Earlier this year, I moved from Florida to Taxachusetts, I mean, from the gun-shine State to the gun-shy State. And I’ve noticed a few differences in each respective house concerning security. So I’d thought I’d write a brief survival blog post on security weak points in home design and layout. Now I don’t expect the reader to move to a new home, one designed with security in mind. Rather, I’m simply saying that we need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of any home’s design.
In the FL house, one strength was that the doors open outward. This prevents any miscreant from kicking in the door. The reason, though, is to prevent hurricanes from blowing in the doors of a house. Now this places the hinges of the door on the outside — a security weakness. But the hinge pins are not easily removed, as they are on interior doors. It is far easier to kick in the typical door that opens inward, than to remove hinge pins. I don’t see any reason why all exterior home doors can’t be designed that way. Do you?
On the other hand, the same house had a fatal flaw to the front entrance design. There was no way to see who was at the door from any window. And the door had no peephole. WTF. That’s worse than a wooden door that can be easily kicked-in. You have to open the door to see who is at the door. Not good.
Speaking of hurricane-ready homes, the FL house had a Mylar-film on all windows and sliding glass doors, to prevent a hurricane from throwing a tree-branch through a window. Supposedly, this film will withstand a 2×4 flung at high speed at the window. But it also has the security side effect of making it harder to break into the home through a window.
Unfortunately, the sliding glass doors were not more secure with the film. They can be lifted off of their track from the outside and simply removed, whole. I’m not sure how to secure a sliding glass door against this type of approach. But the new house has no sliding doors. So, problem solved.
Another issue for any home is the layout. How much of your yard can you see from any window. Some homes are designed with various corner and protrusions, that block your view of large areas of the yard. It makes the layout more interesting and artistic, I suppose. But I’ll take a boxy colonial over most other home designs for security purposes.
Fencing and hedging has pros and cons. The same fence or hedge that screens your home from passers-bye also keeps you from seeing who might be lurking around your home. So I think a fence that has some slats in it is better than one that is solid. Fencing also has a self-defense advantage. In some States — check your local laws — a trespasser inside of your fencing is in what is called curtilage [more], making it clearer that the individual is trespassing. This fact strengthens your case, if you have to stand your ground and/or use force in self-defense. It supposedly also protects the area from unreasonable search and seizure. But I’m not an attorney, so don’t take my word for it. You might want to research your local laws on any issue that affects prepping and self-defense.
My current home has a security weakness that I can’t remedy. The lot is surrounded on three sides by roads. It’s on the end of the block. And the yard is not so large, so anyone can approach from any of the three sides quite easily. On the other hand, a large parcel of land in a very rural area is not much better, since anyone can approach across your land without neighbors or passers-bye seeing. The location is a small town though, where the crime rate is relatively low.
Porches, balconies, and screened in patios also have their security weakness and strengths. Some homes have a second floor balcony, with stairs from the ground level. This affords easy second floor access to an assailant. Not what you want. Without the stairs, the balcony might still be a security issue, if someone could climb up easily. As for first floor porches, they constitute curtilage, but they don’t really help or hurt your home security much, as far as I can see.
A screened in patio offers something of a buffer zone. If someone breaks through the screening, it might indicate ill-intent, allowing you to call the police and/or take out your firearm. By comparison, if someone with ill-intent simply approaches your door across a porch, you don’t know that they intend to do harm.
The interior layout of a home is also of concern, if there is a break-in. My previous dwelling had an open-layout, where the living room, dining area and kitchen are more or less continuous. This gives you a better sightline of anyone in that area of the house. On the other hand, almost every home has individual rooms and hallways that present a challenge if there is an intruder. If your home is protected by responsible firearms ownership, you might want to take a course that includes a room-clearing drill. The term refers to going room-to-room and checking for an intruder.
By the way, Butch has been taking a little time off from posting, while he moves to a new home in California. He should be back on the radar soon.