In 2014, Inside Energy, a collaborative journalism initiative, reported that the number of reported power outages had increased markedly across the US since 2000. The reason? Aging infrastructure, a growing population, and extreme weather. From 2000 to 2004, the average number of reported grid outages per year was 44; compare that to the first six months of 2014, when 130 outages were reported.

And it seems the risks are increasing. Aside from the increasing incidence of weather-related calamities, the US has also started to recognize that cyber attacks could take down massive sections of the national grid. And when the power goes down, incidences of looting and theft tend to go up as both experienced burglars and opportunistic criminals grab their chance.

So you should realize that in case of a power outage, the problem of keeping your home secure becomes exponentially more difficult. But it’s not impossible, as long as you take the right steps. Below is a rough guide for you to follow in order to discourage burglars during a power outage.

Prepare off-the-grid security

First, you have to do a home security audit, particularly of non-electrical security measures. If everything goes dark, you’ve got to be sure that your home can be a reliable fortress. Doors going into your home have to be solid and able to withstand strong impacts. Repair any broken doorknobs so that you can lock them, and consider installing security chains and deadbolts for good measure. As for windows and glass doors, they should ideally have double glazing, tempered glass or security film; all three options have been said to deter burglars as they’re resistant to force, plus their heat resistance can help reduce energy costs.

Checking the layout of your home for possible vulnerabilities and weaknesses is also a good idea. For example, blind corners and large pieces of furniture like dividers could provide hiding places for intruders sneaking into your home. If you have a yard or garden, inspect it for large shrubs and tree trunks that could provide cover for trespassers, as well as gardening tools that they might use as weapons.

If you’re thinking of using non-lethal personal protection, such as stun guns or pepper spray, you must be aware of how your state and local law enforcement regulate their use. Such extreme measures may be completely legal in some jurisdictions, while others have hard limitations on who can use them, how they should be used, and so on.

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