Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Home Security in the Middle of Nowhere

I don’t really have much to say about city or suburban home security because I haven’t spent much time in those environments. For two years, I lived on campus, so security was up to the school. We weren’t allowed to change locks, upgrade security measures, or possess most defensive tools, so I pretty much relied on other people to care for me. This sucked out loud, and I was quite happy to stop doing it after two years.

Most of my life, though, has been spent in the country. Home security is entirely up to my family and me, because nobody else cares. We can’t even install an alarm system because the Sheriff’s Department wouldn’t respond to it. We live too far out in the country for that, and the average response time is more than one hour anyway. We don’t blame the Sheriff’s Department for any of that, but we do acknowledge that we have to either take responsibility or leave ourselves open to criminals.

There are layers to home security. You don’t want to rely on just one method, because Murphy will monkey stomp your face for you if you do that. Overlap three or more layers and you can reasonably believe that your security setup is tough enough to deter most would-be troublemakers.

The key, in my opinion, is making your homestead the toughest-possible target. The average thug is not the sort of fellow who enjoys working up a sweat doing honest labor, so you can reasonably expect him to find a softer target if your homestead’s security presents a challenge. There are exceptions, of course, but a strong effort on your part will discourage most of the people who would otherwise consider targeting everything that you’ve worked to earn.

I don’t want to go into too many details about The Homestead, but I will tell you that we rely on four layers of security to keep things as secure as possible. This might seem like overkill to some of you, but none of the layers were difficult to put in place, or very expensive. They’re all easy to maintain, too.

We have a good layout; fences; dogs; and firearms. These four things all work together to discourage the bad guys.

The Layout
It should be relatively easy for you to see what’s happening outside your house. We can glance out the windows and see exactly what’s going on without letting anybody out there know that we’re looking. At the same time: they can’t just roll up and peer through our windows. Being able to see outside is important because, if you hear something or your dogs alert you to a stranger’s presence, you don’t want to open your door to see what’s going on. You want to keep that barrier between yourself and the stranger. After you take a peek outside and realize that the “stranger” is your aunt or the mailman, well, you can always open the door. The person outside won’t know that you checked him or her out before you opened up, and you can be confident in the knowledge that you’re doing what you can to keep yourself and your family safe.

The Fence
The Homestead’s perimeter is fenced, mostly to keep our dogs on our property. We used field fence, stretched between alternating t-posts and cedar posts. Topped off with two tightly-stretched strands of barbed wire, the fence is just a tad menacing. People, we’ve noticed, don’t like to get too close to it – just looking at all that barbed wire seems to give them the heebie jeebies. That’s fine by us, because even good friends, fellow church members, et cetera, need to be invited in. We hate when people try to just open our gate and walk in without so much as a howdy, and that nasty fence combined with the dogs discourages most visitors from trying it.

The Dogs
We have a few formerly-stray dogs: mixed breeds that just showed up here and decided to become part of the family. None were trained beyond the usual, small things that every (healthy, capable) dog should do: sit, come when called, et cetera. They aren’t guard dogs, and they will not attack on command. However, they happily defend their territory, because they’ve been treated like family members since they came to The Homestead. When you play with your dog…pet him…brush his fur…feed him yummy food…and tell him what a good dog he is…he’ll feel right at home. You’re still in charge, as you should be, but that dog will, more likely than not, defend his turf without prompting.

Our dogs will, when people show up, bark to let us know that we need to investigate. They have a light, friendly “woof” for family members and close friends, and they have a louder, more-aggressive bark for strangers. They didn’t receive any special training: they simply do this because they want to let the pack leaders (the humans) know that someone’s here.

The Firearms
Do I really need to go into details here? I don’t think that I do. Everyone in my family is an adult, and we all know how to safely and effectively handle every firearm in the house. We know the plan, and what each of us are supposed to do if something goes down. The firearms are backups to the other layers, so we aren’t likely to need them. Even so, we’re ready, because we don’t know this for a fact.

The key is to work out a plan beforehand, and rehearse it with everyone in the home. Many parents have their children lock themselves in closets when they (parents) send up the alarm to do so, for example. Adults often work out who will go where, with what, so that there’s no cross fire or confusion in an emergency. Know what you’re doing before you have to do it so that you won’t hurt someone you care about, or leave an important area unsecured or whatever.

Ideally, you’ll find a few layers to include in your home-security plan, and they’ll overlap so that they work together to keep you and your homestead safe. One plan is not ideal for every person or piece of property, so be sure to look at your needs, and your layout, and decide what will work best.

1 comment:

  1. Some good ideas presented here- thanks for putting this up. I hope it gets some people thinking about their situations. Even in the suburbs, the same approach applies (albeit to a limited extent). My arrangement, for example, allows me to slip out either the back or front doors unnoticed when someone unknown comes to the opposite door and the dogs alert me. This allows me to skirt the house and address them without ever allowing them in or opening the door to them. It usually rattles them and catches them offguard, which is just fine with me. One task assigned to someone in the house is to note license numbers and descriptions of any uninvited "guests" just in case they're thieves or troublemakers. I've caught several would-be thieves this way and scared them off. Many neighbors have lost bicycles, lawnmowers, tools and grills in my area, especially to the illegal alien scrap metal dealers we have roaming around, so it would behoove them to get on the ball and start thinking of their own security.


“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
-George OrwellAnimal Farm