*Safe Rooms, What No One Tells You*
By: Warlord
20 February 2003

During the Anthrax attacks of 2001 The Rubicon Members decided that other threats couldn't be far behind. Seeing that, we started a big campaign to get all Rubicon members fixed up with some sort of Safe Room or shelter. The subject is much more complicated than you might think at first glance.

The reality of even a simple safe room goes FAR beyond slapping some plastic up over doors, windows and vents. Until you've tested your safe room by being sealed up in it, you don't have a clue what it's like. It "seems" simple, but it isn't.

Take for instance the simple duct tape that everyone is buying for their Government suggested Safe room... many times it simply doesn't work. Everyone runs to Wally World and buys the cheapest "duck tape" they have and they never even test it to see if it will hold plastic on the walls... Usually it starts peeling off pretty quickly.

One of the Rubicon Members is a Heating and Air specialist. He recommended that Rubies get the metal foil type duct tape.. it's MUCH stickier and stronger than cheap tape.

Another thing you find out from actual testing is that the oil on the walls of many homes causes even the best Duct Tape to peel off sometimes.. you MUST wash off the oil from the areas the tape will be applied! Another little detail to mention is that using thumbtacks to help hold the tape seams against the wall goes a LONG way to prevent "plastic blowouts" (or to keep the plastic from simply falling off the doorways if the tape fails)

Filtration is a concern that is barely brushed upon. Some sites at least say to use a HEPA filtration unit inside the saferoom to filter out some of the airborne particles.. but that's hit and miss at best. Your safe room needs a slight positive pressure in it to keep the bad stuff out.. Air needs to move OUT of the saferoom to keep things from getting in.

We use "squirrel cage fans" along with HEPA or ULPA filters to bring clean filtered air into the saferoom.. this also keeps the stale air, Humidity and buggies moving OUT of the room (and there WILL be a humidity problem pretty quick).

(Hospital grade filtration Fan.. smaller fans work too, this one is for doing "the whole house" when attached to our duct-work and filters)

If you can use a large enough fan you can keep a positive pressure on the whole house... the unit shown above will easily do that on low speed. We've used "Great Stuff Foam" to seal up the worst of the air leaks around plumbing and wiring in our house, and the Squirrel Cage fan will keep air moving OUT of the house while pumping IN clear air.

Rubicon members experimented with Box fans, Bilge-blowers, Computer fans, circular fans, etc, etc, and none of them worked well (or at all) once the filters were applied. Even "fans" that seemed over-powered stopped moving air once a filter stack was in place. A squirrel cage fan is a must as they were designed for this use. It doesn't have to be nearly as big as the one we have, especially for one room use. "Fan blades" do not work, you need impellors like the ones on Squirrel Cage Fans.

This filtering process naturally leads to another question.. how are you going to run the filter??? Hopefully the Commercial grid power in your area will still be on.. but what if it isn't?

One member of the Rubicon used a modified Shop-Vac as a filtration system, which worked very well until we all had a "test day" where the power was turned off in the safe rooms an hour into the test. Things got hairy for some at that point.

An Alternate energy source of some kind is a must have if you even suspect the commercial power will go off.

We use Solar power here at our house and have a generator as a backup if the emergency lasts more than the 5 days our battery banks will carry the house... in other words, if we have 5 cloudy days in a row and the batteries start to get low, the Generator will kick on... the genset can run continuously for 4 days and will charge our battery banks in a few hours. realistically we have 2 weeks of power with NO sun... but I know this is a bit much for some people new to the self-prepared lifestyle.

(Our house runs off multiple banks of 75 Watt Siemens solar panels)

(The Generator comes on to recharge our battery banks if there are a few cloudy days in a row)

Either way you look at it, you need some form of alternate power to run a saferoom... they get hot fast even in the winter if you use oil lamps or candles, not to mention the danger involved with an open flame in a crowded room. If you use the new fluorescent bulbs that draw 15 watts of power to produce the same amount of light as a 60 watt bulb, not only will your backup power system last longer, but the saferoom will stay cooler as well.

There are many articles here and in the Rubicon Area about safe rooms, tests, alternate power ideas (such as an inverter attached to the battery of your running vehicle outside) and many other ideas that have been tested.

(A deep cycle battery and small inverter will run this 15 watt lamp continuously for better than 4 days.. Keep the Battery OUT of the saferoom as dangerous gasses can build up from battery use)

What about entertainment for the kids (and adults??) This doesn't seem important at all till you are sealed up with nothing to do. Since we have a "Whole house" system in place, it's not a big deal for us, we just watch Videos or DVDs, but for many this is a major problem.. even a small battery powered TV or Radio can provide a LOT of boredom and fear relief (and provide needed news and weather reports).

And then we get to other neglected areas like food, trash, medications, pets, etc... We've solved these problems in many different ways, but the point is they have been thought out and dealt with. A good notebook and a real life test of your preps goes a LONG way to improving your chances at surviving when "the real deal" comes along.

This dorm Room refrigerator uses little power and keeps drinks and food cool.. the trash cans and other items in our safe room have been thought out as thoroughly as possible and tested many times)

There's simply no way to relate ALL of the details and problems you will encounter if you must build a saferoom. You must test it for yourself in your house. Keep notes about what problems you have and then think up solutions to those problems and test them. If you fail, keep trying and testing till you don't fail!

"If you haven't tested it, it doesn't work"

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