I’ve read a number of articles and sections of books that talk about the importance of having a safe room in your home. These were books and articles that were written for preppers, so I have to wonder a bit about the writers’ motivation and thinking. While there are people who may want to consider putting a safe room in their home, preppers aren’t those people.
Let me explain. The type of safe room that these people are talking about is the type that is used to retreat to in the case of a home invasion. They are essentially bullet-proof rooms that the family can lock themselves into, call the police and wait for rescue. For what they are, they are great. I’ve seen the testing done on these rooms and home invaders would have a hard time getting to a family hidden in one, at least before the police could get there.
There’s only one problem. Those rooms are built with the idea that the police are going to come and rescue the family. In other words, they are built for protecting yourself from normal criminals in normal times. But how good can they be if you lock yourself in one during a disaster or a breakdown of society, when the police are not likely to come?
That’s the problem I have with this type of safe room. They don’t work for the types of emergencies that preppers are preparing themselves for. If you lock yourself in this type of a safe room, when there is no guarantee that the cavalry is going to come to the rescue, you’ve just locked yourself in a coffin. You have no way out and all the bad guys have to do is wait until you are tired of hiding and poke your nose out the door. Or, if they don’t want to wait, they can burn your house down.
So you see, a safe room isn’t always the best of ideas. It’s great to have a room with some ballistic protection, but not one where you are trapped. Even a rabbit knows not to go down a hole that doesn’t have an exit, we should be able to be smarter than that rabbit.
Why You Want a Safe Room for TEOTWAWKI
On the other hand, having a room that is available for your family to gather in, when someone breaks into your home, is a good idea. While that shouldn’t be your first line of defense, it should be your last line. At least, it should be your last line of defense before bugging out.
Let’s walk this through for a moment. One of the common concerns that are brought up for a SHTF scenario is that gangs of hungry people will be breaking into homes to steal food and other supplies. If they choose to attack your home, you’re either going to have to get out of there in a hurry or you’re going to have to defend it.
Ideally, you want to have that battle on your front yard. If you let them breach the exterior of your home and you’re having to fight indoors, you’re at a distinct disadvantage. However, if you manage to catch them coming up your front walkway, armed and with malicious intent, you have a fairly good chance of winning the battle. They will be out in the open, exposed, but you can fight from inside your home, which will offer at least some concealment, if not some cover as well.
You may not win that first battle and they may manage to breach your front door, especially if you haven’t hardened your home’s entrances like you should have. In that case, you’ll be stuck fighting them indoors. The only way you have a chance in such a battle is to be fighting from a room where they have to come down a hallway to get to you. In other words, give yourself a shooting range and let them set themselves up as targets in it.
That room will be your safe room. Not only does it need to be somewhere that you can fight well from, but somewhere that your family can get to, in the case of attack. It will become your last stand, not your hidey-hole. If you lose that battle, you’ll need to be able to escape.
Preparing Your TEOTWAWKI Safe Room
As a place to make your last stand, it would be great if you could make that room at least somewhat bullet resistant; not just from the angle they will be coming at it, but from the possibility of them shooting wildly through walls to get to you.
The same bulletproof or bullet resistant ballistic panels that are normally used for safe rooms can be used for the walls of your safe room. Likewise, the type of steel bullet-resistant door with multiple deadbolts would be great to have. But of course, it would cost a lot of money to build a room that way, money that you might not have.
Do-it-Yourself Bullet Proofing
You can make walls bullet resistant, at least for pistols, much less expensively than buying the ballistic plate that is normally used for building safe rooms. One simple way is to peel off the drywall and put 1/8″ thick steel plate on the walls and then cover it with new drywall. Once finished correctly, there will be no way to tell that the wall has been modified.
The second way to make a wall bullet resistant is with sand. Once again, this requires taking the drywall off the wall. In this case, you need to replace it with plywood, which is attached to the studs with screws. The plywood is needed to support the weight of the sand, which is going to fill the space between the studs. The plywood will need to be finished like it is drywall, so that it matches the rest of the walls in your house.
You’ve Got to Have an Escape Route
The other absolutely essential part of a good safe room for making your last stand is that it has an escape route. That way, if your last stand isn’t effective, you can get out of the house and away, rather than being cornered where the bad guys can get you.
For my home, the safe room is the family room. To get to it, you have to come down a hallway that runs beside the kitchen from the dining room. That actually makes my bullet resistant walls more effective, as the invaders bullets are striking them at an angle, rather than straight on. There is a secret passageway hidden behind a bookcase, which goes out into the garage. If we were using that room to make our last stand, some family members would stay at the doorway, where they could shoot the attackers, while others knocked over the bookcase and opened the exit.
From the garage, we have a choice of going out the front or back of the house. Since we can see the front of the house from the family room windows, we are able to determine if that is safe. If not, we go out through the backyard and over the fence. Bug out bags are stored in the garage, where we can grab them on our way out.
This way, we’re not trapped. We may have to abandon our home, but we will live to fight another day. That gives us the chance to either bug out to another location or to return and take our home back from the invaders.