It’s safe to say that panic rooms are becoming a more common feature in home security. No longer the domain of the ultra-rich, these reinforced, secure rooms have gone mainstream, and for good reason. They add an extra layer of security, and can be used in numerous situations.
With an increase in gun violence, home invasions, and extreme weather conditions, the need for a panic room in an ordinary home is fast becoming a reality. Now more than ever people are aware of the threats they’re facing and are taking action to prevent them.
If you’re looking to learn more about panic rooms, keep reading. We’ve got all the information you need.
The History of Panic Rooms
Back in the Middle Ages, panic rooms protected the elite members of society. During sieges, lords and ladies hid in secret rooms in the deepest parts of their castles. Fast forward to the 1800s, and the Underground Railroad hid slaves in panic rooms as they tried to escape.
The roaring twenties then made its appearance, and with it the ban on liquor. This led to hidden rooms being used to store the banned substance. The 1950s gave rise to storm cellars and fallout shelters, which once again protected the occupants from immediate threats.
While not technically what we’re familiar with today, these secret safe rooms or bunkers form the basis of the residential panic rooms we use today.
The Rise In Popularity Of Modern Panic Rooms
After the terror attacks of 9/11, the demand for panic rooms skyrocketed amongst the wealthy in New York. Then, the release of the 2002 movie Panic Room, shone the spotlight on the safety and security that these rooms could offer.
As a society, we’ve become more aware of threats, and security has become of paramount concern. Safe rooms offer protection against the what ifs—the risk of civil unrest due to political instability, terror attacks, bombings, riots and the lawlessness that comes along with them, and the increase in tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and storms. For the wealthy and celebrities, there’s also the ever-present risk of kidnapping, or crazed stalkers.
A panic room offers the solution to a myriad of threats and provides a safe space within a home environment. Additionally, it can be used to store valuables, or be used as a walk-in gun safe. However, even if it’s never utilized, the fact that it’s ready and available makes it akin to insurance, something worth investing in for the what if.
The Benefits of A Panic Room
- Protection from kidnappers and burglars
- A hiding place from immediate threats
- Protection from natural disasters
- A safe haven during Armageddon
- Protection from diseases and viruses
- Protection from abusive partners
Essentially, the room acts as a barrier between yourself and harm. This means that your panic room needs to be properly designed and built to meet your needs.
Tips for Building A Residential Panic Room
Location: As with most things in life, location matters. Movies may have led us to believe that the basement is your best option for a panic room, but access to this space tends to be limited. You need to choose a location with easy access in an emergency.
Design: The first step of any panic room is deciding what you’ll be using it for. Is it simply a place to hide, or does it need to withstand Mother Nature’s wrath? The space you have will also play a role in your design.
Once you identify these two aspects, you can go about designing your room. Some ideas include transforming a closet into a safe room using a reinforced door with a solid lock and deadlock. You can take a more advanced approach and build it from scratch to fit in with your home.
Whatever option you choose, there are a few things that you need to consider:
- A sturdy door: As the main entrance, the door needs to be strong enough to hold out unwanted forces, while being easy enough to open, close, and lock in a rush. The door may need to be concealed to avoid detection and can make use of barricades from the inside too.
- The floor: Your floor needs to be able to support the weight of your panic room, which is why concrete is often the go-to option. It also needs to be able to withstand external forces in an emergency.
- Soundproofing: The last thing you need is an intruder to hear you and find your hiding spot.
- Walls and ceilings: Gaps between the wall and ceiling are not advised. Continuity between the wall and ceiling will ensure your safety and prevent any breaches in security. Although you can use bullet-resistant bricks, a strong enough force can still penetrate them, which is why steel reinforcement is something to
- Weatherproofing: Depending on the purpose of your room and its location, you may need to look into weatherproofing. Strong winds, continuous downpour, and even earthquakes can all jeopardize the safety of your room, so be sure to factor this in during the build.
- Monitors and cameras: To monitor the situation, discreetly placed cameras allow you to view events as they unfold. These cameras also provide real time feedback, so you’ll know when it is safe to emerge, and the threat has passed.
- Power: You need to ensure you have a power supply available should the main power supply be cut. Batteries, generators, power banks, and chargers should be kept in your panic room.
- Clean air: You need air to survive, so your panic room must have a proper air system to ensure air is circulated, and all occupants can breathe.
What To Keep In Your Panic Room?
Panic rooms have no given entry and exit times, your circumstances will determine the usage and time spent inside. You could be inside for an hour or two, or even find yourself locked in for a few weeks.
Whatever the case may be, the U.S Department of Justice Emergency Preparedness guidelines suggest you keep the following items inside:
- Canned foods and a can opener
- A means of communicating with the outside world—a mobile or satellite phone, two-way radio, or even a landline
- Flashlights and candles
- First aid kit
- A bathroom or toilet equivalent set up, and toilet paper
- Gas masks
- Extra clothing
- Important documents
Ongoing Preparation Is Key
Your panic room must ensure you’re properly equipped to face the threat of burglary, disaster, or attack. Your safety will inevitably be determined by the effort you’ve put into building and equipping the space.
In most cases, the company building your room will advise on what’s required to survive a threat, or threats. However, you must consider that your room needs to be updated as technology evolves, and you’ll need to maintain it to ensure communication systems are in working order, and medications and food supplies are fit for consumption.
A panic room isn’t a once-off novelty, it’s a commitment that requires maintenance.
Safe Rooms Provide the Ultimate Peace of Mind
If you are looking into a panic room, the odds are that you’re security conscious, and want to prepare for any event.
When properly designed and built, you can rest assured knowing that you’ve got a secure space where you can survive almost anything.