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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.
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.
(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
Canned food or MRE’s with heating jackets or other food like energy bars that doesn’t require cooking
Emergency Medical Supplies & First Aid Book
Clip-In land line Phone
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.
God bless and stay safe,
David Morris and Survival Diva