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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Part Two - The Safe Room - Your Personal Protection In Your Home

Just hearing the words “Safe Room” elicits all sorts of images of war rooms with steel walls, men in military garb sweating and shouting panicked commands into a red telephone or even some multi-headed  alien trying to slip his tentacle under the window jam!  Ok, went a little far with the alien but the truth is, a Safe Room really is just a room in your home, yes fully decorated and lived in but where you can position yourself to best defend yourself and your family in the event of a home invasion. 
This is the second article in a series on the topic of personal protection in your home. My previous article dealt with what we can do to the exterior of our homes to minimize and make our homes undesirable to THE undesirable! 

Taking the time to think the unthinkable and to prepare as best we can to deal with the possibility of our home being invaded is really the first step. The first step in taking personal responsibility for our safety in our homes. How do you prepare - well it's quite simple, you create a plan. What will you do in the event your home is invaded? Where will you go? Do family members know where to go and what to do? What kinds of things do you need ready?
Let's start with where will you go. Identify a room in your home that you and the rest of your family know is the place to get to immediately and from which you can position to defend yourselves. This is your Safe Room. This room should only have one doorway, one you can lock. It is highly recommended that you install a deadbolt on this door, and purchase a door brace or jam that can be inserted under the door knob and wedged against the floor, to add additional security. This room should also have a window, one with which you could communicate with police when they arrive. The decision to escape through a window is one only you can make depending on the situation. Obviously the location and level of the window are significant considerations. You could potentially be putting yourself at greater risk, so serious consideration should be made. Your Safe Room should also have items or furniture in it that can provide you cover. You want items that could potentially protect you from an intruder's bullets, if necessary.  Perhaps a steel filing cabinet, a bookcase filled with books or even a heavy dresser could provide possible cover. Determine a code word that is shouted when an invasion is suspected which instantly triggers everyone to get to this room immediately. Ok, so now you have a Safe Room, your family knows which room it is and the code word that signals action. Now what?
There are some important items that should be in stored in your safe room, items that are not removed but permanently in place and always available. When an invasion happens, there is no warning and no time to prepare and think "what do I need to get". There is just too much stress and adrenaline flowing. During a home invasion is not the time to prepare for one! Here is a list of items suggested to have ready. Of course you may have ideas of additional items, put in your Safe Room anything you feel you will need.
Your firearm(s) along with extra ammunition, and/or other self defense tools should be safely stored here and accessible.
A telephone and/or cell phone. Keep any other important emergency phone numbers taped to the phone. It is a good idea to also write down your address and phone number so you are prepared, when under great stress to give accurate information to the 911 operator.

When you upgrade your cell phone, keep your old one and keep it charged. Even if the cell phone does nothave service, it is capable of calling 911. It must however be charged and have a signal. The FCC states "If your wireless phone is not "initialized" (meaning you do not have a contract for service with a wireless service provider), and your emergency call gets disconnected, you must call the emergency operator back because the operator does not have your telephone number and cannot contact you." 
So keep your old cell phone or someones hand-me-down charged and stored in your Safe Room.

A defensive flashlight is an important item. I am not talking about the red plastic one that is sitting in your junk drawer with dead batteries! I am talking about a defensive, high power flashlight. Many are now powered by Lithium batteries that have very long lives. Keep extra batteries here as well and check them frequently. If the power is cut off you will need it and it can also be momentarily blinding to the attacker should he gain access and perhaps create some time to distract him so you can further defend yourself or escape. There are some really powerful yet small defensive flash lights you might consider. 

Some other items to think about: An extra set of house keys that you could throw to police out the window to permit their easy entrance into your home. You may want to have a spare set of dark clothing in case you are awoken from sleep in your perhaps minimal night wear. This not only could help prevent an awkward moment with authorities, but also could help offer concealment as your skin is easier for the assailant to see in the dark.
When should you flee your Safe Room? Well, that depends. During an invasion or any real threat you will always want to be alert and aware of any opportunity to escape or evade the threat. It is generally recommended that you should only flee when and if you can do so safely. It is always better to leave your home and avoid the direct confrontation, but in many situations, this is not an option that will be available to you. You likely will not know "exactly" where the assailant is, how many of them there are. You may have children or other family members with you that perhaps can't move quickly or surely. Part of your planning should include walking through some scenarios and determine under which circumstances and how you would flee.
Lastly, if you have other family members in your home, take some time to decide who will be responsible to do what. Who will use the firearm or other defensive tools? Who will call the police, who will watch over the children. The better you plan now and cover these things ahead of time, will directly effect the outcome if such a terrible thing as a home invasion were to take place. I realize it is really difficult emotionally to not only acknowledge that something like that could happen, but to consider ourselves vulnerable are very difficult to stomach. We must arm ourselves with candid consideration and careful planning.
If you have a plan or develop one I would love for you to share it. We all can learn so much from one another and your ideas might be just the answer for another Armed Sister! Please email them to

Be Well and Be Safe!

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  1. One tip on your house keys that you plan to toss out6 the window to Police that I got from Massad Ayoob is to attach a Cyalume type light stick to the key ring so that they are easy to find after being thrown out the window.

  2. Thanks, Carrie! Great info and ideas! Starting my implementation tomorrow!

  3. Again - great article! The Surefire G2 LED is a great lightweight, long running, high lumen workhorse that I rely on all the time. I have never had one break, and although the CR123 batteries are more expensive per battery, they out-perform any other battery type in the long run! Especially in the G2's. Keep one in each car, each room, and definitely the safe room! About the keys out the is unlikely that responding officers will want to fumble with keys or offer themselves as a "target" in the doorway while opening it with a key. Most officers responding to a home invasion scenario may rather assume breaching the door with their foot or other specialty tool that would be safer and more familiar to them in the first place. (Your front door can be easily replaced!) However there is an idea floating around that throwing out a light stick with a map of the layout of the home (your position clearly marked) might be useful. Perhaps more important, maintaining 911 on the cell while hunkered down will help to keep emergency responders informed of the play-by-play, as well as provide adequate evidence of justifiable use of force if (God forbid) the worst happens: your warnings to an assailant are ignored, they get themselves shot, and your actions for whatever reason are called into question in a civil or criminal suit. A suit would not likely get anywhere with a good 911 recording on your side! Again, good article and thought provoking - NMK

  4. How about a portable fire escape ladder so that you and your family can climb out the window if your safe room is higher than the first floor.

  5. Wow! Your post made me feel empowered now that I have an idea of what to do if ever there’s a home invasion. A ‘safe room’, for me, is a room wherein I can seek refuge whenever something bad should occur. It could be burglars and it can also be inevitable calamities. In both situations, it’s always good to be prepared.

    Edwina Sybert

  6. I have a question (want your suggestions)... we have a split level entry with one of my children bedrooms down stairs and our master bedroom and another child's room upstairs. If someone breaks through our front door, my child would not be able to run upstairs to a safe room and vise verse with us running downstairs. Thoughts on what we could should use as a safe room?

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  8. I live in a 1 bedroom apartment. My walk in closet is my safe room, but if shots were fired through the wall, I would have very little protection. I have no heavy furniture, so not sure what I could use as a barrier. Suggestions?

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