A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.
Posted On by Ralph Goodman
A lot of the home security tips on the topic of deterring thieves, and generally increasing your security, are devised for this world. But when the world is ending, you are going to need security that is much better than what you can get away with nowadays. There is a lot that goes into security during a doomsday scenario, but today we will be focusing on fortifying your home.
When the world is coming to an end, it is time to get your priorities straight, and your house in order. It is important that you stop thinking of security as if law and order were influential factors in keeping you safe.
With the world ending, the only order you have, you create. And that order has to start with protection. You cannot dictate the way things are going to be unless you can protect the status quo. Without being able to defend what you create there will be no lasting order.
The only law that matters when civilization has crumbled is that if you aren’t protecting what you have, you are just keeping it safe for the person strong enough to take it from you. Even if you are using the lifesaving tips to survive doomsday, what good is holding on when everything has been taken from you.
Make sure that everyone in your network has the proper mental state of mind. It is very important that there are no weak links in the chain. Anyone who is unable to comprehend the way the world has changed should be watched with extreme scrutiny. And you must make sure your kids are not compromising the security you put in place.
There is no such thing as perfect security, but that is no excuse to give up on making your security better. It is true that every lock can be picked, and nothing is 100% secure, but you still need the intention to protect yourself. Always work to improve your security, because, during the end of the world, others will always be working to undermine your security.
Proper home security during times of apparent peace and civility relies on assessing a home’s risk. This becomes even more important when the threats are more prevalent. The chance of help arriving is diminished to a point of unlikeliness, bordering on impossibility. And every threat may be the thing that destroys everything you have.
Knowing what you need to protect against allows you to focus on the most pressing issues. You can also use this information to prioritize your home security planning. Thinking about risk allows you to fight off crippling cases of paranoia by getting you to consider the mundane and unspectacular risks along with the more readily thought about concerns.
One of the more unglamorous risks that you need to be aware of during an end of days scenario is your climate. The climate influences weather and the weather influences the most likely type of disasters. End of days scenarios can lead to all types of climate changing results. The end of days might also be as the result of climate changing factors.
But even neglected infrastructure can fail to hold the weather or natural process at bay. A good example of this are dams, which when neglected can break and lead to catastrophic flooding. Clearing out brush will no longer be handled by the state, and will likely cause wildfires in areas where the inhabitants have not grown up anticipating them.
In cases where specific disasters are a clear and ever present risk, your home fortifications also need to take into account the ease of egress. A fortified home becomes a hazard in it of itself when you cannot escape it during an emergency. You should also have ways to anticipate the likelihood of disaster (measure rainfall, check of the accumulation of dried foliage in wooded areas, etc.), that way you can be aware when the risk is more prescient.
Nuclear fallout as a result of war or fallout as the result of a neglected power plant can change the toxicity of soil, air, and water. This will limit mobility and resources. But it will also require that your home fortifications take into account exposure and leakage of hazardous substances. Rooms in a home might need to be left empty for the purpose of air locks. Even the lock on your front door might be letting in too much-poisoned air.
When most people think about fortifying their home for the end of days, they imagine the grand battles or claustrophobic standoffs with raiding parties. It is true that there will be those that exist in the new world only by taking from others. The biggest concern with this risk will be in the way of destructive entry.
Very few end of days scenarios end in a Mad Max style dystopia with super muscle car rat rods and explosives. And there would not be much you could do to defend your home against those particular things. But chances are you will not need to worry about those risks.
More often than not you will have to worry about ramming, cutting, and prying attacks being made against the fortifications of your home. If cars are still functioning, they can be used to assist ramming and prying attacks to open even the sturdiest gates and doors. But you will buy yourself time to respond to such things by improving the strength of your home’s exterior facing boundaries.
More than likely, desperate people will only have the tools they can carry on their person. This means you certainly want security that can stand up to kicks, but it would also be good to have security that was resistant to hammers, bolt cutters, and other destructive entry tools. You will also want to layer security so you can fall back without exposing yourself to the full force of danger.
Besides removing the physical threat to the residents to your home, you also have to worry about burglars. People who are just after the things that you have, and are often looking to avoid a confrontation. They are not looking to steal anything by force, they are just looking to take without conflict.
For this reason, it is important that you do not rely too heavily on firearms as your primary security. Guns are a great means of personal protection when society has fallen apart, but they do not offer fortification to your home when you are not there. An opportunistic criminal can avoid a firefight if they can get in and out of your home while you are away.
To prevent theft, you need security that you can walk away from. This could include creating booby traps (which is not an option during times of law and order), but you might not want to go down that ethical road. Even having booby traps that capture instead of maiming or killing, will raise the issue of what to do with the people you catch.
It may seem like the proper security mindset would be to kill anyone who takes your stuff, but this can create unnecessary enemies. Being the crazy old man that everyone knows not to mess with is certainly an approach to security, but it is difficult to maintain in a world filled with desperation. It is better to have security devices that people cannot easily defeat than to try to deter anyone from trying to defeat them. Let people fail and give up on their own.
Guarding your perimeter is your first line of defense. Before the main structure of your home can be threatened, there should be a primary level of defense to discourage any potential raids.
When the world ends, some people will reach a level of desperation where nothing will discourage them from attempting to take what you have. For this reason, it is important that your perimeter precautions are constructed to make you aware of someone near your property.
You need to be considering overall defense. Which has to do with how likely your security is to hold up to the likely threats of your new reality. How well does your boundary deter less desperate scavengers? And if someone is trying to overcome your security, how will you know and respond?
Your primary areas of concern are:
The material that makes up your fences and walls will largely determine how they are attacked. Chain link fence is likely to be cut, whereas brick walls are more likely to be scaled. For that reason, it will make more sense to use barbed wire on a brick wall than a chain link fence. The stronger your walls the less chance they will be broken to allow for unexpected entry points.
If you go for the strength of a wall, you are likely to lose the visibility of the surroundings. But if there is a tree line or other natural cover beyond your perimeter, visibility will not be worth much. A fence that does not provide visibility will provide the worst of both a fence and a wall. It is best to choose strength or visibility so that you can get something instead of nothing.
You should also make perimeter boundaries that are stronger than your gate security. Think of your gate as your hostility funnel. You want this to be the point that everyone wants to use to attack your home. If you can channel the focus of anyone looking to raid your property, you have a better chance of looking in the right direction when there is an issue. Built-in weakness do not need to be weak, necessarily.
Gates need to obviously be weaker than other options. If there is no obvious point of weakness to you, then it will be found by others. When you make the points that are likely to fail, you can control the way they fail so that the damage of that failure can be reduced. And that is preferable to the failure you cannot anticipate. Also, your gate is how you will enter and exit the property, so that determines your ease of egress during an emergency.
Space means you can see the threat before it gets to you, whether it is between your outer wall and the main structure of your home, or you have no wall, and instead, rely on vast plains of flat land. Space gives a buffer of time. The more space between your perimeter and your home, the more time you give yourself to discover the problem and react.
Open spaces are also good for mobility. You might need to escape or get around the threat. Having distance between yourself and a threat works to provide a fair bit of protection. Cars and escape vehicles may need room to turn around if they are also used for other purposes (scavenging, tilling the soil, moving supplies, etc.). This space also should give you a clear line of sight so raiders cannot cover their approach.
If someone defeats your perimeter security, they still have your home’s fortifications to contend with. And these exterior protections will be to prevent entry into the structure of your home. Someone may try to smoke you out of your fortress, but you want that to be their only option.
As long as no one can enter the home, you can plan to bunker down with your supplies, air filtration, gas masks, and weaponry. A war of attrition can only be won by the party that has the steadiest access to resources. So unless you have incurred the wrath of the local warlord, chances are you will be the most prepared to wait out your attackers.
A door is a preferred way for anyone to enter a home. It is meant for entry, which means you do not need to make yourself vulnerable by entering through it. Though windows can be broken and there are ways to make openings of opportunity, they are less desirable than a door. But both are vulnerable.
Your primary areas of concern are:
I have talked about the ways to improve the security of your front door many times before. It comes down to using longer set screws for your door hinges and strike plates, but this will not be enough protection when the world as you know it ends. You will need to use even more security. For example, barricades will need to be thicker and should secure the door from more than across the center (securing the base of the doorframe being ideal).
Though low-level raider might have only their boots or a makeshift battering ram, others might use shotguns for breaching. For that reason, doors should have metal plating, and take a note from the methods you would use to make a bulletproof car. Similar to a bulletproof car, the weight will need to be offset in order to maintain functionality.
I often recommend the use of security film for windows, but during the end times, bars and metal slats will be more ideal. Drop shields on the inside of the home are good for the times where you are inside during an attack, or when you get the chance to lock up the home before heading out, but bars provide a good general deterrent as well.
Security on the inside and security on the outside is the type of layering that you want. And you may want to consider removing most, if not all, windows. Something like sliding glass door security might work well during the safest time humanity has ever known, but when that crumbles, consider turning that entry point into a bulletproof wall.
The answer for the types of locks you should use is not so straightforward. The easy answer is that you want a lot of them. But that is not ideal for evacuation or even key control. Sure, you might be able to rekey your locks (if you have the right training and materials), but it would still not be ideal to have to use one key in five or so locks, as this will lead to issues with ingress (and egress if you are using double sided deadbolts).
Be sure that you have the best door locks possible, as it is unlikely that you will be able to make the world’s most secure lock yourself after society has largely collapsed into inescapable chaos. Take a note from some of the wildest security plans in existence, and try to get a network of bolts that secure like vault doors.
One key to open a litany of securing lengths of metal. Chances are you will not need to worry about lock picking, but just in case you can stock up on high-security door locks and even high-security padlocks (which can be moved from location to location).
Even with the best security, it is still possible that your home will be breached. But your fortifications do not need to end outside of the home. Once someone gets inside, there need to be additional layers of protection. Raiders are sure to want more than you are willing to give them. And in the worst cases, they will want you and anyone else in the home.
There should be rooms that you can retreat to. Depending on how you want to construct your security, these can be means of escape or panic rooms. You should also take pains to protect the things that are most important to your survival.
All of your important valuables need to be locked away inside your fortress. Your home can still remain a fortress or be rebuilt if you can survive long enough to fix what is broken. Your security only ever fails when you die. And death will be waiting around every corner when the world ends.
Your primary areas of concern are:
Rooms meant for escape need to lead to areas that do not telegraph their obvious existence. A great example of this would be a tunnel that leads to a trap door in the middle of a forest. If the hatch is only ever used to escape certain death, you can be sure that the exit/entrance is inconspicuous as dirt and plants are likely to be covering it.
If you use this hatch often, or anyone finds out about it, you risk being cut off at the pass or having your emergency exit be the way someone will break in. Any exit can be used as an entrance. But if you have a tunnel, you could implement a maze that obscures the correct path. Though you will run the risk of getting lost yourself.
There is always the chance that you want to keep fighting. And a panic room for the end of days should not be a place where you wait for death. It should be a safe location that allows you to be protected as you unleash your final preparations. When you fall back to this room, you are in dire straits. It is time for you to let loose your final effort to survive.
Panic rooms need stockpiles for extended stays and the same level of security you had on your exterior doors. Because although you might have an endgame protocol, you may need some time to prepare. In fact, it should not be easy to prepare, or else you run the risk of using it when you don’t need to or before the most ideal time.
If you have a panic room, this is the perfect place to keep a stockpile, though it should not be your only one. In fact, you should have stockpiles in several locations, some of which are not in your home. But for this article, we will stick to the fortifications for your home. And your caches should be the most secure rooms in the home.
You do not want anyone stealing what you are hoarding, because food, water, weapons, ammunition, etc., are all you have to keep you alive. Losing what you have, could mean losing your life due to exposure, dehydration, starvation, etc. Make sure this room is locked up when you are not home.
Within the room, use additional precautions such as safes or lockboxes so that if someone gets inside they cannot get their hands on all of your valuables so easily. If these stockpiles can be hidden, that is ideal. Better yet, it will fortify your supplies by hiding the safes that are in your hidden caches.
In order to get your home ready for the apocalypse, you need to get your mind prepared to think in a way that allows you to do what is necessary to survive. With that mindset, take a hard look at what is most likely to put your home at risk. Once you know your risks, you can begin to think about the three main concerns with home security for the end of days. No matter if mutants, killers, and monsters are attacking your home, you can still protect yourself and your loved ones.