We prefer the term “safer” rather than “safe” – a Safer Room (TM) in an office (or perhaps even a home or other business) is one where people can go to during a shelter-in-place event or incident and they will be safer than they would be at their normal work location. Safer Rooms should have some specific features, which make them more conducive for a number of people to shelter-in-place – or even “hide” during an active assailant attack – at the same time.
We recommend using a small symbol on a removable magnet to indicate which are the Safer rooms. This would be known to the staff only (and communicated on demand to visitors, as needed) and should be consistent to all of the work locations so that staff who visit other locations know what to look for. During a Lockdown, if Safer rooms are used to “Hide” , once all the people have evacuated into the Safer room, the last person takes the symbol magnet off, so that anyone else (like a threat actor) does not know this is a Safer Room. Everyone inside needs to follow their organization’s Lockdown protocols as to when to end the use of the Safer Room and what to do next.
Safer Rooms should:
- Have solid walls and a lockable solid door – so that someone from the outside cannot easily see in or get in. Small windows on the door should have a curtain or some other device to block inward view quickly. This helps provide Cover.
- Have large items to block doors (such as cabinets or tables). Also small items to throw at an attacker (like staplers, trash cans, etc.) if necessary.
- Have a light switch to turn off the lights – it helps to have the room number marked on the light switch, so you can let emergency responders know where you are located.
- Have at least one working power outlet and a number of chargers and cables for cell phones
- Have a landline (or VOIP) phone – in case cell service is spotty or poor.
- Have a signal page with green on one side and red on the other to either slip half-way under the door or post in the exterior window – use only if instructed by your leadership or first responders (via your communications devices, not from someone “shouting out” commands in the hallway) – the green side out (or out) indicates everyone in that room is okay, the red side indicates medical/health emergencies exist.
- Have some bottled water and sweet snacks – people might be in this room for a while and need to take medications or have low blood sugar, etc.
If the room has a window and is on a floor where someone could escape the room through that window, have a device to break the window (a hammer, for example) if the window does not normally open enough on its own to let someone exit.
Barton Dunant can help you design your crisis action plans, make recommendations for safer rooms and provides table-top and functional exercises for your organization to test your plans. Learn more about starting a crisis action plan by clicking here.
Safer Room is a trademark of York Drive, LLC. Used with permission.