Published on July 13th, 2012 | by Paddy Cassidy
Aside from my time in the US Army, I was never a gun enthusiast. Actually, even when I was on active duty my interest in firearms was purely professional. I enjoyed my time on the range and all the training associated with my platoon or company’s various toys, but my enthusiasm never drove me to the local gun store (or even Wal-Mart) to fortify my home in case of invasion. The only weapon I kept with me at all times was a knife, more of a tool than a weapon.
Oddly, my attitude changed when I moved to Ireland. Finding myself in a country where the words ‘second amendment’ meant little to nothing, I felt somewhat vulnerable to intruders despite my safe, middle-class apartment. To make matters worse, just before I’d arrived a number of men had been ‘glassed’ in pubs and stabbings were frequently reported in the papers. Top it all off with the fact that my wife quickly became pregnant while we were there… well, I began thinking more about defending my home and my family.
It may seem a daunting task, but fortifying your home need not be difficult or complicated. Starting off with personal weapons, it’s obvious something should be easily accessible in the event of an attack. Noticing that the ancient Irish sport of hurling was played with 36-inch stick of ash wood – one end flat, wide, and sharpened – I decided this was my best bet. I bought one at the local sporting goods store, wrapped electrical tape around the handle, and set it by my bedside table… just in case.
After ensuring your personal ‘first strike’ weapon is staged within easy reach, you should assess your access and egress points. Where can the enemy (zombie or otherwise) most easily gain entry into your home? In the event of an attack, during which the possibility of being overrun is highly likely, where is your best chance of moving your group away from danger?
With regards to access points, the type of home you inhabit makes a huge difference. Obviously an apartment, even one or two stories above ground level, will be fairly easy to defend. By ‘easy’, I mean relative to defending a house with multiple entrances/exits and if the two following conditions are satisfied: first, the stairs must be only steps from your door; second, you must have early warning – if you can’t hear them coming, you can’t run to throw things down the stairs at them or take a few well-aimed shots. With most apartments built to be reliant on an elevator and having a staircase in reserve, you will have the literal ‘high ground’ and can place obstacles in the way of the enemy fairly easily. What obstacles? Well, that depends on what you have around the house.
Do a quick inventory of your household items. What could be used to deter attackers up the stairs? You can only fight them off for so long, so after assessing your household for items that can be easily deployed down the stairs – heavy vases, chairs, shelving, broomsticks – it’s time to do a bit of shopping at the local home improvement store, but don’t go crazy.
The neighbors would get suspicious if you were dragging gates, locks, and chains into the elevator of your building, so it’s probably best to create a series of locks, deadbolts, and chains on the inside of your apartment’s door. Take a day or two to observe your neighbors’ habits. If they’re the 9-to-5 crowd, you can call in sick and take a day to install all your additional locks. At least one, the one that holds after all the other bolts and locks have been broken (in the worst case scenario), should allow a slight gap between door and doorframe, so that you can make an attempt at killing or maiming your attacker through the slit.
If you’re living in a suburban or rural environment, house rather than apartment, you have a different set of challenges and advantages. While beds and heavy dressers could provide effective barricade materials, a fully furnished house will also have a dining table, couch, and some chairs on the lower level. The problem in a house is that there are probably multiple entrances and exits, at least two. For this reason, a bit of planning must be undertaken.
Zombies are nearly mindless, so the good news is that the most obvious avenue of approach will almost certainly be their entrance of choice. If you have a backyard with a fence around it, they’ll bump around the fence until they arrive at the front door. Be prepared to fortify the front door. Use the backdoor or side door or garage door as your primary exit route.
One major strength of a house as opposed to an apartment is that from a house you can block entrances and then pull back to an upper floor where the situation can be assessed, zombies can be picked off, and more long term plans can be made. If you are living in a multiple story residence, it is probably best to stage (in addition to your weapon of choice) rope, ladders, or any signals you may need for a longer siege.
The most important thing one can do to fortify his or her home in preparation for the zombie apocalypse is to step outside the home and ask, “How would I break in here?” Anyone making preparations for the defensive position from the inside of their home is asking for trouble. Once you have identified what you would do if you were the aggressor, you can then more easily make an inventory of items necessary for the defense.
Can my sofa be easily pushed against the door?
Can my bookshelf be deconstructed into blunt trauma instruments?
Can a person of average strength break in my door?
Once you step outside your home and begin to ask these questions, you can mentally prepare for ‘what-if’ situations inside your home. No one will know that with your one trip to Home Depot and a few minutes of discussion with your family, you are leagues ahead of them in terms of preparation.
While the neighbors are panicking, you’ll be moving furniture into combat-ready positions and preparing your escape route. You’ll survive and the neighbors’ houses will become your sources of resupply.