Severe Weather Guide: A Safe Room

When severe weather strikes quickly, evacuation may be difficult. In these situations, many experts say the best place to head is a safe room.

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Benefits of a Safe Room

A safe room is a freestanding structure with walls and roof built of materials capable of withstanding the impact of falling and flying debris. They’re also the logical place to store your Storm Kit and other supplies.

Safe rooms are designed to be independent of the house structure and are securely bolted to a concrete basement floor, ground-level slab or outside pad. They can be made from reinforced poured concrete, concrete block, welded steel or multiple layers of wood, steel and fiberglass. They can be built by contractors or do- it-yourselfers, or they can be installed as pre-built modular units. Prices can range from $1,500 up to $10,000 and more for contractor-installed units.

Safe Room Basics

  • A safe room is only as strong as its weakest link. If you’re going to build it, build it right. Make sure there is adequate ventilation. For additional information, see “Taking Shelter from the Storm: A Safe Room Inside Your House,” available from fema.gov.
  • Safe rooms aren’t “wasted space.” They can do double duty as a storage room or walk-in closet, or as a storage shed when built outside. One company even manufactures a tornado safe room that seats five and doubles as a workbench. As a bonus, a safe room can serve as a nearly impregnable vault for valuables, guns and documents.
  • Safe rooms don’t float nor are they designed to keep out water. In a flood zone, a safe room can be a trap, not a refuge.

Information for this post was made in collaboration with Lowes for a severe weather guide.

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