A Safe Room: Is One In Your Plans?

Welcome to this week’s newsletter, brought to you by Jeff Anderson’s “Home Defense Tactics”, which is the best home invasion defense course I’ve seen to date.  For the next 2 days, when you order, you’ll get a free DVD with highlights from to a leading home invasion survival live training course – one that works with police, military, and tough & gritty civilians – to capture the ultra-critical secrets you need to fine-tune your protection plan now!  To learn more, go >HERE< now.

Today’s post is about safe rooms; how they are typically built and why you would want to have one in the first place.  We’ll start with the reasons. . . 

In these relatively good times, having a safe harbor against intruders offers peace of mind and safety.  An earlier July 17, 2014 article, Victims Of Home Invasion Are Fighting Back! discussed the rise in home invasions.  What I found most alarming when I went in search of demographics for the article was discovering that home invasion isn’t always robbery. . . . sometimes it’s more about sick, twisted control and violence, and it’s being reported in cities and towns in increasing numbers.

It’s hard to know exact numbers since there’s not a Uniform Crime Reporting designation for “home invasion”, but many stats show that you’re 8 times more likely to experience a home invasion than a house fire.

It helps to understand how these thugs gain entrance so that you can avoid a home invasion.  Here are some of the most common methods of entry.

  • They may knock on the door claiming to be a survey taker
  • They simply walk in…because the front door is unlocked
  • They may pretend to be delivering pizza, but happened to get the “wrong” address
  • In more than one case, the home intruder posed as a UPS driver
  • Victims of home invasion are sometimes fooled by the criminal posing as a maintenance worker or a municipal worker
  • Some home intruders claim they were in an accident–in some cases, claiming to have hit the homeowner’s car–and ask to speak with the owner or use their phone
  • Others claim their car broke down and request to use the phone
  • The criminal may pose as a police officer or some other authority figure to establish the trust of the homeowner and gain entrance

However, frequently homeowners are caught off guard when a home invasion begins with a door being kicked open or window being smashed out by home invaders.  That’s when heading for a safe room may be the best option. 

As we’re all aware, a crisis that interrupts the supply of food, water, gas, power and services will lead to wide scale looting and violence.  And just recently we saw what social unrest can lead to.  Although the situation during the Ferguson riots could have been much worse and widespread, it still offers us a small window into what we can expect on a much larger scale when SHTF. 

Increasing Destructiveness of Tornadoes 

Violence isn’t the only reason why homeowners have increasingly turned to safe rooms.  The destructive elements of weather-related disasters is increasing.  A recent October 16, 2014 Smithsonian article, Tornadoes Are Now Ganging Up in the United States: Twisters are not increasing in numbers but they are clustering more often, a bizarre pattern that has meteorologists stumped,  written by Sarah Zielinski,succinctly sums up the increasingly destructive properties of tornadoes.  

Powerful Hurricanes

Weather Underground published the article Are Category 4 and 5 hurricanes increasing in number? that points to increased hurricane activity and destruction.  The following is an excerpt:  

The incredible onslaught of the Hurricane Season of 2005, with its unparalleled number of Category 5 hurricanes–four–and the strongest hurricane ever recorded–Wilma–brought up the urgent question–how much of this was due to global warming?

(David’s note:  This article is BEAUTIFUL to me, because it highlights the ridiculous nature of global warming alarmists.  In 2005, “experts” were sure that the record hurricane season was due to global warming.  In the 9 years since, horrible-evil-global-warming has hit Florida with exactly ZERO hurricanes.  Remember, the need to prepare for a hurricane or other disasters is 100% in the years when they hit and 0% in the years when they don’t.  In other words, don’t let either the 2005 season or the 9 years since influence your decisions too much.  Just be prudent.)

The remarkable Hurricane Season of 2005 coincided with the publication of two landmark papers that made a case for a connection between global warming and the strength of the most powerful hurricanes. In September 2005, a paper published in Science  magazine reported that worldwide, the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes had increased 80% in the past 30 years. The paper, (Webster et al., 2005), titled “Changes in Tropical Cyclone Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment”, linked the rise in storms to increasing sea surface temperatures and concluded that “global data indicate a 30-year trend toward more frequent and intense hurricanes.” The authors, led by Dr. Peter Webster of Georgia Tech and Dr. Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, argued that this was consistent with climate models that have predicted a future increase in frequency of the most intense hurricanes due to human-emitted greenhouse gases. This paper, along with another paper published in August 2005,”Increasing Destructiveness of Tropical Cyclones over the past 30 years”, by Dr. Kerry Emanuel of MIT, showing an increase in hurricane power and longevity in recent years, created a huge stir in the media. However, more recent scientific research has raised serious questions about the validity of these results. Hurricane experts are divided on to what degree global warming has affected the number and intensity of hurricanes, and a recent consensus statement by 125 hurricane scientists (see below) concluded: Though there is evidence both for and against the existence of a detectable anthropogenic signal in the tropical cyclone climate record to date, no firm conclusion can be made on this point.

Wildfire Refuge

(Ox notes:  As more and more city dwellers are making the move to rural areas, the realization that wildfire danger is a major issue.  Many great off-grid locations are located in “red zones” where emergency services just won’t go in the event of a wildfire.  People in these red zones need to have multiple egress routes and plans to ride out wildfires.  In an ideal situation, this wildfire refuge will be attached to the house in such a way that it will also work as a safe room.)

The Elements of a Safe Room

Safe room design is going to depend a lot on the particular threat that you’re trying to be “safe” from.  You can have one-size-fits-all safe rooms, but a basic home invasion safe room will be different than a basic wildfire, tornado, or hurricane safe room.  Today, we’re going to focus mainly on a safe room for home invasions.

A safe room doesn’t have to cost a boatload of money, especially if you’re willing to take on a do-it-yourself project.  There are only a few guidelines to follow for a safe room that will allow the space to serve dual purpose to protect against weather-related disasters and looters. Optimally, the safe room should be windowless and located on the interior of the main floor, or in a basement, garage, crawlspace, or a cellar-like underground room attached to your basement. 

A safe room isn’t limited to providing an escape hatch from looters or weather-related disasters.  It can also serve double-duty as a root cellar.  By incorporating steel panels and a steel door at the front of the root cellar that isn’t protected by earth, it can become a small fortress.    

When building a safe room in the home, walls should be reinforced with cement, steel panels or Kevlar.  However, if you’re on a tight budget, lining the walls with sandbags will provide protection. Drywall does not stop bullets, but steel, cement and dirt can.

(Ox notes:  If that’s not an economic or aesthetic option, strategically placed bookshelves can provide ballistic protection.)

A steel or at least aluminum, fiberglass, or solid core door that swings out will help to protect against an intruder gaining entrance.  The door frame should also be made of metal or high quality wood.  A sturdy double opening deadbolt should be considered when there are children in the home, so they are not able to accidentally lock themselves inside the safe room. Although a major disaster can take down communications, it’s still a good idea to run land-line jack into the safe room and keep an old-school clip-in phone handy. 

There should be enough space for everyone in the family in the safe room with additional space to store emergency supplies listed below:

  • Sleeping Bags or Warm Bedding

  • Change of Clothes for each member of the family

  • Flashlights

  • Water

  • Canned food or MRE’s with heating jackets or other food like energy bars that doesn’t require cooking

  • Can Opener

  • Emergency Medical Supplies & First Aid Book

  • Clip-In land line Phone

  • Emergency Radio

  • Two-Way Radios

  • A Pick Ax, Shovel, Ax, chainsaw, and Crowbar are tools that may be needed to extract yourself and loved ones from a collapsed building.  Another tool worth consideration is the Trucker’s Friend.  It sells on Amazon for $59.95 and incorporates a curved ax, a spanner, a hammer, nail puller, chain hook, pry bar and lever.

Do you have a safe room, or are you considering one?  If so, please share what kind of safe room you’re looking at…are you trying to protect against natural disaster, humans, or both?  If humans, how long term of a solution are you looking at?  (1-5 minute delay to get armed and call for help, hours, or days) Please share your thoughts on what you would store in a safe room as well as any favorite how-to building plans in your comments below.

And, if you haven’t checked out Home Invasion Defense and gotten your free DVD yet, please do so now by going >HERE<.

God bless and stay safe,

David Morris and Survival Diva





  1. Try being A. A. living in a big city in Tennessee, where I don’t know of any A. A.’s that’s preparing for anything. It breaks my heart…. and afraid to tell or warn others. We have a in ground storm shelter in the garage that we will use as a safe room, though it’s small (5.5×7.5) (better than nothing). Sure wish I could move in a rural area, but hubby is in law enforcement here. He can’t live out of the county he serves. We are really concern being here, esp. when SHTF! We’re out of debt with exception the house (almost paid off); have a Fully funded emergency fund, but no where to bug out to. Any suggestions anybody?

    • Survival Diva says:

      I understand your concern about being in a big city and there IS something you can do. Rural property within driving range may be an answer. Ideally, the property is off a secondary road and tucked out of sight from passerby’s. Your getaway doesn’t need to have electricity, but it does need a well or a creek that will provide water. It should have enough land for a large enough garden to feed your family. These properties aren’t hard to find, and they are usually owner-carry because banks do not make loans on undeveloped property–you pay a down payment on the property and make monthly payments, typically small monthly payments. A large storage shed with enough head room for a loft, insulation and sheetrock and a small wood cook stove or heat stove will get you by in a protracted crisis. Another approach is to look for a hunting cabin that doesn’t have a ton of extras that would make the price difficult to manage, and again this type of developed property is often sold by the owner as an owner-carry. A third option is to rent a getaway cabin. Do you have family who lives outside of the city? That may be another option. But this approach would mean that you would have to discuss your concerns with them, because you would have to store food and prep goods on the property (a small shed would suffice to store it in as long as temperatures do no fall below freezing, which could destroy food storage).

      If any of these are possibilities, just keep in mind that your don’t need a fancy place. Actually, a no-frills cabin isn’t as likely to attract looters. You don’t need power or a phone because in a protracted crisis, these things may not exist anyway. Think simple–Little House On The Prairie simple. A fully outfitted kitchen isn’t necessary. Separate bedrooms aren’t necessary. A bathroom isn’t necessary–in a crisis it’s likely that we will all need an outhouse.

      Hope this helped.

  2. I had a safe room built in our basement at the time of construction. It is 12×12 with a 9′ ceiling. I haven’t put on a door yet since it is Liteform with poured concrete walls. I have my radios, scanners food, guns in there now. Will probably put on a door this summer.

    I’m considering making a door from laminated hickory 2×4’s and then putting on a steel cover. Locating heavy duty hinges and a door lock are my 2 biggest obstacles.

  3. I would put the door swinging in to protect the hinges. Put a floor bolt, a top bolt, and hooks for a bar across the door and nobody is coming through it.

    • With an inward swinging door, you can also get into your safe room faster in a crisis. A few seconds may make the difference between life and death.

  4. FEMA has a book of construction plans and blueprints for several different types of safe rooms. Mostly set up for disasters some of them could also be modified for security. Go to www.ready.gov.
    Be Prepared and be safe.

  5. Joseph-Lee Morehouse says:

    Good article.
    I have a small safe room in the house but it not big enough for all of my group – 2 of the group are in wheel chairs. This is on my wish list to convert part of my garage into a safe room for my group the walls and the roof are lined with discarded quarter inch sheet metal pieces overlapping , have a vent pipe that runs throw the floor up behind the water gutter pipes with a battery operated air blower to keep air moving , heating and cooling system .food , water , blanks, waste system , battery lights, a igloo mini frig for meds ,first aid kits , weapons and finally a camera systems. I have most of these items , but still work on gathering the sheet metal , any suggestion would be great .

    • Survival Diva says:

      I’ve heard you can get sheet metal at salvage/scrap yards for less. Also, try craigslist. For now, though, it looks as if you’re on top of things : )

  6. I have a storage room in my basement which is 8’x60′, concrete walls, floor and ceiling. Unfortunately, there is only one way in/out and no outside ventilation. I’m considering a solid steel door/frame, but would have to be considered a short term use as there is no plumbing. As we don’t plan to stay here indefinitely, we don’t want to put out the $ to do much more. It is definitely where we plan on retreating if/when we can’t protect the place from a home invasion. This is where we store the majority of our ammo and the weapons are just outside the door. Any further ideas would be greatly appreciated. Marty

  7. Hi,
    I have a problem that I have been trying to find information on. Root cellars. However, there is nothing that I can find that covers my need. Maybe it is unattainable, due to safety issues. What I’m working on constructing is a cave-like cellar that carves into the hillside, but doesn’t disturb the top of the hill. I am making a post and pillar style reinforced with concrete block, but need to know what materials to use for the ceiling. What this will be for is both a root cellar and security safe room.
    I am working on this myself because of the theft/safety issue, so the materials must be reasonably light in nature or able to piecemeal. Oh, btw, I am a 65 year old woman!

    P.S. I am a stubborn retired locomotive machinist/mechanic (the first!).
    Are there any design diagrams available that you know of?

    • Survival Diva says:

      It almost sounds as if you would need to cut in and underpin the cave similarly to what would be done for a small mine–substantial timber underpinning. Not sure if you could do that on your own? Here in North Idaho, small silver mine/claims are fairly common. Try looking into a how-to tutorial on digging into a hillside for a mining claim. If I stumble onto one, I’ll email you.

      • Thank you so much. Actually, I have tried to find mining construction diagrams, but they were for large operations. I hope you have better luck.

        • Survival Diva says:

          Actually, I just gave it a try and came up with larger mining info. BUT I have a friend and neighbor who has silver claims, and is quite possibly the smartest peron I know. . . if anyone has the answer, he will. I’ll ask him next time he drops by.

          • Thanks!

          • Have you had a chance to visit with your neighbor?

          • Survival Diva says:

            He and his family won’t be back from vacation for another couple of weeks. As soon as they return, I will ask him.

          • Hi Diva,
            I was wondering if you were able to visit with your neighbor about the root cellar construction? I have been pondering this issue for a while and am at a stalemate. I feel it is extremely important to have this location, but would like to do it safely. However, I am stubborn, and will attempt this project regardless of possible consequences. Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!

          • Waiting for your reply.

    • What about looking for designs for underground housing, I came across something like that when I was curious about rammed earth homes.

  8. Highpockets says:

    Something that would apply to “safe rooms” and homes that are more remote is using a fire retardant additive or primer in your paint. It could save your home or life in a true “defication impacting the vertical oscillator” (SHTF) situation. Especially since the emergency services may be tied up elsewhere or not even able to get to your location. This would be very applicable in remote fire prone areas. I am planning to do this as I repaint the interior of my house and before I have the exposed exterior repainted. The garage will be my first project since there are more flammables there, and it seems like many house fires start in the garage.

  9. The door for your safe room should have hidden hinges on the invasion side. Regular door hinges have the pin that holds the door together can be easily removed and entry of access gained to the safe room. Just a thought.

    • Highpockets says:

      That’s true, but a couple of lag bolts (with the heads cut off) in the door facing and a matching hole in the door is an easy way to prevent the door or security door being removed.

  10. OK, I think I can somewhat stump you….. I live in earthquake state (Nor-Cal) And near a dormant volcano, largest natural lake and only 5 medium-rough routes in/out of county (just for fun: can anyone guess which county? lol)
    How can I build/utilize a safe room, hmm, safely? Ideas?
    Also does anyone do virtual disaster mock-ups for Northern California? If so, e-mail me please.
    *Please don’t judge me by some of the crazies that control my beautiful, but failing State*

    • Survival Diva says:

      Sandra M,
      Concrete reinforced with rebar is used in earthquake-prone regions, built on a ground floor, or as an addition that is attached to the house.

    • See if there is a CERT branch in your area.

    • Hi Sandra. Don’t let anyone slam you for being a Californian. Even though I was born and raised in Cali and moved to Washington many years ago, I still am tagged as being of the fruit and nut bunch. Just take care of yourself. Prepare. And, maybe, someday folks will look to you for answers.

      • It’s sad that my beautiful state has become so corrupted and misguided.
        A side note:
        I’m picking up a lot herbal remedies and healing teachings to supplement my nursing background. I want to try to keep family/friends healthy if something happen and regular meds are not available.
        If anyone has guidance in that area I would be very grateful!

        • Your nursing knowledge and capabilities will become quite valuable in the future. I have been interested in herbs for medicinal uses, as well.

    • Hi Sandra M.
      Is it the State of Jefferson?

      • Nope, Northern California. I gave a couple of big hints that would come up in a google search, but thanks! : )

        • Lake Siskiyou at Mt. Shasta? I would stay in Weed when traveling I-5 to visit family in Morro Bay. Do you know where that is?

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