Thursday, May 14, 2009

Security in Your Home, Part 5: The Safe Room

Most bedrooms can be converted to a safe room in which you can securely isolate yourself from intruders for a minimal cost. If an intruder enters your house, this is the room in which the family should gather. The door should be reinforced, and there should be a way to call for help. I strongly suggest you put your cell phone charger in this room and keep your cell phone in this room at night. When you enter your safe room in an emergency, first brace the door, then call the police.

To upgrade a room to a safe room, install a solid-core door with a 2x4 brace against the floor using these steps(as explained by Prof. Joe Olson):

    1. Get a 2x4 about 6 feet long.
    2. Cut off two 4" blocks.
    3. Install one block on the back of the door about 3.5 feet from the floor and the other block on the floor about 3.5 feet back from the door. Use three #12 screws about 2.5 inches long to solidly attach the blocks.
    4. The remainder of the 2x4 should slide between the blocks at approximately a 45 degree angle. Shape the ends of the 2x4 so it fits easily.
    5. Once installed, it's easier to go through the wall than the door
Make sure to modify the door the same way that was explained in part 3 of this series. Install a heavy-duty strike plate and secure it with screws at least three inches long. Secure the hinges the same way, and consider adding an extra hinge in the middle of the door.

Put your cell phone in your safe room. If this isn't practical, for some reason, get an old cell phone. Put it, and its charger, in your safe room. Most older phones will still work to call 911. To test this, dial a number that is not 911. You should get a connection and some form of automated system. If this is the case, you now have an emergency phone. Leave it plugged in at all times, to ensure a charged battery.

Windows are a weak point in a bedroom that serves as a safe room. They need to be legal fire escapes, which precludes most forms of inexpensive or discreet barricades. Pegged double-hung or casement(crank) windows provide more security than most other low-cost and discreet options. Windows also provide a possible exit, if you are sure it is safe to leave.

Keep your keys in your safe room. This will not only prevent the easy theft of your car, but, if you have an alarm or panic button on your key-chain, you can wake up the neighborhood with your car's alarm system and provide a loud beacon for responding police.

Your safe room is also the place to store defensive weapons. If a firearm is legally and psychologically available to you, keep it here. There are numerous storage methods that allow quick access while still keeping your gun out of unauthorized hands. If you are not willing or able to use a firearm, a taser, pepper-spray, or even a baseball bat should be kept here.

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