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The Safe Room - Not a New Idea

By Mike Straw

If your valuables, money and jewels, get a safe -why don’t you?

Remember the Alamo, where, in 1982, foul-mouthed drug abuser Ozzy Osbourne urinated on the memorial plaque? In 1837, over three thousand of the world’s toughest troops assaulted one hundred eighty-six ensconced defenders. In 1993, eighteen Americans killed were balanced by over a thousand dead Somali thugs in Mogadishu.

The fourth layer is your safe room. They’re not a new phenomenon, in the middle ages they were known as castle keeps. Both European and Japanese castles featured them.

For some unfathomable rationale, elegant Jewish homes in enlightened locales such as Poland and Russia usually had them.

Every abode already has one, if you think about it. What room is most defensible or isolated? Even in a motel, you usually have a closet, or at least a bathroom. In Israel, all construction since 1992 has required a “protective room.”

Suddenly, since the unholy rise from the sulphurous pit of the American Gestapo, the federal department of GEheime STAat POlizei (homeland “security”), ably dictated by Minister Ridge, our fearless “government’ recommends that you have one.

Ideally, this should be at the end of a hallway with only one way in, but if you didn’t design the place and the architect wasn’t thinking “security,” - most don’t - you’ll have to make do - maybe you could use a large closet.

Other tools include the man-trap, a box attached to or incorporated as part of your entries, where the door to the exterior swings in and the door from the interior swings out, so that you must close one door in order to pass through the other.

These can even be utilized successfully in your driveway, where a set of chain link gates allow your car in, but you can then shut and lock them, assuring no threats in your vicinity before opening your garage door - I do.

The approach to the safe room should contain physical obstacles, furniture, or plants, which would dissuade a straight-on assault.

If you have a long enough driveway, you can even do the same thing with it -a few “s” turns will prevent a threat from simply crashing the gate and getting a straight run at you. The same can be done with pathways to entrances: they’re more homey with a few twists, anyway.

The entrance can even be disguised or concealed. How long will you have to “hole up” before the cavalry finally arrives? Drive to your local Palace of “Public Service.” Time it. That’s the minimum, and certainly doesn’t consider Murphy’s Law.

The safe room is where your vest, legal defensive weapons, and ammunition should be.

This is also the location for your valuables: the Rolex, cameras, jewelry, cash, your coin or stamp collection, the heirloom silver, all critical documentation and records.

It’s not only that those you allow in are who’ll make off with them, all they have to do is blab about your treasures as they slug down another frosty or jaw with their connection.

This door should have a deadbolt with just a keyway, no handle to the outside. At least some degree of reinforcement should be installed. Why? Ask the Branch Davidians. If you can afford it, this room should be as bombproof as you can make it. Steel door, frame, quarter-inch steel sheets on the floor, walls, and ceiling are reasonable considerations.

No? Argue with Texas Tech, which recommends quarter-inch 1010 steel as a minimum for protection from tornado debris. The door must be at least a solid-core type, not a light hollow type, and contain a wide-angle viewfinder. Fort Knox “security” Products offers a hardened door and frame that can be built-in.

If you care to and can afford it, some folks would go as far as to hide the doorway behind a bookcase on hinges, say, or a folding screen.

TV cameras go for less than a hundred dollars these days, but you could install a wide-angle viewer in the door to keep track of the pirates’ progress -the advantage of an inexpensive IR (Infra-Red) camera is it can see in the dark -can you? I seriously suggest you consider inexpensive video as a vital component of your overall surveillance system.

In this era of “reality” videos, nearly everyplace already has them: mercenary proxy-guardian “police” cruisers and stations, malls, businesses, banks, even the local coffee shop and mom-and-pop.

Juries are familiar with them.

Consider your sworn testimony in court: “well, your honor, the first time I saw the defendant was as he entered my bedroom - I didn’t even know he was in the house!” Contrast this with the presentation of People’s exhibit number one: your videotape that reveals the lurking threat surreptitiously sneaking peeks first left, then right before suddenly bolting over your security fence, skulking behind bushes on the way to the back door, then jimmying it open as he slyly glances around for witnesses.

Now when he says, “gosh, your honor, they invited me in! I wuz only gonna use the phone,” who are they going to believe? A cheap battery-powered VCR will give testimony at your trial better than mere words, no matter how emotional.

For a few bucks more, you can add a wireless microphone that you can wear whenever you answer the door, or even hard-wire a microphone, so that your VCRs will record audio as well as video.

A basic rule of thumb is that color generally costs three times as much as black and white.

A second VCR located in a separate, highly secured location, should back up your primary VCR. If the thieves are sophisticated enough to trade your lives for the tape, they don’t have to know that it’s being recorded as evidence at their trial, proving their malevolent intent beyond the shadow of a doubt.Radio Shack and others sell a battery-powered remote control, which can turn lights or appliances on and off throughout your dwelling.

This is the time to use that cell phone you bought on sale - I’ll let you in on a secret: you don’t have to pay for activation if you’re dialing nine-one one! This is a legal protection. As soon as your call is answered (assuming it ever is), it’s recorded and will be introduced as evidence in your trial - anything you say or do will be used against you! Leave the connection open during the threat management event and you’ll have a corroborating witness to your testimony -you!

The threat can prevent you from dialing out simply by lifting an extension, so make sure that if you don’t have a cell phone in your safe room, the phone there is the first one serviced by the existing telephone line. Have a switch or jumper so you can disable all other phones.

Note: what’s the first thing you should say after the nine-one-one operator says, “What’s your emergency?” Your address! If you’re stuck with a wired phone, or in an unfamiliar location, assume they’re going to cut the wires, like they did to sixty-one-year-old Annie Holt: on October tenth 1994, after a man pounded on her door, illegally cut the electric, telephone and alarm system lines to her house and launched several bricks through her windows, she decided she'd had enough. With her twenty-two-caliber derringer in hand, the Nashville resident repeatedly warned the threat to stop illegally trying to force entry or be shot. He didn't stop, so Holt finally justifiably shot and killed him. Problem solved.

On July fifteenth 1993, unorganized Militia member John Kazakis of Manchester, New Hampshire was awakened by strange noises and reached for his phone to call mercenary proxy-guardian “police.” However, the phone was dead, so Kazakis picked up a defensive rifle and went downstairs to investigate. When he saw a man take something from his mailbox and approach the house, Kazakis justifiably challenged him, and when that had no effect, fired a warning shot into the ground, prompting the man to flee.

Responding mercenary proxy-guardian “police,” who couldn’t prevent the incident and weren’t there to stop it found that phone lines had been illegally ripped out to disable the home's burglar alarm. Due to the vagaries of the nine-one-one system, be sure to give the street, town, and state. The next message should be “Armed intruder here now.” Give a brief description of your location in reference to the entry they’ll use, and descriptions of the good guys. Tell them the homeowner is legally defensively armed. You shouldn’t depend on anything, even that your frantic call will actually be acted on.

Your safe room should be equipped with a scanner programmed with every possible responding agency, with battery backup, so you’ll know the status of responding units. I stock my safe room with a backpack, trauma kit, tent, sleeping bag, stove, lantern, winter and wet-weather clothes, food, and water for a week for each family member -you never know. You may want to include a porta-potty, too.

It may not be sufficient: when your benevolent “government” soon begins its unholy pogrom of “permanent war,” you’ll face permanent changes, like no more public utilities, necessities and conveniences, such as cars, gasoline, diesel, heating oil, natural gas, electricity, telephone and internet, radio and TV, water, grocery and department stores, banks and stock market, ever. What to do? Create at least a thirty-day emergency supply of safe drinking water. Clean water is your most vital commodity. You can live only a few days without it, so it’s imperative that you immediately create an emergency supply of safe water.

One gallon of safe water per person per day is the bare minimum for survival - for consumption, not washing. Most surplus stores can sell you inexpensive fifty-five-gallon plastic drums. I bought mine for ten dollars each. Properly chlorinated tap water can be safety stored for up to three months. Water purification tablets (vital in a crisis) are also readily available from many surplus and camping supply stores. Stockpile essential medicines and life-saving antibiotics now. When you suddenly discover you need them immediately, they won’t be available. In the event of a biological or radiological assault anywhere in the u.S.“government” will likely take advantage of the situation to permanently declare martial law, suspending the Constitution under the Emergency Medical Powers Act, taking control of all medical supplies.

This’ll lead to nationwide shortages and rationing, making it impossible for you to get the medications you and your family depend on. You should immediately ask your doctor to prescribe an emergency supply of your regular medicines plus preventive antibiotics. An interesting and inexpensive item that should be a fixture in whatever location you choose to daily manipulate your legal defensive firearms is a simple five-gallon pail filled with sand to aim your legal defensive firearm at while unloading to absorb any negligent discharge.

Six inches of sand is sufficient to stop a fifty-caliber bullet. You won’t have that problem. Put a bandanna or something over it held in place by tape or a bungee to keep your cat out of the pail. Generally, in such a scenario, you should set up an independent method of heating your home. This is particularly important if you live, as I do, in a very cold area of the u.S. -even a few days without heat could be life-threatening. Good alternatives include pellet stoves and gasoline generators.

A five-kilowatt Honda AC generator from places like Home Depot, including installation directly into a home’s electrical system, comes to about twelve hundred dollars. This little generator simultaneously powers two big refrigerators, stove, microwave, lights, one TV, a computer, and a couple of electric heaters. A few gallons of gasoline give power all day. If you can afford it, a better choice would be a diesel-powered generator.

Learn more about Safe (panic) Rooms:


National Terror Alert

Captain Dave's Survival Center

Survival in the Nuclear Age