How Secure is Your Home?

Securing your home and protecting your family requires more than simply installing solid door locks and a security system. As people in the Northeast discovered during the 1998 winter ice storms, crime is only one type of misfortune that can strike a family.

To illustrate, take the following quiz about the security of your home:

1. How would you keep your house from freezing in the winter if electricity were unavailable for a long period of time? Do you have some type of wood burning heater? What about hot water?

2. Do you have back-up cooking facilities if an earthquake made natural gas unavailable for a month or two? Could you heat hot water?

3. What if you lose both electricity and gas?

4. Would you be willing to rely on batteries and candles for illumination if a major power outage lasted more than a week?

5. Do you have extra tanks of potable water should public water supplies be cut off or contaminated? Would you know how to collect and filter your own water if none was available for a long time?

6. If a winter storm damaged windows in your home, would you have sufficient plastic sheeting and repair materials to quickly enclose the open areas to retain heat?

If you answered "No" to any one of the above questions, your home is NOT secured, and your family is NOT protected.

"But I live in a thriving area," you say. "Surely my family will have access to these necessities within a short time." Most of the time, yes. But maybe not, if a major crisis strikes. For example, what happens if:

  • a labor crisis brings the inflow of food and business goods to a halt?
  • an economic crisis threatens your pensions, investments, and other so-called "guaranteed" income?
  • a major earthquake or other natural disaster suddenly upsets the natural social order for months at a time?
  • a crisis is followed by massive social unrest? Do you have contingency plans to exit an urban area if freeways are clogged?
  • terrorists attack your area with chemical or biological weapons?
  • the unthinkable happens: nuclear war?

Itís easy to dismiss these threats during times of peace and prosperity, but I assure you they are real. Not only that, but the probably of such events coming to pass increases every year. But there are ways to protect your home, and places where your family can be safe. For an in-depth analysis of North Americaís safest places to live, see my book, Strategic Relocation: North American Guide to Safe Places. For a few easy, low-cost remodeling solutions that will give your home and family the ability to handle multiple crises, read on.

Light and Electricity

For light during power outages, install a few roof-mounted, photo-electric solar panels. Connect the panels through a mini-regulator to four golf-cart batteries. You can also buy a small, 12- to 110-volt inverter and use these batteries to power some essential electronics that will help you find out what is happening during a crisis, such as a computer, radio, or small television. I have small, RV-type fluorescent lights mounted on the walls of every major room in my house. When the power goes off (which it does fairly often) I just flick on the auxiliary lighting and go about my business.

You can also install a portable generator, just donít forget the fuel to run it! And avoid expensive brand name generators like Kohler and Onan; Samís Clubs, Home Depots, and Costcos often carry these items at a quarter of the brand-name price. Always get generators with at least 4500 watts output so you can run a refrigerator or freezer. My book, The Secure Home, outlines how to connect the generator right up to your house circuits without costly switching equipment.

The cost for light, and for vital information during a crisis? Less than $1,000.

Water Supplies

For an additional water source, you could also install a second hot water tank next to your present tank. Just plumb it so that incoming water flows through the first tank before going into the second. Then strap both tanks securely to the wall to keep them from toppling over during an earthquake.

If your main tank is gas, make the auxiliary one electric. Just keep the element off until you need it. Even if you don't need the extra hot water yet, the second tank will serve as a constant reserve of fresh water in case of a shortage. My book, The Secure Home, contains a complete, easy-to-read plumbing schematic.

The cost of ensuring your family has sufficient water supplies during a crisis? Less than $250.

Self Defense

What will you do if your house is broken into while you and your family are sleeping? Do you have an early warning system? How can you protect your family? Gun battles in your home can be deadly for you and your family, read about modifying your home with an impregnable security shelter that will protect your family from most any kind of assault in my special report, How To Implement a High Security Shelter in the Home. This information is also inclduded in my book, The Secure Home.


Cook with gas? If so, then buy an electric hot plate or skillet to back up your gas unit. If you rely on natural gas, you can buy a set of alternative LP jets for your range and switch to LP gas during an emergency. While the outlay for an LP gas tank is somewhat expensive up front (about $1 per gallon of storage), the stored gas will keep indefinitely.

A cheaper alternative is to buy two to four 20-lb propane BBQ cylinders and hook them up to a small, propane camp stove. This is best if you normally cook with electricity. You can read more about these options in The Secure Home.

The cost of keeping your family fed during an emergency? Between $100-$500.


If you live in a cold climate, always have some backup wood heating available, preferably an air-tight stove. Not only will this ensure that your family stays warm if the electricity fails, but the heat will also keep your pipes from freezing.

When installing a wood-burning stove, itís best to put it in the basement so that the rising warm air will heat the rest of the house. Most stoves today also come with an optional hot water heating coil, which you should always order and hook up to an auxiliary water-heating tank. This will allow you to have hot water even if there is no electricity or gas. Find out more about alternative heating options in my book, The Secure Home.

The cost for protecting your family and home against the elements? About $1,200-1,800. Add another $500 for installation of the hot water heating option.

Food and Other Essentials

Finally, stockpile essentials in advance. "Essentials" includes not only food and water, but supplies you might need during an emergency. Imagine you need to fix something but canít run to the store. And even if you could, itís unlikely youíd find what you needed, since most stores are cleaned out in a matter of hours during crises. You can find several complete stockpiling and storage lists in my special report, 10 Packs for Survival.

THE SECURE HOME --Architectural Design, Construction, and Remodeling of Self-Sufficient Residences and Retreats

3rd Edition, 1999. 700 pages, oversized, illustrated with 100 architectural details and drawings. $45 plus $9 s/h from Swift Publishing 1-800-644-1057 (order desk only), or by check or money order, mailed to Joel Skousen 290 West 580 South, Orem, Ut, 84058. Sorry to have to charge so much shipping but this book is huge--it's like mailing a ream of paper.


The Secure Home is the long-awaited update of The Survival Home Manual, Skousenís popular book last published in 1982. A near-total rewrite thatís nearly twice the size of the original, The Secure Home contains dozens of new technical and equipment recommendations. The book will give you information from A to Z that will help you create a high-security residence or retreat, from initial design strategies to construction details and self-sufficiency systems integration. And many would argue that the final section of recommended products and sources is worth the price of the book alone, for the time it will save you in search for suppliers!

The new edition contains five major sections, including:

  • General Philosophy and Strategies for Security and Self-Sufficiency
  • Planning: Designing for new construction and remodeling
  • Integration of Security and Self-sufficiency Systems
  • Construction and Implementation
  • Listing and Descriptions of Recommended Equipment and Suppliers

While the body of the book only refers to the design and implementation of generic systems such as wood stoves, solar water heaters, and inverter/battery systems, the final section details the pros and cons of specific equipment. This means that future updates of the book will only include a revised final section. You can also find the most recent version of this section online at any time, allowing you to update The Secure Home free at any time.