Anyone considering building a "Safe Room"?

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Re: Anyone considering building a "Safe Room"?

Post by Deschain » Sat Oct 25, 2008 5:03 am

usmc2pd wrote: As a caveat before I get to the nitty-gritty let me say that I've only known of one home invasion against an honest taxpayer citizen. 99% of the home invasions I have worked are over drugs and existing criminal activity that brought it upon themselves. A dedicated and coordinated attack on your home has to be for some purpose. Criminals are stupid, but not dumb. Ask yourself "why would someone invade my home" and plan against that cause. If you're a jeweler and keep jewelry at your home.....DON'T. Know this, a lot of people refer to a burglary as "I was robbed" and robbery and burglary are two wholly separate things. Burglars don't rob and robbers don't burglarize. Robbers are more of the alpha males of criminal society. It's a robbery of a person by nature they plan on confrontation. Burglars however desire no contact. It's a Hollywood myth perpetuated by ridiculous home alarm commercials that burglars are stumbling around your house at night.
What about burglaries by drug addicts? I mean, yeah. They usually happen during the day, but Mr. Jones has been known to strike rockhounds by night. They need a fix, and they need it NOW. Would this not drive person to break in during the night? While the chances that they would attack you are low, they are predators of opportunity.

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Re: Anyone considering building a "Safe Room"?

Post by streetpig1690 » Sat Oct 25, 2008 9:03 pm

ais4122 wrote:When I had my basement finished, I made sure a gun/safe room was put in. Exterior steel door, 20gage studs, running of cctv wires before closing up the walls. Nice stuff. I would of cause, have wanted to use concrete for the walls rather than the studs and sheet rock, and I would of liked to incorporate some sort of built in dehumidifier as well as a hidden door entrance. But at some point, practicality and budgetary reality set in. So I got what I got. :D
the finished product is my thread "Office of Homeland Security" planning and prep.
http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... =6&t=30558" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
My "safe" room is similar to yours. It is 15'x15'. When we built our house I had the cinderblock walls in the basement where it is located filled with cement and rebar. I have a 12" concrete roof over it also.Mine is certainly not as clean looking as yours, but my weapons are hung like yours but I have no lighting like yours. My hat is off to you. I have to now keep up with the Jones' and try to out do you :lol:
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Re: Anyone considering building a "Safe Room"?

Post by usmc2pd » Sat Oct 25, 2008 9:51 pm

Deschain wrote:
What about burglaries by drug addicts? I mean, yeah. They usually happen during the day, but Mr. Jones has been known to strike rockhounds by night. They need a fix, and they need it NOW. Would this not drive person to break in during the night? While the chances that they would attack you are low, they are predators of opportunity.

Deschain
Sure evil lurks, but strong arm invasions on taxpaying citizens are rare. Can they occur? Yes. Do they occur? Yes. Extremely rare however.

What is the question? I stand by my suggestions in my original post. By nature, a home invasion is a "movement to contact" encounter. If the issue is a "cat burglar" with the enough "creep" that he is not detected - what good is a safe room? If it is a forceful take over by dedicated bad guys- what good is a safe room?

1. Harden points of entry
2. Alarm system
3. Dog
4. Defensive options

When I worked "morning watch" (2300-0700) there was always a natural slowness after 0500. We'd write reports, hang out at the diner, and practice tactics. Try this one, it works:

One of my concerns were scenerios where there was no option to wait. You pull on scene and you're in it. It's on you to immediately intervene and stop violence. We'd go to houses under construction and try different points of entry; basement door, garage door, back door, front door. We, two officers, could flood a house we'd never been in and advance to the bedroom in under 60 seconds and that's being extremely liberal - usually much quicker. Now, put yourself on the receiving end. I just don't see it possible to be awoken from a dead sleep, gather family who are also asleep, and retreat to the impregniable "safe room".
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Re: Anyone considering building a "Safe Room"?

Post by usmc2pd » Sat Oct 25, 2008 9:56 pm

Before I forget. Guess who the best practicioners of "home defense" are? Drug dealers.
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Re: Anyone considering building a "Safe Room"?

Post by Deschain » Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:14 pm

usmc2pd wrote:
Deschain wrote:
What is the question? I stand by my suggestions in my original post. By nature, a home invasion is a "movement to contact" encounter. If the issue is a "cat burglar" with the enough "creep" that he is not detected - what good is a safe room? If it is a forceful take over by dedicated bad guys- what good is a safe room?

I'm not arguing with you on the tactics issue. The question was (somewhat poorly worded) what about attacks of opportunity? A burglary transitioning to a home invasion or something similar. The hostile is not entering the home with the intent to commit a 'home invasion', but rather smashes a window, and is grabbing things. Or perhaps he enters another way, quieter. Perhaps you're just a sound sleeper. None the less, the person is there to grab your stuff and go. Can this not transition rather rapidly to a home invasion? It's happened a few times up here. I live in the Soviet Republic of Canuckistan, so we're the anti-castle state. Criminals know we're not armed. I'll give you a scenario that happened in a few years ago up here:

Two crackhounds break into a house at night, intent on grabbing a few pieces of electronics. Man of the house stumbles blearly out, wondering what's going on (FOOL!). It ends up devolving into a hostage situation, ending 15 hours later with one dead criminal, one wounded criminal, and one molested minor.

There have been other cases where burglars spotted family pictures, and end up raping people in the house. It doesn't happen often, but once is too often for anyone's liking. There have been other cases of what could be called 'home invasions', but aren't really the type of thing that affects most of us.

Basically, what I was trying to get across was that while it is pretty rare that one would be the target of a staged home invasion, are there not circumstances that turn into home-invasions-of-opportunity?

Deschain
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Re: Anyone considering building a "Safe Room"?

Post by usmc2pd » Sun Oct 26, 2008 1:09 am

Short answer: of course, there are all types of evil in the world. I took a sexual assault course which dealt with the various profiles of rapists and it is known occurance for burglaries to escaluate to rapes or other assaults and for burglaries to be committed for the purpose of sexual assault, but statistically speaking (and I don't know if it's ever been measured) it's rare. I think part of the issue is that when this type of incident occurs it is national news, so if you hear of 4 a year that's one every 3-months. Sounds awful, but in a population of 300,000,000 it's relatively meaningless - unless you are one of the 4 the tragedy strikes.
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Re: Anyone considering building a "Safe Room"?

Post by Jaqen » Sun Oct 26, 2008 12:35 pm

usmc2pd wrote: Sure evil lurks, but strong arm invasions on taxpaying citizens are rare. Can they occur? Yes. Do they occur? Yes. Extremely rare however.

What is the question? I stand by my suggestions in my original post. By nature, a home invasion is a "movement to contact" encounter. If the issue is a "cat burglar" with the enough "creep" that he is not detected - what good is a safe room? If it is a forceful take over by dedicated bad guys- what good is a safe room?

1. Harden points of entry
2. Alarm system
3. Dog
4. Defensive options

I just don't see it possible to be awoken from a dead sleep, gather family who are also asleep, and retreat to the impregniable "safe room".
Under the circumstances you paint yes, yes... a "safe room" is not going to be an all-in-one solution. In fact there is no all-in-one solution outside utopia. You seem to have a "tactical background" and want to promote tactical offensive and defensive strategies. Please understand while this may seem second nature to you based on your profession this is not going to be a practical response for everyone, especially most American housewives. Like I said I don't see my wife suddenly becoming Sarah Connah. Reality is what it is amigo. Are you married? Are you ALWAYS at home with you family? Can every member of your family pull off your tactical methods? I doubt it. As a tactically trained single male a safe room would not be up you alley - understood. Others on this forum are of the same opinion.
Keep in mind my primary reason for buiding this room is not as a "safe/panic room" for home invasions. I want a large fireproof safe/hurricane proof room. Granted it will serve as a "safe room" but obviously all bets are off dusing a home invasion.

1. Harden points of entry - in a house with many windows and doors this is not a practical option outside of installing ugly external bars. In a 2nd floor apartment with a single entry door this would be cake.
2. Alarm system - Check on this - DCS Power 832 installed when I built the house.
3. Dog - I think this is the best idea but I'm not ready for the headaches that go with it.
4. Defensive options - SAFE ROOM :lol: !!!


Cheers!

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Re: Anyone considering building a "Safe Room"?

Post by usmc2pd » Sun Oct 26, 2008 3:34 pm

I mentioned tactical alternatives in my initial and subsequent posts because you referenced:

"7) Sound cannon -bullhorn push button in vault.
Hit intruders with CRAZY loud sound from a speaker they can't disable quickly. Plus it will notify neighbors.

9) Murder holes for firearms?
This seems a little extreme but if I'm hiding from intruders in a vault, things have already gotten extreme...."

My posts were directed at those to points.
Jaqen wrote:
1. Harden points of entry - in a house with many windows and doors this is not a practical option outside of installing ugly external bars. In a 2nd floor apartment with a single entry door this would be cake.
You need to re-read my orginal post. The suggestions I posed did not include burglar bars and no one would notice shatter guard film and reinforced doors. Not nearly as practical as say pouring concrete in your master bedroom closest and biometric security measures :lol: .

What I tried to point out was that a "safe room" is not a feasible method of defense for armed intruders, for the simple fact that time is limited. Unless your wife is in the safe room when incident occurs it is of no use. It'd be the same analogy as to why bank tellers don't run to the vault during armed robberies, because there is no time to get to it. The initiative is not in the victim's favor.

If you want to use your "safe room" for hurricanes and tornadoes then I say go for it and best of luck. But if you are going to use it to stratigize against home invaders, as you did in the orginal post, there are more feasible alternatives.
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"The test of character is not 'hanging in' when you expect light at the end of the tunnel, but performance of duty, and persistence of example when you know no light is coming."-James Stockdale

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Re: Anyone considering building a "Safe Room"?

Post by Gent » Sun Oct 26, 2008 4:19 pm

I've only seen one home with a safe room in person. In it, the house went into a lockdown mode if the perimeter alarm was breached after they had set it to night/sleeping. All inside doors were released from electromagnets then swung closed and locked to the "outside". The home's construction was done with this in mind - doorways and walls were overbuilt to resist forced entry. Windows had shatter film on them.

It was the home of an older retired couple. Their bedroom with ensuite was their safe room. They were quite well prepared in there. Of course, if something happened outside of when they were preparing for bed they were in a riskier position, but it seemed like a good system to me.
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Re: Anyone considering building a "Safe Room"?

Post by Arch » Sun Nov 02, 2008 4:36 pm

Jaqen wrote:Given the uncertainties in today's age I'm concerned about food supplies and personal safety for my family should SRHTF. Food issue is a done deal. Bug-out bags are a done deal. Home safety part is in-work.

Living in Florida, hurricane rooms became a common feature with custom home builders after Andrew. Usually they would just block and pour a walk-in closet instead of framing it. The cost difference was moderate and it was a nice selling feature. FEMA Document 320 is free and has illustrated drawings, material lists and explanations how to build a safe room inside your house. You can download it or request a free copy. This document is for Hurricane preparedness but the principals can be applied to a Safe Room.

Here's my plan: :D

I'm going to pour my master walk-in closet walls 3.5" thick solid rebar reinforced concrete (5000 psi fiber-crete). Closet is block along one wall (exterior) and is roughly 8 x 11 framed. I'm going to tear out the interior drywall, add more studs and reinforce the sill plates, headers and everything else really well. Once the wall is beefed up I'm going to cover it with 3/4 plywood, sealing the seams with caulk/liquid nail to prevent leakage. Now I have one side of my pour "mold". Next I plan to come in 1.75" (1/2 the width of a 2x4) from the plywood and drill holes along the interior perimeter spaced 12" apart. The holes will receive epoxy'd 1/2 rebar. Now I need the second half of my mold so I'll build another set of interior walls in 3.5" using reinforced and braced 3\4 plywood. This plywood will be the new "interior surface" of my walking closet as I plan to leave it up after the concrete hardens. I'm going to stain it and trick out the closet in dark wood. Anyway, once the mold is ready I'm hiring a concrete pump crew to pump the mold cavity solid. I was planning on using 1/4 plate steel for the ceiling but have decided to pour it solid also. It will be much less work and the pump crew will be onsite so I might as well take advantage of their presence. The concrete ceiling will weigh roughly 3900 lbs (1 cubic yard) over the 75-80 sq feet or so it's going to required quite a bit of reinforcement. The last thing I want is for something to collapse and get injured or get concrete in my home :o . The ceiling will have a large rectangular hole for fold-down attic stairs. Stairs will have a steel trap door above, think "vault" or "panic room" at this point. Integrated into the closet wall pour will be 3.5" thick walls of a large corner gunsafe that will store my guns, bugout bags, family photos, tapes, and other critical items that are not currently fire-proofed. The door of the safe will be 1/4" AR400 plate steel and here's the "cool" part. The safe door when opened will become the closet's vault door. In other words, if you enter the closet and open the safe it closes off the closet with the same steel door. I still have to work out lots of details but that’s the fun part! I will photograph and document this process for everyone to observe and enjoy. I plan to start over the holiday break so much planning is still in order.

Feedback and ideas are greatly appreciated! Items I'm still working out include:

1) Custom safe door lock mechanism and how it integrates as the closets vault door when opened.
I planned on using a Stanley Biometric deadbolt(s) to disengage a notched rotating steel disc that engages and disengages internal 1" steel rods the will secure the safe door. I have a Bio-Box and like the fingerprint reader technology. Ideas?

2) Back-up power system for lights, phone, other
Maybe 2 large AGM Hawkers and an inverter? Haven't given it much thought. Could use some ideas?

3) Ventilation methods
I was thinking about running 1-2" OD steel pipes to various undetectable locations (including outside) and having large ball valves to open and close them. I don't want to vent unless in "vault mode". Thoughts?

4) Water delivery System
I'm on a deep well and will likely pipe a hidden water line in from over-head. Should be cake.

5) Remote camera system
I recently thought of this when I saw a post by someone on this forum. It would be nice to be able to watch any intruders to see when it's safe to leave or go offensive. I'm a noob here - any thoughts? I want to keep $ low like using a Harbor Freight chepo B&W system or similar.

6) Safe room evac option in case of fire or barricade.
Attic stairs to elevated walkway is my current plan.

7) Sound cannon -bullhorn push button in vault.
Hit intruders with CRAZY loud sound from a speaker they can't disable quickly. Plus it will notify neighbors.

8) Set of instructions (task list) for anyone inside the vault.
During stress, critical thinking may go out the window. Task list ensures critical actions are taken, for example- open vents for oxygen delivery!

9) Murder holes for firearms?
This seems a little extreme but if I'm hiding from intruders in a vault, things have already gotten extreme....

This project started out last year as a simple custom fireproof gunsafe that morphed into a small hidden "safe room" that morphed into the entire closet due to lost space. Funny how things happen.

Cheers and thanks for the feedback!
Robert
I haven't read through this entire thread yet, but I wanted to comment that 3.5" of concrete isn't enough for rebar. You really need around 3" of concrete cover for steel reinforced concrete to function properly. I'll read everything here later and will comment again...but for now you should consider reframing with 2x8 studs (7.25" actual depth) with #4 bars @ 16" o.c. (this places a bar deep between each stud). You also need to run horizontal bars (wire tie them to the vertical bars). If the CMU outside wall isn't reinforced - it is worthless against anything other than keeping casual browsers out. You could add vertical bars in fully grouted cores, but that will not help the lack of horizontal joint reinforcement.

Is your house slab-on-grade, crawl space, or basement? If you're not SOG, then you need to consider the problems associated with the location of your safe-room loading....is it center span, etc. You will also need to reinforce the floor for a six-sided concrete box.
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Re: Anyone considering building a "Safe Room"?

Post by Arch » Mon Nov 03, 2008 1:02 pm

Concrete cover over steel reinforcement CORRECTION:

I stated earlier that 3" of cover is needed...this is typical of slab construction. For walls WITHOUT any EXPOSURE ACI318 indicates that 3/4" is satisfactory. For exposed to weather but cast against forms the cover should be 1-1/2" for #5 (5/8" dia) or less.
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Re: Anyone considering building a "Safe Room"?

Post by maine1 » Thu Nov 06, 2008 12:52 am

This is a good thread, USMC2PD is giving some great advice. I like the saferoom concept when its used as the master bedroom. Sleep with the door closed and you are all set. Kids do add a complication, but my boy is 3 and co-sleeps with us, so no kid roundup is needed.

Heavy framing- 2X8 or 4X4, rough cut not finished lumber, installing hardware and hinges with 4"-5" screws into said heavy framing- will help reinforce doors. Good locks and long throw deadbolts help.Making your own strike plates on the door frame is simple if you do not demand high cosmetics- good quality locksets with a 3/16", 1/4" or even 3/8" thick steel plate long enought to be used for dead bolt and lockset will buy you time.
#m polymer sheild on windows, lock up your keys. This will harden your house, but nothing is impossible for a sufficiently motivated shitbag. Also with regard to people not bringing tools: do you have a well eqipped shop at home? they may use your tools, them steal them as well.

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Re: Anyone considering building a "Safe Room"?

Post by Arch » Thu Nov 06, 2008 1:19 am

This is a good thread, and anyone serious about developing a safe room should look at FEMA 320 and 361. The information in those publications is very basic, but is a good start for your planning & design.

If you're planning on using an existing structure that appears to be sturdy - I highly recommend that you seek out a design professional. Most people think CMU (concrete block) construction is good for shelter construction. It is not, unless it is properly designed for lateral wind loading and impact.

My region had a multi-fatality tornado a few years ago, and I was asked to check buildings for safe re-entry/occupancy. During those two days I condemned over 45 houses, and two commercial structures.

Residential construction typically does not comply with established / enforced building codes. Issues like masonry veneer ties, proper sill plate anchorage, etc are overlooked by your average skilled residential builder.

The government has complicated the issue. An example, most codes require sill plate anchorage at 6'-0" c/c spacing. This is completely inadequate for seismic and/or high lateral wind loading. 4'-0" c/c sill plate bracing is a low cost method of ensuring that your structure will resist the leeward suction and moment caused by the loads imparted during the event.

I've designed shelters for several people, and am in the process of designing one for a recreational facility. When approaching this issue you must go thru the same process a registered design professional does:

Pre-Design = Enumeration of the potential hazards & project research

Schmatic Design = Sketch out your concept & develop a working budget

Design Development = Measure your existing building or work up a prelim design for your new construction

Construction Doc's = Detailed plans & details ENGINEERED to resist the loads (wind, short and long term seismic, impact, and other that you've identified...gun fire?). Engage a design professional to assist you with FIRE AREA compartmentalization. Some very simple information can save you and your families life....like the use of intumescent sealants at all penetrations.

Bid = If you plan to do the work yourself you should still develop a take-off to see if your design fits within your budget. If you're going to have someone build it or help (concrete for the shelter that is going to save your life is probably not the best time to try it out......please concrete has to be properly mixed and hydrated to develop sufficient structural strength).

Administration = build or supervise the construction
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Re: Anyone considering building a "Safe Room"?

Post by Yugosaki » Thu Nov 06, 2008 11:53 am

Currently the safest room in my house is.. my bedroom :lol:

The walls are wood paneling, so much harder to get through than drywall. It is in the basement, the window is very hard to get into and easily blocked completely, the door locks and the gunsafe is in that room. The fail point i'm concerned about is the door itself, I think it would be possible to kick it in.

What I would like to do is section off a small room in the basement against 2 external walls, and make the remaining walls out of cinder blocks, put a heavy door on it. maybe an old unused cellphone (all phones should be able to call 911 even if there is no service on it) I originally thought of the concrete room as a 'gun and ammo safe' since my guns are the things i'm most paranoid about people stealing. someone steals my computer, I buy a new one, someone steals my gun, it's probably going to be used in crime. But if I made the room big enough, it could double as a panic room of sorts. In a home invasion i'd like to retreat to the room with all the guns anyways.

I'd probably just use the house ventilation, maybe with a way to cover the hole and a battery powered fan in case the power is cut and air isn't circulating. Couple battery powered lights as well. Might be beneficial to install a CCTV system, but chances are if i'm in the safe i'm just gonna call 911 and wait for the dispatcher to let me know the cops are knocking on the door of the safe or something so that I know it's clear.
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