Will a Fence Protect You When the Grid Goes Down?

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A Prepper Journal reader, Andrew asked the following question on our Contact form the other day:

I’m wondering if you guys could do a write up of the pros and cons of a fenced property as well as a gated driveway. It is something I have considered for some time but would be very much interested in what people more in the know think of these security options.

If anyone else has any questions, please send them in, or comment on any post. Your conversations help everyone in the Prepper community learn and if anyone has additional feedback to what I write here, please add that below.

A fence for home protection

When it comes to keeping people out or keeping them in, a fence is one of the first things considered. Naturally any secure area or building has a fence around it –  sometimes several fences. The most secure fences would additionally have a roll of razor wire at the top to detract would-be climbers from making it over unscathed or be electrified; possibly both.

In residential areas you are usually more limited in what you would even consider putting around your property. In my case, I wouldn’t be able to add that big prison fence to the sides of my yard because my wife wouldn’t allow it. Now before I get comments like I need to grow a pair, I will add that I wouldn’t want a large fence either. It isn’t like a large fence would help my falling property value and unless I am in a fortress it just doesn’t go with my landscaping.

When we first brought our survival dog home we talked about a fence to keep her enclosed in our yard. We priced out a traditional chain-link fence for our yard that would have given us some peace of mind if we ever wanted to let her go unattended. The over $5000 price list made me throw that idea out the window. I know that I could have installed a chain link fence myself, but I didn’t want to tackle that project on my own. Assuming money was no object, the question was, is a fence a good idea when the grid goes down? Will a fence protect you or keep the bad guys away? Are there any yard security measures you could take that would make a difference in a grid down world?

The Pros and Cons

Items like a chain link fence can improve your property’s value if done in a way that doesn’t detract from the appearance of your yard in most cases. Fences can keep children and pets in while keeping smaller children and pets out of your yard. There is usually a state law to have a fence if you have a pool to prevent anyone from stumbling into the water and drowning. Fences create a nice boundary line and frame your property in a way that for some is more pleasing than the openness of yards without borders. Aside from the aesthetic reasons and the property value implications (of which I really am not qualified to speak to) are fences good at realistic protection?

Assuming we are talking about traditional residential fences here, I don’t believe they offer anything on their own in the way of serious protection. Could they slow someone down? Yes, but for how long? Even the White House fence proved no match for a determined man. Fences can easily be cut with a plain pair of bolt cutters (which I recommend everyone have as part of a complete prepper supply list of items), or run over with just about any car and then the illusion of protection would be shattered pretty quickly. If you are planning on buying and installing a fence, I wouldn’t expect this alone would keep you safe from anything more than those small children and pets. They might be a better deterrent while there is no crisis going on, but if the grid goes down, do you really expect a fence to keep anyone out for long?

Security gates may slow down vehicles, but what about people on foot?
Security gates may slow down vehicles, but what about people on foot?

What about a big security gate on your driveway? These are frequently more substantial than a fence, but they have their weaknesses too. Even with a gate, you are probably only going to slow down vehicles, but people can walk in or around those gates. I look at these like expensive locks on my shed. They are there to keep honest people out, not the criminals who will find a way to get around these basic security measures in a truly violent reality if they are motivated.

So should you do nothing?

I think in some situations, fences and gates can slow people down but they won’t stop anyone who is really determined for long. You can use these as your early warning system though and deploy perimeter alarms at the gates and on the fences to alert you when these obstacles have been breached. In a home invasion scenario this could give you precious seconds of advance warning to either make it to your home defense weapon or safe room and possibly call 911.

Those are my thoughts, what do you think?

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WG
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WG

I am lucky enough that my current house had a fence when I moved in. While not a big security threat I believe a fence is a good piece of your security plan. A fence can be a deterrent and can also give you those vital seconds needed to respond to a threat.

Dan
Guest
Dan

We use some natural fencing. A row of thorny bushes in one area but one also has to remember that fencing blocks your line of site and someone can sit outside the fence line and pick everyone off one by one. Our thorny bushes are used to conceal our chicken coop and run. Though anyone listening will hear the rooster crow once in awhile but no one can approach from that area of the property without a lot of hurting.

usmarinestanker
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usmarinestanker

I like the use of thorny bushes. Folks will rather not mess with them if they can find a softer target. Even throwing boards up and over them will not be the best option to traverse because good hedges have thick branches that will support each other and stay up when you attempt to crush them.

Ed
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Ed

I have some experience with security of a small government facility. We had chain link fence and razor wire on top, however we knew that anyone with a reasonable size vehicle could just crash through the fence. Unless you are willing to install expensive security fences that someone cannot climb up, cut, and should be buried a few feet below the surface of the ground, fences provide minimal security against intruders.

usmarinestanker
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usmarinestanker

In southern Utah cinder block walls are all the rage. People erect them 6-8 feet tall in some cases, reinforced with rebar sunk about 2 feet down and extending 3-4 feet out of the ground. Most of the houses look like prisons because of them, but they have their privacy (and reduced visibility). These walls would potentially stop 9mm ammo, but certainly nothing more. Taller walls offer the added benefit of being harder to climb. Add some broken glass or razor wire (technically illegal, but if SHTF I could care less) and you’re in a much better place. Back in… Read more »

C. Love
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C. Love

Seeing that you guys speak quite highly of having a gun for a SHTF scenario, but being that I’ve used knives my entire life, i must ask, What’s your take on self-defense knives? Secondly, I’m rather new to prepping, although I’ve been a firm believer of its importance for some time, I’m most curious of 1: how would you suggest budgeting (I’m 17 and joining the army as a Ranger by years end) for the SHTF scenario and 2: how do you suggest … “recruiting” my friends and family (mainly those whom are an obvious asset) without sounding too “crazy”?

BradenLynch
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BradenLynch

I read somewhere that having a fence can be an advantage in the legal aftermath if you have a self-defense shooting on your property. Clearly the person was uninvited and more likely a threat if they had to scale a fence to get on your property. It helps remove the idea from the jury that he was just lost or confused and wandered into your yard.

Pat Henry
Guest

I’m no lawyer Braden, but that would seem to make some sense. Of course each state and circumstance would be different so it’s hard to put a blanket recommendation on this for a SHTF legal get out of jail free card. On the flip side though if things are bad enough, I doubt the legal system is going to factor into a lot of crimes.

Paul Browne
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Paul Browne

A fence is a decent first line of defence against every day situations, and will slow down anyone trying to enter your property. A fence will not stop someone determined to climb the fence, cut through it or smashing through with a vehicle. Landscaping of rows of trees, and large rocks can help deter smashing into it with a vehicle. Thick thorn bushes can even slow or deter someone making entry. Other barrier’ s for vehicles can be effective including 6″ diameter steel pipe filled with concrete 42″+ inches deep into the ground every 4′ or a raised planter beds… Read more »