Safe rooms, otherwise known as panic rooms, aren’t just for thriller films and apocalypse-believers. Having a safe room in your home could prevent a major tragedy in the event of a break-in or certain natural disasters. Not sure if one’s right for you?
Safe rooms can be a cost and space-effective addition to your home. While reinforcing your entire home to make it tornado or burglary-proof can be quite expensive (not to mention aesthetically unappealing), building one room inside your otherwise traditional home can be a smart idea. Anybody can add a safe room to their home, either by purchasing a pre-made shelter or reinforcing an existing area like a closet or storage room.
Safe rooms differ from other rooms in your home in that they are made from steel or concrete, and each wall is bolted to the base slab of your home, keeping it secure during even the worst weather. Most safe rooms are also designed to survive being hit by large objects moving at fast speeds. So if a tornado sent a car flying into the outside of your safe room, it wouldn’t budge.
Start by thinking about some of the basic design features. Your safe room should comfortably fit everybody in your family. You could all be there for a couple of days in the event of a natural disaster, and you need room to move around. You’ll also want to make sure the door to your safe room opens inward, so if an earthquake or other event causes debris to build up on the other side of the door, you will not be trapped inside. Your safe room door needs to be made of steel. Ideally, people should be able to reach your safe room coming from various directions in your home. If intruders are blocking one part of your house, or the ceiling has collapsed, making it unsafe to move around your home, you want several options for getting into your safe room.
Next, think about what you’ll keep in your safe room. Being able to communicate with the outside world is so important during an emergency—whether that’s after an earthquake or during a home intrusion. Since cell towers may be down during a natural disaster, or you may have left your cell phone outside during your hurry to get into the safe room, you should build a landline that connects directly. Keep enough non-perishable food in there to feed each person in your family for at least two days. You should also keep thermal blankets, in case a natural disaster kills your thermostat, and at least a gallon of water for each individual in the family. It couldn’t hurt to keep things to entertain yourself with, like a stack of cards or board games. And, of course, if anyone in your family requires regular medication or medical equipment, keep spares in your safe room. Don’t ever remove these—they are for the safe room only.
You should also set up a video surveillance system that allows you to monitor what is happening outside. If you cannot get in touch with the outside world, you can at least see if intruders have left your home yet, or if the natural disaster is over.
Nobody wants to think they would ever need a safe room, and the cost of one could seem daunting. But the consequences of not having a safe room in the event of a major natural disaster or violent intruders are even more frightening. Weigh your options, your decision could change your life.