If you live in a reasonably upscale neighborhood, chances are good your neighbor has a safe room (also known as a panic room). And unless you’re close friends with your neighbor or have an expert eye for such things, you may unwittingly be sitting in one during your next visit.

In fact, most of today’s safe rooms are designed and built clandestinely for the simple (and logical) reason homeowners don’t want outsiders – specifically potential perpetrators – to know about them.

These safe rooms give homeowners enormous peace of mind.

While some safe rooms are actually little more than hidden rooms carefully disguised behind a book case or secret door, today’s more popular safe rooms are designed as integral parts of the home. In other words, the reason you don’t recognize your neighbor’s safe room is because it’s actually her den, home office, or master bedroom.

“We’ve designed a number of safe rooms that you’d never know doubled as a safe room,” says one custom high-end builder in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “And unless they’re locked down, it’s impossible for an outside visitor to tell. Most will probably never be used as a safe room. But what’s important is they can when needed. These safe rooms give homeowners enormous peace of mind.”

What Goes Into a Safe Room

By definition, a safe room protects you, your loved ones, and valuable property, from external threats. Those threats can be natural – tornadoes, for example – or of the manmade variety, such as home invaders and burglars.

Safe rooms come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and security profiles. Some are little more than a prefabricated steel box that can be purchased online. These, of course, are not so secret, which is one of the many reasons homeowners don’t much care for them (they’re also unattractive, take up valuable space, and can’t really be used for anything other than security).

There’s a real demand for these kinds of security products.

The cornerstone to any safe room is the door (or doors and windows is there are multiple access points). The simplest safe room uses an ultra-strong door (usually steel) with a sophisticated locking system and reinforced framing. Some kind of communication system is also included so that homeowners can remain in contact with authorities until the threat is resolved.

From there additional security measures can be added, including:

  • Ballistics-proof walls (these replace traditional drywall construction)
  • Air and water filtration systems
  • Waste disposal and management

“Our business is very robust,” says Warren Hampton, a spokesperson for Armorcore, a Waco-based manufacturer of bullet-resistant fiberglass panels. “There’s a real demand for these kinds of security products.”

Safe rooms can also be designed and built for longer-term support, including areas for food preparation, sleeping, and even entertainment. Again, carefully designed safe rooms can masquerade as one or more rooms in any home.

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