Corporate safe rooms—fortified environments that act as a protective refuge in the event of a home invasion or other threat—are an increasing necessity for people and organizations of all interests. While films and television programs continue to ridicule safe rooms as an indulgence for the super rich or eccentric, actual events tell a different story: safe rooms are, and have been, an integral part of corporate structures and residences worldwide, an otherwise well-kept secret that immediately captures the public imagination.
Daily news headlines confirm these threats, and brutal attacks against executives underscore the unfortunate reality of living in a dangerous world: safe rooms are no longer a luxury, but a common feature for companies of all sizes.Safe rooms are often the key factor between life and death. In most cases, safe rooms are part of an architect's plans, and a crucial element for security experts when consulting with owners during the critical stages of construction. Throughout this process, one principle is sacred: a safe room is a haven, a place where individuals, families, or executives can protect themselves from violence while the authorities answer a call for help.
For not only are executives vulnerable to attack—imagine the very real possibility of a CEO kidnapped, beaten, or killed by extremists—the lack of a corporate safe room is, according to global security experts, a huge liability. The capture or murder of a company's executives would emotionally and financially devastate shareholders and expose insurers to potentially big payouts. Simply said, no executive is truly safe without a safe room.
Also, corporations do not publicize the existence of safe rooms for obvious reasons: first, executives and their security detail have no desire to broadcast to the enemy the fact these things exist; and second, from a purely psychological standpoint, there is no reason to frighten employees and disrupt their day-to-day operations. And yet, events like 9/11 remind us of the global security dangers that confront us. In fact, counterterrorism experts repeatedly warn companies that extremist groups seek opportunities to seize executives. For example, picture an otherwise sedate corporate campus—a multi-acre software company in Silicon Valley or Washington State, the very model of a relaxed work environment—led by a young billionaire and his team of engineers. This seemingly calm destination, where programmers can play volleyball during their lunch break and where the CEO parks his car in an ordinary space, definitely contains a highly sophisticated safe room.
The real question is not whether the executive has a safe room; the more intriguing questions are these: What does a corporate safe room look like? What is inside the ultimate safe-space?
More sophisticated safe rooms, like the kind built for celebrities or executives (and there is some overlap concerning the essential features in a safe room for a home versus a corporate building), include: doors, walls, floors, and ceilings reinforced with bullet and bomb blast resistant materials, wireless communications, coatings to prevent eavesdropping, surveillance cameras, survival items (first-aid kits, water, packaged food, self-defense tools, backup generator, and even a kitchen and bathroom) as well as a secure air supply in the event of a biological or a chemical attack. These safe rooms are no longer luxuries. Rather, saferooms protect lives, and are part of any reasonable company's playbook.