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Building a safe room is a great way to ensure the safety and security of your family in case of an emergency or threat. Whether you are facing natural disasters, home invasions, or other dangers, having a designated safe room can provide peace of mind and protection for you and your loved ones.
Below, learn about two methods to create your safe room and the most important things to stock it with so you’re always prepared for any emergency that comes your way.
Can You Build Your Own Safe Room?
Yes, you can build your own safe room. It may seem daunting, but with careful planning and the proper knowledge, it’s doable.
However, it is essential to note that building such a space requires time, money, and effort. If you’re not up for the challenge, pre-made safe room options are available on the market, as well as ways to retrofit an existing room in your home to serve as a safe room.
To construct your own, you can either add it to a new build or add it to your existing structure. They’re typically made with reinforced concrete or wood-framed walls and ceilings with steel sheathing.
The structure should be independent of the home structure, but the entire space should be secured to the foundation from the top to help the area resist any uplifting wind forces from a natural disaster such as a hurricane or tornado. Finally, ensure the exterior materials of the safe room are resistant to impact from items that may become wind-borne in a disaster.
Can You Turn an Existing Room Into a Safe Room?
It’s also possible to turn an existing room into a safe room, which may be a more cost-effective option than building one from scratch. Just note that not all rooms are suitable for conversion into a safe room.
The ideal location would be a basement or interior room with no windows and sturdy walls and ceilings. If you plan to retrofit the space in your home on your own to turn it into a safe room, understand the cost and time required and the high standards the room must meet to satisfy FEMA’s safe room standards.
If your primary concern is protecting people within the safe room, you may want to put your emergency space on the level of the home where the most vulnerable people spend the majority of their time, such as the level where the children’s bedrooms are located.
You should also ensure that no one in the home would need to encounter intruder access points to get to the emergency room. If your primary concern is protecting valuables, on the other hand, the room does not need to be near people, and you should prioritize using spaces such as basements with solid walls. A disguised location is best.
Whichever route you take, keep in mind that smaller rooms that have fewer doors and windows will be more protected and affordable to reinforce. Leverage the existing structure of your home to make the space as secure as possible.
How to Build a Safe Room In 5 Steps
Ready to upgrade your room to a safe room? Use these steps to create a space where you know you’ll be protected no matter what.
- Choose the Right Location
Select a suitable location for your safe room. As mentioned before, interior spaces are ideal, with no windows and sturdy walls and ceilings. Basements, closets, or bathrooms can all be potential options.
Basement safe rooms offer the most protection from debris but aren’t great for areas with a high risk of flooding. In-ground emergency rooms, such as ones built below the garage floor, can provide extra space if your living space is already limited. Finally, above-ground locations can be more convenient but may not be as reinforced if they’re part of the larger home structure, and they also may require a separate entrance.
- Determine Possible Dangers or Threats
Consider the potential dangers or threats you may face in your area, including natural disasters, home invasions, or other emergencies.
Different types of threats will require additional features for your safe room. For example, if you live in an area prone to tornadoes, your safe space should be able to withstand high winds and flying debris. If you’re worried about home invasions, the emergency shelter should have reinforced walls and a secure door and be located somewhere that’s easy to get to without being put in harm’s way.
If you’re looking to protect yourself from criminals, consider what weapons you may be up against to determine what level of bulletproofing will best protect you in a dire situation.
- Replace the Door
The door to your safety shelter is one of its most essential features. It should be solid and able to withstand forced entry attempts, but making it discrete is also crucial. The security of your entry door can’t be underestimated, as it’s the only security feature that’s also designed to be passed through – by you and your family, not an intruder.
Solid wood or metal doors are good options, but you can also reinforce existing doors with steel plating and heavy-duty locks for added security.
As for locking capabilities, a door designed to protect valuables should be lockable from the outside, while a door designed to protect people should only be lockable from the inside. Safe rooms to keep both people and valuables protected must have a robust interior lock but may also have an easier-access exterior lock available.
Ensure the door is adequately secured to the door jamb with multiple locking points.
- Reinforce Walls and Ceilings
Next, reinforce the walls and ceiling of your emergency shelter with steel sheathing or concrete blocks. For a DIY project, using wood framing, reinforced drywall, fiberglass, or Kevlar panels can also be effective. You can easily find contractors who will custom-cut these panels to fit the specifics of your room.
The walls should also be able to withstand high winds and impact from debris, depending on the potential dangers you determined beforehand. Consider reinforcing any areas that may be weaker, such as corners or joints between walls and ceilings.
Windows should be replaced with ballistic windows for safety.
- Create an Emergency Plan
With your safe room constructed, ensure you know how to use it with an established emergency plan. Confirm that all family members know where to go in an emergency, how to lock the door, and any other necessary actions for their safety. Other components of a safety plan to consider include:
- What method will be used to call the authorities?
- What method will be used to determine when it’s all clear?
- What threats will the space be used for?
- When should the family head to the safe room?
Stocking Your Safe Room
Now that your safe room is built, you’ll want to ensure it’s stocked with the essentials. Here are some items you should consider keeping in your safe room:
Non-perishable food and water should be kept in your safe room for emergencies. Rotate these items out regularly to ensure freshness.
In case of an emergency, a medical kit stocked with basic supplies such as bandages, disinfectant, and pain medication can come in handy. Regularly check and restock your medical equipment and add any new medications you may be prescribed or begin taking.
Keep important documents such as birth certificates, passports, and insurance information in a waterproof and fireproof safe within the room, which will help ensure that they’re protected in case of an emergency or disaster.
Flashlights and Other Emergency Items
In case of a power outage, keep flashlights and extra batteries in your safe room. Other emergency items, such as whistles and blankets, can also be helpful to have on hand.
Power Supply and Communication Devices
Consider keeping a backup power supply and communication devices, such as a phone or radio, in your safe room. Even though your safe room is cut off from the rest of your home, it doesn’t mean you’ll have to remain without power or communication.
Use an EcoFlow Portable Power Station to guarantee access to electricity. You can choose between options such as the RIVER 2 Series, DELTA Series, or even the Whole Home Generator, depending on the power you think you’ll need. This can keep you powered even in the event of a grid failure.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s important to pick the correct material for your safe room. Wood-framed rooms reinforced with steel sheeting or fiberglass materials will provide the most security for a safe room. Solid metal doors offer the most protection against intruders attempting to gain entry.
Ventilation is a crucial component of a safe room. In basic retrofitted versions, a pipe that’s inserted into the structure can provide ventilation. Another option is cutting vent holes into the door to allow airflow.
Ideally, a safe room wouldn’t contain any windows, but when retrofitting an existing space into a safe room, replacing the existing window glass with ballistic windows can be a way to still provide ample security.
Building a safe room can provide peace of mind and added security in an emergency or disaster. By choosing the right location, determining potential threats, reinforcing doors and walls, and stocking it with essential items, you can create a safe space for you and your family.
Remember to regularly check and update your safe with enough power and supplies to ensure its effectiveness in protecting against any potential dangers.
Looking for a source of power to keep essential devices and appliances running in your safe room? Check out EcoFlow’s collection of portable power stations today, where there’s a wide selection of options for every power need.