The Safe Room

The Safe Room

A safe room, also known as a panic room, is a fortified room that is installed in a private residence (or business) to provide a safe hiding place for inhabitants in the event of an emergency.

Why are safe rooms used?  

Some reasons include:

  • to hide from intruders. The protection of a safe room will afford residents extra time to contact police;
  • to hide from would-be kidnappers. Many professional athletes, actors and politicians have installed safe rooms in their homes;
  • for protection against natural disasters, such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Underground tornado bunkers are common in certain tornado-prone regions of the United States;
  • for protection against a nuclear attack. While safe rooms near the blast may be incinerated, those far away may be shielded from radioactive fallout; and
  • to provide social distancing in the event of a serious disease outbreak.

Location

The safe room’s location must be chosen carefully. You should plan multiple routes to avoid detection by an intruder who may be blocking the main route.  

Design

Designs vary with budget and intended use. Even a closet can be converted into a rudimentary safe room, although it should have a solid-core door with a deadbolt lock. High-end custom models costing hundreds of thousands of dollars can have a tamper-proof and bulletproof door, concrete floor, thick steel, soundproof walls, video monitors, computers, an air-cleaning system and protection against bacterial and chemical infiltration, and a self-contained power-generating system. 

Items to keep in a safe room:

  • bottled water and non-perishable foods;
  • communication devices independent of the safe room’s video-monitoring system, including a cell phone and charger, a landline, and a two-way radio; 
  • blankets and pillows;
  • extra clothing, outerwear and footwear;
  • a first-aid kit with extra prescription medications;
  • flashlights and batteries;
  • sanitation supplies;
  • weapons; and
  • gas masks. Where an odorless gas might be a threat, an electronic device may be installed to detect any noxious fumes or poisons.

If you have or decide to build a safe room, an important thing to remember in order to further ensure your family’s safety is not to advertise it.  If the fact is discovered by the wrong person, your safe room or your ability to use it to its full advantage when necessary could be compromised.