Editor’s Note: This is an updated and revised edition for 2018.
There are a lot of reasons why you need to consider the security of where you live. Regardless of how nice your area may be or how low the crime rate is, in an emergency the protections you have may not be sufficient to maintain your ground.
Even during good times, it can be pretty annoying or frightening to have others just come on your place with no warning. While hunters are generally harmless, it can be unnerving to have an armed person or several people suddenly on your property.
Preppers that are keeping livestock, gardening, ect, need good security measures to protect what they have worked so hard for and of course there are the lives of your pets to consider too.
When we moved to our property it was overgrown and even still we have hundreds of empty acres above us filled with wildlife that is very attracted to some nice fat geese or a lamb!
Fencing the place and having guard dogs has helped us a lot. Here are some of the options you have for perimeter security. I have also discussed a few methods that should only be considered during a very serious situation.
Having a dog can be a big asset to the security of your place. Even those in small apartments with a small dog have a lower risk of being the victim of a break in and thefts. The reason for this is that dogs make a big fuss that can get others attention.
Sure there are plenty of people that might not think twice about harming a dog if it really comes down to it but in most situations dogs are a major deterrent.
On a larger property a bigger dog is going to work out better for real guarding and patrolling. We keep Great Pyrenees dogs to guard our sheep and property. I got my first Pyr when I was 17 and have pretty much had one ever since except for a brief time in Alaska.
When choosing a guard dog, you need to consider how people friendly you really want them to be. We like the Great Pyrenees because they know when to be a bit mean or aggressive and when not to. Some breeds have a hard time switching from guard dog to family dog but the Pyr is not like that at all. They are wonderfully loyal and gentle with kids and small animals.
At the same time, our dogs used to bring in parts of coyotes before we had the place fenced well. Our big lap dogs take guarding very seriously. I think now that we have sheep they are even more excited about guarding.
You may not have a lot of control over the fences you have if you rent or live in a neighborhood where the fence is already in place and a divider between city lots. Of course if repairs are needed that is one thing but if you start putting up a major fence where there was just a little chain link one, you may be perceived as bit weird or neighbors may thing it is unsightly.
We live on a dead end road on the side of a mountain that is pretty much 4×4 only accessible so if we get a visitor in the middle of the night it instantly puts us on alert.
We had one incident when a Utility vehicle crossed a downed barb wire fence and pulled up to our driveway and house past midnight. This led to circumstances that could have easily taken a turn for the worse because out here, the chances are that someone out like that is armed. They fled into the woods in their utility vehicle.
I have to say my adrenaline was up. I knew they were long gone and that they were probably just out drunk and riding around but at the time there were a lot of home invasions happening in our county so we were already on guard and it was a very unpleasant situation.
I recommend fencing that offers a barrier but that doesn’t obstruct your view entirely. Here is what we used on our property. People wandering in hunting or just poking around definitely pushed us to finally get the rest of the perimeter fenced. It took a lot of field fence and posts because there is about 11 acres to the property we are on.
If you are on acreage though then you should consider fencing your entire property boundary or at least a large portion around where your home is. One thing we regretted was not fencing our whole place in woven wire field fence when we first moved up here.
At the time we were in our mid 20s and trying to figure out how to pay for building a small house so we struggled with electric fencing and animal escapes for years. We would have saved a lot of time and energy if we had just invested the few thousand it cost to fence the place.
There would have been a lot less hassle with grazing and we would have not had to deal with as many stray hunting dogs or people wondering in.
A Note On Firearms
You should never aim a firearm at someone unless you really have no other choice and you are intent on using it. No one is not going to take you seriously when you are aiming a firearm at them.
I have been around firearms my entire life and definitely keep some for defense. I consider them an important thing to have when living out in the country where it can take law enforcement far too long to respond due to location and road conditions. We also like the idea of being able to hunt during tough times and shoot skeet during good ones!
I cannot endorse racking a shot gun to scare someone or that grabbing a gun every time there is a little incident is a good idea. I want to heavily stress the point that you need to give someone the opportunity to leave unless they are doing something really serious like aiming a gun at you or harming a family member.
You cannot just go aiming at people and making a situation much more dire than need be just for coming on your place. This is a great way to get yourself arrested or escalate the situation needlessly! Keep yourself calm and collected but alert!
If you want to study the legalities of defending yourself with a firearm, I advise taking the concealed carry class if available in your area and look up the firearms and other laws in your state.
If you have acreage and you want to have legalities in order in case of trespassing then you need to post your property. The guidelines for how many signs and other posting rules vary so check the laws in your are.
Where I am in Western North Carolina you are required to put a sign every so many feet and it has to be at least 8”x10” in size to be legally valid. If someone crosses this boundary without permission from you then you can press charges.
If you ever are in a situation where you have no choice but to defend yourself from an intruder, then having your property posted and fences makes your claim of trespassing a lot more legitimate. When someone gets to the point of jumping your fence and invading your space, the law is going to give you more leniency then if someone just wanders in and there is an issue.
A lot of these cases are “they said this, and you said that” with no major witnesses so you need to have it together to avoid putting the heat back on yourself.
There are all types of cameras out there. Game cameras are cheap and useful. We definitely bought some of these to keep an eye on things around our place. When we were younger and didn’t have very much except the land we didn’t worry so much about security.
Now with more people moving in around us and the economic climate and drug issues that are abundant, we have felt the need for a little more security than we had before.
For those of you that have big nice houses and an outside appearance of being better off, it is important to realize that those that would steal could see your house as a good target. You don’t have to be particularly rich to be attractive to thieves, you just have to seem like you got a little something.
Most people don’t keep much cash around so thieves are not really looking for that type of thing as much anymore but they might be thinking about anything of value you might have.
You cannot be at home all the time or on guard all the time so cameras help fulfill the role. There are some really sophisticated ones out there that will send an alert to your email or phone if there is suspicious activity or movement.
I have a friend that uses Nest cameras and two days after she installed one at her business, some people broke in. They were quickly caught because she was sent an alert and was able to view the video online even. The alert led the police arriving and taking care of the problem very fast.
Clearing Trees & Bushes
As I have mentioned before, our property was totally overgrown when we moved onto it. I did not even realize there was a house a few hundred feet from one of the property lines for a good while because of this! While we made an effort to clear and graze, it was last year when we had a terrible fire season and had crazy bored people setting forest fires, that led us to step up our game and start clearing out the understory of the woods behind our house.
Grazing had helped some over the years but we had thousands of small maple seedlings coming up and then a lot of briars. While this may sound like it would be a deterrent to intrusion, it actually provided excellent cover for intruders of the two and four legged varieties. We have far less natural predators on our property now.
Since our dogs can run amuck on the whole place most of the time, they keep things run off. Matt and I have actually managed to keep two cats alive for 2 years now with no major injuries. Being able to see if anybody or anything has made it over the fence is a major improvement in our security.
While we have a lot of debris to pile up and burn, we are in a better position to fend off fire since the woods are clearer. Our Shetland sheep will continue to help make it better and eventually there will be more grass and forage as a result of clearing and better security so it is a win win for us even if it has been a ton of work.
Using Hedges and Shrubs
There are a lot of natural barriers that you can use to help fortify your property. I am going to show you a few but I encourage you to look for other plants as well. Climatic conditions are going to determine what is possible and growth rates.
- Devil’s Club
- Rose Bushes
- Wild Blackberry
Fortifying Your Property & Protecting Your Family In A Major SHTF
Ok so I have talked about the nicer ways to enhance your perimeter security. During a real SHTF situation though you might need to have more of a siege mindset. Here are a few ideas to get you started with this line of thinking.
I bet you can come up with some other good ones for your own unique situation. This section contains ideas that can cause a lot of injury to intruders and should not just be done for the heck of it.
I hate barbed wire generally speaking and my reasons for disliking it are the same ones that make it good for perimeter security. I have rolled out a lot of the stuff over the years and it is still one of the main choices of cattle fencing in our area.
It is pretty cheap until you get your first vet bill or lose an animal because it gets tangled in it. These characteristics make it a wonderful solution to making it hard to cross your perimeter. You might be thinking “Why not razor wire?” and the answer to that is that it is not something anyone can just go down to the feed store or home improvement store and buy.
A lot of places have actual laws that prevent regular people from being able to own it and for good reason. While I am stressing security to you, you also don’t want to take it too far.
Barbed wire comes in 1,320 ft rolls normally. Barbed wire can be added to the tops of fences or used to barricade areas if needed. Sure it can be cut but it does create an extra barrier for someone or something to get through.
Climbing over any barbed wire fence is not fun. A woven wire field fence with barbed wire on top of it is a challenge that will deter all but the most determined.
Old Fashioned Fish Hook Barbed Wire
Do not use this unless you absolutely feel you are in major danger during an extreme situation.
You can create a nasty barrier with clear fishing line and the small “egg hooks” used for fishing. Just tie hooks on lines ever 4”-6” inches. You can space them closer or further apart if you want. Egg hooks can really dig into skin and be difficult to get out.
When placed at face or neck level this is one barrier that is going to cause some damage. If you are in a SHTF or collapse scenario, this kind of thing can help. It is not something that should be put up without heavy consideration. An intruder running into this could wind up with a fish hook to the eye or much worse.
Of course you would want to make sure something like this is only placed where pets and kids are not at risk of getting into it. In fact this barrier may be something you just want to put up at night or during times when you feel you need some extra protection. It is fishing line so you can take it down easily but it is going to be a bit prone to tangling of course.
What security measures do you use or recommend?
When writing this I thought of a lot of different scenarios. Everyone’s property and home has its own unique features so please feel free to share what you have done and make suggestions in the comments below!
Samantha Biggers lives on the side of a mountain in North Carolina with her husband and pack of loyal hounds in a house her husband and she built themselves. When not writing she is working in their vineyard, raising Shetland sheep, or helping her husband with whatever the farm and vineyard can throw at them.
If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing to email updates. When you do, you will receive a free, downloadable copy of the e-Book, The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide. Also check out our Facebook page regularly for links to free or almost free eBooks that I personally reviewed just for you.
You can also vote for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites!