The phrase safe room has been around for a long time and it seems that everyone has their own definition of what a safe room is or should be. I don’t believe there is any one right answer and that a safe room is custom to each household. For those who already have and utilize a safe room in their house, kudos on your planning and I hope you never have to use it. For those who do not have a safe room or don’t know much about the subject, perhaps this article will help you out.
Be sure to change any plans, keys, codes, etc. if you have any problems with babysitters or family members.
In any home security plan, the safe room is probably one of the major priorities. The safe room is basically a secured room located somewhere within the house, where you and your family can go in the event of a home invasion, safety and security emergency, and sometimes a weather related emergency. This can become your stronghold or the fortress of the castle.
A safe room can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. A simple safe room could consist of a bedroom with the items discussed below. You can use the bed or dresser as a concealment item and the window as means of escape. Amore complex safe room could consist of a specially designed and built room in the basement or first floor that incorporates a strong solid metal door and frame, multiple locks, hidden doors and escape hatches and multiple defense items. Whatever you choose to become your safe room, be sure that it is a safe and highly secured place with good locks and the ability to defend or escape.
A safe room should always be a part of a family plan. The plan should include when to go to the safe room, for what, and, what to do while you’re in the safe room. Be sure your family knows how to secure the room and how to operate all of the equipment. It is a good idea to include your children in these plans, but be aware of ages, maturity and mentality when it comes to using the defensive weapons or tools. Babysitters or nannies should only be in the loop of the family plan or safe room if they are a trusted person or another family member. Sharing some information can be useful and wise, but share only that information that is needed at the time. Be sure to change any plans, keys, codes, etc. if you have any problems with babysitters or family members.
Below are recommended items to keep in a safe room and why. Not all safe rooms will contain all of the items discussed, it depends on your specific room and what type of security you desire.
A cell phone (with charger or extra battery) provides the communication you need to get emergency services and responding police to your location and advise them of the situation, directions, etc. A cell phone allows you to make calls even if home phone lines are tampered with or cut. It also prevents intruders from listening in on details from another home phone. A cell phone also lets you keep in constant communication with emergency services while escaping from your home or moving about your home or safe room.
Defensive weapons or tools can consist of many different type of items such as a firearm, pepper spray, baton, etc. Whatever defensive tool you choose (you can have multiple defensive tools) to be in your safe room, be sure you and your family are aware of the items and are all properly trained on how and when to use them. If you use a firearm, be sure to keep extra ammunition within your safe room. Know the legal aspects, responsibilities and details for each defensive tool and the use of those tools. Consult an attorney specialized in the field.
Keeping a set of house keys, including any garage or entrance keys, in your safe room will allow you to toss them out to responding police to give them quick access to the house to conduct a search for an intruder or assist in an emergency. Extra keys should be made and checked with the locks to insure proper working order. Keys should be secured to a key chain or ring of a large item, flashlight or preferably a snap glow stick. Be sure to tell the police on the phone that you have keys and will toss them out when they arrive. Do not toss them out before the police arrive. An intruder or accomplice could be outside and gain access. Do not include keys to your safe room on the key ring.
Note that vehicle keys can be kept in a safe room as well, to provide an escape once you get outside your safe room and house.
House plans (not blueprints) kept in the safe room that show a brief sketch of the interior and exterior of your home can assist responding police to where your safe room is, along with each room, wall, hallway, etc. that an intruder could be hiding. Your plans can be tossed out your safe room window along with your house keys to assist police in getting in and clearing your home safely and quickly. Include how many people, including children, live in the house, and brief descriptions of your family. This may help police identify you from an intruder.
A flashlight, preferably one that is rechargeable, is very useful in providing light if the power goes out or is cut by an intruder. It can help illuminate any room or help to blind an intruder temporarily. A flashlight can also be used as a defensive tool much like a baton and can be used to signal responding emergency services.
Installing a door scope (or peep hole, but door scope is preferred) on your safe room door or bedroom door allows you to see outside your safe room into a hallway or room to see if anyone is near your safe room, and what he or she may be doing.
If your house is equipped with an alarm, depending on your system, having a control box in your safe room can be used to call for assistance. If an intruder came into your house without setting off the alarm, you can manually set it off by the control panel, which will contact the police to respond.
A control box that can turn lights on and off inside and outside your home can prove to be useful in deterring intruders. If someone is in the house, perhaps turning on the lights will be enough to scare the intruder out and can also provide lighting for responding police.
If your house is equipped with closed circuit television cameras, the monitors in your safe room will allow you to see your house, perhaps inside and out. This will keep you in constant view of where an intruder is, thus assisting police in determining his/her location and what they are doing.
Other items that can be kept in a safe room that may not necessarily apply to an intruder or home break in, but could be useful are:
When referring to food and water kept in a safe room, it doesn’t imply that you should keep tons of these items stored like a warehouse or bomb shelter. It simply means that some snack type food such as beef jerky, candy bars, trail mix, and a few bottles of water may be a good idea in case you are holed up in your safe room for any length of time. It also may help keep children calm.
This would apply more to tornado type emergencies, but having a TV or radio in the safe room can be useful in keeping children calm and entertained, distracting them from the unfortunate events. Be sure to keep the volume low or include headphones. This item is not what you would call a priority, but you never know.
Be sure to check all of your items and equipment regularly, keep them maintained and working properly at all times. Your life could depend on them.
For those who live in apartments or condominiums, most of the above information still can apply to you as well. For a safe room, a bedroom can be used and temporary locks or door jams can be used if you are not allowed to build special rooms, doors, etc. Use door jams, small mobile door alarms, and even under the door peep sights or cameras.
A safe room can be just one room in the house, but it is a good idea that every room in your home be viewed as a possible safe room in case you or a family member cannot get to the main safe room in time. If you have a small amount of the above mentioned items in each room, you will cover your bases and be better prepared for anything that comes your way.
[ Jerrod S. Smelker is the owner and senior instructor for Edge Advantage Consultants a business which conducts courses and seminars in crime prevention, safety and security, personal defense and firearms training for law abiding citizens: www.edgeadvantageconsultants.com.
Mr. Smelker has an extensive background and experience in the fields of security, law enforcement, corrections and crime prevention. He is a certified defensive tactics instructor and NRA firearms instructor and the instructor for the Online Police Academy’s Officer Safety course for law enforcement agencies. ]
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