In the film burglars break into Meg Altman’s (Foster) home and she and her 11 year old daughter are forced to retreat to a reinforced panic room installed by the previous owner to protect the occupants from intruders.
It’s a great film that had me on the edge of my seat.
But panic rooms have been around for a lot longer than Jodie Foster. First of all let’s change the name. Panic room is basically a Hollywood title for a safe room. Safe rooms date back to medieval times when feudal lords used them as a protection during sieges. A priest hole is another version of a safe room and to be honest they aren’t all as exciting or sophisticated as the one in the movie.
Today there are (especially in the USA) a number of companies who specialise in constructing panic rooms and not all of them are extremely hi-tech. Unlike in the movie, these days with modern communication systems in place, it is unlikely you would need to hold up in your panic room for more than a couple of hours. Besides some basic provisions, a decent communications system and a good lock, most modern panic rooms aren’t much more sophisticated than a reinforced walk in closet. But for those with the money to pay for one however, the panic room can be much more.
In the USA increased terror alerts and weather related catastrophes have meant that panic rooms are becoming more popular with people prepared to pay for something more than just a reinforced wardrobe.
So what does the modern hi-tech panic room have to offer?
Communications- Well apart from mobile phones, WiFi communication systems, and buried dedicated phone lines, most modern panic rooms come with an intercom and alarm system connected directly to a security company or the Police.
Surveillance – Modern systems usually consist of a single monitor connected to hidden cameras around the house. The high end panic rooms may also incorporate thermal cameras, which means if you house is attacked at night you can still see the intruders.
Air Circulation – The most expensive panic rooms are airtight to protect against gas attack. These rooms utilise air-filtration systems which protect against bio-hazards. Some rooms may even include oxygen masks.
Power – Usually provide by a standalone generator, but often hand cranked lights and battery packs will also be installed.
Plumbing – Some of the larger rooms will include purpose built sceptic tanks and water cisterns. If you intend to spend a prolonged period in your panic room, it is best to provide at least a gallon of water per day per person.
Supplies – Tinned and dried food will keep for long periods of time, but some wealthy panic room owners will go one step further and install wet bars and entertainment systems. However you will also need washing facilities, changes of clothes and first aid supplies.
Weapons – Finally depending on the sort of attack you are expecting, you could add a weapons cabinet to your panic room. Pepper spray, electrical stun guns, hand guns and automatic rifles could be useful if you are expecting an attack from armed terrorists.
So do you need a panic room?
Well the fact is that many panic rooms are actually built to protect things rather than people. Artwork, rare books, antiques, collectable and even computer hard drives. In many hurricane areas of the USA they are reinforced rooms built from weather resistant materials which are used to protect the family during storms.
I am not sure, in the UK at least, if the average man in the street really requires a panic room just yet. Most of us don’t have houses big enough to accommodate one anyway. If you do however take everything you see on the news about violent crime rates and attacks on people in their own homes, as the being the norm, then you have no doubt read this post and are online searching for your own panic room as we speak.
If you are looking for houses with panic rooms, priest holes, medieval safe rooms or just secret compartments, then Finders and Sellers may just have them listed on our site, why not start searching now.
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