should know where your guns are staged so they can retrieve them, if necessary. You should keep the bulk of your firearms locked in your gun safe, but a gun won’t do you much good locked in a vault in the basement when someone is kicking in your front door. The best option for quick access, aside from personal carry and for keeping little grubbies off of guns they shouldn’t be touching, is to have weapons hidden in plain sight. Tactical Walls offers discrete storage solutions for every room in the house, allowing you to place firearms within arm’s reach while hidden from the casual onlooker. Alternatively, you can go with a quick-access safe in the open or partially hidden for your preferred home defense gun. While a smash-and-grab thief may recognize it (just like your gun safe), they won’t be able to immediately get the gun and use it against you or yours. Finally, you must be prepared to pull the trigger. Before ever reaching for a gun, you must have predetermined in your mind that you’ll use it to defend your life and lives of your family members. Introducing a firearm into the situation when you’re still struggling with the idea of actually using it is a dangerous game. The last thing you want to do is provide the means for your own extermination. Loose Rounds As we’ve illustrated in this brief overview of making your own onion, implementing a comprehensive layered security strategy for your home requires forethought, planning, awareness, and building relationships. The return on investment is the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve done everything necessary to keep your family as safe as possible. In future issues of CONCEALMENT, we’ll expand on the principles outlined in this article and dive deeper into the technical aspects of structural, electronic, and personal defense aspects of layered home security. MORE ON HOME SECURITY Taking a Layered Approach to Home Security Layer 2: DIY Home Improvement for Security. Layer 3: DIY Home Security Systems: Electronic Security. Layer 4: Home Defense against Home Invasion. Layering your EDC Survival Gear on OFFGRID. Explore RECOILweb:The XRail System - Roth Concept Innovations, now at MGWThe Ashley Update: In Washington D.C. and New YorkManners Releases New PRS-TCS At SHOT Show 2020Radical Firearms giving away guns NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. 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