Disaster Planning

Convert a Panic Room into a Bunker

Hollywood has oftentimes featured a panic room in their questionable quality films. They even had a movie named after the concept. They’ve also filmed scenes in hardened military bunkers. So it is that many people are familiar with these concepts – rooms that keep people safe from one threat or another – even if they haven’t thought about making one for themselves.

Maybe it’s time. Given the state of affairs in America, one could justify building a panic room. If you already have a room, you can turn it into a bunker. No, it might not survive a nuclear strike or the Incredible Hulk. But it could keep your family safe from criminals, looters, or drugged-out zombies.

Carmella Tyrell* wrote a great feature article at Survivopedia on this conversion idea. Please read her 10 Ways to Turn a Panic Room Into a Bunker.

Turn This:

Photo by Ads Advance (UK).

Into This:

Overkill? Photo by NORAD / USA Today.

The 10 Steps From Panic Room To Bunker

One. Entrances and Exits.

Even if you hide in the panic room behind a bomb-proof door, if it is the only one you can be trapped. Always design your bunker with a second door. The escape door should lead to an unexpected area. It should be as hidden as possible from the outside.

Tyrell recommends booby trapping the doors so they can be destroyed after you’ve passed through. You can even rig the room to destroy itself in the event it is breached by intruders.
Map out and understand how to use your exits. Test them on a regular basis. A time of actual panic isn’t a good time to discover a flaw in your plans.

Two. Surveillance.

If you are forced to hide away it is critical to know what is happening outside. Add cameras and monitors so you can keep an eye on what the invaders are doing (and when they leave).

You may also want to install manual looking and listening capacities. This will keep you informed of enemy movements even if the cameras are destroyed or lose power.

Three. Communication.

Do not completely seal yourself off from the outside world – especially from help.

Make sure your cell phone works inside the room. And have the ability to keep it charged inside. You may also want to install a hardened land line or some form of radio equipment. That way, if you are trapped, you can signal for help from the police or your neighbors.

Tyrell even covers manual modes of communicating like morse code and carrier pigeons (don’t forget the bird food and newspaper).

Four. Living Supplies.

Equip the room or bunker with enough food, water and other essentials to make it through the duration of your stay.

The “other” list includes:

  • Bedding;
  • Weapons;
  • Lighting;
  • Cooking supplies;
  • Heating and cooling considerations.

Five. Make it Spy-Proof.

Conceal the entrances to the room so they blend in with the rest of the house. Make it as difficult to find as possible. Make it impossible if you can. If they don’t know you’re in there, they won’t bother you.

Six. Make It Unbreachable.

This includes the doors, the walls, ceilings and floors. A bank safe door isn’t much good if it is mounted in a plain sheet-rock wall. Armor everything. Your bunker should defend against bullets, battering rams, high winds, and other forms of assault.

Tyrell also discusses preventing intrusion from radiation, EMP discharge, flooding waters, and bombs. Fire is another terrible danger to guard against. Tank crews know that their otherwise impenetrable fortress on wheels may be lethally susceptible to fire.

Seven. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

The point here is that you will have limited room and resources in the bunker. Don’t let it fill up with waste if you can help it. Consider making use of everything, even toilet wastes.

Water supplies may run dry. Have a filtration system so you can reuse H20. Dispose of or reuse everything else from food scraps to garbage.

Eight. Power and Lighting.

The bunker should not, must not have windows. You will need a source of light and a dependable source of power.
Tyrell recommends manual electrical generation. That way, if the breaker is disrupted, you can have juice without running a conventional generator. Build everything with the most efficient, low-wattage options available. The less power needed, the less you have to produce. Keep it all under 9 volts.

Nine. Air Purification.

The bunker may be small and hold a limited supply of oxygen. Add ventilation shafts to induct fresh air. Make sure the air is filtered. There are expensive systems that will scrub the air. However you can also just add plants to regenerate oxygen for breathing.

A safe room without air is a death trap.

Ten. The Bunker Must Be Defendable.

The room structure itself should be capable of withstanding attack from without. In the event determined enemies are about to overrun your defenses, you must be able to take them out. Design the room to allow for combat operations against those outside.

This is a fight for your life. There is no room for legal equivocation when you are trapped in a basement room. This means lethal force only and a lot of it.

In addition to handguns, add battlefield rifles and combat shotguns to the arsenal. It is a good idea to wear body armor and a helmet. You must win this fight. Period. If it comes to it be prepared for dirty, hand to hand combat. Swords, knives, bats – anything that works – is what you need. Tyrell goes so far as to discuss a self-destruct mechanism in the event the end is near. This is extreme in the extreme. Then again, so is life sometimes.

Photo by Keep Calm Posters.

One never knows what unpleasant thing may come along. It could be a tornado, a war, a band of thieves and murders, a horde of all those who didn’t prepare for when the SHTF. In such times, it is comforting to know you and your family can be safe.

A panic room or a bunker or a combination of the two is a great addition to any prepper’s plans. Consider adding one to your home or getaway location. If you already have something, consider fortifying it. You don’t have to make a mountain out of a molehill. But you can make a bunker out of a panic room.

*Carmela Tyrrell is committed to off gridding for survival and everyday life. She is currently working on combining vertical container gardening with hydroponics. Tyrrell is also exploring ways to integrate magnetic and solar power generation methods. On any given day, her husband and six cats give thanks that she has not yet blown up the house. You can send Carmela a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com.

Read: The Prepper’s Armed Defense Book (This is a Must Read)!

Perrin Lovett writes about freedom, firearms, and cigars (and everything else) at www.perrinlovett.me. He is none too fond of government meddling.

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