Admit it. You were secretly in awe of young Kevin McCallister in Home Alone. His impromptu booby traps would make even the hardest jungle warfare fighter tip their hat. While we laugh at the contraptions, we should also step back and realize that the concept of many of those is pretty solid. Home-made booby traps, in many cases, are an effective tool to deter unwanted guests and invaders.
Done right, they can be a great supplement to home defense or even general property defense. Now, the standard legal statement is required here. No, building a tripwire that fires a flame thrower at someone knocking at your door is probably not legal. Even without this extreme example, there are several booby traps that can work well for us without removing a limb. Let’s take a look at seven examples.
Our first examples are going to use tripwires. These are traps that set off a loud sound to alert us to someone’s presence. A tripwire involves a wire that is pulled tight across a pathway, like in between trees or a doorframe. A common tool for this is fishing line because it’s thin enough to be nearly invisible to the naked eye and won’t break when a person walks through them. The line or wire is connected to an alarm that goes off as soon as someone activates the tripwire. The number of ways you can use a tripwire could fill a book.
1. One of the easiest is to attach the wire to a collection of aluminum or tin cans hidden out of sight. Once the wire is hit, the cans make a great deal of sound that can alert you.
2. A more advanced version of this concept uses a 12-gauge shotgun primer. The fancy title of a device in this category is “Tactical Trip Wire Perimeter Alarm Signaling Device Early Warning Security System.” In short, it allows you to load a 12g primer into a holder set up to fire if your tripwire is activated. These interesting devices can be easily found online.
Our second group of traps will be focused on sound once again but in a more general way. By placing certain items in common travel paths, the unwelcomed guest will walk on your trap and expose their presence.
3. We will once again go to Hollywood. In Mission Impossible, Ethan Hunt makes it back to the safe house, where he spreads broken light bulbs on the floor to alert him if anyone else enters. This is an excellent booby trap and easy to set up.
4. We can also revisit the use of aluminum cans. By placing them at blind corners and doorways, a person will kick them and alert you to their presence.
Our third group of traps gets a little more aggressive. We will now set traps that are physical deterrents.
5. We will go back to our tripwire as a way to activate this trap. Called a “whacker,” this is best used in outdoor applications. A tree limb is pulled tightly to the rear and wedged in place. The trip wire is then connected and strung across a path. If tripped, the limb will swing quickly into the location of the trip wire and “whack” the person standing there. These can also be built indoors as well with constructed “whackers.”
6. Still using our tripwire, we will now connect it to a typical confetti cannon. These can be found at party stores across the country. Placed out of sight and at head height, they are both a physical deterrent and a sound maker when tripped. Being hit in the face with a wad of confetti is distracting, to say the least, and lets the subject know without a doubt that their presence is known.
7. The last one I will discuss is the most energy-intensive one. I call this trap the pit of despair. The name is appropriate because it is literally a pit. A deep hole covered with typical vegetation or even a rug will disrupt the plans of any unwelcomed guest. This is obviously at the top of the list regarding the time needed to prep, but it is effective. These were common during the Viet Nam war, and the Viet Cong placed sharpened bamboo at the bottom.
There are literally hundreds of home made booby traps out there. They range from nails placed in boards for people to walk on to chemical agents. The samples I have listed here are obviously less lethal options. However, a quick look at this topic will show you a world where people have taken the concept to extremes. This is especially true with those that have chosen to live away from society and want to be left totally alone. Regardless of the application, booby traps are a mix of personal protection tools and Rube Goldberg devices. I will close; however, with this advice, build it only to fit your actual needs. A pit of alligators in a suburban neighborhood may end up with some legal issues you were not expecting.