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Old February 3, 2001, 09:30 AM   #1
Join Date: April 27, 2000
Location: SE Michigan
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After reading numerous posts in various forums including magazines, the term "SAFE ROOM" is often utilized to identify a place to retreat to, when BGs are trying to get in your home. I tried the search feature, but could not find where this was covered completely. I am building a new house. A 2500 sq ft Cape Cod with a full basement. Master Bedroom on the first floor. Two Bedrooms Upstairs where kids will sleep. I can make a small room 6X6 upstairs if necessary which will double as a closet. I can dedicate a room in the basement for such an application.
I live in a community with a Police Force. It is a safe community. So threats are not likely, but you never know. I am in city politics. I mention the above, only that as a person in a leadership role, sometimes your target status increases somewhat. I am not worried, just being prudent.
My questions.

a. What is an accurate definition for a safe room?
b. Where is the best place to locate them?
c. Is it wise to have multiple safe rooms (one per level)? Iekids when you are upstairs and the alarm goes off, and its not a fire, go to the (upstairs saferoom). If on the first level, go to the basement.
d. Should the safe room be armored in some way?
e. Is it desirable to have a window in the safe room for sneaking a peek, throwing a house key to the ariving Police so they can search the house, while you stay secure with the family, and for exiting if necessary?
f. It seems the saferoom should be wired with a land line phone link, and I know that a cell phone provides greater reliance, is there anything special the saferoom should have that I am overlooking?
G. It seems that the saferoom should overlook entrances, doors, stairs, etc, how important is this?

Any referal to some web link which covers this would be welcome.

Thanks for your assistance.

[Edited by tree on 03-25-2001 at 11:03 PM]
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Old February 3, 2001, 01:15 PM   #2
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I am not informed enough to give good answers to this topic. But this topic is very important to me as well (we are thinking about designing our own home). Just won't be anything as big or fancy as yours. Can I come and live with you?

a. To me, a safe room is a fortified area within the house that we retreat to in the event of a break-in.

b. I think the best place for a safe room is one with limited access. Rooms with only one door are ideal. Defend the bottleneck.

c. Yes, I think separate saferooms are fine if the floorplans are such that it is a safer alternative to running out getting the kids. However, multiple saferooms are best used when all other options have been exhausted. I mean, wouldn't it be nerve-wracking if you are bunkered in one room, and can't see whether your kids are safe or not in another?

d. Armor plates between the dry walls? I don't know how this would be done, or if it's even financially feasible. Even a ballistic shield is rather pricey. But then, this is coming from someone who is finanically-challenged.... Most entries will most likely be made simply through the door anyway. Fortify them with longer screws, bolt locks, and foot stomps.

e. I think it is desirable to have a window in the safe room. They provide an emergency escape if your safe room is breached. And as you have mentioned, when the police arrives, they'll also want to have visual and physical access to you.

The only problem is that windows work both ways for the criminals as well. They need to be defended like a bottleneck. Ideally, you would want a safe room where both the window and door are next to each other, not on the opposite sides of the room, so it would be easier to keep an eye on both. Keeping an eye on two points of entry should keep most anyone more than occupied.

f. Quick access to locked firearms and sturdy flashlight for the obvious. An interesting suggestion by Bob Kasper: Install a large OC fogger near the foot of the door. In the event of attempted entry through the door, you can saturate the other side with chemical irritant.

g. I believe this would be good so long as it does not jeopardize our own personal safety. If it is even remotely unsafe, we should forego the option. A much better idea is a video surveillance system. A few small cameras and a monitor is all we need.

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Old February 3, 2001, 08:08 PM   #3
Nevada Fitch
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I don't have a safe room. When I built my house I had limited funds or I would have built a tunnel in it. This may seam a little overboard but I think the idea safe room should have an means of escape. In a rural area it would be advantagous to be able to vacate the house for a total escape or possibly a counter attack. I guess my thinking is a little different because I was raised up where you handled your own problems on your own for the most part and to not depend on someone else to bail you out of trouble whether it was fixing your own car or a piece of farm equipment or whatever.This may not always be the right thing to do, but it pays to be prepared to handle the problem yourself even if you choose not to. A typical example would be the riots in California a few years ago.The cops pulled out and left the public on its own.
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Old February 4, 2001, 05:32 AM   #4
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Yes, remember, if there is only one way in, there's only one way out. If you have a really bad day, the intruder might set fire to your house and only wait for you to get out...
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Old February 4, 2001, 07:17 PM   #5
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If you have the funds, a hidden trap door or a secret compartment would be worth considering. As mentioned above, perhaps a tunnel wouldn't be a bad idea, with a hidden entrance and exit. I know this all may be a bit paranoid but hey, if you've got the cash and want to be prepared, why not?
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Old February 5, 2001, 06:49 PM   #6
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If I were designing and building my home, I would start with a full basement topped with thick walls (alternative construction like strawbale, adobe, or modern concrete forms) with a centralized, easy to reach safe room that was armored.

In that room would be the breaker box, controlling the electrical system for the house. There would also be the switches for the flood lights on the outside of the home. The security system panel, a keypad to arm/disarm the system that would show which zones are being tripped to assist with locating the BG(s), manual switches for the fogging system, fire extinguisher(s), flashlights, gun safe, telephone (the phone line is already buried and the box should be indoors in a closet or basement to prohibit cutting it - they can take the line out at the street if they want, but not at the house), a cell phone, several radios for communication with family members, a police scanner, the trusty 870 in a rack just inside the door *already loaded* and ready to go, the .45 or 10mm would be on my hip or in my hand by the time I reached the room.

Depending upon the location of the house I would consider designing egress to the *OUTSIDE* of the home underneath a deck or between the basement walls (faux wall between the foundation wall makes a great safe room - can run the length of the basement/foundation with entrance *secured* from multiple rooms upstairs. Entrances to the safe room should be secured with barricading rods (anti-kick-in sticks) or fully locking frame, long frame bolts secured into anchoring cement, holding the assembly in place. Preferably a source for outside air (in case of fire). There's probably lots of other things one could think of depending upon your needs, wants, desires, fetishes, etc
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Old February 6, 2001, 01:54 AM   #7
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Just wanted to add a tidbit. We are most vulnerable at home when we are:

1) Sleeping

2) In the bathroom

I have yet to figure out what to do about the first part except having a dog around and sleeping with one eye open. As for the second part, I think it is reasonable to assume that if calculating home invaders are hoping to gain the upper hand, one such tactic would be to monitor the bathrooms. After five minutes, it would be their cue to strike.

Therefore, I don't think it's too much to ask to remove any windows in the bathroom. If you want sunlight, you can always have a skylight instead. If you're on a budget such as myself, a Solartube isn't too far-fetched.

Just a thought.
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Old February 6, 2001, 03:10 PM   #8
Matt VDW
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Believe it or not, Uncle Sam can help finance the construction of your safe room. FEMA has a program that will lend up to $5000 to home owners adding a safe room. (The idea is that you'll be hiding from storms, not home invaders, but it can be dual purpose room, right? ) The idea is that communities with lots of safe rooms will need less federal aid after a natural disaster.

FEMA can also supply the plans.
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Old February 6, 2001, 04:34 PM   #9
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Windows in the bathroom are a good thing. Just put a nice blackout curtain on the inside. No problem. If you _need_ to open it, you can.

Two words: White Castles.

If I were building a house from scratch, I'd put a hidden small spiral staircase from the closets in the master bedroom/children's rooms (would have to be sort of adjacent, but hey, I like drawing plans) down past the first floor and into the safe room in the basement. I'd have a HEAVY steel door accessible to the outside in the safe room.

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Old February 7, 2001, 10:35 AM   #10
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FEMA will do that?! Wow, thanks for the great tip!

I live in an area that, once every blue moon, will be struck by hurricanes. Hey, maybe it will even lower our insurace. This is great!

Of course, the only catch with tornade/hurricane shelters is that they also have no escape route. Still, it's not a bad thing to have. Just FYI for the general public, TACDA has some information on that as well.
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Old February 10, 2001, 10:25 PM   #11
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You definately need more than one entrance and exit.
You just need to be able to positively close the openings once you are inside so the perp can not enter. You also need a method of contacting the outside once you are securely in. Good Luck...........
Always identify your target before you shoot.
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Old February 14, 2001, 02:15 PM   #12
Join Date: December 26, 2000
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I saw a report on a new type of bullet-resistent glass for autos and homes which allows return could have the safety of this glass to protect you from outside shots, yet still return fire if needed.

No, I don't recall the name of the company but I think it's out of California...

The only problem is that windows work both ways for the criminals as well. They need to be defended like a bottleneck. Ideally, you would want a safe room where both the window and door are next to each other, not on the opposite sides of the room, so it would be easier to keep an eye on both. Keeping an eye on two points of entry should keep most anyone more than occupied.

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Old March 5, 2001, 07:43 PM   #13
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Thinking about armor in the walls, and even thick walls in general ... how would this affect cell phone signal strength? I mean, if they cut the mainline and you're surrounded by bulletproof material, are you stuck with no communication?
Old March 5, 2001, 10:37 PM   #14
Double Naught Spy
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Aside from the appropriate locking mechanism from the inside that you would need to add, you might consider searching Texas Tech's website for their information on storm rooms/safe rooms/tornado rooms. They have been doing a lot of research on what it would take to retrofit an interior room to withstand tornadoes and their debris. As I recall from seeing on TV, their tests involve shooting a 6' long 2x4 at walls at something like 250 miles per hour. Cinder blocks and regular brick walls did not do well.

If you live in one of the plains states or in an area where tornadoes occur, you might consider outfitting a room that would do double duty as an intruder safe room and as a storm safe room. Many of the people who put these in do so with a closet, so you could have triple use. In the cases where houses have been hit and they did have a safe room, often the only things they have left are what were stored in the safe room.
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Old March 6, 2001, 12:37 PM   #15
Gary H
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I think in terms of layers of defense. Let's assume that multiple bad guys have already put together a plan to kidnap your children. For some reasons, they have decided to take them from the house in the middle of the night.

Bedrooms on the second floor. Install automatic exterior perimeter lights, a sprinkler system that can be activated from your "safe" room, a fence and a large dog. A four camera video system with the display in your "safe" room will give you eyes. A cell phone in your "safe" room for reliable communications. Keep your shotgun in your "safe" room, which has a door with a deadbolt. You need something solid to hide (from bullets) behind at the top of the stairs, your first place to put-up a fight and in your safe room. You may not be able to retreat to the second floor; therefore a secondary "safe" area must be located on the first floor. You need to practice what you will do when in harms way. Training and regular practice for both yourself and your wife. This means home practice and range practice. Also, general awareness of your surroundings might alert you to potential problems. You must have an exit strategy. What happens if they know that you will retreat to your "safe" room and they have decided to just smoke you out, or throw tear gas through your bedroom window? How about a fire supression system and carbon monoxide detectors? Many more families face fire than face armed entry. To construct a bulletproof room is not really a critical component.

Last question: What do you do when you and your family is in the yard, or away from home?
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Old March 6, 2001, 03:31 PM   #16
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Building a Safe Room

This topic has been discussed on http:\\ and there is a good reference provided that discusses how to build a safe room.

Here is the reference:

It was featured on Michael Holigan's show with some good references to suppliers.
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