How to Create a Safe Room in Your House or Apartment

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By Daisy Luther

The homes of many rich, famous people have a secret hidden within them.  Somewhere, in the depths of the home, is a secure room to which the residents can retreat in the event of a home invasion or violent intruder.  A safe room was carved into the original house plan, and many of these are state of the art.  Features might include a bank of monitors for viewing what’s going on outside the room, a small kitchenette, comfortable furnishings, fresh air venting, and a hardened communications system.  These expertly designed rooms can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but you don’t have to be a movie star or a multi-millionaire to build your own version of a safe room. Even the most humble home or apartment can have on a place to which vulnerable family members can retreat if they are under threat.

Why should you have a safe room?

Some folks may read this and think to themselves, “I don’t need a safe room when I have my 12 gauge shotgun and my 9 mm. That’s just running away.”

I completely understand your point. Most of the people who read prepping and survival sites are not of a “retreat” mentality.  But, if a gang of 12 thugs (possibly wearing badges) kicks down your door, how likely are you to shoot every single one of them before someone gets off a lucky shot and hits you?  Hint: If you aren’t tactically trained, the likelihood of this is pretty slim.

Here’s another reason: do you have vulnerable family members in the house? Children? A spouse or elderly relative? Someone who just isn’t a fighter?  Even if you intend to engage, you may have people in the home who are not willing or able to do so, and it will be better for you if they are safely out of the way.

A safe room is honestly just another prep. It doesn’t mean you are cowardly. It means you are ready for a variety of scenarios and that the safety of your family is paramount.  It is a layer of protection that allows vulnerable people to retreat until help arrives.

Here’s a perk: another great use for your safe room is that you can stash your valuables there. Most break-ins occur when you aren’t home.  If your valuables are locked away, a random tweaker searching for things to sell to support his habit is not going to be able to access your important papers, your fine jewelry, your firearms, or your most prized possessions.

Retreating to your safe room

When you retreat to your safe room, you have one goal: to end any possibility of interaction with an unwelcome person. Please don’t call it a panic room. That indicates that you are a scared victim.  You are retreating to a safer location because you don’t intend to be a victim. In a military gun battle, do soldiers move behind sandbags or into trenches? Of course. They want to limit the likelihood of being shot or otherwise injured. You may or may not be a trained soldier, but your goal is the same. It is to avoid being injured by a person who may be intent on injuring you.

A safe room is not a bunker. You probably aren’t going to be holed up in there for days during a stand-off. It is a point of retreat until help arrives.

The #1 rule of the safe room: DO NOT LEAVE IT UNTIL YOU ARE SAFE AND YOUR HOME HAS BEEN CLEARED. NOT FOR ANY REASON. A criminal will threaten, cajole, manipulate, and bully to try to make you come out. DON’T DO IT.

We’ve often talked about the importance of having a plan (as well as a few back-up plans) and running practice drills. A safe room is no different. All family members that are physically able should be able to quickly access the room. If you have several people in your household, you might want to put a keypad access on the door to the safe room so that whoever has retreated first is safely locked in without worrying about admitting the other family members.

Map out as many different ways as possible to get to the safe room from various locations in the house. This is a great time to get the kids involved, because children are explorers by nature. They may know routes that you had never even considered.  Practice, practice, practice.  Run timed drills and make a game out of how quickly all family members can get to the safe room and get the door secured.

Of course, the success of moving quickly to your safe room rests upon being alerted that someone is in your home.  You should have security measures in place that let you know that the home has been breached:

  • A dog
  • Inexpensive battery operated alarms on all entry points
  • A high quality monitored alarm system
  • A wireless alarm system that sounds an alarm and automatically calls for assistance
  • Outdoor sensors that will alert you when someone comes through your gate or approaches your home. (Note: If you’re like us and you live somewhere with a lot of wildlife, this option may not work well for you.)

The more of these early warnings you have, the better off you’ll be. Someone might get through one of the alarms, but how likely are they to get through 3 or 4 without you being alerted?

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Where should your safe room be?

If you are building a new home from the ground up, you have the unique opportunity to have this special room added to the plans. In this case, your far less limited by the existing design and layout of the house. In fact, there are companies whose sole purpose is designing safe rooms for homes and businesses.  One of the most reputable, Gaffco, offers consultations, plans, and even construction of these rooms. Additionally, they offer “pods” that were originally designed for the US military, which can be incorporated into the design of your home or connected to the home via a breezeway.  These options are top of the line, and may be out of the affordable price range for the average family.

Most of us aren’t in that building process though, so we need to adapt part of our living space to make a safe room.   Some people adapt a large walk-in closet or pantry, while others refurbish a room in their home. DuPont offers a “Stormroom” that is reinforced with Kevlar and is epoxied to your garage floor. It’s designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, so it’s a good be that it will also withstand your average home invasion.  These start at $6000 for the smallest size.

Here are some important qualities:

  • No windows to the outside
  • Ventilation
  • Thick/reinforced walls
  • Water and a bathroom
  • Enough space for the number of people likely to shelter there
  • Ease of accessibility for the family from multiple locations in the house

Of course, finding all of these things, sitting there in one room, waiting for you to reinforce the door may not be likely so you have to work with what you’ve got.

Some good options are:

  • Walk-in closet
  • Master bedroom with attached bath
  • Basement family room
  • Storage room
  • Wine cellar (Not as outrageous as it sounds – surprisingly the humble little 2 bedroom Victorian cottage we used to live in had one)
  • Interior den with no windows
  • Inside an attached garage

If you intend to go full out and reinforce the walls, it will be less expensive to convert the smallest area that will house the required number of family members.

It is of vital importance to locate the safe room in a place that can be quicky and easily accessed by family members. If you have to run past the entry through which intruders just burst, you probably aren’t going to make it to the safe room. Remember, the most ideal safe room situation is one in which the criminal has no idea that you were home or, if he knows you’re home, has no idea where you may have gone.

One important thing to remember is that your safe room doesn’t have to only be a safe room. The best use of space would have the room used regularly for other purposes.  Most of the modifications you’ll make don’t have to be obvious. For example, if you’re reinforcing the walls, you can drywall over your reinforcements, paint the wall a happy color, and carry on with your life.  An attractive exterior type door can be painted to match the other interior doors in your home.  Even if you live in an apartment or condo, you can make some subtle changes to create a safe place to retreat.

The key here is to do the best you can with your resources and the space you have available. Let’s talk about the most important modifications.

The Door

The very first line of defense is the door you will slam behind you.  For many of us, this is where the majority of the money will be spent.

Forget about flimsy interior doors.  Most of them are hollow core and your average everyday axe wielding murderer or gangbanger intent on mayhem can get through them by kicking or punching through. Go to Home Depot and get yourself the very best exterior steel slab door that you can afford.  If your safe room is an ordinary room in the house, look for a door that can be painted to blend in with the other doors in the house. There’s no sense making it obvious that this room is special.

There’s no point in having a great door in a cruddy door frame. Your door is only as solid as the frame that holds it, so replace your standard interior door frame with reinforced steel. Get the absolute best quality you can afford, then paint it to match the rest of the door frames in your home.  Hang your door so it swings inward. Then you can add extra layers of security to the door.

You want to add more locks than just the doorknob type. For your primary lock, choose a heavy duty reinforced deadbolt system. You can also add a jimmy-proof security lock like this one for an added deterrent, but this should NOT be your primary lock.  You can add a door bar, the hardware for which would be fairly unobtrusive when the bar is not across it.  If you make all of these changes, NO ONE is getting through that door by kicking it in.

The Windows

Windows are a definite weak point in a safe room. If you are using a room that is also used for other purposes (like a master bedroom) you probably have them.  Don’t despair – they too can be reinforced.

The biggest threat with a window, of course, is that the glass will easily break, allowing someone to either get in the room or shoot people who are in the room.

You can go all out and replace the window in that room with a bulletproof security window.  Although they are very expensive, you may decide it’s worthwhile since it’s just for one room. If this is out of your price range, you can purchase ballistic film and apply it to your existing window.  This video shows you how much a high quality ballistic film will withstand.  If you’re doing this, do NOT skimp on quality.

If you have windows, no matter how resistant they are to impact, it’s a good idea to have curtains too.  You don’t want the aggressor standing out there watching you or casing your retreat.  Not only would that be mentally rattling, they just might figure out a way to breach your safe room or counteract your safety plan, like secondary communications.  They do not need to know how many people are in the safe room, what equipment and supplies you have, or what you’re doing in there.  Get heavy curtains and make sure they’re completely closed with no gaps whatsoever.

The Walls

This is where the serious expense comes in.  A round from a 9mm handgun can easily penetrate the walls of the average home. Dry wall does NOT stop bullets, not even from a weaker caliber gun. That’s why one of the most important rules of gun safety is to not only know your target, but what is beyond your target.  If your walls aren’t sturdy enough to withstand bullets, then you’ve basically just put your family into a box to be shot more easily.

One way to lessen the expense of this is to choose a room in the basement. If you build your retreat into a corner, then you have two exterior walls that are concrete surrounded by dirt – virtually unbreachable.  Then you only have two walls to worry about.  If you are in an apartment, the laws in most states insist that walls separating two apartments must be fire resistant. Therefore, the wall between your apartment and the next could be made of cement, providing one wall of safety.

Free plans for a variety of safe rooms are offered by the Department of Homeland Security. As well, FEMA offers free plans for a safe room that is designed to withstand natural disasters. This could be easily adapted for home security purposes too.

There are a few different ways to reinforce the walls of your safe room. Some of the following options may be out of your price range or skill level, and some may not be practical for your living situation.

  • Armored steel panels: One of the best ways to convert an existing room into a ballistic haven is by adding armored steel panels to the walls. You can add drywall over the panels and no one will even realize they are there. These are heavy and use on upper floors could damage the integrity of your structure. They’re expensive, with a bottom end price of about $400 for a 4×8 panel, but depending on the layout of the room, they may not be needed on every wall.
  • Kevlar: These resistant walls are made out of a fiberglass type material.  This is a much lighter weight alternative and can be used in places that can’t hold up to the addition of heavy steel or concrete. You can learn more about Kevlar construction from Total Security Solutions.
  • Poured concrete:  This MUST be used on a ground floor or in a basement because of the extreme weight.  This is a far less expensive option and can withstand most threats.
  • Sand:  This is another heavy weight option, but it can be far less expensive than other options, particularly if you live in an area with abundant sand.  A 12 inch thick barricade of sand can protect against many different ballistic threats. In a basement room, a sand-packed wall in between the exterior of the room and interior drywall can provide substantial protection at a lower price. The Prepper Journal has an interesting article on using sandbags to stop bullets. The ideas could potentially be adapted to the interior of your home.  For example, you could stack sandbags halfway up a wall and then build a lightweight wall over the sandbags – the inhabitants of the room would need to shelter behind the sandbags to remain safe.

Temporary options: For the average family, many of these solutions can be out of reach.  If you rent, you probably won’t want to do major construction, either. It’s best to choose a room that is already as sturdy as possible and then reinforce the weak points. Although these options aren’t anywhere near as resistant as the ones above, they are better than nothing.

  • Have a heavy duty item you can shelter behind, like a steel desk or deep freezer.
  • Line your walls with heavy furniture, like loaded bookcases with real wood backs, not flimsy particle board.
  • Line your walls with metal filing cabinets, fill the drawers with anything, and stay low.

The Camouflaged Safe Room

Even though safe rooms aren’t really a “fun” topic, a secret hidden safe room is the kind of thing that stirs the imagination.  After all, how many awesome movies from your youth began with the magical discovery of a stairway or room hidden behind a bookcase or a mysterious doorway at the back of the closet?

The success of a camouflaged safe room rests on the residents of the home quickly moving into hiding without the intruders even knowing that they are home. This is the best case scenario for an event during which you need to retreat to a safe room.

You don’t have to have a mysterious Victorian mansion to have a hidden safe room. Amazon sells a hidden door hinge system that you can use to create a bookcase door. (You can also buy plans for installing a bookcase door or even an entire bookcase door kit.) Other options might include a trap door in the floor hidden under an attached throw rug or a discreet door at the back of a closet behind all the clothing.

Don’t rely strictly on the secret entry for your security. It should be followed up by the reinforcements described above, in the event that the intruders discover you’ve gotten away.


As was discussed in the introduction, a safe room is simply a retreat. If you don’t have help coming, you could remain trapped in there indefinitely, particularly if the intruders decide to wait you out.

Remember the #1 rule of the safe room? DO NOT LEAVE IT UNTIL YOU ARE SAFE AND YOUR HOME HAS BEEN CLEARED. NOT FOR ANY REASON. A criminal will threaten, cajole, manipulate, and bully to try to make you come out. DON’T DO IT.

You may not have had time to call 911 or your well-armed neighbor before sheltering in your safe room.  If that is the case, then you need to be able to summon assistance from within the safe room. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Cell phone: Make sure you have an additional charger for your cellphone that stays in the safe room.  Remember that a cell phone is not 100% reliable.  While it’s not exceptionally likely that your average home invader will jam your cell phone, it’s possible. (WikiHow explains how easily one can be made and this device jams  both cell signals and WIFI. )
  • Landline phone: Put an old fashioned phone in your safe room. Don’t get one that relies on electricity to work. Even better, install a secondary buried line in the event that your primary line is disabled. If a criminal cuts one phone line, he generally won’t look for a secondary line.
  • Computer: Just like the secondary landline, above, consider a secondary internet access as well.  If you have Skype, you can also have an internet telephone system from which you can call for assistance, but be warned that you many not immediately reach your local 911 from a Skype phone.

Once you have 911 on the line, be sure to let them know that you are armed. (Cops hate surprises.)  If at all possible, stay on the line with the 911 operator so that you can confirm that help has arrived without opening the door of your safe room.

  • Two-way radio: If you have a trusted friend or neighbor nearby, a two way radio system is another way to summon help. This one transmits up to 36 miles.
  • Ham radio:  Be warned, you need an FCC license for a ham radio.  You can learn more about the different kinds of ham radios in this article.
  • Cameras:  While cameras won’t help you summon help, they can let you know what’s going on outside your safe room.  Especially important, a camera outside the door of the room will give you some advance warning if your retreat is about to be breached.  It can let you know if help has actually arrived or if the intruders are just trying to trick you into thinking so. This system feeds into your cell phone or your computer.


You want to have enough supplies to stay in your safe room for 24-48 hours. Since this is a safe room and not a bunker, you don’t need  year’s supply of beans and rice in there.

  • Food: Stock up on food that doesn’t require any cooking or refrigeration. (This article is about food that you’d eat during a power outage but many of the suggestions will work for your safe room supply.)
  • Water: Even if you have an attached bathroom with running water, store at least one gallon per person that is likely to be in the room,.  Just in case. Because stuff happens, especially when bad guys are around.
  • Cold weather gear: In the event that your heat stops working during cold weather, stash a selection of winter coats, gloves, hats, sleeping bags, and a warm change of clothing.
  • Entertainment:  Really.  If you end up in the room for more than a couple of hours, you’ll go insane just staring at the monitors.  As well, if there are children in there with you, they’ll handle the ordeal much better with some distractions.  Keep some books, games, puzzles, DVDs, etc., in the safe room.
  • Sanitation: Ideally, you’ll have an actual bathroom as part of your safe room. If not, you’ll need a place to relieve yourself.  The best portable option is a camping toilet, which will eventually have to be emptied, but holds over 5 gallons and should last throughout any amount of time you’d be in your safe room. Also stock hand sanitizer, baby wipes, feminine hygiene supplies, and diapers, if applicable to your family.
  • Special needs items:  Remember that movie “Panic Room”, with Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart?  They were forced to leave the safe room because it wasn’t stocked with the necessary supplies for the diabetic child.  Don’t let this happen to you. Not only will you stock your safe room with food, but keep extra medication for any family members with special needs.
  • First aid supplies: Keep a full first aid kit, as well as a manual, in your safe room. If a family member was injured on the way to the room, you want to be able to provide some care for them. Particularly focus on supplies necessary for traumatic injuries.  Also stock things like antacids, pain relievers,  and anti-diarrheal medications. You can find a great first aid supply list in this article.
  • Emergency supplies: Always keep a fire extinguisher, goggles, and some particulate masks in your safe room.  A very determined criminal might try to force you to leave the room by starting a fire. Depending on the materials used in the construction of your room, this could be successful.  The goggles and masks aren’t perfect, but they give you a chance to launch an offensive if you do have to leave the safe room.


Here’s the bottom line: If an intruder somehow manages to breach your safe room, the time for retreat is completely over.   There’s no option left – you have to be prepared to fight like your life depends on it.  If an intruder has gone to the trouble to break through all of your defenses to get to you, your life most likely does depend on your ability to mount an aggressive defense.

Aside from your primary defense weapon (which you’re probably carrying with you), all of your other weapons should be stored in your safe room. Your extra ammunition should be stored there too.

Is every person of reasonable age in your family able to handle a weapon? If not, it’s time to sign up for classes or go to the range.

You need to have a plan in the event your defenses are breached. You don’t want any “friendly fire” injuries to occur. This plan will be different for every family based on individual skills, on available weapons, and on the set-up of your safe room.

The safe room is your final point of retreat. If someone brings the battle to you, you must be prepared, both mentally and physically. Otherwise, you and your family are like fish in a barrel, neatly corralled targets for the intruders.

 What would you add to this list?

Whether you actually have a safe room in your home, or you’ve considered building one, do you have some things to add to the lists above?  Please share them on the original article so that the suggestions may be added to benefit other readers.


The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster

Prepper’s Home Defense: Security Strategies to Protect Your Family by Any Means Necessary

Preparing your Battle Space

Home Invasion: Preventative Security Layers to Protect the Home

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Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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    • A person’s home is usually a good location for a shelter. But bad guys will expect you there and search it for sure. For a quick ‘safe place’ I prefer quickly relocating to another place on the property. Most mobile homes have sheds. Dig a pit. Line it according to your budget ($$$concrete, $$pressure treated, $poly/Styrofoam). Place the shed over the pit and cut an access panel in the floor over the pit.

      Dogs are excellent early warning animals but they can ‘out you’ with one bark. But be prepared to silence Fido if you want to survive.

  • If your safe room is in the basement don’t forget to reinforce overhead. Most houses have only a particle board subfloor and carpet on the floor that will be the ceiling of your safe room down below. Most guns would penetrate the floor and you down below. If you are in a first floor safe room, the ceiling and floor must both be secured. If you can’t defend your safe room, it will be breached quickly. Spend your time and effort making friends with those like minded folks around you who will come to your aid.

  • A safe room is a nice idea, but I would worry that the intruded would be so pissed off that he would set my house on fire, with me inside with no way out except that one door of the safe room.

    • Fire is definitely a possibility. That’s why a safe room is not a bunker or a solution that will work for a long time. It’s just to keep you from being raped or murdered until help arrives.

  • .I’m going to babble a bit here, and hope I don’t hurt anybody’s feelings..really..Daisy, this is reminiscent of the bomb shelters of the fifties…we as a race, have always faced threats from other human beings..always. The only thing that has changed that I can see is the more organized the governments have gotten in creating the demise of its own citizenry. Today we face racial/religious/hunger riots all based on nothing but the wanton designs of the so called leadership around the world. Ok, a few examples, just read the news every once in a while…but Obama bows to the Sheiks, to the Japs, to the whatever, putting the USA in a submissive place relative to those folks, hence at the bottom of the barrel of respect as far as the rest of the world goes…then there’s Bundyville, and other points west with the stealing of the land by the government, selling of the water from the Great Lakes to the Chinese in times of great drought here in this same country, Obama telling Putin he will be able to do more after he is elected the second time…I mean just look at how far down we’ve come in so short a time….my point is these people to be warded off by the safe rooms, are more’n likely going to be the same ilk as those that pried Sadam out of his “safe room” hole in the ground, if in fact,that is what actually happened…who knows with this soldout MSM we have today?. Saferooms, in my opinion are at best an intermediate step, not a long term solution. I base that on two things I know for sure: 1) was NOT meant to live in a hole in the ground, and that sooner or later you got to come up out of that hole. What you gonna do then? What. and 2) Based on years of talking with WWI and II vets, they were all of a common mind when it came to hiding:…”.if they want you bad enough, sooner or later they are going to get you..”…The Bushido code says that if you surrender yourself, or anybody else you are responsible for, you are at their mercy to do with you as they see fit. They can kill you, rape you, torture you and with no fear of retribution because YOU gave up…YOU are no longer a threat to them. …Look, to put it bluntly, one good fire bomb, aka a flame thrower in the hands of these thugs we are forting up from, will have us popping out of those holes in a hurry. Steel plate, 5/8″ thick may stop a .223, but a standard GI hardball .308 will cut through it like a hot knife through butter. Sorry, to get a little rough, but dang what you gonna do when those walls of your safe room approach 400 deg. F and keep getting hotter? Nobody can fight anybody except themselves from inside a safe room…there are better ways to defeat an army of thugs than by going passive….I know…probably made everbody mad with this one, but a saferoom dear, is the next step to all out capitalization.

    • Osh – I’m not one bit offended. I’m always happy to get your opinions because they’re well thought out and bring up scenarios I may not have thought of.

      I just want to stress again: a safe room is not a bunker. It isn’t meant to keep you safe for weeks or years at a time. It’s a stop gap, particularly for vulnerable family members, to keep them out of the line of fire or out of immediate danger, while waiting for help to arrive. This isn’t designed for warfare. It’s something you might use during times of civil unrest, as a retreat during a home invasion, or if you had a determined and violent stalker.

      In the circumstances you brought up, it’s definitely not a viable solution. Also, in the best of all situations, the intruder doesn’t know that your children are hiding in there, leaving the combatant in the family free to take agressive action without worrying that the kids will be in the way.

      ~ D

        • Me, too. I’ve been dreading it. If they announce it at the wrong time, kids could get hurt. Plus, it sounds like if they announce it in the very near future, at least one person will ever attend another Thanksgiving dinner.

          I’m not even anywhere near Missouri, but I still wonder if anything will happen where I live.

          There’s the anger simmering just below the surface of just about everyone I encounter. Always on edge, all the time, and it just seems like everyone is just waiting on some THING to set them off, personally. And this Ferguson / Cop Brutality situation seems to be the likely trigger event. (Heck, people can’t even celebrate something HAPPY without destroying property. That’s not normal. That’s repressed anger seeking an alternate means of release.)

      • thanks Daisy….let me add one more….it may be the non-combatants the thugs, Nazis, sometimes CPS types are after….the best way to turn a non-combatant into a combatant is training..the biggest point in the training, without which no combatant can survive without, is determination. And specifically, the determination to survive. How does one teach his/her family determination? Perhaps by setting an example in his/her every day life. It is NOT going to be learned by setting those kiddos down in front of the TV to watch those NFL heroes do in that other fake enemy…I can go on with this topic for hours, but think I’ll quit here b/4 I embarrass myself…lol

    • Can you plz send me documentation you have on “selling of water from the Great Lakes to the Chinese”. Plz send any info you have on this issue

  • I don’t have one. But, If your saferoom is breached and you shoot. You will need double hearing protection in that tiny room! You also need portable “cover” inside the room or bullet proof vest if you are now in a fire fight at such short range.
    Consider a gas mask if the intruder has tear gas or improvises with chemicals. Alternatively a filtered/positive pressure air source is needed. Fresh air is necessity period.
    Cot or air mattress to lay down, rest and nap. in addition to just chairs and standing.
    My personal preference would be to have a non-electric periscope in case electric is out. One that can’t be seen.
    Good article. Lot of good info and links. Thanks.

    • …the hearing protection I have found to be important during target practice….however, in time of real stress I don’t ever remember hearing the things going off….not joking…

  • Many people with first hand experience in society breakdown situations (like my family does) do know it is no good to defend a home from the inside. Always defend you home from the outside, from your maximum range of accurate fire. This means several people with high powered scoped rifles per home – in a neighborhood one person can protect one or two sides each of several homes, but never all 4 sides of a single home, so well coordinated teamwork is required !
    The reason behind this is, if an attacker goes down and his guts are sprayed on the walls of that house, his buddies do know the bullet came from somewhere else, but not from that house. So it is less likely the gang will come back later to retaliate and kill everyone within, or set this house on fire.
    So, assuming all the able rifle men (and nowadays, rifle women too) are out there on their positions to protect the house, whom do you put into that safe room ? Your otherwise defenseless kids ? Your pets ? Bad karma in any case. Those persons in the neighborhood who cannot fight should be brought to one heavily defended safe location not having anything else worthy to attack so they are out of the immediate fighting zone and do not get shot neither by attacker nor by friendly fire. How you Americans with all you individualistic sole warrior / hero mentality pull that off (organizing effective neighborhood defense as a team) is upon to you.

  • Even if you want to build any shelter or hiding spot the whole big brother apparatus is watching 24/7 via satellite. Not being paranoid, it’s the truth. There has to be another way and it’s this: unity. We stand together because they can’t do a thing to all of us. The size of the entire thing rolled into one – all of it – is nothing when it’s compared with the size of We The People!

    • I agree, but the problem is that the vast majority are not paying any attention at all to the increasingly tyrannical actions of our government. The masses are completely absorbed by entertainment. They have no interest in anything but football, reality television, alcohol, or drugs. My guess is that there’s fewer than 1 in 1000 people who are aware of what’s happening to our country. And our government has done a very good job of painting those of us who do notice as “domestic terrorists.”

      I try to console myself with the knowledge that only 3% of the population of colonial America actually fought the British for their freedom. I’m just not sure we have that proportion of patriots left today.

  • As for the list of things to keep in the safe room, I’d recommend ear protection for everyone in the safe room. Guns are loud, much more so in a small enclosed space. Clear eye protection is also cheap insurance.

  • Most of the preps described here are further along than my stage of preparedness, but did point out a basic mistake I’ve made in my basement tornado shelter. We have a pantry in the basement where I keep my food storage, and I’ve added some heavy comforter blankets on one of the shelves to pull over our heads for some extra protection from falling objects. I figured the blankets would give us warmth and comfort if we were trapped in the basement under a collapsed house, and we had plenty of food down there. But no can opener! Duh! And how about a flashlight? And I love the idea of the phone or radio. Thanks for getting me thinking again about ways to improve my beginner preps!

    • Better than blankets to cover your heads, bicycle helmets or similar helmets would be much better. Helmets would leave your hands free for other needs.

  • I really enjoyed the plans above. There are many disasters that could happen, and with all of the weather related ones it pays to pray & prepare. Gideon in the Bible stored food. I wanted to add batteries, and battery operated lighting to the list for a safe room. *(They have inexpensive led ones at Walmart or Lowe’s.
    Also if you have a large dog(Doberman, Shepherd, etc) you will want to have a muzzle in case you are trying to avoid detection of a hidden room.The ceiling as well if you have an upper level or attic over your room should be reinforced with steel meshing and added support beams, etc. ***Anyone can push through a normal ceiling. Be sure to keep your dog inside and stash extra food and water and a plastic area and all you will need to clean up and dispose of animal waste. A box of sterile gloves and also a pair of thick rubber gloves for each person is needed.If your room is on an upper level or you have a crawl space under your room, build in a special hidden escape door in the event of a fire.
    The door should get you to the outside of your home as quickly as possible. You may also incorporate a tunnel to a specific location outside. Be sure to keep extra car keys hidden in your room in case you have to evacuate via the trap door.Again Thanks for all of the information.

  • You need good hearing protection, especially an electronic earmuff that cuts in at a loud sound, but, otherwise amps the sound and is stereo.

    A 12 gauge fired inside a small enclosed space can practically knock the shooter out from the concussion. Especially without hearing protection.

    A good fan to expel the gun smoke. Something powered by a battery such as a Ford Taurus radiator fan should be good for moving CFMs.

    I keep earmuffs throughout my house for this reason, you really need them for beyond the 1st shot if you hope to successfully defend your house from an invasion.

  • I originally read this article because I’d just love a bookcase leading to a secret room, but I am also moving to America in a few years where these kinds of rooms are needed in certain states and this is awesome advice for anyone who needs or wants it! For added cleanliness don’t forget a toothbrush and toothpaste! And perhaps some clean undies.

    Also if you’re trapped for a few days from a natural disaster, ladies who’d like to keep their hair fresh-ish and you don’t have a shower? Stock up on some dry shampoo. For food, things that don’t need to be cooked that are great for energy like canned fruit will not only fill you up but also keep your blood-sugar levels up. One of the supplements you should stick up on for a few day stay is vitamin D3, because without Windows you’ll not have access to sunlight and low vitamin D levels can cause depression and irritability along with sluggishness and a lacking in energy or willpower to do anything. TOILET PAPER!!! Flashlight, batteries, light bulbs, candles, smores ingredients! Also chocolate for anyone who faints – in case of dementors! Pillows, blankets, the Harry Potter book and movies series!!!! Colouring books for both kids and adults. Trash can. Sick bags. Peptobismol/tums. Canned vegetable and meat soups – they don’t need to be heated to be eaten and you can still get an appropriate amount of nutrition that you need from either source. A small disposable camping stove that runs on gas and seperate cooking water! If you’re British you might also need tea, so teabags and powdered milk is a must!

  • We build the bullet resistive enclosures. If the rooms are not constructed at the time the house or office is originally built the cost of construction can be very high. The flip side is, do you want all of your nosey neighbors and the entire construction crew{s} to know you have a safe room? Then you have to add all of their friends to the list. Have the general contractor leave one closet unfinished. Make sure there is a route back to the main panel for an uninterrupted source of power and then call a specialty contractor to finish the job. No marked vehicles, verifiable background checks on every employee, badges with pictures, valid DL that matches badge photo, make a copy of everyone’s DL and badge. I designed and hold a patent on a bullet resistive concealed door and frame that swings out. To us swinging out is better because you can’t take a fence post driver and knock it in like you can on most “safe room doors”. The concealed part is,in our opinion,of paramount importance. If you cant see it, you can’t break into it.

  • For those looking to build a safe room from existing walls, We have an extreme performance coating called Ballisticrete thats affordable. The Ballistic resistance is 8500 to 10,000 PSI. Directly applied over many substrates including wood, cement block, concrete, brick or stucco. Check us out at

  • I noticed most responses were in 2014/2015.
    So I’m wondering how your Safe Room projects are coming along?

  • Daisy: Sometime ago I was subscribed to your newsletter and then they stopped coming. I have been trying to get your newsletter but it seems that I must be blocked by your website. I am very computer challenged and I could have made a mistake-not intentional. If you see this could you contact me and see if we can get this straightened out? Sincerely Dennis

      • Dear Daisy Luther; A safe room is a good idea, however with the most recent events in Mi. and the protesters wanting to cut the funding of the police forces here in the United States across the board, no one is going to come if you can even get thru to 911. There will be no one monitoring the 911 hot line, no police to send, Fire departments will not respond with out a police escort to a mass home invasion. And EMT will not respond for fear of being killed for the drugs they carry on the vehicle. You and your family are going to be completely on your own. Your safe room will need to be completely concealed. With at least 2 door’s one the main door the other a emergency exit. Recommend two different contractors, room not only needs to be bullet proof and fire proof. Air intake and exhaust both filtered against chemical and biological and muffled and a way to dispose of human waste hand crank pumps to run them. Possible gun firing ports built into the doors, a good stock of supplies at least two weeks worth. Washington State recommends a 30 day supply of resources now. Sounds more like a bunker yes, but remember no one is coming to help you, maybe your neighbors will want to join you, but if they can not support them selves in your bunker, recommend you do not let them in. This is going to be extremely hard to do especially if they have small children, you might want to think of extra supplies for them. Fire arms training is a must. You are going to be fighting for your family. Hearing protection, Personnel Protective equipment for every one and in there size, Medical supplies to include quick clot for bullet and puncture wounds, and 30 days of medication for anyone that needs it. Good battery powered radio and match’s or lighter’s for trade most folk’s can not make fire without them now days.

  • Unless you’re on a very tight budget, skip the home improvement stores and buy a commercial/institutional exterior door. You may be able to get one used pretty cheap, or even free. They are heavier per square foot, so you may have to reinforce the existing opening, which really only works in your favor anyway.

  • if your safe room is in a basement and there’s a fire, the fire will generate carbon monoxide that’s heavier than air and it will all seep down into your basement.

    peaceful way to go, actually.

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