How to Plan a Panic Room in Your Basement
A panic room, or safety room, is not a recent invention. Egyptian kings created secret rooms in their pyramids in which to store valuables. Nowadays, panic rooms serve both the purpose of safekeeping valuables and personal protection.
There is a great variety of panic rooms, from simple constructions with steel- and concrete-enforced foundations to luxury high-tech dens engineered to withstand nuclear attacks.
They may run completely isolated for over a month, keeping room dwellers alive and even well-entertained. If you missed the chance to construct a panic room when you built your house, you can easily create a similar safety room in your basement by following these steps.
Step 1 - Decide on the Purpose
If you plan to use the safety room mainly for storage of valuables, then you do not need a very big room. Part of your valuable basement space, a closet, or even the guest’s bathroom will work.
If you intend to use the panic room for personal protection in case of tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters hit, keep in mind that experts recommend about 10-square meters per person for a 5-hour stay in an airtight room. Also, the best place for protection against tornadoes is the basement.
Step 2 - Decide on the Amount of Investment and the Level of Protection
You don’t need to invest tons of money to make an adequate anti-storm safety room. It is recommended to start with the door, because the entry point is usually the weakest spot in every safety room. All other sides are protected by reinforced walls.
Grade 1 steel or electromagnetic locks are always a good start. A cover for the door may also be a good idea. A bookcase or a pocket door that is hard to discern from the general painting on the fake wall will help conceal it.
The most basic level of protection will be secured by walls that are enforced with plywood and wire mesh. If financial resources are not an issue, use professional consulting services and better quality materials, such as Kevlar plates and fiberglass panes for the walls.
Step 3 - Set Up Means of Communication
Do not forget the means of communication with the outside world. Install a ground telephone line, a long range radio, and a panic button which wired to the local police station.
You’re better off being on the safe side when installing a last resort communication line in your panic room. You must also supply an adequate amount of food, water, and other basic necessities. Store foods that can be kept for a long time without spoiling. Installing a portable chemical toilet addresses the basic necessities as well.
Step 4 - Be Imaginative
Bring some books, toys, and games to keep the family, especially the youngsters entertained. Visit the local mall and buy several IP cameras, an LCD display, and a handbook on electronics. Wire your own surveillance system in the safety room.