Safe room

Safe room

A safe room or panic room is a fortified room which is installed in a private residence or business to provide a safe hiding place for the inhabitants in the event of a break-in, home invasion, or other threat. Safe rooms usually contain communications equipment, so that law enforcement authorities can be contacted.

Construction techniques

The simplest safe room is simply a closet with the hollow-core door replaced with an exterior-grade solid-core door that has a deadbolt and longer hinge and lock plate screws.

More expensive safe rooms, such as those constructed for celebrities and executives, have walls and a door reinforced with sheets of steel, Kevlar, or bullet-resistant fiberglass. The hinges and strike plate are often reinforced with long screws. Some safe rooms may also have externally-vented ventilation systems and a separate phone line.

Safe rooms in the basement can be built with concrete walls, a building technique that is normally not possible on the upper floors unless there is substantial structural reinforcement to the building.


Safe rooms may contain communications equipment, such as a cellular telephone, land-line telephone or an amateur radio transceiver, so that law enforcement authorities can be contacted. There may also be a monitor for external security cameras and an alarm system. In basic safe rooms, a peephole in the door may be used for a similar purpose. Safe rooms are typically stocked with basic emergency and survival items such as a flashlight, blankets, a first-aid kit, water, packaged food, self-defense tools, a gas mask, and a simple portable toilet.

Other meanings

The term "safe room" is also commonly used to describe a fortified basement room used as a refuge in the event of a tornado, hurricane or nuclear event.

A safe room can be quite elaborate or as simple as a corner of the basement. An effective safe room can be constructed from two concrete corner walls, two other sturdy walls and a stout ceiling, preferably thick reinforced concrete like the other basement walls. A stout door, secondary exit and good ventilation are necessary. A room like this could alternatively used as a storage room for things like wine or records. In a new construction, a room like this can be built quite inexpensively. It can be stocked with as many or as few supplies as the homeowner deems necessary.

"Panic Room"

In the DVD audio commentary for the film "Panic Room", screenwriter David Koepp says the idea for the film originated from a "New York Times" article; [ [ Trivia for Panic Room (2002) on IMDB] ] in the article and his other research sources the rooms were always referred to as a "safe room", which was the original title of his screenplay. Realizing it didn't sound engaging enough to be a thriller, he changed the title and all references in the screenplay to "panic room".

Further reading

"The Secure Home", Joel Skousen, Swift Learning Resources; 3rd ed, 1999 (ISBN 1-56861-055-6)

ee also

*Blast shelter
*Fallout shelter
*Storm cellar
*Retreat (survivalism)


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