Personal Security In And Out Of the Home Part 2. The Safe Room

Crime_sceneHome invasion is an increasingly dangerous crime. It typically differs from plain burglary in that the perpetrators have a violent intent, and it usually involves more that one perpetrator. Having a safe room to go to could be an important part of your home safety plan.

In Part 1 we discussed a number of ways to harden your home and make it more secure. The best defense against home invasion is to keep the invaders out of your house to begin with. If your outer defenses are breached, having a safe room to retreat to could be a life saver.

A safe room, as the name indicates, is a room in your dwelling that you and your family to get to that will protect you from a serious threat. Many types of safe room designs exist. If you have the funds, you can have a safe room built that will protect you in the event of a tornado or other natural disaster. FEMA has a number of documents on that subject. Many preppers do not have the funds for such construction, and for our purposes, we are discussing a safe room set up in your apartment or house to protect yourself in the event of a home invasion. It is a room you can retreat to, that the intruders cannot get into, and you can call for help. It is not intended to be a combat bunker where you shoot it out with the bad guys.

A safe room in your home is going to be predicated on your family situation, and the location of the sleeping arrangement of all family members. Before you select a room to be your safe room, sit down and think. You need a family safety plan to begin with. This plan would cover all emergencies from fire evacuation to bugging out. Each person should know what to do, and you need to rehearse your plan often enough so everyone stays current.

Who Needs a Safe Room If I Have a Gun?

O.K. Rambo, let’s think this one through. Personally I am armed to the teeth and know how to use them. I teach other people how to use them. I also understand the tactical disadvantage of engaging multiple armed assailants. I am also not disabled, elderly, a single woman being stalked by a nut case ex, or a parent with small children. For many people, having a safe room to escape to along with their brood is the safest and most logical answer to surviving a home invasion. (and yes, you should still have a gun). Also, unfortunately, many people live in jurisdictions that require you to attempt to retreat before using deadly force, even in their own home! If you live in this type of stupidity, you might wish to consider the possibility of moving to another jurisdiction.

Selecting and Constructing Your Safe RoomHigh security shelter bookpng

Every family and housing situation is different, but the idea is to select a room that you can get all members of the household to as quickly as possible. (Remember your family safety plan). It might be the basement, or bedroom or even a large bathroom. Try to select a room with no windows or skylight. Most indoor doors are hollow wood. You need to replace the door with a solid type, wood or steel. Hang it so it opens outwardly. Use deadbolts with at least a 1 inch throw, and consider using two of them. Strike plates should be 4 screw design with screws at least three inches long. If hinges on exterior, flange, weld, or pin the hinge pins to prevent removal and ensure they have 3 inch screws on the hinge plates. A door is really only as solid at the frame it is attached to. Try to reinforce the wooden frame with angle iron, or replace it with a steel frame. The whole idea is to ensure the door remains intact after repeated hits by a 180lb. man. If you must use a room with a window, shatterproof glass would be essential as well as an iron grate over it. Insure your safe room has an electrical outlet to charge your cell phone if necessary.

Safe Room Supplies

You safe room is going to need certain supplies. Many people keep these items in the safe room pre stocked and some use a sort of mini-bug out bag to grab and go to the safe room. Personally, I recommend stocking the safe room ahead of time. It would be too easy to forget to grab the bag under stress or you might be in an area of the house that you couldn’t get to it in time. You need to be able to survive, communicate, and if necessary defend yourself. Here is a small recommended list that you can add to depending on your situation:

  1. A firearm for defense. If you can, try to dedicate at least one firearm that will be stored in the safe room. Insure you have the training to properly and legally defend yourself if necessary.
  2. A cell phone. This is essential. The idea is to stay safe long enough to call 911 for help and to remain safe until the police arrive. Make sure you have a charger with it. Dead battery can equal dead you. Test your cell phone from the safe room to insure you have coverage from it! If you have to call 911, stay on the line! This will be critical for communication when the police arrive.
  3. A good first aid kit. Don’t forget any medication you might need.
  4. Water and munchies. If you are using a bathroom the water problem is solved.
  5. A good flash light or security light.
  6. A small HAM radio if the cell phone fails
  7. Sanitation concerns. If you are not using the bathroom, you need a way to relieve yourself if you have a long wait.

 Deciding on how to set up a safe room takes a lot of serious thought. This is just an overview to get you started.

So it is that good warriors take their stand on ground where they cannot lose, and do not overlook conditions that make an opponent prone to defeat.

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

13 thoughts on “Personal Security In And Out Of the Home Part 2. The Safe Room

  1. I only put the steel on one wall connecting to the family room. Our cell phones work great in the room. The cops are only a couple of minutes away. I live a half a block away from 98. The room is made as a bad weather room/safe room the water table here is only about 8′ deep so a basement is out of the question. The handheld cb works great of course I don’t know how good it will be with a hurricane blowing up our butts

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  2. A CB is of some use, but may not be a reliable source of communication. It depends on if you have any CB “hobbyists” in your area or are near where there are a lot of truckers. The steel panels can interfere with the signal, so having an external antenna wired into the room would increase the odds of connecting with someone on air.

    Actually, a cell phone is the first communications to get covered. Again, the steel panels may be a problem; experiment to see if an external antenna will be needed for reliable connection.

    Another communication option would be a UHF/VHF ham radio, but this will require a license in order to avoid the risk of heavy fines. One of the advantages of the ham radio is you might be able to access a “repeater”, which can extend your range or in some cases, even allow radio connection to the phone network.

    Having an AM/FM radio and possibly a TV would not only provide entertainment, but access to news. As with any electronics, having backup power is wise; some combination of deep cycle battery and solar panel or man powered generator.

    You’ve got “input” taken care of (food and water). Don’t forget the “output”…

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    • You can get a Wilson antenna extension device. The antenna is outside, and the wire is attached to the side of the phone.

      Using a HAM radio in an emergency is not against the law. People can buy the radios, program them, and have them there for emergency use.

      Have it set to the channel and ready to use, and instruct your family to transmit “break, break, break” to start the conversation. If someone is listening on the channel, they will help you.

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      • Using a Ham radio in an emergency may be ok. However, learning how to use a Ham radio or verifying that a new Ham radio is functional prior to the emergency is illegal and subject to huge fines. If you are going to have a Ham radio, go ahead and get the license. It is not hard or expensive, and then you can test out the radio and learn how to use it effectively before you need it for real. Who knows; you may end up having fun with it.

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  3. I used a 1/4″ steel plates in a small bedroom on the first floor of the house. I removed the Sheetrock on the wall connecting to the rest of the house. 1/4 steel plates are not that much, screwed them into the studs I used 4×4 plates with three inch screws every 12″, 12 screws per steel panel. Before I put the plates up I put up additional studs 2x4x8 is only a couple of dollars at Home Depot. So instead of studs ever 16″ I have them every12″. After the plates went up I put 1/2 Sheetrock back up. I think the Sheetrock was the most expensive part of the process. I hardened the only window in the room with a shutter on the inside and steel bars on the window like a western cowboy cell door that open and lock from the inside. I hardened the window and door frame and everything opens into the room. It is also an alarmed room. It is my gun room and I have a couple of heavy gun safes in front of the wall. I never thought of a handheld cb radio, that is an excellent idea and will be taking a Tripp to my local Wally World. Have several cases of water emergency food stored in the bedroom, only thing not in there is a bed but it does have a couple of old army cots the ones made out of wood. I am open to any other ideas your readers might have to help me out. It took about six months to finish but I bought a little every month. The Vocation school welded the bars and still frame for the window for free all I had to do was provide the materials. The teacher over at the vo tech school told me his students would have came over to the house and helped me with the room? The kids fabricated the hinge for the window bars that go through the Sheetrock and screw into the hardened window frame. It’s a solid room. The other walls, two outside brick walls, the other wall is a brick wall that is a fireplace on the other side. Like I said any ideas you all can give me will be greatly appreciated. Actually the door cost more then the Sheetrock. I did not keep track of what it cost but I figure about $700 or 800 over six month is not that bad. No one can break through the walls with the safes there and it would take the fire dept’s jaws of life to pry the door or window open. It was a fun project.

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  4. Solid wood or steel door, check. Good locks, check. Reinforced door frame, check. I might even consider having the door open inwards, and using one of those brace locks (heavy rod between door and solid mount on the floor). The problem is, the walls around the door can be gotten through by bullets, an axe or even a fist/foot. And how about escaping if they set the place on fire?

    Certainly, such arrangements are better than no arrangements, and should be practical for many people. I’m not sure it deserves the term “safe room”, though. More of a “less dangerous room”. Better might be “emergency room”.

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    • They used to be (and sometimes still are) called Panic Rooms. Most people probably do not have the funds to construct a tornado/hurricane/angry mob/ proof room as per FEMA.The point of having a quick safe place to go to should be to allow you time to call for help and be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary, with your defensive weaponry. If bullets can go one way, they can go the other. Interviews with convicted violent felons in prison indicate that there are two things they are afraid of: A mean dog, and an armed householder who shows a willingness to use weaponry. Having an escape route in case they set the place on fire would be a good idea if possible, but in many situations it probably isn’t.

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      • Panic Room, now that’s a good one.

        Although making the room “bullet proof” would be beyond the capabilities of most people, having a “bunker” inside might be practical and adequate. Perhaps a stack of sandbags across one corner.

        Actually, I’d like to have a FEMA proof room :-)

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    • This is the reason to add a way to see a camera from inside the room. My phone is linked to one of my security systems for example. Through the web, I can view the cameras on it. If they are setting the place on fire, they will not be staying in it. Once you see that happening, you open the door and evacuate.

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