Defensive gardening

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Defensive gardening

So I'm no expert gardener myself, but I most definitely came to know a few garden plants and bushes through the years that brought me to tears, with a stab or two that is. Although we do not tend to give a lot of attention to the fauna and flora around us, we all know a plant that you would not dare violate! Nature herself has developed some of the best defenses that stood the test of time. So why not use that to our advantage?

Unfortunately, the advantage of these amazing plants and trees can also go to the other side, if you do not give attention to where you plant them or maintain them throughout the year. Think of hiding spots and concealment.

To tree, or not to tree?

So cut down those bushes and shrubs where they can be used to hide in at pinch points such as at the front gate or the porch etc., also trim all your trees on the bottom so you can see underneath them. And trim any branches of trees close to any outside walls or close enough to utilize to climb onto your roof.

If you do like trees, planting something with dense leaves and thin branches will do the trick. Especially if you plant on the outside of barriers.

Shrub it off

On that note, It's a good idea to start from the outside in. Planting some thorny shrubs next to your initial barriers can help keep intruders at bay. Or some thorny roses on top of walls, guided by some trellis or wires makes for a good deterrent - Think barbed wire hidden under some thorns. (evil smile)....

Ideally, you want to keep the shrubs low enough to see over them and be able to watch suspicious movement outside. Too high and dense may help someone hide and wait to pounce on you leaving through the gate.

It pays to plan

Next, we move to the inner side of the walls. Garden design plays a big role here, vulnerable spots such as corners or spots with easy access from the neighbors' house, can be upgraded with a nice thorny plant, or even a fish pond can be quite the inconvenience for intruders if they had to jump straight into it. Or perhaps some wooden spikes is more your thing, I don't judge.

Gravel is your friend

Next on the list is the driveway, pathways, and access points such as windows. Gravel works great for this, it's quite tricky to make no noise walking over gravel. Be creative with this one, think of spaces where someone would likely have to walk to get to your home.

Now go ahead and plant some thorny plants underneath windows or on top of window-sills. Just to stab em some more! And it's a great way to add some color and impress your wife (wink).

Light it up!

The next thing on the list is lighting. This is a very largely debated point, but in my personal experience, you do not want any bright outside lights that are constantly on, not if you are not going to be awake the whole night to monitor who moves in and around the light. So any spotlights connected to a motion sensor work great if you are awake to see it of course. As a kid, we used to have motion sensor lights that simultaneously activate an alarm inside the home, and this was a great concept. You are awakened by the alarm and would know exactly where the movement is, and also whoever was passing the light would hear the alarm and know that someone probably woke up by it.

Another great way of utilizing softer light, such as the small solar garden lights, is to position them in somewhat of a line. In this way, you can peek through a window (with the lights off inside) and if anything passes the lights you can determine movement and direction at the same time. So if used with a silent alarm, it can come in handy.

Also, please do remember to not turn any outside lighting towards your home, if you need to look outside with a light shining in your eyes, your kind of like a deer in headlights, and, whoever is behind the light will comfortably be concealed and have no problems seeing you.

What about the tools?

Lastly, never leave garden tools, ladders, rocks, or any objects that can be used to help someone break in lying around in the yard. If possible, remove them and lock up the tools in a garage or out-house. Face it, it pays to be neat.

Conclusion

So there you have it. Plants can be your best friend when intruders attempt to breach your security. Another great thing about thorny plants is the evidence that could be left behind. Sometimes some drops of blood, some shreds of clothing or even some items dropped when they realized it gets painful. Remember, there is no guarantee any or all of these tips and tricks will work. But it sure beats doing nothing at all!

I will admit, it might take some time and effort to assemble your garden defenses. From researching different plants, choosing the right one in the right amount, and physically planting and continuously caring for them. But it is a rewarding project! At the least, you would have some interesting plants to show off to your visitors, wanted and unwanted that is.

Till next time. Stay safe! And happy gardening!

Home defense

Conclusion

Conclusion

Thank you for spending valuable time to work through this guide. I hope it will benefit you as much as it does others. This guide only covers the very basics of each subject and there is more to it than what is mentioned here. But it would be impossible to add everything on one guide or even in a complete book.

The biggest reason is that crime trends change constantly and by the time you have read through the 11 posts this guide consists of, new crime trends would have already been identified. With that said, I would like to invite you to check out more on my website at www.alphadefense.co.za for coverage of all things important to physical and personal security.

I sincerely encourage anyone to continue your training and improve your knowledge on all things related to personal security, whether it's through the internet, local coaches, or participation in any other form of training. It is never too late to start! Planning now, to mitigate threats and risks at a later stage, might just be the key to your safety and security.

It is all too often that I witness the horrific turn out of events just because people refuse to actively implement what they learn, especially those who talk about it but never act on it. If you just talk about dieting and never really follow a proper diet and get active, then you never really get any results. Security is no different, don’t just read about what anyone says, try it, and who knows, maybe you just start to like it!

Feel free to engage with me on your concerns and suggestions. I also suggest you visit these posts often, and that you implement as much of the advice as possible, and add your knowledge of course. Drop me an email if you like.

Look out for any updates on the website.

Until then, keep safe and keep on learning.

Home defense

Approaching the door

Approaching the door

In the previous 2 posts, we were discussing issues related to approaching your home from a vehicle or on foot/any other way. The next big step to take is learning how to approach the door after getting safely into your yard/driveway. This space can create a crucial pinch point and should not be neglected!

Once you are safely inside your driveway, there is still a risk of attack. A lot of attacks happen in this space. The biggest reason for this is that there is not much movement and other variables for the criminals to consider. They can easily hide inside your driveway or behind your house or whatever might be available, just waiting for your approach to the door. More preferably just after you unlocked the door. Then they strike comfortably, without having to worry much about being seen by someone else.

As you move to your front door, avoid using any electronic devices. Use natural lighting to scan for any shadows. Avoid going straight around sharp corners. Keep your eyes and ears open. Walk swiftly and directly to the door. Use a flashlight to scan dark spots.

These are the most common things to look out for:

  1. Silhouettes in the dark.
  2. Any signs of movement that is not a pet or family member.
  3. Any objects out of place, like potting plants, dustbins, or anything that is supposed to be inside your outhouse, garage, or home.
  4. Light at the front door is not working.
  5. Broken windows.
  6. Animals behaving abnormally.
  7. Your alarm system does not respond.
  8. Your neighbor’s alarm system is triggered.

Once one of these is noticed, I suggest the following reaction:

1 - 3. When you notice any moving shadows, it’s obvious that you are not alone. You need to escape immediately and activate your emergency plan. Contact emergency numbers and move as quickly away from your home as is possible. Only re-enter once your home is made safe by policing services or your security service. Any sign that indicates possible movement, whether from behind the house, behind you, in front of you, or on the roof, can just as well be an intruder. Do not write it off as an animal or the wind. Activate your emergency contacts and get out of your yard and away from your home as quickly as possible.

4. There can be various reasons for this such as a blown globe or neglecting to switch the light on when leaving. Use a flashlight to approach cautiously and be on high-alert. Clear around the corners before unlocking the door.

5. See steps 1 – 3.

6. Establish why they are acting abnormally and proceed with caution. Notify your emergency contacts of any suspicious behavior or if you suspect any problems.

7. You need to notify your emergency contacts. Phone your reaction company if you have any. Proceed cautiously if you suspect no problems. If you suspect any problems, call for assistance.

8. Get into your home as quickly as possible and watch for any movement outside. There is always a possibility of an intruder crossing over from your neighbor’s yard into yours. When this happens, activate your emergency contacts and get out of sight. Do not try to engage anyone, they might want to make you their next target, especially when they are being chased.

Tips:

  • When you are inside your yard, do not lower your awareness you need to raise your level of awareness to high alert.
  • Do not move around sharp corners, and keep equal space on both sides. When an attack comes from the left, move right. When an attack comes from the right, move left. Do not get backed into a wall, gate, or fence.
  • If possible, try to check around each corner of your home that is adjacent to the walls where your front door is located. This way you can be sure there is no one waiting for you to unlock the door before rushing upon you. And if someone is waiting further away, you create more time to react.
  • Keep a flashlight ready when you know that you will return during the night. Use it to scan all surroundings. This also de-motivates possible intruders, as it implies a higher level of awareness and greater risk to them.
  • When unlocking your doors, do not keep you’re back exposed. Try to stand next to your door instead of directly in front of it.
  • When locking your doors again, do it as quickly and calmly as possible. Constantly check for possible intruders rushing towards the door.
  • Install slam-lock doors or any door that locks without having to use the key, to reduce exposure time.
  • Have lighting installed at your front door. You want to be able to see properly when unlocking the door.

Keep bags on your back or shoulder. And smaller items in your pockets. You want your hands to be free to defend yourself. The only item to have in your hand is a panic button or cellphone ready to phone emergency contacts.

How strong is your approach to the door?

Home defense

Safe room

Saferoom

Picture this, your alarm system wakes you up in the middle of the night, everyone is fast asleep and then a window breaks. Now you have 2 little children scared as hell running to the bedroom screaming for daddy, your wife’s up staring at you like you’re an idiot and expects you to do something. Now the threat is coming down the corridor, for this picture well say your armed with your Glock 19 and 3 spare mags, shots fly across the corridor and you get hit.

Think about that, yes you might be a great shot and yes you might know what to do in these types of situations. But you still run the risk of losing the fight and having to leave your family at the mercy of the intruders, only now there is even less resistance because they just had to witness you get killed. And their emotions are running wild! Was this your plan? You let your emotions run the show by thinking you can do it all alone. Now I am not suggesting you build the next generation “Fort-Knox” at home, but to upgrade a room in your home to a purpose-built safe-haven in the event of intruders.

The reason for handling this subject at such an early stage in this guide is that this is probably the most important and effective way to defend yourself and your family from possible attacks and intrusion. A safe room for this purpose is not intended to be an impenetrable force, but instead a time buying feature. Which is the most critical aspect of any situation. Have you ever wondered what will happen in the time that you phone the police service and a gang of robbers is attempting to infiltrate your house? Do you think that anyone will be there fast enough to prevent any harm to you? The sad reality is that no force can ever be that fast, no matter how effective or professional they may be, and that time gap is the perfect opportunity for criminals to harm you or cause damage to your home.

Please do not over-complicate your safe room as this should be a defensive mechanism, not an expensive mechanism.  The safe room is necessary to fill the time gap that is inevitable in every situation, if you can maintain control of time, you can reduce fatalities. In many cases, some people reportedly say that time seemed to be moving slow, or that it all happened so fast, but in fact, it never skips a beat. The aim is to protect yourself and your family in enough time for your response service to provide assistance and security. Don’t be fooled, protect your family first.

Let’s take a look at how it can be done:

Please note that these guidelines are for security from criminal intent only. Safe rooms for natural disasters, civil war, and more serious occasions will require a lot more specific and extensive details.

Choosing the location of your safe room:

The actual location of your safe room can be widely debated. Generally, when you build a new home from scratch it would be preferred to incorporate your safe room as part of the build. Like a secretive room that can only be accessed from a specific place or a basement underneath the home which is hidden of course. But as we know, all around the world we use different types of building techniques, and the most affordable and cost-effective ones will always be chosen. The simplest agreement to all would be to choose a room that is easily accessible for all family members. Most of the time this would be the master bedroom or the bathroom.

Follow these general steps to instantly improve your situation during this time gap:

  1. Always start with windows at your chosen safe room. All windows should be properly barred. Solid steel bars, with minimal spacing, is ideal. In some instances I have found that it is even possible to install double burglar bars around a window, one on the window frame itself with some solid round bars, still allowing the windows to open, and the second set mounted to the concrete wall on the outside of the window, which is solid steel frames. The possibilities are endless when it comes to the style and type of bars used. If you are serious about safety and feel the need to, you can even add plates to resist bullets.
  2. Next will be the door to the safe room. Although a solid steel door is preferable, because not all door frames are compatible with such heavy doors, a good solid wood door and a burglar door behind it will work perfectly. You do not want anyone to know your position. And you want an extra layer of protection from the burglar door to surprise them once they get through the outer door. This will generally indicate a very serious attack and at this point, I suggest a decent defensive attack. Pepper spray, prodders, bats and anything possible to use while the threat is still behind a door. Only once the door is breached do you need to use excessive force, such as a firearm or similar. You want the door to be installed directly in your safe room. If possible, you should install a burglar door in the hallway leading to the bedrooms and your safe room. This creates a layer of protection while you and the rest of the family retreat to your designated safe room. Please do not leave a gap between the door and the ceiling, this will render the door useless!
  3. The next step to consider is barricading the roof on top of your safe room. This is the trickiest part of the safe room, as there is not much development in this area yet, and every roof differs. But, with some help and time, you can find a solution, the idea is to make it as uncomfortable as possible for intruders. Solid wood inserts over the struts in the roof do work but can be passed with the right equipment. Designing the perfect steel barrier can be expensive, and sometimes useless as it will have to bolt or fit your wooden struts, which makes it easy to pass with the right equipment again. However, with some proper planning, this is still possible. Installing barbed wire in the roof, re-enforcing the struts, and cementing the roof tiles together can discourage most intruders. And please do install an alarm system on the roof!
  4. Now the final step would be to designate a cabinet for supplies and stock it with trauma kits, water, emergency communication, and lighting at the least. If you or any family member suffers from asthma, make sure you have a spare asthma pump in the cabinet, or any other medical need your family members might have.

Tips:

  • Always research the type of crimes in your area and upgrade your safe room accordingly.
  • Do not make your safe room public, you do not want the wrong people to know your safe room details, it can render it useless.
  • The door should be able to lock instantly without having to struggle with keys or locks.
  • If possible, the door should swing inward.
  • Installing a locking mechanism at the top, middle, and center of the door can prevent possible intrusion when the locks restrict the door from being bent or kicked in.
  • Have a spare phone with airtime constantly available in your safe room.
  • Remember emergency lighting in your safe room, but do not keep it on, it might give away your position.
  • Keep your safe room clean and clear to avoid tripping hazards.
  • Make sure your curtains have no gaps for anyone to see inside when your safe room has windows.
  • Wooden/temporary walls are not preferable. Unless they are strong enough to resist being kicked in or shot through with a firearm.

How strong is your safe room?