Panic Rooms

The 2002 movie starring Jodie Foster and directed by David Fincher, of Fight Club fame, brought the term ‘Panic Room’ into popular consciousness. If you had never heard of such a specimen before, now you were given a full blown introductory course on the subject. Panic rooms, also known as safe rooms and the more colorful ‘God forbid room’ cater to newfound fears in an era where home security has taken increasingly more creative turns. Hollywood execs, investment bankers, Manhattan executives and public figures are opting for these heavily fortified spaces especially whenever times get rough-when there are riots, earthquakes or panics about the end of the world.

The design of each structure differs, but each is meant as a protective sanctuary to retire to after the home alarm is set off. Panic rooms are buttressed by reinforced steel doors, bullet proof, weather proof walls, and a whole slew of protective extras, which range from a year’s supply of food to high voltage cattle prod technology. Additionally, there are separate phone lines and CCTVs for communication with the outside world.

Safe rooms are akin to fallout shelters built during the 1960’s under the threat of nuclear attack. They also share similarities to deeply embedded shelters used by Catholic priests in the 17th century, when the English took to persecuting Catholics.

Panic rooms serve many purposes-but their main attraction is protection-a little extra home security in the event of worst case circumstances. Terrorist attacks, weather anomalies, home invasions, burglaries, and the like are just some of the reasons people shell out small fortunes for these fortified home vaults.

Many people store valuable works of art, hard drives, rare collectibles and other valuable items within their safe rooms. In addition to state of the art home alarm systems, safe rooms provide peace of mind.

Walls are reinforced with steel mesh and Kevlar panels. They are often constructed of fiberglass-the type you’d see in convenience stores. It’s easy to cover with wall paper and a layer of sheetrock for added protection.

The entry is hidden of course, usually behind bookshelves, bathrooms, closets and cellars. Mortise locks, steel door jambs and hinges, along with keypad controlled electromagnetic locks are usual features. Most panic rooms are controlled via retinal or fingerprint scanning technologies, as normal keys can be misplaced or stolen.

Generators provide power. These are usually contained within the room itself, to prevent from outside tampering. Ventilation and air circulation are controlled from within the chamber as well. Some safe rooms have separate air filtration systems to protect from biohazards and dangerous gasses. Dummy vents are put in place to befuddle intruders. Some rooms are equipped with oxygen masks.

Supplies within a panic room can be extravagant, going beyond the needs of home or personal security and into the realm of luxury. This includes TVs, fully stocked refrigerators, wet bars, fully stocked weapon lockers, and full sized beds. Some homeowners build two separate panic rooms, one for the kids and one for the adults.

Panic rooms can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000. They can come fully equipped with a home security squadron with bodyguards and spas. Really, there’s no limit to the extravagances you can implement for your security solution.

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