How to create a safe space in your home

Private Property South Africa

Tips for creating a safe room where you and your family can retreat, in the unfortunate event of a home intrusion.

There’s no denying that South Africa has a crime problem. With this in mind, many homeowners have taken to securing their homes as best they can against intruders. But what if the unthinkable happens? What if intruders manage to penetrate all of your exterior defences and safeguards, and infiltrate your home?

Perhaps it’s time you gave some thought to creating a safe room.

In essence, safe rooms are impenetrable areas to which you and your family can retreat if your exterior security is breached. While images of stark bunkers may spring to mind, safe rooms can be seamlessly incorporated into your living space and can actually add value to a home come time to sell.

The following are points to consider when creating a safe room:

The first step to take when creating a safe room is to purchase an alarm system that will alert you to the fact that there has been an intrusion which will give you time to retreat accordingly. Having a safe room is pointless if you aren’t aware there has been a breach in the first place.

The door

Select an area of your home that ideally has one point of entry and replace the door with a solid core or reinforced door. Most modern homes feature hollow core doors which, while fine for buffering sound and providing privacy will not stand up to being kicked or shot through by an intruder. A number of door companies offer designer reinforced security doors which blend in with modern décor.

Reinforce the doorframe

If you upgrade your door but then overlook your doorframe, your security can still be compromised as determined intruders can apply force until the frame breaks. Ensure that when you purchase your reinforced door that the frame is reinforced too. Generally speaking, aim for something that is rated to withstand the full force of a 100-kg man repeatedly slamming himself against it.

Security gates

These can add another level of protection to your safe room entrance and are usually fitted outside doors. Security gates can take the form of roller style shutters, slam lock barriers or fixed bar security doors. Such barriers can usually be tailored to fit the space and serve to slow intruders down. The easier and quicker it is to secure such barriers, the better.

Multiple locks

Multiple, one-sided deadbolts that can be activated via a single locking mechanism are generally advocated by security companies; multiple locks distribute impact over a greater area, thereby reducing the chance of frame failure – they also share the load between locks, thereby lessening the chance of lock failure.

Windows

Windows can become an escape route for you – or a point of entry for intruders; with this in mind, consider installing retractable barriers or security screens that can only be opened from the inside.

Lastly, the most important thing to have with you in your safe room is your cell phone and a panic button, which should be a permanent fixture; this will allow you to call or alert the necessary security personnel and hopefully bring an end to any ordeal you may have the misfortune to encounter.

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