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What Is A Safe Room? How To Build A Safe Room

Updated on May 22, 2018
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What Is A Safe Room?

How To Build A Safe Room
How To Build A Safe Room | Source

People concerned about their personal safety and the safety of their family are wondering what is a safe room and how to build one that will meet their needs for protection. These secure rooms are not only needed to protect against home intruders but to also protect against extreme weather events, such as a direct tornado or hurricane strike.

A safe room, which is also commonly referred to as a panic room, is nothing new to the rich, who have always had concerns about their personal and family security. Wealthy people routinely built fortified rooms within their homes or places of business that they could recede to for safety in the event of a robbery or kidnapping attempt. The film "Panic Room," which was released in 2002, brought the terms “safe room” and “panic room” into the lexicon of a public that was previously generally unfamiliar with the terms. High profile crimes and severe weather events have caused many to consider whether they should build their own fortified room to protect themselves and their families from an increasingly dangerous world.

A Description of Common Safe Rooms

A safe room is a room that is designed to provide safe shelter during a security or weather-related emergencies. What the room is comprised of is entirely up to the person building the fortified room. For those with limited budgets, it could be as simple as an interior closet with a solid door, deadbolt lock, and extended screws to make it harder for intruders to enter. For those with less budgetary constraints, it could include an interior room with fortified walls and a strong metal door with high-grade hardware and locks.

If a room is built to withstand high winds associated with extreme weather events, such as tornadoes and hurricanes, it should at the very least be built in a strong interior area of a building. It could also be secured to a building foundation to provide additional structural support to withstand high winds. The entrance to a sophisticated safe room may be hidden from view, so as not to attract the attention of intruders, such as behind a bookcase, mirror, or closet. To monitor activities outside of a safe room, a peephole can be installed on the door or security cameras can be set up outside of the door and other areas outside of the safe room, with monitoring screens inside the safe room to monitor the activities of the intruders.

While the contents of a safe room may vary considerably based on one’s preferences and budget, a typical safe room has the following items: multiple ways of communicating with the outside world to alert authorities about an emergency (landline phone, cellular phone, ham radio, CB radio, Internet, etc.), back up lighting, a first aid kit, food and drink, blankets, a portable toilet, and perhaps weapons or firearms. Other features of a safe room may include emergency oxygen sources, gas masks, a separate ventilation system, and an emergency escape exit. While one might be tempted to add a lot of comforts to a safe room, there really is no need to add too many comforts to a safe room, since a safe room will only be used for a short period of time, while the occupants are in danger.

Is A Safe Room Worth Installing?

There are numerous examples of people’s lives being saved by safe rooms when their home or place of business have been entered by intruders that meant to harm them or have been hit by severe weather. Obviously, financial and space constraints limit many people’s ability to build such a room in their home or place of business, and therefore the question must be asked: is a safe room worth installing? The answer to that question depends on a number of factors. Nobody knows if or when they will be a victim of a home invasion; however, the risks of a home invasion increase if one lives in a high crime neighborhood, or if one is wealthy, or if one works in an occupation that is known to involve a lot of cash or valuables. If a person does not fall into one of these high-risk categories, spending money and taking away interior space to build a safe room may be a waste of money and valuable space. Like anything, a safe room is not 100% effective at providing security since a building occupant may not be able to reach a safe room in time or intruders may gain access to a safe room. For those not in a high-risk category, their money may be better spent on taking self defense-classes and carrying self-defense weapons. Similarly, if one does not live in an area that experiences strong tornadoes or hurricanes, building a safe room to survive a severe weather event would be a misallocation of resources.

One should keep in mind that a safe room is a place to retreat to in an emergency that should end relatively quickly after authorities are contacted or after a storm has passed. It does not necessarily need to include items necessary to survive for weeks. It does not have to be an elaborate safe room or panic room, as depicted in Hollywood movies and on television. A reinforced interior closet with multiple communications outlets may be enough of a safe room for many circumstances. However, the sky is the limit when it comes to building a safe room that is adequate for to meet the safety needs of family or individual. Depending on one’s risk category and the size of their home or business, they may find it necessary to build an elaborate room or even more than one room. The key is to have in the room what you need in an emergency and to be ready to use it.

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Panic Room Installation - Channel 4 Documentary

© 2013 John Coviello

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