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I was wondering if anyone has a reinforced safe room in their house? I am looking to turn one of the rooms in my basement into a safe room and am looking for any advice that can be offered.
Start here...

Not yet, but I've done some study on them. Their size, orientation and design depend on what you want them for. If it's only a place to withdraw to, in the case of a home invasion, then you'll need:

Ventilation: If you spend any significant time there, you will need fresh air. It needs to either be hidden, or somehow protected to keep from smoking you out.

Communications: A way to call out for help, if any should exist.

A small alcove in one corner, so you can slip into it, look out a small window, and have a 90 degree line of fire on the entrance. The window should be too small to climb through (like a small wind-out mobile home window), and you can protect the entrance from there. I love the idea of masking the window from view, at more than one or two steps from the door. Like with shelving against the outside wall, etc. Someone should pretty much be at the door before they become aware of the window, and your pistol muzzle.

Lights, toilet, water, etc. depending on the length of time you have to stay there.

Something to keep kids occupied, maybe? Don't have them, and wouldn't have any advice on that.

Hope this helps gets the ball rolling.

I started to chime in on this topic and then ran into the question: "Safe from what?"

If you want a "Panic Room" to retreat to in the event of home invasion, Mr. Hay covered it pretty well. The only thing I'd add is that it needs to be accessible from your bedroom and your kids (if any) bedroom needs to adjoin with yours. Having to traipse to the other end of the 2nd floor, or even leave the bedroom to cross the hall to get the kids and then herd everyone down two sets of stairs to a basement safe room kind of defeats the purpose of the exercise.

If on the other hand, you're thinking in terms of a shelter to be used in the event of some sort of short term disaster, civil unrest, tornados, etc, then you'll have a very different set of design parameters.

Approach the problem backwards. Ask yourself what you need to be "safe" from, then plan accordingly while leaving as much latitude in the design as possible. After all, the odds of any single disaster befalling you and your family are a lot smaller than the odds of any one of a long list of disasters befalling you. Get the most bang for your buck by making it as versatile as possible.

So basically what did you have in mind as your greatest/most likely threat?
Safe from what is the first question. Somewhere I have some army enginering manuals that state eighteen inches of concrete will hold off a direct impact of an eighty-one millimeter mortar. I looked long and hard at a local bank vault that was being torn down and it was eight inches of concrete with a LOT of rebar.

To do something like that means a new footer under the wall... Ow!

Now if you just want to keep people out then you can do two-bys rebar ect, Tile backer board and some two foot square patio stones. That is reasonably fire proof and bullet proof. Some sort of faux stone or brick could be used.

The next question is how secret do you want the place? The question after that is how long do you want to stay there. Think the Dairy of Ann Frank...
Wow, thankx for asking the question. I've been researching the subject too. My problem is while I just bought a house here in Sunny (read hurricane belt) Florida, Tampa Bay region, I neither had the money or ability to alter the plans to my house. I asked if they could concrete block the walls between the garage and residents and the walkin in the master bath, not so much to ward off the evil hordes, but for fire and hurricane protection. I just finished watching Urban Master I last night. From my ARC, Military and living in the country up north as a kid, the CD was a great refresher course. Thankx to the Hoods for their continued efforts.

If I may add my humble thoughts to the question. Like the others have already stated, what is the purpose of your "safe room"? Is it a storm cellar, hurricane shelter, home invasion safe room (like the movie) or a long term hideaway survival room like the related Ann Frank or Cory Tennenboom's The Hiding Place.

Here's a couple ideas for field expediency.

Wood Construction - if you are not dealing with load baring walls, you can build a fake wall with sliding door and re enforced with faux stone or wet board as suggested. If you are in the country, (sorry still a newbie and can't access profiles)... check with older farms with buildings that may be suitable for salvage for "good old" No 1 timbers and planks.

Concrete or block - like the other's said, chiping to secure new footers or lag in plates and go from there. There are alot of ideas on the net just type in Storm Shelters or Safe rooms.

If money and garage space is not an issue, there are ready made units that take up one side of your garage. Out here on the east coast, PoDs, has come up with a ready made unit also for about 10 grand...

Electric/Batteries, water, air filtration I would suggest taking ideas from one of the shelter sites, they seem pretty intense.

Hope this sounding helps and didn't hinder
Wow. VERY interesting link, TCP. Little bit edgey, but that's what life in our time has gotten to be. Stuff to think about there.

By the way, Bill H's post was excellent. Especially the aspect of covering the entry from a concealed place. Too often these rooms are built without recognizing the fact that their design merely walls a family in while leaving the resources of the outside world to the bad guys who forced you in there.

My suggestion was and is to have a very clandestine back door/culvert tunnel/whatever and make the room fire and bullet proof from all six sides.

I'm a field inspector for my county assessor's office and one of my jobs is to evaluate new construction at various points of construction. You'd be amazed at the building plans held in the Building Department that outright say "Gun Room" or "Panic Room." Not a bunch, but even one is amazing and there are several in this county that I know of. Dumb.

A very high-end home in the mountains that I visited recently was in the final framing stages. The builder made a point of showing me where the "safe room" was and I was personally disgusted that it was 2 x 4 on 16" centers. When I asked what the skin was going to be he said double 5/8" sheetrock both sides.

Now, that'd stop or significantly slow a 9mm, but a healthy grandmother with a kitchen cleaver could get through that in time, and remember--you're walled in. Where're you going?

In addition to a "back door," whether it's out the ceiling into a concealed plenum or through a basement's concrete wall to a culvert or into any other space the design will allow, have communications gear. Plan an exterior antenna if you can. Do NOT be a sitting duck.

Bill's ideas on planned shooting lanes and observation points is very sober and wise. Never put your hope in the arrival of the law: you are your own first responder!!! Change your mentality to reflect the attitude that your survival is up to you and your chances for survival go way up.

Understand this is not a "safe room." It is not a "panic room." It is a "War Room" into which you have been forced to retreat and from which you will direct your response, First Responder, whether that is actual counterattack or a mere tactical withdrawal out the back door while the bad guys think you're nicely bricked in.
You could place tile backer on the 2x4 wall, some metal lath, "mud", and some heavy tile and makes a real enough safe room. Again we need to ask safe from what?

Most plans wind up being of the 50 era bomb shelter design because... 1) Those plans are in the public domain. 2) By the time you do the other stuff, for the money, you might as well make it nuke proof too.

Tunnel out, is just another way in. I am not saying that it is a bad idea, but it is one more thing you have to plan around. My uncle used to have a house that had a tornado shelter and a tunnel out to a place across his drive way...

The other thing is the safe place handy? Is it at the wrong end of the house? Two is one, one is none.

Little things like extra lights in a hall way that cast a shadow on where you are help. You don't wont the light on top of you. You want to create a choke point that is lite up from differant places so that it is work to make all the lights go out at once.

Things like a bag of mortar mix left in a wall can create an ideal backstop for a few rounds. Even a few thin sheets of mild steel will break up a bullet to make it easier to stop.
If its a safe room for natural disasters... suggest you make the door so it opens inward.

Why? Because rubble may be built up outside the room and you can't get the door open.

Got that tidbit from people who have survived tornados.

Best wishes!

[quote name='Fusilier' post='246452' date='May 29 2008, 09:34 PM']If its a safe room for natural disasters... suggest you make the door so it opens inward.

Why? Because rubble may be built up outside the room and you can't get the door open.

Got that tidbit from people who have survived tornados.

Best wishes!


That's normal building code for most residentual construction. It's the 10" think poured concrete wall in front of it not is not the norm in construction.
Another idea is to purchase a shipping container. For the most part, they are well built and will stand up to a lot of ause. Matter of fact, there are folks down here in Florida that are experimenting with using containers for building houses.

Just something else to think about.
many good posts here, but...just what kinna room ya looking for??? weather?, home invasion? bug in?

give us a hint here