What's the difference between a safe room and a panic room?
06 May 2020
Safe Room or Panic Room? Which one is for me?
When we receive requests from a prospective or existing client for a room within there property where they can safeguard their assets and family in an emergency one of the first things, they ask us is what is should I have? A Safe Room or Panic Room? It is then up to us to explain the difference and advise the client on the best way forward.
In the UK a Safe Room will mostly not be required. This is mainly because a Safe Room is, in most cases, there to protect against extreme weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes both of which are very rare events in the UK. Saying this, Safe rooms in countries which suffer regular extreme weather events have been known to double up as Panic Rooms if they have been built to also withstand intruders.
Now we have advised the client and established the difference between the two, we will now move on to the fundamentals behind what a Panic Room is and the most important things to consider when designing and implementing a Panic Room which in most cases, will be established within a room in their property.
There is one fundamental reason behind a Panic Room, to protect against intruders. As simple as this sounds, a lot of thought must go into the design of this. The request will come from a client that may feel at threat and you must consider and think of there concerns first and foremost. This includes their assets and family as part of the analysis. Is the room they propose big enough to house the whole family and any provisions they may need? Does it have windows? What material are the walls surrounding the entrance made of? Can the foundations of the room bear the extra weight? Can the main power distribution board be moved to the Panic Room so that an intruder cannot disrupt the flow of power to the property? These are just a few points that must be considered when choosing and designing a Panic Room within a property.
Deciding Which Room is Best
When deciding on the room this should be a collaborative effort, the client knows there property better then anyone so they, in an emergency, can navigate the property quickly to a place of safety but they also must listen to the professional advice given as to the room they may prefer might not be suitable for a Panic Room. What you should be looking for is a place that:
- Has only one doorway
- May have an escape area like a window
- Has access to a phone as mobile phones may not be on your person in an emergency
- Is quick and easily accessible from all areas of the property
- Can fit your entire family in
- Has room for provisions that may be needed
- Has limited glass windows
- Has good mobile phone signal within
- If possible, Can the power main distribution board be moved within the room
The Panic Room Door
When creating a Panic Room, the main concern will be the door which will be installed to the entrance to the Panic Room, these can be disguised but in most cases they typically look like your standard room door and we have them built to match the style and finish of the doors within your property. The door should have a steel frame and core with, upgraded reinforcement, multi-point locking system. The doors can also have a ballistic/bullet resistance rating if the need is required.
Walls, Ceilings and Floors
The walls, ceiling and floors also must be considered. Reinforcing the walls with stud work and installing security steel work and then finishing with plyboard leaving it ready to plaster and decorate. The floors and ceiling should too be considered if there maybe a threat of a breach with grinders or heavy-duty tools. There is also the option to add ballistic protection and bullet resistance to the shell of the Panic Room.
Making sure security systems are installed within the property within the property is a good way to help strengthen your Panic Room. Having a CCTV system installed gives you the ability to review the movements of an intruder from within you Panic Room and also having and intruder alarm system with panic buttons within the Panic Room that link direct to Police response is a great way of alerting the authorities from the safety of the room. We have also with previous projects, where the client had an access control system installed, setup an access control terminal within the room where if there was an intruder, the client has the ability to lock down doors via the access control terminal limiting the movement of an intruder if they were to breach the property.
What to Put in the Panic Room?
So, the Panic Room has been built and the security and phone systems are installed. This is great but has any consideration but put into what will go in there to assist in case of an emergency? It is likely that you probably will not be in there too long, but it is best to be prepared as if the Panic Room needs to be used, it will most likely be in a hurry. We have listed below some core items that, through experience, should always be within a Panic Room in case of an emergency:
- A first aid kit
- Bottled water and food
- Chargers for mobile phones
- A torch
- Any extra medication
Of course, you hope to not be within the Panic Room for any lengthy period, but it is better to be prepared so you can be in relative comfort whilst staying safe.