Home Defense and Perimeter Protection
By Bob Rodgers
There are real dangers all around us, and that’s why we buy deadbolt locks, state-of-the-art security systems, and instrument neighborhood watches. Some of us practice self-defense, and we teach our kids to stay safe and build all sorts of plans for “stranger danger” scenarios.
Some folks may say that it is easy to secure our homes in these modern times when we have all sorts of home defense technology marvels. And that may be true if the tools mentioned above and methods are available and work as they should. However, if things don’t go as planned, we must always make sure we have the time to react to a treat and respond to it accordingly.
Not to mention that if we travel, may it be for recreation or survival purposes (bugging out), we must apply the same emphasis on self-defense and precaution. We must do so even if we’re in an unfamiliar environment, and it’s important we learn a thing or two about perimeter protection.
Perimeter protection is all about understanding and applying some basic principles to alert us of potential threats. Topple this with your ability to create or improvise alarm systems, and you will have provided yourself with a more effective threat response, regardless of your environment or where you find yourself when disaster strikes.
It’s all about reaction and response time
The response time is calculated by your reaction time plus the movement time. In simple words, your response time is determined by the amount of time it takes you to notice the alarm being triggered and the amount of time it takes you to take action and deal with the element that triggered said alarm.
You want to be aware of a threat as quickly as possible and always be ready to act when an alarm is triggered. Here comes into play the reactionary gap, meaning the distance between you and the danger, when the threat has the potential to cause harm before you can deal with it properly.
To understand better the reactionary gap, imagine a rabid dog is chasing you, and you need to run 50 feet to reach a building and escape with your life. Even with a 10-feet head start, chances are you are going to lose the race. However, if you have a 40-feet head start, the situation and your chances of survival will improve considerably.
If you can create a perimeter alarm, you will earn time, and the distance between you and the danger will be used to your advantage, thus creating (or increasing) a better reactionary gap. The key to your survival is a sufficient reactionary gap and a fast response time. These become mandatory because they will provide you a significant advantage against any possible threat regardless of your environment and surroundings.
When planning for perimeter protection and setting up alarms, you have to consider who will be alerted by the alarm. Will the alarm be noticed only by the person who set it? Or will it be both the owner and the element that triggered it alerted?
For noise-creating alarms, both parties will hear it. This can be both a good and a bad thing. If you want to make your presence noticed and let the intruder know you’re not an easy target, a noisy alarm will do the trick. However, if you want to keep a low profile (for example, when bugging out), you might not want to let the person who triggered the alarm know that they are in the vicinity of your camp, especially if they intend to harm. If it’s an animal, the situation changes, and the triggered alarm can send the animal fleeing and so on. As you can see, the type of alarm you install depends mainly on the defense plan you put in place, the location of your camp, and the nature of the threat you expect to encounter.
For perimeter protection, you can always use natural defenses to your advantage if you understand the reactionary gap and the response time of previous work. For example, if you set up camp in a place surrounded by thorny flora, you will deter any would-be intruder from entering your campsite or at least slow them down considerably. It would help if you took advantage of your surroundings to protect your camp or home.
If you plant thorny vegetation around your home, you will create a natural barrier that will improve your overall home defense system. Topple it with some motion sensor alarms or cameras, and you will have an excellent reactionary gap. If you are camping and decide to use running water as a barrier between you and the outside world, it may help you sleep better at night, knowing that someone with malicious intentions will have to cross the river to reach you.
However, you always have to take into account the downsides of using various methods for perimeter defense. For example, the thorny vegetation will protect your home and provide a good response time, but if anything happens and you are forced to evacuate, you will have to face the same sharp thorns, just like any intruder would.
The same goes for the river barrier example, the water may protect your camp or provide a soothing sound to help you sleep better, but it will also hinder your ability to hear a threat coming.
There is always room for improvisation when using natural barriers for perimeter defense, and you can combine natural obstructions with manufactured perimeter obstacles. A metal fence topped with barbwire is a good obstruction, but if a thorny vine grows and spreads on that fence, it’s even better.
Modern solutions and alternatives
Nowadays, all sorts of perimeter defense systems can be used in both your neighborhood and the backcountry. You can pick electrified wire systems, alarms with incorporated solar panels for off-grid use, and simple tripwire alarms that put out enough decibels to raise the dead. They are all very effective, and it’s all a matter of covering your defense needs and the budget you have allocated for perimeter protection.
The alternative would be to improvise inexpensive alarms to alert you about any impending threats for the penny-pinching preppers out there. Some may improvise an alarm using a firearm, securely tied with the muzzle higher than head high and loaded with a cartridge without the projectile. They wire the trigger, and once someone or something trips the wire, boom! Now, everyone is alerted.
If you don’t want to use a firearm to improvise an alarm, you can use kids pulling fireworks. These are easy to use, and if you wire them correctly, they can be great noise-making devices to signal the presence of an intruder.
If you want to create a visual alarm, you can use glow sticks and rat traps. Tie the glow stick with zip-ties to the rat trap, use wire, fishing line, dental floss, or whatever you have available to string the trigger and run it across a point of interest (trail, entrance, etc.). When someone triggers the alarm, the rat trap will snap and hit the glow stick, making sure the chemicals inside mix faster.
For a more impactful alarm with both visual and acoustic effects, you can use a 12-gauge flare gun and set it up like the firearm alarm previously described. Triggering this alarm will cause a bright light, but it will also produce a sound equivalent to a low-powered round.
However, if you decide to improvise an alarm using a flare gun, ensure there is a clear fire line; otherwise, the flare might be trapped by a canopy or other inflammable obstacle. The last thing you want is to cause an accidental bush or house fire besides dealing with an intruder.
There are, of course, other, less dangerous alternatives besides the one mentioned here. You should not attempt making any of the alarm systems discussed above if you’re not trained to handle a firearm or are unaware of the dangers of handling flammable materials.
You can use cans with pebbles aligned on a wire or a bunch of soda cans bundled together, hollow tubes, and pretty much any container and suspend these between two supports. Now improvise any trigger you can think of that will move the line with containers to make noise, and that’s pretty much it.
Animals for perimeter defense
Another alternative would be to use animals for perimeter protection, but make sure your defense plan is layered when doing so. For example, many people use dogs for home defense, but if you want to use other alarm systems besides your dogs, you must make sure your dogs won’t interact with those systems.
You don’t want your dogs to trigger the alarms, and it would be wise for the first perimeter defense layer to be triggered by the intruder. In this case, the alarm will alert the dogs, and the dogs will provide you with an excellent reactionary gap.
And dogs are not the only trustworthy companions that can signal the presence of an intruder. For example, I know a few preppers that raise Guinea fowl, and they swear these birds are just as good as any dog out there at protecting their backyard, or at least, at letting their owner know that an intruder is in their vicinity.
They say these birds make a lot of noise when someone comes too close for comfort, and they provide another advantage when SHTF. They lay eggs nearly as tasty as chickens, and their meat is also delicious, similar to pheasant without the gamey flavor.
When building a perimeter protection plan, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Consider the following when planning your home or camp defense:
- The perimeter protection system you set up should provide a good response time, and your reactionary gap should provide you with enough time and distance to handle the threat appropriately.
- Implementing natural barrier defenses is recommended since these natural deterrents can discourage even the most determined intruder, regardless if it’s a human or an animal. Figure out ways to combine these natural barriers with your manufactured obstructions.
- Use modern or improvised alarms to signal the presence of an intruder through visual or acoustic means.
- Layer your perimeter protection systems to have a better response and reactionary gap. This is also mandatory if there are elements (domestic animals, guard dogs, kids, etc.) that could trigger or interact with the various defense layers.
- Understand that all the defense measures you set up for perimeter protection could also work against you. If you are being forced to evacuate your home or camp, make sure you know how to handle and bypass your layered defense system without putting yourself at risk.
These tips are considered some of the simplest ways of handling perimeter protection. Still, there may be more to it depending on your location, prepping plan (threat analysis), the number of family members and their weaknesses, training, available budget, and so on.
You can imagine that in some scenarios, high-tech gear will keep you safe, and you won’t have to worry about taking additional protection measures. On the other hand, if that tech won’t work anymore, you will have to improvise and find alternatives.
Good luck out there, and remember that there’s never too much of anything when the safety of your family is at stake.