Urban Prepping (Part One)

The following is an article by Robert Rowe, a frequent contributor to Prepping Blog, the following article submitted by him is titled: “Prepping in an urban environment: Part One, Protecting What Is Yours”

Prepping is a personal experience.  The way one person prepares for emergencies is different from the way anyone else prepares.  But when one is preparing for a civilization ending event, or SHTF as preppers are inclined to call it, there are a few things that are basic to the process and should be considered by all.

First, one has to have the ability to protect what he has acquired, built or stored.  There are a variety of methods to accomplish this such as booby traps, overt perimeter defenses, close in defensive measures and, of course, firearms.

Most cities have prohibitions against protecting the perimeter of your property with anything other than a fence.  While this is a good start, like locks, fences only keep honest people from violating your property.  They offer little resistance to those intending to rob you of what you have or are building or growing.  In order to prevent intruders during a SHTF situation, one has to provide a more convincing deterrence.  A good option for this is a highly visible deterrence such as barbed wire.  It is passive and will only bring harm to those who intend to attack it.  Barbed wire offers a very visible statement to those outside the perimeter of your protected area: this property is protected!  Most people will consider that enough deterrent to maintain their distance from your property.

Laying out your barbed wire is important.  Merely stretching your wire across the top of your fence in a typical three strand configuration is not enough.  Anyone with a pair of wire clippers can easily defeat that defense.  A better way is to use the natural coil of the barbed wire and string it along your perimeter in loops.  You will need a considerable amount of barbed wire to accomplish this, but the higher defensive capability of this configuration is worth the expense and effort.  If you can surround you r property with several layers of this configuration, so much the better.

Razor wire, (a.k.a. Concertina wire) is considerably more effective, expensive and difficult to acquire, but offers a vastly greater defense of your perimeter.  It is harder to cut and infinitely more difficult to maneuver through.  Unlike barbed wire, razor wire is more likely to cause serious bodily harm or death to anyone desperate enough to attempt passing through it.  Contrary to what Hollywood would have you believe, one cannot simply cover it with a blanket and crawl over it.

Wire is a passive defense intended to deliver a statement to potential intruders.  Unfortunately, as stated previously, these defenses can be easily overcome by anyone with the proper cutting gear.  Consider booby traps as a secondary line of defense.  These defenses can be created to cause anywhere from limited but painful bodily harm all the way to causing death.  Extreme caution should be taken when building and placing these devices.

As there are innumerable types of booby traps, this article will not go into the details of making or placing of them.  The reader should be aware of their extreme nature and make his own decision regarding type, placement and use.

Dogs offer a very aggressive and fearful line of defense.  Most humans are fearful of predatory animals.  This is an instinct that developed millions of years ago with the first proto-humans who were more often than not, prey animals.  Homo Sapiens, modern man, has not lost that instinct to be fearful of predators.  Dogs developed from the predator Canis Lupus, or what we know as the wolf.  Their strong jaws, sharp teeth and incredible maneuverability and speed inspire fear in even the bravest of men.  Their extreme loyalty and devotion coupled with their high intelligence and offensive capabilities give dogs an advantage over humans.  A dog is dedicated to protecting his human’s property and what it perceives as its territory.  The mere presence of a dog will cause most to reconsider plundering your property.  The presence of several dogs will multiply the fear and uncertainty of prospective thieves exponentially.

When considering dogs as part of your protection plan, one should consider the goal one is trying to achieve.  Small dogs, while offering almost no offensive capabilities do offer a very practical defensive capability.  They serve as a reliable and highly vocal alarm.  Their bark will awaken even the deepest of sleepers giving you the few extra seconds needed to prepare your inner defenses.  One other advantage to smaller dogs is that they consume less of your resources.

Larger dogs, on the other hand, offer you a highly effective offensive capability.  They have the advantage of knowing the terrain, keener eyesight, great strength and agility that cannot be matched by most humans.  The down side is the larger the dog, the more resources are required to keep it strong and healthy.

So, what do you do if your barbed wire has been compromised, your booby traps all triggered and your dogs destroyed and the marauders continue to attack?  Retreat to your last line of defense:  your structure.  If your structure is properly secured, it is most likely that the marauders will simply plunder your resources and leave.  But, if they want more, say to cause harm to your family, you will need to be able to slow down their attack long enough either for help to arrive (which will be highly unlikely in a SHTF situation) or for you to repel their advances.

Most houses built today will offer little to no resistance to a determined intruder and virtually no resistance to even the smallest of firearms.  Therefore, the wise prepper will have stored the necessary components to fortify their structure’s weakest points.  These points are the windows and doors.  Most will choose to use ¾” plywood as this offers solid defense against the most common tools that will be available to marauders: axes, hatchets, machetes and other bladed weapons.

PLEASE NOTE, plywood will offer no resistance against firearms.  This works both ways, though.  The marauders on the outside of your house futilely beating against your plywood will be at the disadvantage.  They will have no idea where you are and you will know exactly where they are.

Boarding up your windows must be done properly, though.  Merely using three inch screws to secure the plywood to the outside of your window is an inadequate defense.  All it takes is a person with a cordless drill or a screwdriver to overcome that defense.  If you have multiple marauders attacking your structure, you cannot defend all points of it.  Eventually, someone is going to weaken your defenses enough break through.

In order to properly secure your plywood to the outside of your window, you need to use carriage bolts at least ½” in diameter.  These carriage bolts need to be long enough to go through the 2X4 frame of your window, the exterior covering and the interior covering material.  You will need to use the appropriate size ring washers on the interior when securing the bolt with its appropriate hex nut.  Make sure your plywood is wide and long enough to cover your window and allow you at least two inches of space between the placement of your bolt and the edge of the board.  Bolt at each corner and every 16” to 24” in between on each side.  It is preferred that you use the sixteen inch placement along the top and bottom as this will put the bolt through a 2X4 offering infinitely more strength.  For those living in structures built before codified building laws, you will have to adjust your bolt placement accordingly.

It is impractical to block your doors with plywood.  This would prevent you from escaping your structure if necessary.  Therefore, a more effective and practical solution is to cover the outside of your door with plywood (and inside if you choose) for the added protection it provides, especially if your door has glass windows.  A door is more secure than a window but still a weak point. After all, the only things holding it in place are three hinges and a door knob latch.  Maybe, if you are smart, you will have a dead bolt lock.  These are good defenses but can be defeated with enough applied force.  Therefore it is necessary to bar your door from the inside to offer the greatest resistance from brute force being applied externally.

External doors are typically solid wood doors or are encased in a thin sheet of aluminum to meet fire code requirements.  These doors have to be able to resist fire long enough to allow the occupants of a structure to escape.  This offers you a little more protection but still not nearly enough.

You will need to fashion metal (preferably steel) braces to the inside of your door being careful to allow the door to open to its full width.  Again, use carriage bolts to accomplish this.  Using one brace on either side of your door in order to hold a 4X4 or two 2X4’s will probably be sufficient for most cases.  However, having one set of braces placed high on your door and one placed in the middle of your door either just above or just below your door knob will offer you almost infinitely more protection from outside marauders.

For sliding glass doors you will have to build a defensive frame to cover your door.  Using 2X4’s build a frame that will cover the dimensions of your door.  Place 2X4’s every two feet maximum inside this frame.  Cut your ¾” plywood to size ensuring the pieces meet in the center of a 2X4 and screw it into place with deck screws.  Get strips of 3/16” steel long enough to traverse the height of your frame.  Drill holes in these strips corresponding to where you intend to use your carriage bolts.  Put these strips on the on the seams where your plywood comes together.  Bolt these metal strips in place using carriage bolts.  Now, secure this frame using carriage bolts to your sliding glass door frame in the same fashion you did with your windows.  You will need much longer bolts to accomplish this as you are now going through two sets of 2X4’s and any exterior and interior coverings. This will now protect you from anything short of a projectile weapon.

These fortifications are not intended to prevent marauders from gaining access to the interior of your structure.  They are only intended to buy you a few extra minutes to implement your next strategy.  You may wish to affect an escape or find a more secure structure to hole up in, like a panic room, for example.  Or you may decide go on the offensive.  Whatever your strategy, these defensive fortifications will buy a person or family enough time to put their plan into action.

So, you have decided to go on the offensive.  You have your firearms and are ready to repel the invaders. Good for you.  So what now?

First consider the capabilities of your firearms.  Second, consider your goal.  Third, consider your final option.

Your firearms, even if you have a .22 caliber rifle, are powerful enough to penetrate the plywood coverings of your doors and windows.  If you can shoot through them, this is likely to send your attackers running, especially if they do not possess firearms.  However, if they do, they are likely to open fire on you.  You have now gone from having the advantage to being at a disadvantage.  You are in a confined area with limited options for movement.  They, on the other hand, are unlimited in their potential movement capabilities.   They also have the advantage of being able to fire into your structure from farther away, giving them the advantage of concealment.

A better tactic would be to GIVE your attackers a weakness to exploit.  Once they have defeated that weakness and gained entrance into your structure, you can funnel them into a bottleneck where you can now take them out at from a protected and concealed location.  At this point, even a dedicated band of attackers is very likely to give up and retreat to cut their losses.  But, if they don’t, you must be prepared to shoot it out with them until one group or the other is dead.  This means having a plan for reloading your weapons when your magazines all run out of ammo.  There must be one or two people dedicated to the task of reloading magazines.

These ideas are deliberately basic and without a lot of detail.  This is because no two situations are the same and no two people’s skills are the same.  Therefore, the reader must consider the options outlined in this article and determine how best to make use of them or modify them for your unique situation.

In part two of this series, the discussion will be considerably less dramatic and violent in nature.  Part two will consist of preparing the interior of an urban dweller’s property to maximize its potential and yield.

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