Safe rooms have been growing in popularity ever since the film Panic Room demonstrated how dramatic and exciting having one in your home could be. Or it could also be down to the fact that they’re an effective home security measure, providing home owners with a fortified location to retreat to in the event of an imminent threat, such as a break-in, a tornado or super dedicated Jehovah’s Witness.
Don’t put chairs in a safe room; huddling on the floor will make it much more intense.
Of course, the problem with finding out about the most incredible incarnations of a security feature is that the people who have invested in said feature want them to remain secure. As such, they don’t tend to indulge in a lot of online promotion.
It’s almost like trying to look for the most incredibly classified nuclear weapon access codes. Almost.
But never fear - we are not so easily defeated. We’ve scoured that intimidating purveyor of digital data some people call the Internet to bring the most incredible safe rooms together in one convenient location. Right here.
A decent safe room should be equipped with a reinforced door, a phone, a fridge stocked with long-lasting foods and maybe a video monitor or two. It’s all about the bare necessities.
That is, unless you happen to be the owners of the Ottoman Bank in Istanbul, who have devoted much of their bank’s safe room to an extensive museum detailing the history of the illustrious institution.
Boring, classical and just generally bank-ish on the outside…
You may have guessed that they were the bankers of the Ottoman Empire, famous for being one of the only empires people have actually heard of, after the Roman Empire and the Galactic Empire from Star Wars.
…eye-wateringly bright and futuristic on the inside.
It’s stuffed to the gills with everything anyone could ever want to know about the bank and, if you think a history lesson about a bank sounds boring, you have to admit it’s one of the most stylishly high-tech looking museums around.
In this case, it’s not the details of the safe room itself that are incredible, but rather the circumstances in which it came to be used.
Kim Dotcom founded Megaupload in 2001, and by 2010 was making a reported $115,000 a day from the file-hosting site, some of which he used to purchase a sickeningly gigantic mansion in New Zealand.
Ugh! The green vomit of envy is everywhere.
Unfortunately for Mr Dotcom, January 2012 saw New Zealand authorities, cooperating with the FBI, set out to arrest him at said mansion on charges of criminal copyright infringement.
It did not prove easy.
When the armed police turned up in helicopters and started dropping into the courtyard, Kim activated several electronic locks and sought refuge in his mansion’s trusty safe room. Police took hours to cut their way in and it’s starting to seem their efforts may have been in vain, as Kim’s currently out on bail with a strong chance of the courts finding in his favour. Oops.
Kim Dotcom: conclusive proof that crime does pay.
When Robert Vicino heard about the Mayan prediction that the world would end in 2012, he didn’t think, ‘that’d make a great premise for a John Cusack film’, or ‘what a load of crap’, like most people. His reaction was far more pragmatic: ‘It just gave me this gut-wrenching feeling that I needed to convert a mine to a shelter for 1,000 people with everything you’d need to survive for a long period of time’ (actual quote).
135 people could live here. It’s like the TARDIS. Or Mary Poppins’ handbag.
The result of Vicino’s extremely specific ‘gut feeling’ is the Terra Vivos underground shelter network, the first branch of which is currently under construction in a disused facility in the Mojave Desert, originally designed to protect the AT&T telephone exchange from nuclear attack.
Given that you might be residing here for a while, changing the migraine-inducing décor should be a priority.
Rooms are available at a rate of $50,000 per person – a bargain to survive the apocalypse.
For the purposes of this article, the most powerful man in the world is the president of the USA, a certain Mr Obama at the time of writing (although if you’re somehow reading this ten years from now, it’s probably the omniscient Googlebot or Arnold Schwarzenegger).
Unsurprisingly, his presidential home is pretty well equipped in the security stakes.
It’s called the White House, for those not ‘in the know’.
The Situation Room is the one that gets all the press, what with its Hollywood-ready giant table of military folk and wall-to-wall communications equipment. But when the chips are well and truly down, it’s the lesser-known President’s Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) that gets its moment in the sun (metaphorically; it’s underground).
It was also the location of the only known performance of Dubya’s rap, ‘Prezta’s Paradise’.
Built for Franklyn D. Roosevelt during World War II, the PEOC is able to withstand anything short of a direct nuclear attack and is equipped with all the necessary technology for Mr President to co-ordinate the US ground forces, while still allowing him vital Twitter access.
It probably even has a vending machine.
Where in the world can you go and be guaranteed access to a safe room? Beverley Hills? Abu Dhabi? There’s no need to be so geographically restrictive – the whole of Switzerland is the answer.
Swiss safe rooms have the best rations.
Since 1963, spurred on by the looming threat of nuclear war, it has been law in Switzerland that every home must have access to a fallout shelter, essentially a specialized safe room. The result is that the country has over 270,000 bunkers capable of sheltering the entire 7.8 million-strong population.
Even this guy has one.
It may seem like a slightly over-the-top precaution, but perhaps the Swiss are worried that the rest of the world will finally tire of that intensely provocative neutrality they’re always flaunting?
What is the most incredible safe room? The answer’s obvious: the one that protects you and your family and your immaculate collection of stamps/records/Victorian erotic art/ (delete as appropriate).
Trust us; it’s safer than it looks.
Just because that first sentence is almost vomit-inducingly sentimental doesn’t make it any less true. This is demonstrated not only by the growing number of businesses providing safe room construction services but also by the growing trend of building one yourself.
In Panic Room, the safe room achieved its safety with banks of video monitors encased in several feet of concrete and steel. Not exactly easy to replicate but, fortunately, it was based on a 30-year-old design.
These days, the same effect can be achieved by surrounding a decent desktop computer with a combination of Kevlar and plastics – cheaper, easier and less likely to crack the foundations of your house.
There you have it; the safest of the safe. The main thing to take away from this? Safe rooms aren’t just for presidents and Jodie Foster – you can have one too!