What is a Panic Room and How Do They Work?

Panic rooms, or safe rooms, are not built for everyone. Some manufacturers don’t give out detailed information about safe rooms because their buyers pay for their privacy. However, these are meant to suit different individuals with unique needs. 

Safe rooms are made in response to the risks involved with terrorist attacks or kidnapping of wealthy or high profile people. A person with a safe room can hide quickly in the event of a home invasion.

Safe rooms come with various safety features. Walls may be reinforced with Kevlar or other bulletproof materials to prevent invaders from entering or shooting through them. They’re also made to keep their occupants hidden. That is the reason why hidden doors or secret bookcase entries are the common options. Sometimes safe rooms are fitted with a surveillance technology, which connects to a least one camera. High-end versions have heat sensing technology in case the home is attacked at night. These are also linked to an alarm system that alerts the police or security personnel to provide immediate assistance. Sometimes, the signal is conveyed as soon as a person enters the safe room. Other options are a spare cell phone, an intercom system, or even a ham radio to provide communication. Soundproofing a safe room keeps these communications from intruders.

The majority of safe rooms aren’t meant to be used by occupants for a particular period. Aside from rare hostage circumstances, they’re typically used for several hours or less. Unless there’s an attack anticipated for a long period of time, safe rooms are created with a short stay in mind. Even if some feel that these rooms are meant to be safeguards against home invasions, it’s not their primary purpose. Individuals use safe rooms as a customized safe, which may allow the storage of valuables. Safe rooms are also a good place to store precious artwork and other priceless collections like rare jewelry or books.

Safe rooms are also desirable for their reinforcement properties. Because of weather-related catastrophes, some safe rooms are made to withstand hurricane winds and tornados. These safe rooms are designed using weather-resistant materials and reinforced with concrete and steel.

Some consumers build safe rooms to protect things and not humans. Safe rooms may be used a storage of computer hard drives or house artwork. Some safe rooms are designed with a climate-controlled and airtight environment. Computer files and other climate-sensitive items may be hidden safely in these safe spots. Depending on the level of safety desired and the amount of money one is willing to spend in building a safe room, the safety features may vary. Some only keep a few emergency supplies, others create a house within a home, and some merely reinforce a closet with a steel door jamb and a keyless Grade-1 deadbolt.

Another feature of safe rooms is generator power. Extra care needs to be taken for adequate ventilation and protection against carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators should be self-contained in a safe room. In a basic safe room, a hand-cranked light and phone or battery powered light are enough to supply power.

The most expensive and elaborate safe rooms are airtight and have temperature-controlled chambers. They can also have a separate air filtration system, which protects from biohazards. In fact, high-end safe rooms also include gas masks.

How popular are they? Some claim that every new mansion built in Los Angeles has a safe room and many Manhattan suites. The truth is, no one knows because builders sign confidentiality agreements.