Hardening Your Door

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

Generally speaking, when we talk about security and defense, the tendency is to think in terms of using firearms to protect ourselves, especially pistols. I have nothing against that, as I’ve carried concealed for years. I still maintain my concealed carry permit and carry concealed, even though the state I live in has passed constitutional carry, including carrying openly.

There are four times in my life, where I believe that my being armed stopped a crime. In only one of those cases did I have to draw the pistol out of concealment, and that was because the pistol was hidden in my motorcycle fairing, rather than on my body. I’ve never had to fire a shot in anger and I hope I never will.

Having said all that, I’ve come to the conclusion that not having to use a firearm is better than having to. That’s not to say that I will even consider not carrying, just that I’d rather stack the deck so that my guns and my ability to use them are my last line of defense, not my first.

For this reason, I’ve put a considerable amount of effort into making my home more secure. I’m not just talking about putting deadbolts on the doors; but in making sure that those deadbolts, and the other actions that I’ve taken, will actually do the job they are intended to do. Let me say that a deadbolt is only as good as the material that it goes into.

You can actually kick open a deadbolted door in most homes. That’s not because of any fault of the deadbolt itself, but because of the door frame that the deadbolt is going into. The typical residential door frame is made of 3/4-inch-thick pine (where the deadbolt goes through; the outer part of the doorframe is thicker), with the hole for the deadbolt to go through only 1/2-inch from the edge of the wood. So, all that’s preventing the deadbolt from swinging in the wind is a strip of pine that’s ½ inch by ¾ inch. A good swift kick from a booted foot will cause the deadbolt to break through that easily.

What about the metal striker plate; does that help? That striker plate is fastened to the door frame with ¾ inch long screws, meaning that the screws will pull out of the wood and the plate will come off from that same booted foot. The striker plate is more to prevent wear, than to provide security.

So, what can you do?

Fortunately, there’s a fairly simple fix for this problem. That is to install what’s known as a “security striker plate,” replacing the standard deadbolt and door lock striker plates with it. This sort of striker plate is longer, allowing for more screws to be put through it. Some are about 12 inches long, but the better ones are about 30 inches long.

The more screws used to install the security striker plate; the more wood that has to be broken through to get it to fail. Better yet, these are usually installed with 3” long or longer screws, meaning that they are not only going through the door frame, but into the structural studs behind the frame, adding a considerable amount of strength.

I personally went a step further, making my own security striker plates out of 1-1/2” wide by 1/8” thick steel strap, considerably thicker than the commercially available ones. I have these on all three of my exterior doors, with 3” long screws holding them in place.

While installing the security striker plate, it’s a good idea to replace the screws in the hinges as well as possibly the hinges themselves. Newer homes have security hinges, which contain a tab in one leaf of the hinge, which goes into a hole in the other leaf, essentially acting as a miniature deadbolt. If your home doesn’t have these hinges, you’ll want them too. The screws holding the hinges are usually ¾-inch long, just like those for the stroker plate, meaning that they become the next weak point in the door, once the security striker plate has been installed. So, they should be replaced with the longer screws as well.

Finally, does the door have glass in it? Many entry doors do, but garage and back doors don’t. Entry glass can be broken out, allowing a criminal to reach through and open the door from the inside. The solution is to fortify the glass by covering it with some sort of decorative ironwork or to add window security film on the inside of the window, making it harder to break out.

Is all this extra work worthwhile? That really depends on whether a criminal decides to get into your home. If they never do, then it will have done nothing more than make your family feel more secure. But then, even that is worth doing.

Just like keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand, making your home more secure is about protecting your family against what might happen, not what has already happened.

Dr. Rich

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