Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Getting Prepared for Beginners #9 Security

Security is a little tricky. What I think isn't tricky, but public opinion can be. I really do not care about public opinion in my personal life at all, but for this article we are going try to avoid both extremes of this discussion. Security can be tricky in another way. Unlike all of the other things we have covered up until this point security is unique. If nothing goes wrong a person can live their entire life and never have to think about security. On the other hand if something does go wrong nothing can hurt you as quickly.

Allow me to explain. In normal times security is provided for us by others. Police and even neighborhood watch groups help keep the seedier side of society under control. There are ,however, times and situations when the providers of security may not be there. At this point the divide about security becomes very evident. There are some that fear firearms and there are some that almost worship them. We are not going to cater to either group.

No matter what side of the discussion you fall on I am sure you will find something interesting in this post.
There are things that actually work against us when it comes to security. No, I am not talking about some super secrecy society or some big hidden agenda. Most of us have not had to worry about security for so long that we have developed some bad habits.

Normalcy Bias or The Blinders

Even if this is not you I am sure you have seen someone walking down the street either listening to music or playing around on their phone or other electronic device. A person who does this all the time is oblivious to the world around them. I have been guilty of this myself.

Blinders were invented for horses. Blinders are small pieces of leather that are either built on to the or attach to the bridle. The bridle is the part that fits on the horses head. Blinders keep the horses attention forward. They were designed to keep the horse from getting distracted or frightened.
People put blinders on themselves. This keeps them from seeing things that are out of the ordinary. Another term commonly used is normalcy bias.

Wikipedia has a great definition for normalcy bias. 

The normalcy bias, or normality bias, refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This may result in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations.

The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It can result in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.

Situational Awareness

The cure for blinders or normalcy bias is situational awareness. Notice the world around you. Look for things out of place. There are ways to practice situational awareness everyday. On your way to work, school, or going about your daily activities challenge yourself to notice something you haven't seen before. It could be a house or building off the main road or a vehicle that you have never noticed before.

This should become a habit. Notice odd clothing, a different gate, anything or anyone that appears out of place. This is not paranoia. This is just paying attention plus. Not a single dangerous situation just explodes out of nothing. There are always warning signs. Not one criminal breaks into a house without first trying to learn the schedule of the occupants.

Situational awareness is so much more than paying attention. Situational awareness has an evaluation component. Notice things that are different and determine if there is any cause, or importance to the difference.

Situational awareness applies to a variety of situations. Weather, traffic, and a whole host of other scenarios can be made better by being aware. This applies very heavily to weather. Knowing gives you more time to make last minute preparations.

Security Audit

A security audit should be done regularly. Jack Spirco of The Survival Podcast calls it an, "Am I being stupid?" audit. Allow me to explain. Something as simple as making sure all of the doors are locked could mean a difference. A locked door will not stop determined scum. But it will slow them down.

Secondly, first alert is critical. There are hundreds of products out there that will give you a heads up when someone is approaching your property and some of them are very good. The one I like most is a dog. Unless you are allergic, I think every house should have a dog. Thing is you do not have to have a "guard" dog. Any dog that will bark is an asset. Any pre-warning helps. In a home invasion situation everything counts. 

My wife has wisely said that locks only keep out honest people and for the most part that is true. Locks slow scum down. Determined scum will still get in. Opportunistic scum hate noise. A dog or basic alarm system can many times scare off a would be criminal to flee. I am going to include some links to affordable alarms you can install yourself.

Locked doors slow criminals down, a dog or other alert system will let you know someone is trying to get in your home. 


Okay, we have slowed the bad guy down, we know he is there, in fact he has gotten into your home. Now what? As I said at the start of this article I am not going to cover deadly force. I may cover that option in a later post if enough interest is shown in the idea.

Let's do an evaluation at this point. What are your assets? What are your strengths? How can you use these to your advantage? What things could you use in your defense?

1. Asset and Strength
You know your home.The invader does not. As a mental exercise think through all of the possible ambush points. Any possible location to surprise your unwelcome guest. 

2. Asset and Possible Strength
Look around for anything that can be used as a weapon. A chair, a knife (though I would not suggest it), a lamp, a belt (a good leather one), anything that can cause pain and/or render someone unconscious or incapacitated. 

At this point you need to make a decision. Are you going to defend or are you just trying to get away? Defense is my automatic response, but everyone is different.

Additional Tools

There are some things you could add to increase your ability to defend your home. Before we dive into those I want to make one thing perfectly clear here. You have done everything right. Your door was locked you had some form of alarm system (hoping to scare the scum away), and someone has gotten in anyway. They have made themselves an invader. That means they are your enemy. In another situation this would probably not be true, but the invader made that so. 

If a person has a real need I believe, no, I know most of you would be willing to lend a helping hand. Sharing produce out of your garden is a time honored tradition. But this is no longer the case when someone breaks into your home. They have proven they would rather take something by force than humble themselves and ask for help and that only applies if there is a REAL need. Stealing your or my TV does not count.

The things that I included are non lethal and if a child messes with any of them they cannot kill themselves. All of these can be an effective deterrent. The bat is self explanatory. 

Pepper spray can be placed all over the the house. Cans can be velcroed under tables or left at several locations around the home. I know that everyone has heard the story about someone who can be sprayed in the face and it does not affect them. People like that are one of a million. I wouldn't worry about that.

A stun gun. You will need to check the laws in your area. A stun gun can incapacitate someone fairly quickly. While my wife and I were researching stun guns she decided she really wanted the one above. The ratings were really good. This unit has a flashlight, an alarm, and a very powerful shock. Any of these will be very valuable tools in protecting your home.

I hope this series has been helpful.

Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes to you.

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