About a year ago, I started considering building a panic room for my family. I`d been interested in the subject for a couple of years and I became almost obsessed about the most space efficient panic room.
Took me a while to find all the information I needed (builders don`t want to reveal this kind of things, as their clients claim as much discretion about these secret safe havens as possible).
So finally, when I had everything I needed to start working on the panic room, I had to pick a room of the house for the transformation.
That`s right. You don`t need to build a new room from scratch in the middle of the house. You can just turn one of your already existing rooms: your bedroom, your living, even your bathroom (actually, this is one of the best ideas, since you`ve got running water and a toilet there).
Now, before I go further, let me just crash three myths about building a panic room in your home:
NO, you will not have to “sacrifice” a room. You can keep living there like nothing has changed.
NO, it will not look ugly. You can make many “invisible” tweaks or additions.
NO, you will not have to invest a ton of money and time in your panic room. In fact, it only takes a weekend or so to make the tweaks and load it with supplies.
So, choose a room you`d like to turn into a rock-solid safe haven and get down to business!
Here`s some of the things I`ve learned while working on my panic room (or while researching) that I believe would help you a lot:
If possible, choose a windowless room (or even a solid step-in closet). If you decided to transform your bedroom or living room, then you need to get shatterproof glass to replace the old windows.
Make sure your walls don`t have any major cracks or holes. Also, you can cover your walls with all-sponge upholstery to make it sound proof. This way, attackers won`t hear you talkin with your family or on the phone. And you won`t hear any verbal aggression from their part.
Replace your old door with an outdoor type of door (metal, preferably). They`re much more resistant and you can put multiple locks on.
First of all, you need an alarm system to let you know your house has been broken into. I know how expensive these things get, but how about a perfectly functional rudimentary system: put squealers on your doors and windows (they sound an alarm when someone breaks in). You can find them at Wal-Mart for about $25 (for your entire home).
Getting back to the panic room, you`ll want to put on more than one lock. The main one should be a keyless Grade 1 deadbolt lock. It`s practically unbreakable. Don`t forget to teach your kids or grandkids how it works, so they don`t lock themselves or someone else inside by accident.
Next on the list: security cameras. You can find entire 4-camera + split screen surveillance for $150 at SAMS Club. Look for the best offer and get a basic video surveillance system.
Permanently keep a phone in the panic room. If you`ve got weak or no signal at all, get a telephone line installed. You`ll need a way to communicate with the police or with your loved ones, so don`t miss this step.
If your room has a window you can simply use a generator for power. If it doesn’t have a window or any type of ventilation, a generator could be a real danger to you. You don’t want to get poisoned with carbon monoxide!
You can also use battery-powered or hand-cranked lights and phones. This is the quickest and most affordable solution. And given the fact that you won’t spend a lifetime in the panic room, you shouldn`t need anything sophisticated. Just a rudimentary back-up power source to get you through the danger.
You have multiple options here, depending on how much you want to spend. You can settle for a portable toilet or you can choose separate plumbing and a septic tank. That means you’ll need a lot of water supplies in the room. One person needs roughly 1 gallon per day.
First of all you need non-perishable food and safe water supplies. Don`t forget to rotate!
Secondly, you should get a first-aid case with basic medication, depending on your family`s needs.
Last, but not least, you need flashlights and extra batteries.
These are the basic items you should always keep in your panic room. But you can also get:
· Warm and light clothes
· Basic sanitation supplies
· A radio – to stay informed on what happens outside
· Identification and other important documents
· Duct tape
· An extra pair of glasses – if you wear any
· Cash and credit cards
· Potassium-iodine tablets – in case of radiation sickness
If you use the panic room during a natural disaster such as a hurricane, weapons are not that important. But after the disaster is over and people start looting around for food and money, you might need to defend your home.
Also, you`ll need weapons in case a burglar breaks into your home, or even to prevent a terrorist attack on your family. I`m not saying you`re going to actually USE them. But you need to have them around, at least for intimidation.
Now, the first thing on your list should be pepper spray. Get them for all the kids and the ladies in your family. Teach them how to use it and show them where you keep them.
Then it`s up to you how far you want to go. You can get guns for every member of your family or you can install high-voltage stun devices on the floor. It all depends on your needs and your budget.
In movies, panic rooms can be quite elaborate. In reality, a panic room serves only one purpose: to protect you from different types of dangers. You’re not supposed to spend a lot of time there, but rather have a small, hidden place to hide until it’s safe to go out again.
Remember, you only have to cover the essentials: food, health and protection.
Good luck in building your own panic room.