Forget Jodie Foster and Forest Whittaker chasing each other around a New York town house, I’m going to guide you through building your very own panic room.
“A safe room or panic room is a fortified room which is installed in a private residence or business to provide a safe shelter or hiding place in the event of a home invasion, tornado or other threat.”
Made popular by the 2002 movie of the same name the industry has seen a steady increase in demand for high security internal protection. Couple this with a seemingly increasing rate of natural disasters and social issues such as the 2011 riots, a safe area inside your home is looking like a rather attractive proposition.
Some safe rooms utilise an empty storage room, some others a bathroom but we recommend a first floor bedroom to use for this, the sense there being that at night time when we are at our most vulnerable we are already inside this room, and a safe room is of no use if you have to traverse the whole house to get to it.
There are infinite possibilities and this can be a hugely scalable project depending on the level of risk that is anticipated. From simply fitting a stronger door and locking system all the way up to having a reinforced concrete shell constructed through the wall cavities for maximum protection, the choice is yours.
The ideal room would be a windowless upstairs bedroom, preferably with on-suite. So where to go next? The first thing to focus on is the entry point. Interior doors differ hugely from exterior facing doors as they are designed for a different purpose, interior doors are usually filled with an egg-foam style material that is designed to deaden sound and give climate zones between rooms, unfortunately security is usually way down the list here.
- The first step would be to remove the existing door and replace it with a solid wood or reinforced exterior type door.
- While the door is off its time to reinforce the door frame to withstand considerably more force, the best way to do this is to install a door jamb protector or have a steel jamb installed and fixed with long M10x100mm hardened steel bolts.
- Hardened steel hinges are next on the shopping list, regular internal doors usually have 2 hinges but for this application I am going to recommend a minimum of 3 large, high quality hinges to secure the door to the frame.
- Lock selection. For the choice of locks I’m going to go all out. I have selected 3 locks for this job, one sashlock case and two identical deadlock cases. These will take a either a double or single Euro or Oval lock cylinder fitted with thumb turns on the inside to allow fast locking in case of an emergency.
- With this setup on the only entry point to the room we can sleep safe in the knowledge even the incredible hulk isn’t going to get past that in a hurry.
- Window bars or shutters if the room has windows and is on the ground level (or within easy access from outside on the second floor.
- A landline telephone and emergency mobile phone kept inside the room should you need to call the emergency services.
- A very wise choice is to install a CCTV system throughout the house that is fedback to a monitor or computer system within the safe room, without one you may be safe but you are blind as to what threat lays outside the door.My final say on this subject would be to think about adding an under floor safe as an extra layer of protection for important documents.
All the best,