Installing A Panic Room: 5 Mistakes People Make

16 July 2015
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Since Jodie Foster starred in a successful Hollywood thriller about a panic room, many high-profile celebrities have decided to install one of these secure design features. In fact, a panic room is not something only a celebrity should consider, and many American homeowners now want to install a safe room. A panic room doesn't need to look like a Hollywood set, but it does need to keep you and your family safe. If you want to install an effective panic room, make sure you don't fall foul of the five following security mistakes other people make.

Bad choice of location

You need to install a safe room in a part of your house that you can easily get to. In some family homes, people decide to convert part of the garage or basement to a safe room because they don't want to lose space elsewhere in the house. Unfortunately, if an intruder breaks into your home, you may not have time to dash to these parts of the house.

A bedroom and/or bedroom closet is generally a good choice for a panic room. Hopefully, you won't need to spend a long time in your panic room, so you don't need an enormous space to hide in, but make sure you have adequate floor space. Ideally, a safe room shouldn't have a window, but, if you have no choice, you'll need to make sure you also have a way to secure the window in an emergency.

No phone line

The point of a panic room is to keep you and your family safe until you can call for help. As such, you need a reliable way to make the call, and a mobile phone isn't reliable enough. If the signal or battery fails or you just forget to pick the phone up, you won't have a way to call for help.

Security experts recommend that you install a separate phone line into the panic room so an intruder cannot cut you off. Don't rely on a wireless handset, because you could face similar problems with the unit's battery. Remember that the phone is not just there so you can ask for help. The police will need you to stay on the line, as this allows you to tell the operator what is happening, so you need to regularly check that the equipment is working properly.

Using an interior door

Interior doors generally serve a different purpose to their exterior counterparts. Interior (hollow core) doors need to offer privacy and sound insulation, but they don't normally offer the sort of protection and security that an exterior door brings. As such, it's important that the door to your safe room is a robust, exterior door.

This doesn't need to compromise your interior décor, because you can generally buy interior and exterior doors that look the same. The main difference is that an exterior door is often one solid piece of wood, while an interior door is more like corrugated cardboard. As such, an intruder can often easily smash through an interior door.

No panic button

Panic buttons help you make the best use of your alarm system. Strategically placed around the home, panic buttons allow you to quickly raise the alarm if a home intruder breaks in. Nonetheless, you must still install a panic button in your safe room, because you cannot guarantee you will always have time to activate the system in an emergency.

Some homeowners now invest in 'panic bracelets', which are mobile, wrist-mounted panic buttons. These devices give some reassurance that you are always near a panic button, but if you forget to wear one at night and an intruder breaks in, you still won't get the chance to raise the alarm. As such, the simple rule is that your panic room must have its own panic button.

Only one lock

Even if you invest in a reinforced lock, your panic room is unlikely to stay secure. An intruder will almost certainly try to break down the door to your panic room, and multiple locks will distribute the impact over a larger area.

To make the door more secure, one-sided deadbolts work particularly well. Floor bars and foot locks will also make it harder for an intruder to get in. Fox police locks are also suitably secure and feature a steel bar that goes into the floor from the door.

While your safe room probably isn't as big as the 100,000-square foot version that the Sultan of Brunei uses, you must still make sure your family is safe inside. For more advice, talk to a residential security and alarm systems expert who can help you design and install the right solution.