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Attic Safe Room??

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Old 10-21-2010, 03:58 AM   #1
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Default Attic Safe Room??

I would like to have a safe room for my family for many reasons. Mainly for a home invasion threat as we have been burglarized before while we were sleeping. I have listed out my idea below and would like some feedback on the pros and cons as well as any other ideas you may have. Thanks!

Attic Safe Room

Attic Safe Room Purpose
Secure retreat location for family or wife / 2 children guests during home invasion (not bullet proof)
Supply location for Survival Supplies
Unknown Location to secure documents / valuables incase of burglary or home invasion
Location for children to go if home alone and feel threatened (when they reach an age of understanding and responsibility)

Current State of Home / Attic
Home is 3 stories slab (no basement)
Attic is on 3rd floor
Has traditional pull down stair attic access
Has 3 half size attic doors in 3 different rooms
Attic Safe Room entry would be through half size door inside closet
Current have Foil Radiant Barrier and Insulation
Measured space to inhabit - need to measure

Attic Safe Room Potential Capabilities / Contents
Lockable from inside
Audible alarm on door (armed from inside room)
Wired Lighting / Flashlight / Battery Powered Lantern
Dry Food / Can Goods / Can Opener / Paper Products
Water / Other Drinks
Communication / Prepaid Cell Phone / Charger
Electrical Power Receptacle / Batteries
Platform to stand / lay down on
Sleeping Bags / Blanket
Battery Operated Fan
Defense - Shotgun / Pistol / Baseball Bat
First Aid Kit / Air Masks /
Safe - Secure Documents / Valuables

Positive Reasons to use Attic as Safe Room
Low building costs
Unknown to potential threats
Ability to create path to walk to other attic door entries, multiple entries / exits

Negative Reasons to use Attic as Safe Room
Heat during summer
Cold during winter

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Old 10-21-2010, 04:15 AM   #2
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Hmm...add to the negatives: you could be trapped if there's a fire. Also, if the intruders hang around very long, you could be stuck in there for a while, and with children it might be hard to stay quiet. If the intruders searched very thoroughly could they find your safe place, thereby putting you and yours in harm's way?

Looking at the description of how your house is laid out, it might very well be the only "invisible" space you have to work with. I hope you're able to put in a back-up escape route.

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Old 10-21-2010, 02:34 PM   #3
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Is there a vent to the outside of the house in the area of the attic like shown below

Attic Safe Room?? - General Homesteading & Building

If so, can you modify it so that it could be opened from the inside only and then hard-mount a rope-ladder near that vent to allow escape from the house (fire, carbon monoxide, intruder). Can you line the floor with 1/4" plate-steel (in the T1 or QT-100 variety) to repel any small arms fire from below?

Can you set up a solar-powered lighting system that could also power a CB-radio BaseStation or HamRadio for communications to the outside world - just incase the main power or phone hardline is compromised.

With the temperature changes, you might not want to have water up there unless it is packed in tetrapaks or polybags - the same stuff that the US CoastGuard recommends for emergency water rations.

And the final recommendation I have for you is to use sealable metal containers (like surplus ammo-cans) to store all your "consumables" inside of. That will make sure that moisture, bugs, rodents, etc do not cause damage to your supplies in the attic...

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Old 10-21-2010, 03:03 PM   #4
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Sounds like you have it pretty well thought out. I would agree that you need a fire egress plan/means. I'd also have phone (one that doesn't require power) wired up there. Then you can dial 911 from there. Keep your cell phones too, but that one will tie right to your address (presuming you have a 911 system where you live, of course). Otherwise, make sure your family is briefed on how to give your addy quickly, clearly and concisely for the operator.

It wouldn't hurt to add a couple more layers of plywood to the floor of the attic if you are going to build out that area anyway. That'll reduce the penetration potential (you could also look into sandwiching kevlar fabric).

Otherwise, sounds like you have it planned out pretty well. Are there any windows looking out? If you are planning to use it for TEOTWAWKI, you would want to be able to look out or access the roof to look out and have a perch overlooking your property. You would want a scoped rifle to defend it.


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Old 10-21-2010, 04:14 PM   #5
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I have a couple questions as I'm not getting a mental picture of the layout. Want to post some pictures?
You said there's a drop-down staircase and 3 half-size attic doors. Where are these 1/2 size doors (in the rooms they exist, are they in the wall or ceiling or ???)?
When you go into your attic, what's the dimension of the 2x's that make up the floor joists in your attic? In many attics, they would be 2x6's. If so, that's inadequate for your needs. You may need to scab some 2x10's or 2x12's to them for the strength you'll need. You can walk on the 2x6's but they probably won't be strong enough for you to store your provisions.
On your drop-down staircase, I'm assuming it's the folding staircase that's in the ceiling. If that's the case, I'd make some way to dead-bolt it from the top (as well as making the pull-down string retractable so it can't be used from below.

As already mentioned, excessive heat could be a real problem.

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Old 10-21-2010, 04:57 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the feedback! I'll be taking some pictures and post them so you will have a better idea of my set up with the attic doors. There is a vent in place that could be kicked out and a fire ladder deployed out to escape in case of a fire.

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