Storm Shelters and Storage

Claudette Reichel  |  6/24/2008 2:24:18 AM

Figure 1, Severe Weather Safe Room

Reinforced safe room within house: Safe rooms are typically designed to provide near absolute protection to you and your family from the high winds expected during tornadoes and associated flying debris, such as pieces of destroyed buildings. A master bedroom closet or bathroom with no windows is a common location for a safe room. Guidelines, construction plans, specifications and cost estimates for building a high performance safe room are in FEMA publication 320: “Taking Shelter from the Storm, Building a Safe Room Inside Your House.” (search FEMA 320 on the Web site.)

In areas with little exposure to strong tornados but at risk of hurricanes or high wind storms, an in-home storm shelter can be built inexpensively to a lower standard than the FEMA guidelines while still providing greater protection (primarily from flying debris) than the rest of the house. The in-home shelter can double as a safe place for family valuables and an escape from intruders. Guidelines have been developed by the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center of Texas Tech University (  (Figure 1, Severe Weather Safe Room)

Storm storage: Include in your home design storage for outdoor items that may become flying debris in high wind. Outside structures and accessories, such as air conditioning condensers, light fixtures and sheds, which can’t be moved indoors for protection, should be anchored securely to a foundation or to structural parts of the house.

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