Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hide and Seek or King of the Hill?

Putting aside for the moment the question of whether or not you'd want to remain in place immediately after a TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) or WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) event because every situation will be different, I'm going to tackle the question of what steps you might want to take to remain viable and invisible in your own home.

If you have a Neighborhood Watch in place it wouldn't take much for it to metamorphous into a Home Guard. Neighbors banding together to form a highly visible (cars parked across access roads, guards) organized response would tend to discourage those with bad intentions from entering the area.

If you don't have or can't organize a pick up squad of neighbors you'd be on your own. So, how to keep the bad guys out of your house?

It occurs to me that the same deterrents that discourage burglars and home invaders now would be effective in discouraging looters in some future scenario.

My current burglar deterrents (fence, clear yard, barred windows and metal gated doors) could be augmented by cacti under the windows (or thorny bushes for those of y'all in the northern zones) if time allowed. The deterrents speak to a would-be intruder saying: "This place is going to be hard to get into. It'll take a lot of work and noise to get inside. Why not try that other house with no fence and no bars?"

(To clarify, cactus or thorn bushes shouldn't block the view from the windows.)

Whether they be looters or refugees people tend to seek shelter in manmade structures so in a survival situation a little house on the open prairie would draw people seeking food, water and shelter like a magnet.

In my surplus dealer days I drove up to surplus dealer conventions in Las Vegas a couple of times. Along the route, in the middle of the desert, there was a house near a very large very deep gorge. By the gorge, within sight of the freeway, was a small house. The owner had evidently tired of being a Good Samaritan. The place was surrounded by a high barbed wire topped chain link fence and a HUGE (readable from the freeway as I drove by at 65 miles an hour) sign that announced there was "NO food! NO water! NO phone! NO NOTHING!" available there. I don't know how well that tactic worked during peace time, but I doubt the sign and fence would keep desperate refugees out after TEOTWAWKI or during a WTSHTF evacuation.

In the suburbs where "magnets" are abundant it would be sufficient, I think, merely to make the place you lived in look lived in and stronger than the other lived in houses on the block. OTOH in a scenario where people are foraging for food amongst the ruins of an abandoned city making your house look lived in is the last thing you'd want to do.

Other Tactics and Ruses
Quarantine Sign: If the event that caused you to pull in your horns involved disease a quarantine sign might effectively discourage visitors. Everybody "knows" the Health Department has Quarantine signs that they tack up on quarantined buildings, but few people actually know what the signs say so you could print up your own on your computer.

Blessings and Curses
Of course if there was no local epidemic the signs would be less effective. You can expect the neighbors to stand clear of you and yours after posting such a sign, even after you tell them it's just to discourage looters. Marauders might think the inhabitants are weakened by disease or dead and so an easier target then the house next door. Also if there is any remaining government they may be irked by your assumption of their authority.

Standard warning signs: Beware of Dog, Beware of Owner, Insured by Smith & Wesson, This House Patrolled By Armed Guard Three Nights A Week – You Guess Which Three, etc cetera aren't all that effective now and may not be any more so in the future.

Blessings and Curses
Such signs may discourage casual crooks and non-desperate refugees, but they may caution the more determined to be extra careful when sneaking up on you.

Making the place look Abandoned
Boarded up buildings are magnets for bums, transients and drug users now, what would make you think a boarded up building would be any less attractive to refugees?

Scattering furniture, bric-a-bracs and old clothes in the yard to make it look like the house has already been ransacked and then boarded up and abandoned indicates the owners couldn't properly secure the premises and so boarded it up. I.e. it'll be easier to break into.

How's about smoke marks appearing to come out of the tops of the windows and doors? Easy to do with a smoky fire in a can on a stick but you'll have to be very careful not to burn down the very thing you're trying to protect via subterfuge.

Blessings and Curses
Plywood over windows prevents you from seeing what's going on outside and loopholes in the very bullet penetrable barriers only hint that the place isn't disserted. Also, unless the other houses in the neighborhood are boarded up too you may be attracting people who want to steal the plywood.

Also keep in mind that these home desecration methods are saying: "Don't rob me, rob him!" a message that may not be well received by your neighbors.

If your neighborhood is intact being organized will discourage attack. Failing community organization, looking like the strongest house on the block may make you less of a target without antagonizing your neighbors.

In the initial shock after a TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) or WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) event those who choose to remain in place will need to choose between playing Hide and Seek or King of the Hill.

So, bottom line:
The little house on the prairie better look like and be a fort with enough armed adults inside to repel boarders.

A bungalow in the 'burbs will want to look like all the other occupied houses in the area, but stronger.

If the area is abandoned a house that looks lived in will act as a magnet (see little house on the prairie above) to any and all who come close enough to see it.

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