This subject was originally prepared by Mr. Cable in 1986. This paper is intended to be its replacement and contains many new sources of information as well as updating the original information that Mr. Cable initially presented. This paper replaces SP86-8.

First of all this paper is good advice for preparing defenses for your home or a remote survival retreat. Since many folks might not have a retreat to go to, we will also examine how to prepare your main dwelling or home for defense. 


I have always considered it important that everyone understand just what it is we hope to accomplish or guard against when I discuss preparedness or action that needs to be taken. So let us consider the threats that we would like to guard against:

Theft: No one likes being broken into and losing money, TVs or stereos. So, theft is an important and a crucial hazard we want to guard against.

Physical Violence: Whether being mugged, raped, killed or otherwise physically assaulted.

Fire: Fire is another hazard everyone should be aware of and prepared for.

Mob Violence – Riots: The LA riots resulting from the Rodney King beating by LA police demonstrated this hazard that we should consider.

Official Intrusion: Also known as no knock warrants, search of your premises by police, city inspectors, landlords, or other busybodies, is a legitimate concern of all of us. 


Apartments can be great places to live. They can also be hell on earth if you live in a bad one or if you have bad neighbors or landlords. Regrettably they are real difficult to make into a secure defensible retreat. Any improvements you make to the apartment is often not removable so you might be forced to leave it incase your lease runs out or you have to move. This can cause a financial strain. First, we need to consider your security. Remember the walls to your apartment are often paper thin so your neighbors will be able to hear everything you say and do in your apartment. Doors to your apartment are usually the cheapest and most flimsy you can find. So this is your first task to replace the cheap outer door to your apartment with a high quality security metal door. Save the old door and take the security door with you when you leave. Make sure the security door has a peephole in it so you can see who is at your door when they knock or ring your doorbell and two good locks on it. One should be a deadbolt lock and the other the key door lock. With this one step you have locked out nosey landlords and maintenance men who might have a key to your apartment. You have also locked out the previous tenants who might have kept an extra key and who might want to see what the new tenant has after they move into their old digs. You have more importantly put a good secure barrier between you and the outside world. This helps keep thieves out and also lets you be more secure behind your door than your neighbors are. Some apartments have access limited to only those tenants living in the enclosed areas. If you can afford one of these apartments then by all means get it. They are not foolproof against theft, but they are a good deterrent to keeping your goods safe.

It is important to have an inner retreat in your home, condo or apartment and this is your second step to having a safe living area. Again, a good steel door should be used with a deadbolt lock and the regular knob lock. A phone should be in this area so you can call police in case you need them. In an apartment this will be the area that you will do most of your preparations for defense in. This inner retreat should have the following: fire extinguisher in case of a fire in the building, a smoke escape hood to help you escape the dangers of smoke inhalation and help you escape from your apartment in the event of a fire, Bug-Out kit with the essentials you have put together to bug out in the event of an emergency, a cellular phone, a Ham radio or communications devices so you can call or get information without going through your phone lines and some means of defending yourself in the event that an intruder gets into your inner retreat (a firearm, chemical protection (mace), or other means you feel comfortable with). Now that we have the basics covered and are fairly well protected against theft and physical assault in our apartment, homes and condos.

Now we need to consider Fire. Fire is a very dangerous thing and any apartment complex, condominium complex or home, is subject to this hazard. Having a fire extinguisher around helps, but so does some basic preparations. The first step to active fire prevention is education. If you can, volunteer as a firefighter and take as much firefighting training as you can. This will teach you what equipment you might need and will teach you the skills necessary to use fire extinguishes to their fullest capacity. It will also teach you how to identify hazards that can cause fires in your apartments, condos, or homes. Firefighting is a skill that you need to learn in any situation to properly learn how to use the tools of firefighting to their most efficient manner. Many firefighting tools are similar to regular tools and can be used the same way. Once you have learned how to properly use these tools, you can go about obtaining and preparing the same tools for your survival use.

Riots, mob violence and just plain craziness; needs to be considered next. It is difficult for 1 person to stop a mob. However, as The LA riots demonstrated, you and your neighbors can be an effective force in turning mobs away from damaging your buildings if you have enough people and firepower to confront or put a show of being ready to confront a mob. Remember, if you are filmed, you will likely get a visit after the riots by your friendly police demanding your weapons. The Korean store keepers who defended their businesses and homes with AK's are often in jail now because news coverage of these riots and the California Assault weapons bill. A show that you are prepared to protect your property often leads to the mob being turned aside to easier less prepared targets.

Lastly, there is official intrusion. Landlords and maintenance men are mostly the most nosey people you will have to contend with. Be prepared to do your own maintenance or bring in people that you know and trust rather than let strangers into your apartment, condo or home. This keeps them from seeing anything that might make them turn you in or complain about you. An example, a maintenance man was working on a drain in the bathroom when he just happens to see a rifle or pistol in your closet. He calls the police who come in and search your apartment and takes your firearm. Landlords are similar, but they often have legal rights to come in and inspect your apartment. If you have a nosey landlord then denying him access is likely to tick him off and get you in a lot more hot water than you want. So, having your firearms hidden or locked up somewhere in the apartment is the only thing to do. If police should ever come to your apartment and want to search it, well you are in a lot of trouble. Many police agencies have personnel that have few qualms about finding evidence where none existed; either by planting this evidence on your property themselves or by using little known laws to arrest you on charges ranging from Drug suspicion, Public Menacing, to a host of other charges that could conceivably be brought against anyone, guilty of any real crime or not. A lot of people say that they want to hole up and shoot it out with the police. DO NOT DO THIS!!! Do not give the police something to charge you with! If the police come to arrest you, cooperate fully and call a lawyer(if you do not know one now get to know one soon) and be ready to put up a bail bond to get yourself out of jail.

The only way to really fight the police is in the courts. This is a long and expensive process, but you as the accused have a lot going for you. Look at how courts treat criminals. If you get arrested, guess what? You have those same rights! Use them. Most policemen and courts are reasonably honest. If you have a decent case, you are reasonably certain to get off with little or no punishment. If you are arrested on false charges, you have a good chance of getting damages from the police department, the city, county or state that sent their agents (officers) after you. A good example of this is the difference between the WACO massacre and the Weaver/Ruby Ridge standoff. With WACO, there was not enough people left to be able to credibly testify against the Feds. The Weaver/Ruby Ridge standoff was a different story as two of the active participants lived and was able to tell their stories to a court of law.

So be smart. If the cops come for you, LIVE and fight them where it will make a difference; IN THE COURTS!


Condos are remarkably similar to apartments with the marked exception that you own the space you are living in, so putting good steel doors on your front door and your inner retreat makes a whole lot more sense. In a Condo you do not have to worry about a landlord coming into your home. The Condo Owners association might do this, so check your agreement out carefully before you buy a unit. So your improvements can and should be of a more lasting variety:

Metal doors: The metal doors for all outside entrances.

Security lights: To light up when your walkways are approached. Fire extinguishes- larger brands throughout the house as well as in your inner retreat.

Smoke detectors: Most apartments come equipped with these now a days as does most condos.

Emergency lighting: Lights that go on when the power goes off. This is automatic and might be nice to have for apartments also.

Metal door: For inner retreat.

Communications: Cellular phones, Ham radios, or other devices that would allow you to call for help without using the phone in your home.

Bug-Out Kit: In case you have to leave your home.

Defense: Firearms, chemical (mace) or other measures to help defend your person, property or neighbors.

There are some things you can do outside your condominium. Most of the time, you will not be responsible for you outside lawn, yard or area. These areas are known as common ground areas and are in the same category as the condominium pool or clubhouse. You will not be responsible for their upkeep nor will you have a lot of input on what is initially planted. You might be able to convince the association to plant some trees, cactuses or other natural plants that would make breaking in or approaching your home more difficult to do. You might have better luck in convincing the association to do this if you volunteered to do the initial planting, or to pay for it yourself. Remember, you are trying to use these plants as a passive defense to slow an enemy or an intruder down and force them to approach your home in a path that you choose. There are some condominium groups that also have security entrances. These are only open to those inhabitants of the condos located behind the fences and gates that enclose the whole association. These are nice places and if you can afford them then by all means buy your condo in these areas.


99 % of all homes will be on private property owned by the homeowner. Sometimes you might come upon a planned community, which the homeowner owns the property with the homeowners association.These arrangements allow homeowners access to condo types of common property like the pool, clubhouse, yacht club, etc., but you have to construct you home to the association's standards. This can pose a large drawback and is one reason that there is not more planned communities of this sort around. For the most part, homes are owned by the people who live in them. This allows for even more customization and better protection.

Steel doors: Steel doors need to be on all outside entrances. Some houses have steel bars covering their windows to prevent theft. Personally, I do not like this option. If you ever have a fire and can't get out a window you might be burned or killed as a result.

Automatic fire extinguishers: Should be built in to cover the most hazardous areas of your home (stoves, fuse box, water heaters, washer and dryer). Extinguishers should be checked annually. Regular fire extinguishers should be in each room.

Smoke detectors: Many houses do not have these built in. There should be a minimum of 1 smoke detector on each level of your home; one for each room would be nice if you can afford it.

Steel door: For your inner retreat.

Windows: Should be of safety glass types. If you can afford it for your inner retreat you should check on heavy 1 or 2heavy LEXAN glass for your inner retreat windows. In this size these windows are bullet resistant, yet they provide a good view of your outside situation.

Communications: Again have cellular phones, ham radios and other means of communication available.

Smoke hoods and firefighting equipment: Should be available for each member of your house hold (everyone needs to know how to use them).

Bug-Out Kits: Just incase you have to evacuate your home for a while.

Bullet resistant paneling: There is a bullet resistant paneling offered by a Texas company that is about 2 times more expensive than regular paneling, but this is cheaper than any other bullet resistant material that I know of. This might be used to line the inside of your inner retreat or used throughout the entire home if you can afford it.


You should have automatic lights to come on when somebody approaches your home. The plants and fences should funnel people towards your walkways or towards other paths that are easy for you to observe and defend. If your home is on a street that you can cut off or block off, then it might be wise to plan to do this. Have wire forms made up that you can fill with rocks or blocks for barricades. Have cradles made (they can be used as swing sets until they are needed), that you can easily take apart and use to help block the roads off. Nails on boards, if nothing else, to help keep vehicles from rolling through, should be ready. THE OBJECT HERE IS TO SLOW THE ENEMY DOWN AND TO MAKE HIM TRAVEL PATHS THAT YOU WANT HIM TO; PATHS THAT YOU CAN DEFEND OR OBSERVE. YOUR GOAL IS TO CREATE ENOUGH TROUBLE FOR A POTENTIAL ENEMY/INTRUDER THAT THEY WILL GO AROUND YOU OR LEAVE YOU ALONE. FAILING THIS, YOU WANT TO CAUSE HIM SO MANY CASUALTIES THAT THE ENEMY/INTRUDER IS UNABLE TO CONTINUE ATTACKING YOUR HOME, NEIGHBORHOOD AND/OR FAMILY.

Other reasons a potential attacker might break off from approaching your community are traps placed before, around and behind your neighborhood. This means going outside your neighborhood and getting other neighbors to help or set the traps yourself, to discourage these attackers. It is doubtful that anything you or I could do would stop an invading army or a mutinous group of soldiers. Even a police assault would probably break through your defenses since police have become increasingly militarized now days. If the police come; FIGHT THEM IN THE COURTS, NOT IN YOUR HOME.

Many folks trust night vision equipment and, if used properly by the homeowners, might be a good tool to have around. The prices have become increasingly attractive and the quality is improving all the time. However, this would not be my first purchase or even my 100th. I would much rather invest in more useful devices than in night vision. A television camera or surveillance system would be my first thought when trying to find intruders at night. Hooked up to a motion sensor light, these cameras provide a great view of the outside without leaving the safety of your home.

Many homes have basements. If yours does, with a little work, you can make a very functional bunker, storm shelter, radiation shelter, out of a portion of it with a bit of work. 


If you are fortunate enough to own an isolated retreat cabin, then you might want to prepare it similarly to your home. You might want to add trenches or other fortifications to this location to prepare it in the event of an attack. Trenches are handy; so a little work can provide a lot of protection and add additional storage space.

It is important though that you have someone watching out for the cabin when you are away. Thieves in the local areas know that an absentee owner is ripe for easy pickings. When you are back in the city at your regular job, they are breaking into your retreat cabin and stealing your survival supplies. So, unless someone is there living in your isolated retreat cabin, chances are you will not have anything left to survive with.

"Booby trapping" your cabin is not a good idea as it may hurt or kill someone and their family will bring legal action against you. You end up in the poor house or prison because you were trying to protect your property. It might cause someone to try to booby trap or ambush you one day.

Family living in the retreat site might be a good solution for grandparents who would not mind moving from their house to your cabin and live there; out of work or area friends that live in this area, share your beliefs and are good friends; or your children who are between jobs or live nearby.

Now that we have discussed the main points of preparing your home, condo, apartment or isolated retreat site against the threats of fire, theft, physical assault, mob violence or official intrusion; let us discuss some tools that might come in handy.

Electrical generator: This might come in handy in the event of a power failure or for isolated building purposes. I like the diesel generators but their price is fairly high. I have a gasoline Briggs & Stratton generator and have used if for many years. If kept up, they will last for many years.

Motion detector lights: Can be bought at your local Wal-Mart stores, catalogs, Sears stores, etc.These lights are very good for detecting and providing warning.

Emergency lights: These little lights are also available at your local Wal-Mart stores, Sears stores, etc. They plug into any standard light socket and when the lights go off, they provide light automatically.They can also be used as an emergency flashlight.

Fire extinguishers: Can be bought from a whole host of sources. Wal-Mart stores, Sears stores, fire extinguisher/gas stores, etc. Get the 5 pound or bigger ones with all metal nozzles and handle (these are refillable).

Smoke detectors: Can be bought from many stores such as Wal-Mart, Sears and many others.

Cell phones: Can be bought from a lot of sources. Keep them charged in your car, in your bedroom, etc. These are great for emergencies; AVOID USING TO MAKE CASUAL CALLS! Conversations can be listened in on.

Night vision: Can be purchased from a whole host of catalogs and from many of the manufacturers themselves. Prices are often better from manufacturers and warranty information and policies are clearer.

Smoke hoods: Used by many for escape from burning buildings. They are available from a host of catalogs. Not a bad item to have along on a trip or at home in the event of a fire.

Nomex clothing: Some firefighting suppliers and some military surplus suppliers provide NOMEX clothing. These clothes are fire resistive to a remarkable degree.Brand new, they can be splashed with fuel and protect the wearer from serious burns. After a while and a few washing they still offer protection, but it is not as good as it was when it was brand new.

Lexan glass: All glass companies will have this available. They may not have the 1 or 2 inch in stock.This glass sells like Plexiglas, in sheets. It is cheaper to buy a whole sheet than just 1 or 2 separate panels to fit in a regular sized window. Use metal angle iron and metal flat pieces to install into regular window.

Bullet resistant paneling: A firm out of Texas started making these panels in the 1990s. It is available by special order from them and comes in 8 by 4 foot sheets. They are a bit expensive, but other manufacturers have entered into competition with them and hopefully the price will begin coming down soon.

Kevlar panels: These panels are often available at surplus stores or through Shotgun News in the surplus advertising sections. These panels were originally for the interiors of vehicles like the Bradley fighting vehicle or the Hummers. These panels are usually about 8 to 10 feet long and 3 to 4 feet tall. Their cost is usually about $200 per panel which is fairly cheap for this much Kevlar.

Explosives: Explosives can be useful in many situations and might be useful in survival situations.Blowing stumps is a lot easier than digging them out by hand, but if you do not know what you are doing, you could get seriously injured. TRAINING IS ESSENTIAL BEFORE CONSIDERING USING THIS FOR SURVIVAL SITUATIONS. There are schools around for this training and it is fairly inexpensive; about $200 for the introductory course, plus what you spend on travel and food. One of the best courses for introductory training is OMNI in Memphis, TN. A KNOWLEDGE OF YOUR STATE, LOCAL AND FEDERAL LAWS IS ESSENTIAL BEFORE YOU ENGAGE IN ANY ACTIVITY THAT COULD CAUSE YOU TO LOSE YOUR LIFE, FREEDOM OR CAUSE INJURY TO YOURSELF OR OTHERS.

Farm machinery: If you are interested in turning your home or retreat into a fortified field position, you will need a backhoe, a bulldozer or some combination of the two. A "Bobcat" might do the job if given enough time. These machines are vital to digging good trenches, piling up dirt for protection against missiles or digging bunkers. A personal tractor or Kubota-type might be the way to go; but since they cost nearly $20,000 brand new; this is a major investment. China Diesel imports, has tractors that might do the job for around $10,000, but this is still a lot of money.

Military equipment: Some people suggest that military equipment might be useful (anti-aircraft guns/missiles, anti-armor guns/missiles; military explosives like land mines, claymores, hand grenades, etc.). Personally, I can't see any situation that these items would be appropriate for the level of threat we might face, except to fight off an invasion of soldiers from another country or in a war time situation. These types of weapons would not be useful to most civilian situations. Even if you had them, would you use them on a rioting mob? It is doubtful. Instead you would do like the Korean businessmen did in LA; you would get together with your neighbors and protect your property with rifles, shotguns and pistols. In fact, most of this military equipment could land you in jail or worse if you did not have the proper permits for them.

Communications (Ham radios): The Amateur radio service now has a no code test called the NO Code Technicians license, which gives us all an opportunity to get a ham radio license without learning the Morse code. The operating privileges and the equipment now available are very good.

Phone (hardwired systems): These are the hardwired crank and talk battery powered, sound powered phones/system used for years by the military. Some surplus is available and several manufacturers are now making similar systems for the civilian markets. There are even switchboard setups for large area phone systems. The prices are moderate and are well worth it for these systems.

Walkie Talkies: Line of sight communications are good for short distance communications; much like CBs.

Metal doors: Available from any building supply store. Be sure of your doors sizes to make sure the one you get will fit. You can widen or shorten a door frame, but it is easier if you just have to fit the door in the existing frame.

Peep holes: On metal doors are often built in. If not, you can install them with a drill and a special metal drill bit.

Bug-Out kit: A pre-packed bag containing 3 days worth of clothing, food, water, money, communications devices, tent, sleeping bags, medication, first-aid kit and other items you feel you must have. Be careful about weapons; if found in government refugee type camps, they will be taken from you.

Defense: Firearms, chemical defense (mace) or other methods of defending yourself. Be sure you are proficient with the defense method you chose.

Alarm systems: To alert police or you, that your home or vehicle is being broken into. Many are readily available and they can be a good thing.

Plants: Thorn bushes, roses, cactuses, thorn trees or shrubs, all should be considered as landscaping tools to funnel intruders down paths that are clear of these hazards. This allows you to choose where an intruder or enemy will come from and what path they will have to follow.

Barbed wire: If you have time, you can put barbed wire out to help keep people out of certain areas.Concertina or razor wire is good, but it is really expensive and special tools are needed to handle it without getting cut to shreds.

Defending your home and yourself from thieves, physical assault, fire, riots and police intrusion, are all hazards we face daily. Hopefully this article will be of some help to you in putting together an effective barrier between you and these hazards; at least it will give you some options and food for thought.



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Saturday, 02 December 2023

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