The paramount items in your safe room are you and your family. Inside, you’ll need much of what you need outside—air (ventilation) and water are requisites. A dedicated cell phone is necessary because you likely won’t have time to grab it on the way to your safe room. Food and a way to dispose of your waste is required if you foresee spending days in seclusion.

Essentials: Cots or foam mats are mandatory for overnight stays. A battery-powered radio (earphones only) and LED lighting are handy, especially if you’re waiting out a weather event. And don’t forget extra batteries. You’ll want a calendar or electronic device to keep track of time, as you probably won’t be able to see daylight. Avoid candles and hurricane lamps because they will compete for precious oxygen.

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Weapons, ammunition and a way to carry them may be included, depending on the scenario. Storing body armor in a safe room makes sense for a couple of reasons: You’ll have it at hand when exiting, and you’ll deny intruders the use of it.

Food & Water: If your safe room has running water, fine, but there’s no substitute for water in containers. Food should be convenient and relatively odorless. Food bars, vitamins, infant formula for babies, canned food and juice will nourish without giving away your presence. If you foresee spending days inside, include high-fiber foods, as inactivity often causes constipation, which will not improve your situation.

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Audio Monitor: An intercom system will give you an edge because you can listen to what’s going on in the rest of your home. Being able to hear how many intruders there are and what they’re saying is a definite tactical advantage. Be certain to disconnect the intercom microphone in the safe room so that it cannot give you away at the worst possible moment. A CCTV system is also useful, budget permitting.

Think Ahead: By now, you may realize that tossing a few odds and ends into your safe room will not protect your loved ones adequately. Like many aspects of preparation, the devil is in the details.

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