A safe room, or also often called a panic room, is a reinforced room with a specially hardened structure that is designed to meet FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) P-361 criteria to ensure the room can protect its occupant from extreme wind incidents like hurricanes or tornadoes.
Besides providing near-total protection to extreme wind events, a well-built safe room can also be used to protect its occupant from weapon assaults, break-ins, and even fire hazards. A properly placed safe room can provide additional security measures in your property from various threats and criminals.
A safe room, however, is only as strong and secure as the safe room door installed. The safe room door is naturally the first thing targeted by criminals and intruders, so it’s very important to choose the right door according to your needs and available budget.
This post will be a guide on how you can choose a perfect safe room door, and without further ado, let us begin.
Choosing The Perfect Safe Room Door
The most important factor when choosing a safe room door is to first understand your needs.
To do so, you should first assess the threat level surrounding your property. You should:
- Identify potential threats/hazards that may affect the property (and specifically the safe room’s location)
- Measure the potential severity of each threat
- Assess and evaluate the current security measures in the property
Ideally, you should get a professional to perform a thorough assessment on your property, but you can also consider the following:
- The crime rate in your area, and frequent types of crimes that occur near the property
- Whether the safe room is used to primarily protect valuables, people, or both.
- Will you expect criminals to use weapons and guns to attempt break-ins?
- Frequency of fire hazards in the area
- Frequency of extreme wind events in the area
- Frequency of earthquakes in the area
Ideal Location for Your Panic Room
The best possible location for a safe room is in an underground basement, which will technically be the most secure place to protect its occupants from hurricanes or other stormwinds. If your property does have an underground basement, then a location as far away as possible from the property’s exterior walls should technically be the most ideal location for the safe room.
However, as we know, not all properties have underground basements. In such cases, the second-best location is a first-floor interior room. Alternatively, a garage with a strong enough structure can also be an ideal candidate.
You should try to find a location with the following qualities:
- Ideally, you should choose a location without any outside-facing windows, or even better, a room without any window at all. If such a location isn’t available, then a viable option is to upgrade the windows to a forced entry-resistant or event bullet-resistant window.
- Choose a location with thick solid walls to eliminate the need of reinforcing the wall, which can significantly reduce the cost of building the room.
- Very important, the safe room should be located as close as possible to the frequently-used living spaces in your house. This is to ensure the property’s occupants can quickly and easily access the safe room in the event of an emergency.
- Assess whether it’s possible to install a vent that can be opened or closed from the inside for fresh air. Check whether it’s possible to install a ventilation system without compromising security.
Here are some additional technical considerations when choosing the perfect safe room door:
- It’s crucial to make sure the door frames are also strong enough to support the door (if they are not included with the reinforced door). The door must be properly secured to the surrounding wall.
- If you’d like to camouflage the door to conceal the safe room, then consider getting a custom/bespoke safe room door from a certified manufacturer.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of the hinge and door leaf. They must also be able to withstand impact and abuse without allowing entry.
- Choose a location that already has thick, solid walls. This will help you minimize the cost of reinforcing the walls with stronger materials to ensure cost-efficiency.
Assess whether the safe room is only going to be intended to secure valuables or whether it will also protect people in the event of an emergency.
If the safe room is only going to be used to store valuables, then only the external locking system (a system that locks the door from the outside) matters. Otherwise, a safe room designed to protect people should also consider an internal locking system. In most cases, a high-quality safe room door will feature an internal release feature to allow people who are stuck inside the room to open/close the door from the inside.
Make sure to use a high-security, UL-approved lock with multiple locking points to ensure security and reliability. There are non-UL-approved locking systems that may be more affordable, but keep in mind that they may be more prone to failure. Lock failure can be serious and time-consuming to fix, and in some cases, the room may be locked permanently.
If you have relatively many people in your house who’ll need to enter the safe room in the event of emergencies, consider having a versatile locking/unlocking method that won’t require you to have too many keys (fingerprint scanner, barcode, etc). This is also important to ensure everyone can quickly and easily enter the room when needed.
When building a safe room and especially installing a safe room door, it’s highly recommended to choose a licensed and certified vendor. Fortified Estate offers safe room doors that have been certified by the U.S. Department of State, as well as other respectable global security standards.
The key to choosing the perfect safe room door is about finding the right balance between accessibility and security. A door that is too difficult and/or slow to open might result in the safe room being neglected over time, which will be counterproductive. Make sure it has a locking system that can allow quick and easy opening of the door without compromising security.