Unfortunately, we can never be completely sure of safety, even in our own homes. Everything can be peaceful one minute, only for things to change drastically without notice.
Some people might experience nefarious characters trying to get into their homes to steal their belongings and perhaps even cause harm to the occupants. Other cases might include natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes that present a very real threat to life. Regardless of the emergency, it’s a good idea to be prepared beforehand to help keep you and your loved ones safe.
Many people have chosen to build panic rooms or safe rooms in their homes in case of emergencies. Panic rooms are secure places that will keep intruders out to prevent a home invasion as well as severe weather out until it is safe to emerge.
Once you’ve designated your safe room, it’s time to stock it with the right preparedness supplies. You need to be able to get shelter for the entire family, whether it’s during a hurricane or a crime. From windows to doors with heavy-duty locks, your entire room should feel as secure as possible.
Now let’s go over the various items and emergency supplies you will need to stay out of harm’s way in the event of a home invasion or weather event.
A Cell Phone
If you have to use your safe room, you will likely need to call the police, or family, to ask for help or just to let people know you’re OK. In cases of emergency, however, items like a cell phone may not be immediately at hand, and we can also forget things easily when panicked.
When building a panic room, make sure to include a cell phone that always stays in the panic room. Ensure the phone is always charged and that there’s a charger and power supply in the room. You should also check to see whether your cell phone can get a signal inside your panic room; a signal booster may be necessary if you have no signal.
You could also have a landline installed in your safe room and even an internet connection. Such connections are likely to be damaged if intruders find them but might stay intact otherwise. Even if you do lose the connections quickly, having landlines and internet lines installed is very affordable.
If you need to use your panic room, there’s no way of knowing how long you might be in there and you could get thirsty very quickly. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to keep plenty of bottled water in the room.
Bottled water can last very months or even years provided it’s stored correctly. However, the plastic bottles themselves can begin to decay, making it wise to make a note of expiration dates. Regardless, make sure that you have enough bottled water to last everybody for several days. You could easily end up regretting it otherwise.
If you’re staying locked in a room for a few days, then you will also need some food. When buying food for your panic room, think about how long it will last and how you will eat it. Canned food lasts for a very long time and is often ready to eat as soon as it comes out of the can.
If your safe room has power, keeping a microwave in the room will help when it comes to mealtime otherwise you will need to consider stocking foods that can be eaten cold. Again, make sure that you have enough food stored for the whole family for several days at least.
Remember also to have plenty of food and water for your pets because you’re unlikely to want to leave them outside where it’s dangerous. They will also need a bed, and you’ll need a way to clean up after them. Toys are also important for pets because they can help keep them entertained and calm.
If you’re trapped in a room with no way to clean yourself, it won’t be long before you start feeling terrible. Stock your panic room with toothpaste and soap so you can at least have a wash and brush your teeth. You will also likely need a bowl to act as a sink, and you should also take washing into account when stocking water. You don’t need enough to shower, but you will need enough to wash yourself down with.
Keeping some clean towels will also be a good idea, while wet wipes can also be very convenient. It can also be a good idea to keep some spare clothes because you will start turning quite uncomfortable after a while.
It can also be a good idea to store some toiletries that will help eradicate unpleasant odors in your safe room. With people, and perhaps pets, trapped in a room for days, it may not be long before unwelcome smells arrive.
If you’re going to be locked in a room for days, you will need somewhere to sleep. Ensure your panic room always has clean bedding so you and your family can get some rest when needed. Camping beds will make a reasonable temporary solution, while airbeds can be easily stored and inflated when needed.
If you live in a cold climate then stock plenty of warm blankets to keep everybody warm. You can also consider using a heater, but make sure it’s safe to use in an enclosed environment.
If you’re using your safe room because of a natural disaster, it will be good to know when it’s safe to come outside. This makes it a good idea to keep a radio in the room. You could use a battery-powered radio, while you can also try using a wind-up radio that should still be able to keep you informed of news updates outside. A radio is also good for music and other entertainment that can help you relax during your ordeal.
Even if you are only in a panic room for a few hours, you are likely to regret not having a toilet. If you can, have a bathroom built into the safe room for maximum hygiene and privacy. Otherwise, make sure to keep a portable toilet in the room if needed. Chemical toilets help make a good way to dispose of waste, and you can create a makeshift screen to help give people privacy while using the toilet.
Entertainment might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to panic rooms, but you will need something to keep your mind occupied if you’re locked in there for days. Books will help to pass the time and keep your mind off the problems you’re facing, while toys are important if you have kids. If your room has electricity, you can have a TV and plenty of movies to keep everybody occupied.
If the power to your safe room is cut, you could be left having to wait for hours or even days in pitch darkness. To help prevent this, make sure your room has plenty of other lighting options. Flashlights are one good option, while you can also look for battery-powered lanterns and similar to give you the light you need. Remember that using oil lamps, open fires, or anything else that will release fumes into the air is a bad idea when staying in an enclosed area. Remember also to stock up on plenty of batteries.
First Aid Kit
If you’re using a panic room, there’s a chance that you or somebody else has had a brush with danger before entering the room. Somebody might have picked up an injury that needs to be attended to and infections can take hold if wounds are not cleaned. Keep a first aid kit in your panic room that will help you dress and clean wounds. Also make sure your first aid kit is stocked with antibiotics, painkillers, and medication for anybody in your home who has a medical condition.
Most of us would hate the thought of having to use a weapon on another person, but there may be a time when you are given no choice. Despite being relatively safe in a panic room, you will need to come out eventually, and you can’t be sure any assailants have left.
If you’re not trained, choose something like a club that’s easy to use but can still cause damage to an attacker. If you are trained, then consider knives or firearms for more protection and a greater deterrent against attack.
Pepper spray is a must-have item for your bunkers. In case someone gets in and is threatening you, a quick shot of pepper spray will help temporarily disarm them.
If the room were to fill up with gas or other nasty particles, you need to be prepared with a breathable gas mask to help you navigate the space.
One of the worst case scenarios is a fire or explosion. If this is the case, you need something to help you mitigate the destruction quickly. A fire extinguisher is a simple yet highly valuable item to have for an effective safe room.
How well you stock your room with emergency preparedness supplies will depend on your budget and how large the room is. When stocking up, always focus on the most basic needs first. It might leave you with an uncomfortable few days, but the priority is survival over luxury. If you have the budget and the space, you can consider adding a few comforts that will help make the occasion easier to bear.
Perhaps the most important item of all is a cell phone, two-way radio, or any other method to call the police and request help. Panic rooms are not necessarily built to be impregnable, but they are there to at least delay any attackers until help arrives.