How to Build a Safe Room

How to build a safe room or panic room can seem like a confusing task but it doesn’t have to be. Building a safe room or a panic room as some like to call it can be broken down into small doable steps if done right. Let’s discuss the basic steps then.

Determine safe room size requirements

Are you building this safe room for yourself or for multiple people. How many things do you want to store in your safe room. A safe room should really serve two purposes. The first should be to store some of your valuables out of sight. This is the “safe” in safe room. Most of the time people build safe rooms and they are mainly for protecting themselves but if you never use it, then what good is it. You could put tens of thousands of dollars into building a room that you don’t get much use out of. But you may rationalize that if you do need it, then it is there. That is a good argument, but why not have it serve a dual purpose as well and have it actually protect your valuables.

So then if you know how many valuables you have, then choose how to store them. Then also choose how to store some food as well. How long will you be in your safe room?  This would determine how much food you might need down there. Ideally you would want to have some time for help to arrive. You can’t stay in the safe room indefinitely though.  Remember all of those sieges done long ago. The people in the castles couldn’t really outlast a determined foe. The safe room gets you safe for a moment in time and then you try to get from there to somewhere else safe or await until rescue comes.

Determine safe room exit routes

Do you want to get from your safe room to somewhere else? If so, then you will need an exit route from there. An ideal safe room should have an exit route that cannot be seen by others. That allows you to convince others that you are still inside the safe room while you are getting away.

This might sound like a lot of work though but consider this idea. If you build your house on the side of a hill, then you can use the natural layout of the hill to put in the safe room exit route. This doesn’t have to be complex but it needs to be sturdy. That is because with dirt on the sides, your walls need to be very strong. For this I would use pre poured concrete walls. The types that are used for basements. These are reinforced with rebar and are very strong. You would essentially want to build a tunnel and then have the shaft come out underneath your safe room. Your exit would be through the floor.  This is actually not that expensive if you are doing new construction. If you are doing existing contraction or a retrofit, then you might want to consider alternatives.

Determine safe room ventilation needs

Safe rooms can serve a multitude of purposes. It may not be that your home is being invaded but you are trying to ride out some natural disaster. If that is the case, then the safe room acts as a protected area to keep you out of harms way. If the air though is contaminated though, your ventilation to the safe room needs to be purified. That can get quite expensive but it’s important to think about. You can get filtration systems that filter out harmful pollutants. Water based filtration systems work well by cycling the air through the water and return back purified air. You can get chemical based filtration systems as well. These are more expensive but are one time type use systems. But then again, when you need a system, then you need to have it.

Determine safe room door needs

Doors to safe rooms can be simple or complex. I  know of people who have purchased used bank vault doors to put on their safe rooms. These are very expensive and you need to consider that if you are going to install something like that, that you will need to make some renovations to allow for the install. Retrofitting something is often times more difficult that just buying it outright. You can get a company to install a safe room door for you. That option works well. You need to consider how airtight you want your safe room to be. Do you want to allow contaminated air to come into your safe room? If you want to keep it safe from outside pollutants, then that is something to consider.

Determine safe room power needs

Do you need to have 120 power or higher? What types of equipment will you have in your safe room. Usually 120 power is enough for most needs but you should determine where this power is to come from. I would recommend setting up a backup power source. This could be a car battery. Where is your power source found at and how does it make it into the safe room? If the power coming into your safe room can be easily compromised then you are without power and in a locked room. That is an isolation from the outside. That is not a good position to be in. So consider how to protect your power inside your safe room if you need to. That brings me to my next point.

Determine safe room your communication needs

How will you communicate with the outside world when you are in your safe room? This is an important thing to consider. You can use a phone line if you want but phone lines can be cut. One of the better options is to have a backup communications type system. Most people have cell phones today but cell phones don’t always get the best reception. Go simple and get a radio system.  Radio system can reach a long ways. You can easily communicate over long distances and can get you help. These can be CB radios, two way radios, or HF radios. HF radios are easy to buy and work well but you need to have an antenna system going out to the outside world. Consider how to secure the antenna as well because you don’t want someone to tamper with that.

Determine safe room camera needs

In the movie Panic Room with Jodie Foster, she had cameras setup in her safe room. That was a nice setup because she had some visibility to what was going on out there. You can do this too if you setup cameras outside your system. This means that you need to go back to one of he prior items above, how much power do you need to have in your safe room. No power means no cameras. No cameras means you just wasted your money on the cameras.

Are you starting to see how all of the items tie together now. If you miss out on one, then you may be stuck with another issue later on.

Plan out your safe room carefully and then when you are all done you will be happy with the results. This is just like any other building project. You need to first consider your priorities and then consider how you want to use the space and go from there.

Reset ADT Safewatch Pro 3000 Installer Code

Reset the ADT Safewatch Pro 3000 installer code, then follow these easy steps below. I found out about the steps through some Google sleuthing but when I first read the steps, they were not very intuitive. The most common ADT control panel these days is the Safewatch Pro 3000.  If you want to, you can print out these instructions before using them. That may be of assistance in doing this.

Reset ADT Safewatch Pro 3000 Install Code Steps

1. Locate the battery for your ADT Safewatch Pro 3000. The battery for your ADT system is usually located in a closet somewhere. It is usually long and rectangular. Once you locate the battery, you want to disconnect it. It won’t be difficult to disconnect it. Just remove one of the leads to the battery and that will disconnect it from the system.

2. Then disconnect the AC power to the unit. Usually you will see a small AC adapter plugged into an outlet somewhere in your home. This is where the AC power comes from. The battery only exists as a backup power source in case the power goes out and the AC adapter does not work. You will want to disconnect this as well. You can just unplug it and then there will be no power to the system.

3. Wait 1 minute. During the silence you can think about why the world you are doing all of this.

4. Now, plug in the AC power adapter.

5. Next, connect the leads on the battery backup.

6. Don’t be a slacker, you have to do this next step in under a minute. Go over to the keypad and press these three keys at the same time (* + and the # sign).

7. Next you will see a number on the screen. When you see this number, press the # sign and then the number and then your alarm system panel will read you back the installer code. Write down the installer code.  This also gives you a chance to change your installer code as well on the ADT Safewatch Pro 3000.

I also have here the manual for the Safewatch Pro 3000. You can click here to download it.

Exterior doors for interior security doors

Exterior doors as interior security doors

Exterior doors for interior security doors can make a great addition to securing your home. When I was a kid, they made regular wooden doors inside homes. These were strong but the door frame was not very strong. They could still be easily kicked in. This is because the door frame was not very strong and it was the first thing that could break.  Now, today’s interior doors are hollow inside. This is what they call hollow-core doors. Hollow core doors have a small amount of wood at the top and at the bottom of the doors. Those are there so that they can shim the doors if you need to in order to make the doors fit so that they do not rub against the bottom or the top of the door frames. The wood adds some stability to the door but the door is essentially glorified cardboard.

An exterior door is typically metal in construction and is much studier. The key to these doors being better safety doors is that they have a metal frame. They are harder to kick in. It is going to take some serious work to kick in a metal door if it is attached to the frame properly. When you attach the door frame in your home, you can secure it better with large lag bolts through your wooden 2×4 studs. This provides added strength and makes it harder to breach the door.

Which interior doors should be exterior doors?

I would pick a room that you can get to for a safety room such as a closet or a room that can fit your entire family in. In this way, you can use that room for a safe-room or a panic room. Have you ever seen the movie Panic Room with Jodie Foster. That was an enjoyable movie but few of us have lots of money to spend building a complex safe room like they had in that movie. It had security cameras inside, some outside phone lines and other features.

If though you have a room large enough to use as a panic room in your house, then go for it. Your expenses would be getting a good door. You may also have some expense if you choose to reinforce the walls with re-bar or other metal to keep out intruders. Then what if you want to put a security system into the room as well. These are all options that you can plan out. If you have the room and it is unfinished, it is easier to accomplish this. If it is finished already, then it is some extra work to accomplish your goal but not impossible. Drywall is easy to work with.

Installing an exterior door in the interior of your home

Once you have  picked what room you want to use for your safe room, then it’s time to put the door in. Measure carefully where you would like the door to go. If there is an existing door frame already, then you can make use of that but I recommend removing that door and its casing and then using the exterior door’s frame instead. This should be made out of steel and should be reinforced to your walls for greater security. Consider which direction you want the door to swing. This is an important factor. You should have the door swing into the room you are trying to secure. In that way, you can brace it better and block it off if someone is trying to kick it in. A small wedge placed under the door can prevent a lot of force when someone is trying to pry the door open.

Choosing the style of your interior door

I recommend most people pick a door that blends in with their existing door styles in their house. A six-panel door or an eight-panel door is common in most people’s homes and these are usually white doors. You can find a metal door like this with the frame for not that much money. You don’t want to draw attention to the room you are trying to secure. You want it to appear to be just another room in your house. You can buy specific security doors which add some more level of security to the system. These types of doors are usually reinforced with more steel and are harder to breach. This also means that they are more expensive as well. Consider in the panic room that Jodie Foster used, they were essentially in a safe in their home and their door was very hard and very strong. Essentially with several locking mechanisms on it which give more stability than just one latch.

Alarm System Pros and Cons

Are you considering buying an alarm system. Consider the pros and cons first before you do. There are lots of options out there. Let’s first consider some of the pros of getting an alarm system.

It is a good protection for your home and your family.  An alarm system is not a guarantee that you will be safe and it is not a guarantee that your house will not be broken into. I had ADT in my old house and still had a break in. Having an alarm system sign in your yard is not enough. That is because people who may break into your house will do so even if you have an alarm system sign in the yard or stickers on your windows. They are checking to see if your alarm system is on. If you don’t set your alarm system, then they are in and what can you do. The best option you can have is to make sure sure that it is easy to set your alarm system when you leave. If it is easy to set and it becomes habit, then you will set it and will be better protected.  So the first pro is that it can keep your family and home safe but there are conditions on that. It takes your involvement.

Securing your home still takes some common sense. You need to check to see if your windows are locked. You need to not advertise that you have a lot of money. You need to not tell your neighbors about the large expensive Christmas presents that you bought. You should not leave your car unlocked or your power tools outside in the middle of the day or overnight.

One con that people don’t consider when buying an alarm system is that you will probably have to sign a contract with the alarm company. Most of these companies will make you sign a 3 year contract and they will also ask you to pay for the equipment costs up front as well. The ADT equipment costs can be expensive if you go with some of the wireless systems. You can benefit if you move into a house that already has a security system. If it does, that is a perfect system for you to take over. You don’t have to pay for the equipment and it is already installed. That is a no-brainer.

Plus you may not have to pay the rates that you usually pay when you first sign up for the system. Do you know that for some common contracts you are paying for the equipment for the first part of your contract period. If you have a cell phone contract, then you pay for that cell phone over the first part of your contract. After the two years of your contract, you can have the phone company drop down your price you pay per month. Alarm system companies work the same way as well. The initial people who have signed up for the security system have already paid for the equipment. You shouldn’t have to pay for it again. When negotiating the contract when you move into a new house, bring this up and see if you can just agree to pay a lower rate and not have to pay for the equipment again. When I moved into my new house with the wireless system, ADT agreed that I should only have to pay for the monthly charges and not for the equipment. That saved me almost $200 dollars per year. That is a significant savings over time.

When you go with an alarm system company, make sure that you chose a company that is well established so that it can still be there for years to come as you need them. That’s why I chose ADT for my alarm system company. ADT’s monthly alarm system cost is not bad compared to everyone else out there. And they are a large company. They have always worked well for me. There are some other companies who are good as well but I would avoid some of the smaller companies. You need someone who is there that you can contact quickly if you need them.

ADT Wireless Security Alarm Cost

The ADT wireless security alarm cost per month is not bad when you weigh all the benefits you get. Are you looking for a new security system but don’t want to put a bunch of wires in your house? Then you might be ready for a wireless security system from ADT. When I moved recently, I got a wireless system and it is wireless in more than just the sensors. A wireless security system can have two meanings. The first being that the sensors can be wireless which mine are and the second that the system can communicate with ADT or the security company without a phone line.

That is the feature that I like the best. My old system was tied to a phone line and would be thieves could simply cut the phone line and get around the system. For the new system, it can be circumnavigated but it is more difficult.  They have to interrupt the wireless signal before it reaches the alarm company. This can be done but it would have to be very fast. And if you harden the area where your main alarm system is stored at, it becomes nearly impossible.

What about battery life though?  It’s a wireless system so you would think that the batteries would be a concern. When I initially moved in I was concerned about that but the batteries are actually small specialized batteries and they last a long time. When you have to replace a battery in one of the sensors, they are roughly $10 for two batteries. I have only had 1 battery need to be replaced in the year I have lived at the new place. And the alarm system will warn you when your batteries are about to run out, so it is not as if it is suddenly you are not protected. You have some advance notice.

You can also get something called a Fob with your system that goes on your key chain just like a remote to your car. This is your key to unlock the system or arm it. It also has a panic option on it, so that you can press the panic button and let the alarm company know that you need help.  All of this is wireless which makes me prefer it much more than the older system that I had.

When I first moved into the house, they quoted me a rate of $45 dollars for the system per month but when talking with my local ADT sales rep, we were able to drop the price down to $30 dollars per month with no additional charges.  That was a no-brainer for me. Wireless is very nice and it does give you some piece of mind.  I have a number of sensors as well so I think my install is probably fairly typical for an average house. Wireless is definitely something to look at when you buy ADT on a monthly basis. The benefits I can see to a wireless ADT system are as follows:

1. Better security protection because you are not wired into the alarm company via your phone line which can be cut.

2. No wires run through your house to the sensors.

3. Optional items such as the panic button type fobs you can get for your key chain.

4. Newer ADT system. I do like the newer system for the upgraded firmware

5. Low battery alerts when your system is running low on battery for one of the wireless sensors.

Given these things, I wouldn’t hesitate on installing a wireless ADT alarm system in my house. The cost per month is not bad for ADT and you get the benefit of a great company to monitor your home and keep you safe. Let me know your thoughts. Do you have a security system? Do you like your security system? What would you change about it?

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