Protecting Your Home or Camp with Early Warning Systems, Part 1

In a real emergency, it doesn’t matter whether you are bugging in or out, you may need to be warned of intruders.  Today many of us sit at home with the doors locked, window closed and air conditioning keeping the temperature under control.  After a disaster, we may have to keep all our window open, to try to stay cool.  This eliminates some of the security we normally have.  If you have people, who are trying to take advantage of the situation by looting you may need to rig up some early warning systems.

Fortunately there are many simple ways to give you early warning of intruders.  Dogs are great, one of the best early warning systems.  Often smaller dogs are more alert and will be quicker to bark.  Get your dog ahead of time and get to understand your dog’s reactions.  With a bit of training your dog can be a very effective early warning system.  In addition, depending on the type of dog they can discourage prowlers.

One of the simplest early warning systems is to set up tripwires.  Tripwire systems are very simple to put up and use.  You just have to be sure that the tripwires blend in well with the surrounding.  Some types of fishing lines works well, you can get fishing line in different colors.

early warning systems

Fishing line should blend in.

These can be used at your home, bugout location or in a campsite.  They can be as simple as a tin can hanging on a line with rocks in it and trip wires.  Because my hearing is not very good, I recommend cowbells.  You can often find them in thrift stores or garage sales and they make lots of noise.  I recently saw cowbells on sale at a local feed store for $2 each.  Depending on the size of the cowbells, they can be quite loud and may scare someone off.  Just remember if you have one tripped you need to make changes to your layout, they may come back.

Using YoYo fishing traps for early warning systems.

They are a spring-loaded wheel with approximately 12 ft of 60 lb test line with a swivel on the end.  For most uses, you tie the reel to a tree or other solid anchor point.  You then stretch out the line, which turns the wheel compressing the spring.  When you get as much line as you want out, there is a small latch that you place in one of the notches in the wheel.  When the line is disturbed, it trips the latch and the spring-loaded wheel reels in the fish.  You would normally add more line to the trap.

early warning systems

YoYo fishing reels or traps

However, they have an alternate use.  They will work well as early warning systems.  Simply take a can full of rocks and stretch the string across the area you wish to protect.  Set the string at ankle height so that any disturbance will trigger the YoYo fishing reel. You can add fishing line to lengthen the string.  When the YoYo fishing reel retracts, it will cause the can to fall or shake, warning you that someone is in the area.  There are many other ways that you can use this to trigger a warning, even using it to trigger electronic devices.

ealry warning system

A jar hanging from a door knob

Another simple alarm that can be used in your home or even a motel room is to put an empty glass jar upside down on your doorknob.  This will fall (and make a loud noise, except on carpet) should someone turn the doorknob. (Warning- the bottle can break leaving glass fragments on the floor).  A soda can filled with loose change balanced on the doorknob will make a lot of noise if someone attempts to enter.  Windows also easy to trap with cans of change or jars.

You will notice that these are all noise making devices; I am not recommending any devices that can cause bodily harm. These are just a few of the many possible ways you can rig early warning systems to help protect you from intruders.  Today we have just discussed low tech methods, in the future we will post an article on higher tech methods.



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18 Responses to Protecting Your Home or Camp with Early Warning Systems, Part 1

  1. ghbrown says:

    X-10 home security systems have excellent motion detectors for indoors or outdoors, and Amazon and Harbor freight have some good motion detectors that work well.
    When my brother was in the Marines, they used empty K-ration cans (two together) tied to fish line and surrounded their camping spot with this system. However, the rodents liked the empty cans, and kept them up all night by jumping on the cans to get at the leftover food.

  2. Grampa says:

    You may want to ad bubble wrap that gives off the snap sound that doesn’t blend with any noise in nature. It is cheap for it costs a dollar at the dollar store. under the center of a throw rug that is normal in a home it wont be detected like the fishing line that can reflect the tight beam flashlight.

  3. Jim says:

    I use cheap sensor lights which I removed the bulbs and attached wires inside my house, to a diagram of my property, with small indicator lights representing where the sensor is located. When one, or more, of the twenty-six lights come on a quick glance at the diagram will tell me where something may have triggered the sensor. If there is a power failure, I plug it into an inverter attached to a four twelve volt batteries as a backup. I buy these at hardwares store when on sale. Some of them sell for less that three dollars each.

  4. Linda S. says:

    Any terrier will be your best alarm. We have Jack Russells & they are loud & tenacious. They’re also very smart, easy to train. We’re with ours almost constantly & we can tell the difference in their barks; there’s “oh, mama’s home”, “yippee, squirrels”, and then there’s “I’m gonna rip your leg off!”. They’re small, quick, & difficult for an intruder to see long enough to neutralize.

  5. Jose says:

    Just came across this article and it reminded me of another article on home security (can’t find it right this minute). Anyway, the author was talking about a mil surplus item that could be used to “fire” .22 cal blanks when a trip wire was disturbed. This is a great idea, especially if you’re setting these outside your home or the perimeter of your property. They won’t hurt anyone, but, can be heard quite well from a distance (or inside your home).

    I too would like to see a follow-up to the post on the diagram to indicate intruder locations.

    Keep up the great articles!

  6. Susi says:

    any followups on the above mentioned diagram? Sounds like a great setup!

  7. Bob says:

    Set your trip wire to a rat trap (large mousetrap) that strikes onto nails driven through the trap. On top of these nails fit percussion caps that are used on black powder firearms. When the tripwire is struck it will set off the rat trap striking the percussion caps. Bam!!

  8. Randy says:

    The glass jar one is stupid! Who wants to wake up to shattered glass on your tile?! Or any time?!

  9. Curt says:

    Very good ideas thank you in this ever increasing world of evil!!thanks again

  10. jamie bell says:

    As a cheap method of early detection, the jar on the doorknob method is something I have never seen and is fantastic, essentially it’s a early detection device you can carry and use at a moments notice. Thanks for this tip!

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