Panic Rooms

What is their purpose?

Think of a panic room as a vault for people. In a country of gated communities, panic rooms are designed to be the ultimate in security. They range from simple rooms with reinforced doors to elaborate mini-fortresses that protect their occupants against biological and nuclear attacks, and home invasions.

The creation of a panic room is critical for women who are being stalked. It can be important for families with children of any age. First off, although a woman protecting her child can be the most ferocious guardian, realistically it is far more common for a woman to sacrifice herself in an attempt to protect the child -- usually by curling around and shielding the child. This way she, not the child is damaged. The problem is you cannot effectively defend yourself, while protecting a child this way. A safe room makes this whole issue moot.

Second, no child can successfully fight off an adult attacker. The adult's superior mass will overwhelm the child. However, a child can run to safety. Third, putting it bluntly teenagers do stupid things now and then. And if they do stupid things with not nice people, their having a safe room is a very good idea. (If nothing else it also gives squabbling siblings a means to end the fight).

While home invasion robberies are becoming more common, realistically, with a safe room, just closing your bedroom door at night is the best defense against waking up with a burglar in your room or a break-in rapist on top of you.

Figures and possibilities

Communication

It's a good idea to leave a cell phone or ham radio in your panic room in case you need to communicate with the outside world. But if your panic room is too isolated or reinforced for reliable cell phone service, you can always install a buried phone line, an intercom system or an alarm button directly connected to a police or security team.

Surveillance

The typical panic room -- if it does have surveillance -- has one monitor connected to a number of hidden cameras. High-end panic rooms can also utilize heat-sensing cameras, or infrared led cameras, so if the home is attacked at night, you can covertly check out who's in the house.

Power

Most panic rooms are powered by generators. You have to be careful about ventilation, though, and always be mindful of carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators must be self-contained in the panic rooms, which necessitates more room -- and more money. In the most basic panic rooms, battery-powered or hand-cranked lights and phones may be sufficient.

Air Circulation

The most elaborate and expensive panic rooms are airtight, temperature- and humidity-controlled chambers. They can have separate air-filtration systems that protect from biohazards, and dummy vents to throw off invaders. And as a last resort, high-end panic rooms can include oxygen masks.

Plumbing facilities

Again, depending on how much you want to spend, plumbing can be as basic as a portable toilet -- or you can install separate plumbing and a septic tank. Of course, you'll want to stock the room with water (a gallon per person per day is a general guideline).

Supplies

This is where people can get a little crazy, depending on how much they're willing to spend. The supplies are what help the occupants survive an attack -- like food, water and first aid equipment.

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