safe rooms

Expensive SHTF Preps New Status Symbol In New York City?

Last night’s post about rich Americans charging full-steam ahead with their prepping reminded me of an article I read on the New York Post website at the start of this month. The January 1 piece focused on afluent New Yorkers shelling out big bucks on preparedness these days. Dana Schuster reported in “These families have elaborate escape plans if terror hits NYC”:

It seems that the new status symbol in NYC is safety. City dwellers are splashing out serious dough for everything from five-figure air infiltration systems to swanky survivalist kits. Luxe retailer Moda Operandi has jumped on the bandwagon, hawking a $4,995, monogrammed “go bag,” with essentials such as night-vision scopes, a GPS satellite communicator and a caviar serving set and Mast Brothers chocolate…

But New York preppers aren’t your run-of-the-mill doomsayers. Tom Gaffney, CEO of Gaffco Ballistics, a safety design firm in NYC, said he’s seen requests for dirty-bomb protection double in 2016.

“If I did 30 town houses in Manhattan last year, 25 of them got infiltration units,” said Gaffney, who says the systems cost between $20,000 and $30,000 and are typically incorporated into the safe rooms of his A-list clients, including Fortune 500 CEOs, hedge-funders and music-industry honchos.

For some, an air-purified bunker isn’t enough. It’s more about escaping New York

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Schuster brought up Chris Dowhie and Plan B Marine private evacuation services, which maintains a small fleet of emergency evacuation boats docked in Brooklyn and Manhattan “as an alternative to chaos in the event the unthinkable happens. We provide peace of mind and the fastest possible way off the island under catastrophic circumstances.”

YouTube Video

Another interesting look at how well-heeled Americans are prepping, which you can find here on the New York Post site.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


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Signs Of The Time, Part 102

From the official website of the National Association of REALTORS- this past Tuesday:

“Prepping for Doomsday: Bunkers, Panic Rooms, and Going Off the Grid”

Excerpts from the article included:

“If the booming sales of panic rooms are any indication, more and more city dwellers these days are obsessively worrying about everything from home invasions to terror attacks…”

“Some real estate companies are seeing big increases by specializing in ‘survivalist properties’…”

“Survivalists are also particularly hungry for metal containers they can convert into shelters and bury underground…”

While there’s the expected mocking tone to the piece (“Welcome to the brave (and for some, highly profitable) new world of paranoia”), it’s still an interesting look at what’s going on with panic/safe rooms, survival real estate, and (underground) shelters- topics I’ve blogged about from time to time over the last several years.

You can read the entire article on here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


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Safe Rooms Replace Storm Shelters, Basements As Shelter Of Choice

It’s 10 AM on the first Tuesday of the month here in my Chicago neighborhood. Which means- as I’m writing this- the warning sirens are being tested. Coincidentally, I just got done reading a great article on the Chicago Sun-Times website this morning about the decline in popularity of storm shelters and basements for shelter from severe weather- and the rise in interest in “safe rooms” (or “storm rooms,” as they’re also called). From the Associated Press’ Andrew DeMillo on May 31:

Old-fashioned storm shelters have become relics of the past as developers increasingly build homes and entire neighborhoods without them. That leaves many people with nowhere to go except an interior hallway or a bathroom when the sirens blow. And as this week’s storm in Joplin proved, that’s often not enough.

“If anything, we’re moving away from having a place to go during a storm,” said Steve Melman, director of economic services for the National Association of Home Builders.

The shelters that were common in the 1930s and 1940s, if not earlier, were usually no more than a concrete-lined hole with a locking metal door. They were seldom larger than a walk-in closet and were designed to protect a handful of people for only 20 or 30 minutes — just long enough for the storm to pass.

Even the venerable basements is losing its popularity. DeMillo added:

But now even basements are becoming less common, and they are no longer a guaranteed safe spot. Experts warn that basements without an integrated concrete roof or with windows could be just as dangerous as above-ground parts of the home.

Only 28 percent of new homes had full or partial basements in 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s a steep decline from 1992, when 38 percent had one.

The reason for the decline varies from place to place. In some areas, it’s just not practical to build a basement because of soil conditions. And some builders say penny pinching buyers are less likely to opt for something that adds to the price of a home.

“With the recession we’ve had over the last few years, people want as much for their money as they can get,” said Todd Wilcox, president of the Arkansas Home Builders Association…

Because many basements are no longer considered adequate shelter, it’s becoming increasingly rare to hear television meteorologists refer to them when telling viewers to seek shelter.

“They’re more and more backing away from that,” said Strough, who owns Storm Solutions in Berryville, Ark. Instead, broadcasters urge people to “go to your safe place and safe room.”

If storm shelters and basements are going the way of the dinosaur as protection from severe weather is concerned, what then are Americans turning to for shelter these days? Safe rooms, or storm rooms as they’re also known. From the Tribune piece:

Storm rooms are the modern equivalent of the backyard shelter, except they are built inside the home and can often be used as closets or even safes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency began encouraging their construction after a series of tornadoes in Oklahoma City in 1999 killed more than three dozen people…

Some states offer rebates or other incentives for construction of the rooms. In Arkansas, residents can apply for up a government rebate of up to $1,000 for the installation of a shelter that meets FEMA standards. Since 2009, more than 15,000 people have received the money, and more than 500 others are on a waiting list, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Renee Preslar said.

While researching this post I came across a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) publication that provides much more information about these types of shelters. From FEMA 320 – Taking Shelter From the Storm: Building a Safe Room For Your Home or Small Business, now in its third edition:

Having a safe room in your home or small business can help provide “near-absolute protection” for you and your family or your employees from injury or death caused by the dangerous forces of extreme winds. Near-absolute protection means that, based on our current knowledge of tornadoes and hurricanes, there is a very high probability that the occupants of a safe room built according to this guidance will avoid injury or death. A safe room can also relieve some of the anxiety created by the threat of an incoming tornado or hurricane. Our knowledge of tornadoes and hurricanes and their effects is based on substantial meteorological records as well as extensive investigation of damage to buildings from extreme winds. All information contained in this publication is applicable to safe rooms for use in homes as well as in small businesses.

This publication will help you decide how best to provide near-absolute protection for yourself, your family, or employees and answers many questions concerning safe rooms. It includes the results of research that has been underway for more than 30 years, by Texas Tech University’s Wind Science and Engineering (WISE; formerly known as the Wind Engineering Research Center or WERC) and other wind engineering research facilities, on the effects of extreme winds on buildings.

FEMA 320 also provides safe room designs that will show you and your builder/contractor how to construct a safe room for your home or small business. Design options include safe rooms located in the basement, in the garage, or in an interior room of a new home or small business building. Other options also provide guidance on how to construct an exterior safe room, either buried underground or attached to the existing building, or how to modify an existing home or small business building to add a safe room inside. These safe rooms are designed to provide near-absolute protection for you, your family, or employees from the extreme winds expected during tornadoes and hurricanes and from flying debris that tornadoes and hurricanes usually generate.

The safe room designs presented in this publication meet or exceed all tornado and hurricane design criteria of the ICC-500 for both the tornado and hurricane hazards.

Fore more information about this publication, and how to obtain it (you can download it for free), visit the FEMA website here.

(Editor’s note: Link added to “Resources” page)


DeMillo, Andrew. “Storm shelters have vanished from neighborhood landscapes.” Associated Press. 31 May 2011. (,tornado-shelters31.article). 7 June 2011.


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