Step 4: Defense

The following steps will move your family beyond simple survival, empowering you and your family to thrive in unexpected situations.  Thus far, you have completed the first three steps ensuring your family’s basic needs for survival: Food, Water, and Shelter.  We can now discuss the very important, yet often ignored concept of Defense.  Taking the time to accumulate an inventory of supplies is only prudent with the ability to defend them from thieves.  Before we discuss how to provide security to your family, we must first understand why planning for defense is such an important topic.  The tragic fact is that most people will not be prepared.  Your neighbors will quickly realize they are not capable to survive without the infrastructure of modern society.  They will reach the end of their pantry expecting to go to the store for more.  They will assume that the endless supply of drinking water flowing from their faucet will forever flow.  They will become very uncomfortable when their house gets colder and colder every night, slowly losing hope that the power will return at any minute.  Everyone has a breaking point.

In Step 1 Maslow explained the basic needs of human beings, describing what influences and motivates us.  According to Maslow’s pyramid, as long as we have our basic needs met, we can fulfill the more abstract needs: love, belonging, and self-esteem.  Unfortunately, unforeseen disasters quickly take the bottom of the pyramid out from under us.  Your loving neighbors, who have always been there for a cup of sugar, can eventually become desperate, hunting for those things that simply keep us going.  Now, I’m not saying that after a power outage you neighbors will turn into cannibals, I am simply addressing the state of mind society can easily fall into.  Neighbor and fiends will likely be the last to turn on each other; however, would a stranger from three blocks away grant you the same respect?  Furthermore, the world is full of opportunistic criminals looking to pry upon weakness.  After a power outage, your once well illuminated street will look very inviting for those who simply want to sneak around houses stealing valuables.  To understand how to protect ourselves, we must place ourselves in the mindset of those who mean to do harm to society.  Most importantly, we must understand why normally decent law-abiding people would turn on their neighbors in times of scarcity and need.

The need for defense is never more important than when critical event occurs.  We typically depend on the police to provide a deterrent against criminal behavior in our community.  I use the word deterrent and not defense for specific reasons.  A defense is an active effort to thwart a criminal in the act.  The police act as a deterrent by imposing a risk of repercussion after the crime is committed.  Unfortunately, the police are much more designed to solve crimes instead of stopping them.  Of course, they do stop criminals in the act from time to time, but the response time for police in ideal conditions is minutes, not seconds.  Do you want to have a criminal in your house for minutes?  Imagine how quickly you could smash into a house and grab a bag full of food, or a heater, or fuel can, and run out the front door.  After a disaster you should expect response times to increase incredibly.  As all criminal activity increases, non-violent property crimes will become a low priority.  Losing your fuel or water stores will quickly become a very serious crime for you and your family.

As we are learning, we must be dependent on ourselves, to include our own defense.  This does not just include purchasing a firearm, but rather adjusting your mindset.  Develop a Home Protection Plan including the following steps:

  1. Deterrence – Human nature almost always pushes us toward the path of least resistance; it is therefore your goal to make your home less desirable for a criminal.  Criminals look for two attributes in their targets: 1. Ease of access and getaway, and 2. a payout worth the risk.  You want your home to look as formidable as possible.  Keep all your supplies out of site, preferably in an interior room or basement.  Be prepared, without looking prepared.  Whether via generator, battery packs, or solar panels, provide some measure of illumination on the exterior of the house.  Be sure to secure and cover all broken ground floor windows and doors.  You want your home to look occupied, and therefore, less desirable than a home abandoned with no one to report a crime for days or weeks.
  2. Denial – If a criminal has now chosen your house as a target, you want to make it as difficult as possible to deny their entrance.  Most of these preparations should occur now, long before any disaster.  Ensure your exterior doors are solid with deadbolt locks penetrating into a stud and not just the door-frame.  Ensure all first floor windows have adequate locks.  By planting bushes in front of these windows you can create another obstacle for an intruder to overcome.  Use a hammer to secure a rubber doorstop under the external doors at night to create further resistance.  You can also use these door stops to secure any room that you occupy, especially at night. 
  3. Detect – If the intruder has not been stopped by step 2, then it is paramount to your protection plan that you learn of the intrusion before it is too late to act.  Various devices, ranging in complexity, can engage your senses alerting of an intruder.  Motion detection lights are a great way to not only alert you and possibly scare off the intruder.  A simple battery powered alarm system can be purchased at a hardware store and will sound an alarm when the sensor is separated from the alarm unit.  These are great for exterior doors and windows, and can be easily installed in seconds when needed.  By hanging tin cans or bells on the doors creates a low tech option for alerting an intruder. 
  4. Defense – The last line of your home protection plan is the ability to engage and repel an intruder.  If the intruder has entered your house in spite of its formidable presence, passed its barriers of entry, and ignored an alarm announcing their presence, then you have to assume the intruder poses a substantial threat.  This is the only step in your plan that will actually involve risking your life and well-being, and should only be used as the last resort.  Our goal is to prevent this step at all cost, however, we must be prepared to do what is necessary to defend our family, to include our emergency supplies.  Common thought places material possessions far below life, that we are supposed to allow a street side mugger take our wallet to leave us unharmed.  A wallet, after all, can be replaced once the mugger leaves.  Unfortunately, your food stores, your firewood, your gas can, etc., cannot necessarily be replaced during a critical event.  You have prepared yourself to survive scarcity, and a thief can undo an entire lifetime of preparation in a few seconds.  These possessions can no longer be viewed as material, but valued as you would your life.  Defend them as such.  If you chose to own a firearm, as I would recommend, you must get the appropriate training.  During a critical engagement your training will save your life.  The type of weapon or firearm you choose will depend on the type of property you occupy.  Seek advice from your local shooting supplier to find the perfect firearm for yourself.  I prefer a large caliber pistol and a 12 gauge shotgun for my family’s defense; however, a smaller woman may feel more comfortable shooting a smaller caliber pistol.  Owning a gun you are not comfortable shooting is like storing food you’re allergic to.  Be loud and clear that you have a gun; give them the chance to save their own life by running away. 

Your resolve will never be tested more than when you have to actively engage someone who means you harm (and yes, if they are only trying to steal your food, they do mean you harm).  The winner will always be the most committed…commit to live and thrive right now.