How To Stay Safe in a Crumbling World
With so much uncertainty and upheaval in our nation at an all-time high, many communities are increasingly aware of their vulnerability. From porch pirates stealing people’s deliveries from their front door steps to random acts of violence and armed break-ins in the neighborhoods around us, the world has become increasingly more and more chaotic.
Nobody really knows who was the first to circle the wagons. Even before wagons, people protected themselves by forming concentric rings of protection and security around them. It is hard to do that when you are under attack, but it is a highly effective tactic for the person who prepares for the possible threats we face. In this blog, we will discuss the critical rings of security you need to build around your family layer-by-layer, moving from the outskirts of your community to the place where you will have to make your last stand.
In this blog, we’ll move through the concentric rings around your home that you need to begin building a strategy for, in the event of a catastrophe, starting from the distant to the close. Many times we go through our daily lives without giving a second thought to how our environment would drastically change if an unforeseen event caused the security of our community to be impacted. If followed, these steps will give you a greater awareness of your surroundings so you’ll be ready before the events unfold. When others are clamoring in the face of the unknown wasting precious moments that could have been used to ensure their family’s well-being and security, you’ll already have a plan and strategy in place.
How well do you know your town or city? What are the major highways from larger, neighboring cities that would provide access to those fleeing after the grid were to go down directly to your town looking for supplies? What is your plan if there’s a major collapse and security is now up to your community
What about those in your city that could create problems if civil unrest were to escalate or the police are no longer responding? Is there a bus stop on the corner, but you don’t know what the routes are? Transit crime is a well known, but underreported trend in urban centers, as it moves large numbers of high-risk populations around the city, along a limited number of paths and destination points. While not everyone that rides public transit is a criminal, it is undeniable that certain crimes rise in communities following the opening of a new transit station, bus route, or other public transit point. Know the problematic parts of your town. If your community is isolated or is left to fend for itself, you need to know in advance where problems may be coming from.
Situational awareness of your region, town, or city also can be accomplished through the use of crime tracking apps. Use them to identify areas within your region that have higher potential for conflicts or crime. With the approaching election, there’s a possibility of problems at certain locations. Getting to know where the polling locations, federal buildings, police stations, fire stations, political party headquarters, and more areas that are potential areas of conflict relevant to today.
Most important to your regional awareness layer, is knowing multiple routes and means of transportation to rapidly get to and from your home base. Could you walk it if you had to? Can you drive it, Uber, Lyft, or even take the bus? What are the fastest routes and means? Pre-planning a few possible routes will help you to make the correct decisions from a variety of options when chaos boils over into your region.
Moving in towards the center, your neighborhood is the next layer of protection and insulation from any conflict, chaos, or crime in your area. Neighborhoods tend to band together and take on a collective set of eyes, ears, and feelings of responsibility when threatened. Even when the threat is largely perceptual or hypothetical, neighborhood watch groups, electronic neighborhood apps, online streaming webcams, and early alert systems from critical emergency responders like police and fire stations, add a layer of situational awareness unavailable to us just decades earlier.
Most importantly, though, know your neighbors. You do not have to know everything about them or socialize with them regularly, and they may not want to know you that well either. Knowing, however, who lives where and a little about their back story–who is the little nuclear family with the kids, the widower on the corner, the single mom, the veteran, the police officer, the Uber driver, and more–this is all you need to know to know whom you can call upon if you need to.
If there is an event, whether it be protests in the streets, the power grid going down for an extended period of time, an economic downturn that results in first responders being severely reduced due to budgetary constraints or non-existent at all, having a sense of community, even at a limited level will allow you to navigate the hardships and challenges that may be presented to your neighborhood. Knowing the entrance and exit points, having a strategy to regulate those points, knowing the potential unseen entry points where outsiders may attempt to gain access for nefarious schemes, all of these things need to be on your radar to give you time to quickly implement a plan to protect your neighborhood. Will you form patrol groups so that there are always eyes on the community to ensure its safety? When a community comes together to handle a crisis, you may be the resource that brings this useful information even if you’re not the one that is leading the security protocols to secure your neighborhood. Again, by thinking ahead, you bring a valuable resource that will allow your community collectively to make quick decisions while other neighborhoods may not.
Layer 3: Your Street or Building
As you move into deeper concentric circles of protection, your ability to control the situation increases. Your street or building is the next layer of protection around you. Stand back, maybe across the street from it, and assess your level of security. Can you see in your windows? Are your windows easily accessible? Are there hiding spots where someone could sit, watch, and wait? Take a critical three-hundred-sixty degree view of your perimeter? Are their opportunities for motion lights? How safe is your building and the buildings around you? Are their unkempt green patches or parks near you where individuals might gather and case your location for an opportunity to break-in.
Your home should look potentially occupied whenever you are not around. Even one well placed light can be enough of a deterrent to not attract attention but to encourage people with nefarious intent to move along to other, softer targets. As mentioned in the previous point, having a neighborhood patrol in place will be valuable, but it will be a necessity on your street. Having a rotation plan in play to ensure someone is watching your street with the ability to alert everyone else in the event there’s imminent danger will be so important. If you’ve got military veterans in your neighborhood or on your street, you may want to consider getting to know them now as their experience and knowledge will be invaluable.
But in a potential grid down scenario, when trouble has arrived at your mailbox, you’re at a severe disadvantage. As mentioned in the previous point, this is where having the relationships already formed with your neighbors will be critical. Having a strategy mapped out to determine how to control the flow of traffic on your street, having a basic communication process with something as simple as utilizing 2-way radios, all these things will be critical to secure your street.
Layer 4: Your Walls, Doors, & Windows
The greatest circle of control is within your own home. Your walls, doors, and windows are the outskirts of your most important layer of individual security. Thirty-four percent of all burglars enter through the front door. Eighty-one percent enter through the first floor. Twenty-three percent enter through a first floor window. Twenty-two percent enter through a backdoor. More criminals would probably enter through a less trafficked backdoor, though most apartments only have one main entry door. Statistically, we know how bad guys typically enter our homes, so it’s important to take a moment and think about each point of entry into your home or apartment. Sit in a comfortable area of your house and draw out the layout of your house. Note each entry point and assess its security and think about the space outside it and immediately inside it. In short, do your own assessment of your home security.
As mentioned earlier, can you plant something that would be a deterrent to someone trying to enter through a window? Likewise, can you arrange your furniture and household in a way that disrupts the depth of a person’s line of sight into your private area? Can you arrange things so that there isn’t just a clear floor for someone to step on if they decide to come through your window?
If things deteriorate even further to the point where those seeking to loot or cause chaos may flood into your neighborhood and street, you need to consider having sandbags ready to fill to place next to windows or walls that may serve as a protective cover while observing what is happening outside. We keep empty sandbags in our garage for this reason. They don’t take up much room but they could be crucial to provide the necessary fortification to protect you inside your home or on your property.
It’s in this circle where a home security system will be most critical. Being actively alert when you are sleeping through the use of a passive system provides you an incredible advantage. It is akin to being always awake and always looking for breaches in security while you go about your everyday life. Imagine the checkmate you have when you are awakened from your sleep because there was motion in your garage, or the window was just raised or the glass broken. Your walls, doors, and windows are a critical shield from the chaos of the outside.
Layer 5: Your Inner Sanctum
If your walls, windows or doors are ever breached with or without your knowledge, the concentric circles of protection continue. What deterrents and defense items do you have within your home? Take a moment to assess where you may place defensive items near each entry point should you not have time to rush to a different part of the house to gather these tools.
Also, visualize your home in layers of security, as well. Most people don’t bother to secure their master bedroom door and their master bedroom closet door. Adding a simple flip lock to the inside of these gives you a place to retreat to if your home’s perimeter is breached. Doors can be knocked down, but that’s loud and takes time. Moving to your specified area of safety will allow you time to load up, make calls to police or neighbors, or just prepare yourself to make a final stand. If you have a space under your stairs, like a closet or crawl space, you may consider reinforcing this area with sandbags, stronger locks, some basic supplies and a fire extinguisher. This makeshift safe room can also be a safe spot should a natural disaster strike. It provides you a place to retreat from intruders while you call for help, and it provides you a defensible position should you be forced to make a stand.
Here’s a few additional tips you may want to consider: make sure your circuit box is locked. Also, sleep with your car keys next to your bed, so you can trip the panic button if you need to or switch on and off your alarm if you need to. The last thing you want is to be drawn out of your home to investigate shenanigans around your home. When you do that, you instantly give up the protection of your inner sanctum.
Protect yourself layer-by-layer. Moving in from your region, to your neighborhood, to your street and building, to your home’s perimeter, and then to the circles within your home and deterrents and defenses along the way, do a full-circle assessment of your security. Take the measures now to make your circles of protection as actively and passively strong as they can be. Leverage technology and old fashioned deterrents like well placed lights and security cameras to always have alert eyes on your inner sanctum, an awareness of threats in your community, and an easily defensible perimeter around you. Metaphorically speaking, when you need to circle your wagons to protect yourself or keep yourself secure, make sure there aren’t any obvious gaps in your defenses. You have to sleep. You have to be away from your home sometimes. You cannot always expect to have your keys or defensive items in hand twenty-four seven. Concentric circles of protection make you more alert and provide you the added seconds and heads-up you need to retain the upper hand. If chaos ever shows up at your door, you will be glad you did.
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As always, please stay safe out there.