A safe room is designated as a particular room(s) that you can retreat to in cases of home invasion and/or weather threats. It is defined as any room in your house that has been set up to provide a secure location that provides you protection during an intrusion or weather event that contains supplies which would enable you to stay there for a limited amount of time. There are two main uses of safe rooms. The first is one that is designed to protect you from an intruder. The second is one that is design to protect from an intruder and but more importantly weather. Both have similar characteristics, but one is more fortified than the other.
By Dan C, a contributing author
Why A Safe Room?
If you live in a multi-story house there is a tremendous advantage to having safe rooms on each floor. The biggest advantage is that you do not need to go from one level to another to find a safe room, since that process might place you in danger of running into the intruder. As mentioned above, you may have several safe rooms in your home. For example, if you live in a two story house with a basement. You may have secure safe rooms on the second and main floors that are designed to be used if there is a home invasion. And you may have a fortified safe room in the basement that it to be used for bad weather events. This enables you to have several locations to retreat to in the event of a threatening issue. Safe rooms can be established in closets, bedrooms, or spare rooms, size is not as important as ease to access, ability to secure, room for limited supplies and people. The size of the room is completely dependent on the number and size of the people who might be using it. For example, if you have two small children and they share a bedroom, their closet may be the perfect safe room. However, if you have a safe room intended for use during a bad weather event and the whole family plus other may need to use the room, then the size must be considerably larger.
Safe rooms should have the following qualities: easy to access, ability to lock or secure the door, personal protection tools, some limited survival tools, a communication device, and a small supply of water and food. Should a safe room have windows? That is an interesting consideration. The answer is Yes and No. Windows in a safe room that is design solely for the purpose of protecting you or your family from an intruder can be an asset. It can allow you an alternative escape route if you need to that much evasive action. One the other hand, window in a safe room designed to protect you from a bad weather event would not be a good idea. Since a window or any opening to the outside could result in a breach of the room.
Ease of access is extremely important; you do not want to have to travel any great distance to gain access to your safe room. The more you have to travel to get to your safe room the greater the chance you will encounter the intruder or be at risk of exposure. So bedrooms, closets and large bathroom are excellent first choices, followed by spare rooms, attics, and storage rooms. Normally, bedrooms and bathrooms have locking doors but those locks are extremely light weight and can be picked or kicked through with minimal effort. So installing more robust locks and even adding metal trim to the door frame will make it much harder for the door to be forced open. Furthermore, there are very good door wedges that are excellent devices for securing the door closed. These devices are kicked under the base of the door and work very well at preventing one from opening the door. Once the threat is gone the wedge is easily removed by pulling on a handle and the door is free to open. Closets traditionally, do not have locks, so if a closet is going to be used then a strong lock must be installed to secure the door.
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It may not be possible, practical or safe to have a personal protection tool such as a firearm in each safe room. However, some type of personal protection device should be in the room such as pepper spray, baseball bat or taser. If you feel you will be bringing a firearm to the safe room or you have the resources to securely place on in your safe room, be sure to store extra ammo in the safe room as well. Having a limited supply of survival tools is important. The three non-food or water items that I highly recommend in the safe room are: multi-tool, small first aid kit and flashlight.
Snacks & Comm
Communication is going to be imperative if you have had to resort to your safe room. You will need to communicate with law enforcement at a minimum and then with family members. If you have the resources, having an extra charged cell phone in each safe room is a great idea. In addition, to a cell phone, walkie talkies are great back up communication tools. They can enable you to communicate with other family members in other safe rooms.
Finally, having a small supply of water and snacks is important. It will help relax you provide a sense of comfort. As well as, it may be needed if you are in your safe room for an extended stay. This may be the case in your safe room that you have designated for weather related events. In you safe room delegated for weather related events it will also be advantageous to have a small portable camping style toilet. You will be surprised how invaluable that will be if you are in your safe room for more than 30 minutes.
In summary, safe rooms are those locations in your house that are designated as secure protected rooms for the purpose of providing a safe refuge during a home invasion, robbery or bad weather event. To be effective all the components of the safe room must be in place before you need them. And everyone needs to know the plan when to use them and the protocol once everyone is inside.